Putre is a village in the Arica y Parinacota province of Chile. Putre is on the edge of the Lauca National Park, and is popular with visitors to the National Park wishing to acclimatize to the altitude.
At an altitude of 3,500 m (11,483 ft), the town is backdropped by Taapaca volcanic complex.
Putre has a high plateau climate, typical of the Chilean-Bolivian highlands, for which the rains are much more frequent between December and March. Temperatures rarely reach 20°C in summer, and in winter there is hardly any frost.
It is 130 km (81 mi) east of Arica.
- La Paloma leaves from Arica, but not from the main bus terminal, daily at 07:00 except 25 Dec and 1 Jan. The bus leaves from the "Market Tucapel", located in the street GermánRiesco #2071 in the city of Arica. Also the way back from Putre to Arica can be realized with "La Paloma", they leave every day at 14:00.
- International bus between Arica and La Paz, Bolivia leaves Arica daily and stops at Alto Putre (5 km from Putre village); ask at the bus ticket office.
From Arica, the fare is around 70,000 pesos.
from Arica is about 140 km on the national highway 11. There are no filling stations in Putre or anywhere else along that road.
Mr. Oriolf (+56 9 928 26 194) owns a tour company in town and is very friendly. He takes you through Parque Nacional Lauca (for about 45,000 pesos) and to Salar de Surire in groups up to five and shows you some off the track places. Of course, you see flamingos and alpacas as well. Terrace Lodge & Tours , in Putre, takes up to 4 persons to most places in this Region.
One of the tourist landmarks of the village is the O'Higgins, the oldest street which has a ditch (acequión) in the middle crossed by bridges of stone benches. Many houses in the urban space conserve carved stone portals and window sills from the 17th century, a time of greatest economic boom. However, the current buildings are mostly from the 19th century and these old decorative elements are reused, as is frequent in buildings in La Colonia.
From the town, you can see the terraces of the Chilcacahua river ravine (to the north), with plantations of alfalfa, oregano, potatoes and other vegetables. At the entrance to the town, corrals of llamas and alpacas can be seen, which are destined for export. The square has many trees and is very well cared for. Around it is the building of the municipality and the government, the Parinacota Radio station, the church and the parish house.
- Iglesia de San Ildefonso, Church of Putre: It was built in 1670 to replace the old church, destroyed by an earthquake and which, according to the chroniclers, was covered in gold and silver. Its stone façade, the choir and the exterior enclosure are the product of a restoration in 1871. The bell tower is older, of a date that is unknown. The access patio is paved in a mosaic style; the nave is made of adobe, whose structure is 33 m long and 6 m high. Its altar, with a light blue painted stone altarpiece, dates from 1895, while the choir has a stone access ladder, through the baptistery. It is a National Monument.
Parque Nacional Lauca
East of Putre Lauca National Park is one of the most popular attractions in Chile. You can see many mammals and birds: alpacas, lamas, vicuñas, guanacos, viscachas, flamingos, gulls, Andean geese, Andean flickers etc. Sometimes Condors appear.
Within the Lauca National Park there are the "Cotacotani" lagoons, the village of Parinacota with its pretty four centuries old church and the Chungarà Lake, the highest in the world at 4,520 m. To enjoy the park is strongly suggested to spend the previous night in Putre since you will need to acclimatize and will have more time to enjoy the trip.
Walk on the edge of Chungará lake to see a spectacular view of the Parinacota volcano and many birds. Early morning is the best time for visiting.
Walk down to the Cotacotani Lagoons, or walk 9.5 km to reach the village of Parinacota through the lagoons.
Visit the Sector Las Cuevas in the afternoon, when many vicuñas will be at only 15 m from your camera.
Go swimming in a hot pool at Termas de Jurasi (3000 pesos): the access road forks off from the main highway to Lauca National Park at a signposted junction a few kilometres above Putre, see map
The church's main religious festivals are Carnival, in February; the Virgen de la Asunta, on August 15; Cristo Rey, the last Sunday in October and Pachayampe (potato festival), the first week of November.
Items in alpaca wool.
Alpaca meat and "llaita" (fresh water algae) are two local specialties.
"Mate de coca" and "mate de chachacoma" are local hot drinks to reduce the symptoms of the altitude sickness. Sometimes you can order a mix of these two plants.
The accommodation in Putre ranges from basic hostel, with common bathroom, no breakfast and no heating, to more comfortable hostel or lodges. Due to the altitude (3,550 m) most travellers prefer to spend the night in a comfortable room, possibly heated. In autumn and winter the night temperatures are always negative.
- 1 La Chakana, ☏ . It consists of a couple of bungalows in a quiet setting about 10 min by foot from the village centre. Each has a spacious room with heating and bathroom. The breakfast is unusually rich with different kinds of cereals, marmalade, cheese and sausage plus fruit juice and yoghurt.
- Terrace Lodge & Tours. It has twin and double rooms with heating, en-suite bathroom and other amenities
If you intend to go hiking off the beaten track discuss your plans with local people or authorities. There are minefields in border areas.