El Alto El Loa is considered a green sector within the Atacama desert and can be visited from San Pedro de Atacama on a full day tour. It is characterized by its villages that keep the Aymara influence alive, its orchards on terraces, huge bofedales and important archaeological remains that remain intact until today.
Alto El Loa is located more than 160 kilometers from San Pedro de Atacama and 50 kilometers from Calama. It is a green valley where plantations of carrots, maize and betarragas that are watered by tributaries of the river Loa abound. In some towns like Caspana, you can find flowers of all colors, which are sold in Calama.
Caspana is located 85 kilometers from Calama, but can also be reached from San Pedro de Atacama. Animals abound like flames, sheep that are quietly grazing. Herbs and alfalfa abound and the houses are built of stone mixed with mud and thatched roofs. The church dates back to XVII and the archaeological museum can learn more about the history of the Andean Atacama peoples.
There is also the town of Ayquina, renowned for its carnival, a feast in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe de Ayquina on September 7 and 8. More than 7 thousand tourists come from different parts of Chile to witness dances and colorful costumes that are used there. At any time of the year, no more than 50 people live in the village.