- Atacama Desert & Altiplano
- Llullaillaco National Park
If you want to know a lot of guanacos and vicuñas, come to the Llullaillaco National Park, in the Antofagasta region. You can appreciate the vegetation of the desert of Atacama and meet the second highest volcano in Chile with over 6,700 meters of height.
With a wide variety of wild life, this park stands out for its high density of guanacos (lama guanicoe) and vicunas (vicugna vicugna), being the only place in the world where these two southamerican camelids share the land.
Lullaullaco National Park Basic Information
Location : North of Chile, Región de Antofagasta.
When to go : Year round
Climate : The climate is dry and the sun hits constantly. Wear sunscreen and light clothes.
Services : The park has a station in Las Zorritas Gully, where you can use the kitchen, restroom, and basic accommodation for five people. There is no specific space for camping or loding.
- Environmental Information Center, not implemented
- High mountain refuge, not implemented
- Pedestrian path, with signalled
- No tourist facilities for people with special needs
Attractions in Llullaillaco National Park
Although this park does not have facilities for tourist expeditions, it is highly visited by groups of mountaineers who want to climb the majestic Llullaillaco. With 6.739 mts, it is the second volcanic peak in Chile. According to some researches, in its top there was a pre-hispanic settlement, which was confirmed with the discovery of three Incan mummies
Besides mountaineering, in Llullaillaco there are off-road expeditions, trekking, and flora-fauna observation, especially in Las Zorritas gully. In this place you will find the CONAF station (National Forest Corporation), the institution in charge of maintaining the area.
Llullaillaco National Park was created and declared a scientific place for mining purposes by the National Goods Ministry in 1995.
Llullaillaco National Park Natural Heritage
Flora : Several studies have determined that in this park there are 93 different species, distributed in 29 families and 58 genuses. According to the classification proposed by Gajardo (1994), Lullaillaco National Park presents the ecologic regions of the Desert and the High Andean Steppe.
The Desert region belongs to the Andean Desert sub-region, which in turn includes the mountain desert of Domeyko Range.
The High Andean Steppe corresponds to the Altiplano and La Puna, which include the Salty Andes Desert Steppe.
In the desert region you will find the traditional desert flora, with bushes and sub-bushes. There are also some flowers, like cachiyuyo (Atriplex atacamensis), oreganillo (Acantholippia trifida), trun (Acaena canescens), salpiglossis (Salpiglossis parvulus), calpiche (Lycium minutiflorum), allaval (Adesmia atacamensis), cauchal (Coldenia atacamensis), cachiyuyo (Atriplex microphylla), malvilla (Cristaria andicola) and pata de pizaca (Fabiana bryoides).
In the desert steppe, vegetation is very sparse, with species like bitter coirón (Stipa chrysophylla), coirón (Stipa atacamensis), tola vaca (Parastrephia lepidophylla), oreganillo (Acantholippia trifida), malvilla (Cristaria andicola), cachiyuyo (Atriplex microphylla), and pata de pizaca (Fabiana bryoides).
- Puma and andean fox.
- Vulnerable: vicuna, guanaco,
- Endangered: Andean chinchilla, vizcacha
- Vulnerable: punta timanou, andean goose, peregrine falcon
- Endangered: Darwin's rhea
Hydrography :There are three hydrographic basins in the area: the salt flats of Punta Negra, Pajonales, and Aguas Calientes IV.
Punta Negra Salt Flat Basin: it is an endorheic basin with a surface of 4.265 km2, going from Domeyko Mountain Range to the border with Argentina. It is fed by various streams, like the following basins: Las Zorras, Las Zorritas, del Salto, Cachiyuyo, Lullaillaco, de la Barda, Tocomar, and Barrancas Blancas. These waters do not reach Salar de Punta Negra in its surface; they go underground.
On the south side, the basin of Río Frío is the main tributary of this salt flat.
Pajonales Salt Flat Basin: this endorheic basin is immediately adjacent to Punta Negra salt flat. Its surface covers 1.976 km2, and it is located at an altitude of 3.536 mts. It contains several bodies of water, but all of them run below the surface.
The main tributaries of this salt flat are San Eulogio Basin and others coming from San Eulogio pampa and La Pena Hill.
Aguas Calientes IV Salt Flat: it is a typical endorheic, intermontane basin, belonging to Argentina and Chile, with a surface of 731 km2.
Its tributaries are La Pena basin, and others coming from the Aguas Calientes range.
There are seven geologic units in the park:
- Sea sedimentary rocks of Devonian age, which can be found on the northeast of Tocomar hill.
- Intrusive, granite rocks, belonging to the middle Paleozoic. They appear between Las Zorras gully and Tocomar hill.
- Intrusive, plutonic rocks of Paleozoic age, appearing on the hills located in the basin of Frío river.
- Volcanic rocks associated to the Upper Paleozoic and Lower Mesozoic, which appear in Gólgota range.
- Sedimentary rocks of Jurassic age, appearing in the west of Varas range.
- Sedimentary rocks belonging to the Miocene, at the foot of the Andes, from Los Domos on the North and Frío river in the south.
- Cenozoic volcanic rocks, that are present everywhere in the Andes.
- Alluvial deposits from the Quaternary, which mainly correspond to gravel, sand, clay, and slime. They go from Frío river to Punta Negra salt flat.
From a geomorphologic point of view, there are three large morphostructural units: The Andes, The Intermontane basin, and Precordillera Domeyko.
In the Andes, the mountains' altitude range from 5.000 to 6.000, average. Some important peaks are Inca hill, Lullaillaco volcano, and the hills of Tocomar, Bayo, Silla, Dos Naciones, del León, Aguas Calientes, and de la Pena.
The Intermontane Basin corresponds to Punta Negra salt flat. In its lowest side, it has an extensive saline deposit (40 km. from north to south and 10km. from east to west).
Precordillera Domeyko ahs a continuous relief, except for Portezuelo de la Sal, which average is 3.500 mts above sea level.
The soils in the park are Entisols and Aridisols, which are poor, salty soils, with no relief or organic matter.
Llullaillaco National Park was declared a place of interest for mining purposes in 1995 by the National Goods Ministry.
The cuisine in the North of Chile is characterized by a variety of legumes and cereals, due to the arid climate. Within the most common ingredients are quinoa, a staple in the Inca culture, also is the potato, carrot and various tropical fruits like mango, passion fruit and guava.
Among typical dishes are roast alpaca cooked on firewood, chuño which is a soup-based Popes alpaca, onion, wheat and other vegetables. Also you can find al types of seafood and fishes to make differents dishes.
Further to the North, a typical sweet is the chumbeque this fact of flour, lard and layers of Orange, mango, passion fruit jams. There are also the pululos, which are a kind of very common puffed rice in the north end.
How to go
- Plane: From Santiago to Antofagasta.
- Bus: From Santiago to Antofagasta.
- Tour: From Antofagasta to Llullaillaco National Park.
For more information about prices press the next link: http://www.conaf.cl/parques/parque-nacional-llullaillaco/
This place has a desertic weather and it’s also some meters above sea levels, which means that throughout the year there is a very large temperature oscillation between day and night. The average annual temperature is between 14° C and 3 ° C.
Stores in rural areas are open all day, but they close between 13.00 and 15.00. We advise you to carry local currency (Chilean pesos), since it isn’t possible to pay with debit or credit cards in kiosks and rural stores.
Do not throw garbage on the beaches, parks or streets. To take care of our environment is everyone's responsibility. Avoid fines by following the rules.