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CHILEAN ALTIPLANO - THE HIGHLANDS

Altiplano

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THE ALTIPLANO - THE HIGHLANDS

THE ALTIPLANO - THE HIGHLANDS is at more than 4.500 m above sea level. It is characterized by the presence of clear blue and emerald lakes, extensive steppes, immense sparkling white salt deposits, hidden hot springs and amazing geysers. An attractive centerpiece is Lake Chungará, one of the highest in the world, located at the feet of the Payachata volcanoes that seem to be identical twins. It is recommendable to start exploring Arica, which is 2.062 km far from the north of Santiago de Chile and it is known as the northern entrance door of Chile, near to Peru and Bolivia,destinations and connected with the rest of the country and abroad through a maritime port, an airport and highways together with adequate transportation.


Known as the "City of the never ending spring", it offers attractive beaches with agreeable warm waters. It is the starting point to visit the Altiplano, the Highlands and the nearby cities that are kept alive by their archeological values which features vestiges of the geoglyphs of Lluta Valley and the Chinchorro mummies of Azapa Valley. The Chinchorro Culture amazes with the mummification techniques for their dead people, the oldest mummies of the world: three thousand years before the Egyptian.


A visit to this destination passes through Putre, this town has some 1,200 inhabitants, almost all of them of Aymara descent. The town´s location is remarkable. It is wedged between large mountains and has a marvelous view of the great volcanoes mantled with eternal snow. According to Aymara culture, the volcanoes are living beings that protect this region and its inhabitants. The incomparable beauty of the Lauca National Park forms the setting for this land lost in time with its magnificent scenery of exotic flora and wildlife - vicuñas, alpacas and Andean flamingos, among other species - it is a fascinating travel destination and a birdwatcher's paradise.


Iquique is synonymous with surfing, haute cuisine, luxurious hotels, history and entertainment by the sea. Ten years ago, Iquique became the star of a surprising economic boom. Since then the city has filled up with high-rise buildings and modern shops stocked with the products of modern living, and at much lower prices than in Santiago de Chile, the capital. Some of the attractions are the Naval Museum, the Regional Museum, the Municipal Theater, and a free-trade zone called Zofri, Iquique´s tax free shopping district. Besides, of course, pleasant beaches like Brava and Cavancha.


Near the city there are numerous ghost towns, the abandoned nitrate mines. During the nitrate boom, when saltpeter was called "the white gold", Humberstone came to have a movie theater, swimming pool, hospital and school. Today it is an enigmatic ghost town where it is easy to imagine what life there was like 100 years ago. Humberstone has had the status of National Monument since 1970, and since 2005 it was declared a Historical Heritage Site of Humanity by UNESCO. The town square and the beautiful Municipal Theater are a must-see. There is a cafeteria where visitors can buy souvenirs, memorials of a special history that is legendary in Chile to this day. The Humberstone and Santa Laura nitrate offices can be reached from Pozo Almonte, a hospitable town 52 km (32 mi) east of Iquique. In Pozo Almonte there are also interesting archeological sites, among them the geoglyphs drawn in the desert and in the past used as a reference by desert-crossing caravans to ascertain their location during their journeys.


The most attention-getting spot here is Pintados, monumental figures of animals and humans. Also recommended is a visit to Quebrada Huatacondo (Huatacondo Gully) and its gigantic fields of monumental petroglyphs or rock inscriptions.

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