Cultural, Flora & Fauna
Places such as the Nacimiento and Guatin canyons, the Atacama Salt Flat and northern Chilean Altiplano are habitats which house a wide variety of differing species of birds. For example, the Salt Flats are home to the Chilean flamingo, Andean flamingo, Andean avocet and puna plover. The open altiplano wetlands house Andean geese, rufous-bellied seedsnipes, golden-spotted, ground-doves and ochre-naped ground-tyrants amongst others. Other species to be found in the area include the chiguanco thrush, cordilleran canastero, scale-throated earthcreeper, Andean negrito and horned coot amongst many others. The time of year, migratory cycles, availability of food, temperature, altitude, etc., are all determining factors when bird-watching.
Flora & Fauna
The Altiplano is a huge plateau at an altitude of 4,000m. /13,200ft. It is an area of vast expanses of land cut into by deep channels and valleys, spotted with high salt lakes and where dark masses of lava from volcanic eruptions change the terrain. Rain is rare, temperatures vacillate wildly and the atmosphere at this altitude is transparent and luminous. Although the conditions are harsh, many plant and vegetable species exist here and have adapted to the demands of the climate and terrain.
Padre Le Paige Museum/ Quitor Fortress
Duration: 3 to 4 hours
Level of difficulty: Easy
Through vestiges of history and the occupation of the area, we can get an idea of what has happened here in the past. The idiosyncrasies of a people and their culture come to light in visits to the archeological museum in San Pedro de Atacama as does the visit to the “pukara” or fort of Quitor.
Duration: 3 hours
Level of difficulty: Easy
Heading West, we take the road towards Calama and travel until we pass the village of Mantancilla. Here we will find the Rainbow Valley, which is part of the Domeyko mountain range. The range of colours in the landscape is incredible, with a variety of hues produced by the minerals in the area that have been exposed to various environmental and erosive processes. We walk for around 30 minutes in the area before heading back towards the area of Hierbas Buenas, where we will visit an ancient natural refuge, made of compact volcanic ash, and which was used by the local shepherds. There are also many petroglyphs of great archaeological and historical importance, which we will view before returning to the hotel.
Rupestrian art displays many forms of expression- man has tried to record experiences, common elements, symbols and signs. The description and understanding of them through the science of archaeology gives us the tools to understand. Petroglyph: an inscription or engraving on rock, fundamentally made by hand and with another hard object. These places are now in the middle of nowhere, yet once were important stops on ancient trade routes, they lie witness to the travellers, shamans and merchants of the past who converged here and left evidence of their stories.