Lauca National Park is an 1379 km² protected area in Northern Chile. It's located in the Andean range and is characterized by volcanic mountains. It's also a good place to spot many typically Andean animals, from alpacas and llamas to flamingos and – if you're lucky – condors.
The park was opened in 1965 and is 1379 km² in size.
Mainly altoplano and mountains, the latter consisting mainly of enormous volcanoes. There are also several lagoons and one of the highlights of the park is the lake Chungará.
Flora and fauna
Vicuñas, vizcachas, alpacas, llamas, guanacos. There are 140 species of birds like puna ibis, Andean goose, giant coot, puna tinamou, silvery grebe, crested duck, puna teal, Andean condor and Chilean flamingo.
The day temperatures are between 5-20°C. The nights can be very cold (down to -15°C).
A popular way to enter the park is to head for Putre first. At just 12 km from the park, this is a good place to get acclimatized to the altitude.
You can book a tour from Arica or Putre. The tours are from one to three days. Before booking a one day tour be aware that the park is at 4500 m.
If you want to go on our own, you can take a Bus Arica-La Paz and hop off at the CONAF station at the Chungará lake close before the Bolivian border.
Because the international Route 11 runs through the park you can also try your luck with hitchhiking.
Fees and permits
The park is free.
- Lago Chungará: Is one of the hightest lakes in the world (4520 m). It offers a spectacular view and has plenty of wildlife.
- Laguana de Cotacotani: A group of very nice lagoons.
- Vulcanos: There a several volcanoes inside the park and most of them are higher than 6000 m. The highest and most spectacular one is Vulcán Parinacota (6342 m).
- Visit the small village of Parinacota with its nice old church.
Hiking, climbing, enjoying the landscape and the silence (a bit off the road of course).
There is a restaurant at the international road in a village called Chucuyo. It serves basic menus, mainly for the truckers. A second option is the restaurant in the village of Parinacota, but it might have closed.
- The CONAF-station at the lake offers 4 basic beds (CLP$5,000).
- There is a hospedaje in Parinacota, but don't count that it is open for sure. Some of the inhabitants of the village offer private accommodation as well.
There is a small camping site just near the CONAF-station.
Las Vicuñas National Reserve is its neighbour to the south.