- Atacama Desert & Altiplano
- Volcán Isluga National Park
Located in the middle of the Highlands, the Volcán Isluga National Park is characterized by being surrounded by volcanoes, lakes and sacred mounts of the aymara people. It is one of the areas with the greatest biodiversity of the Andean altiplano.
With an area of 174.744 hectares, Volcán Isluga National Park has a remarkable relief of heights and fabulous flora and fauna, that covers the pre-Andean area and the Andean high pleateau. It is located in the Región de Tarapacá, 232 km. northeast of Iquique, and its average height is 4.000 mts. Tradition and modernity merge in this park, creating a unique environment. The park is open all year for tours and visits.
Located in Colchane, it features the hills Latarama, Tatajachura and Qinsacata (5207, 5252 and 5400 mts. respectively), and Isluga Volcano, which gives the name to the park.
Declared a National Park in 1967, it has bushes, cacti, qeuñoa, and high altitude flora, located in the Pre-Andean area. It is also possible to find flora in the high pleateau, with paja brava (Panicum prionitis) and moors over 4.000 in humid areas.
Location: It is administratively located in the districts of Colchague and Huara, in the provice of Tamarugal.
When to go: Year round
Climate: The predominant climate between 2.800 and 4.000 mts. is high altitude desert climate, and high steppe between 4.000 and 5.000 mts.
Between December and March there is abundant rain due to the altiplanic winter, with temperatures ranging between 0º and 20º C, and between 10º and -20º in winter, without rain
Services: Information center, park rangers.
Attractions in Volcán Isluga National Park
What to see:
Apart from the impressive Isluga volcano and the incredible natural manifestations in the park, the most important attraction is Puchuldiza geothermic field, made up by geysers and thermal springs, with waters reaching up to 85ºC. From its ten fumaroles you can witness the beautiful sunrise in summer. The water freezes in winter, creating splendid blocks of ice. You will find other, more rustic springs going around the roads that surround the area.
What to do:
In the area you can also visit several pre-hispanic towns, where you can buy traditional products like alpaca knitting, pottery, and carved stone craft works.
Walking along the trails you will get the chance to observe and appreciate various vegetal and ecologic environments, such as the one in Arabilla Lagoon. Here, you can observe species like the Chilean flamingo and a huge variety of birds.
- Laguna Arabilla Trail: This 600 mt. trail is covered in about 30 minutes. It has five stations or viewponts, one of which can be reached by car. It allows for the observation of several living environments and vegetal associations, such as Arabilla lagoon, Andean steppes, and humid steppes. Here you can observe the Chilean flamingo and a wide variety of birds.
- Pukará de Isluga Trail: This 3 km. trail is demarcated by stones that come from the highway joining Enquelga and Colchane. It reaches the peak of a hill, from where you can witness the majesty of the landscape. It is not recommended for people who suffer or have suffer from mountain sickness.
Natural Heritage in Volcán Isluga National Park
The mountains in this park exceed the 2.100 mts, with temperatures that range between the 5 and 10º C. One of the most remarkable peaks is Isluga Volcano, with 5.530 mts.
Flora: In this park there are vegetal comunities called desert bushes, which include species like cacti, columnar cacti, tolar, llareta, gueñoal, and moors.
Fauna:The fauna in this area fetures species like guanaco, vicuna, llama, alpaca, southamerican gray fox, vizcacha, darwin's leaf eared mouse, yellow billed pintail, white-faced ibis, hen harrier, condors, and many others.
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 Iquique.
- Bus: From Santiago to Iquique.
- Tour: From Iquique to Volcán Isluga National Park.
For more information about prices press the next link: http://www.conaf.cl/parques/parque-nacional-volcan-isluga/
Since this traveling destinations is a coastal zone, the weather is desertic and very dry. There aren’t any extremes temperatures in the coastal area during the day or night. The average annual temperature is 18 ° C.
Many of the excursions and tours that are done here take you to visit places that are in the Chilean plateau, 3,500 above sea levels. This means that people may experience altitude sickness. It is important that people drink lots of water so they keep their body well hydrated. People shouldn’t make sudden or harsh movements, and let their body get used to the heights and the altitude.
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.