Chile is a long and narrow country which stretches for more than 4,000 kilometers from the Peruvian border in the north to Tierra de Fuego in the south between the Pacific and the Andes. Some of the most barren regions in the southern hemisphere are to be found in northern Chile, especially in the Atacama Desert. Legend has it that no rain has fallen here since the arrival of the conquistadors 500 years ago.
The altiplano (high plateau) extends along the Chilean border and into Bolivia. In the high altitude deserts of the Southern Lipez and the Atacama, considered the most arid on Earth, fascinating landscapes offer a collision of colors. Nature has painted a surreal picture here with blinding whites in the salt flats, ocher hues in the volcanoes and brilliant turquoise blues in the lagoons. Arid landscapes and the luminous atmosphere invite comparisons of this region with Tibet.
Our trip leaves from Calama at the edge of the Atacama desert and ends at Iquique on the Pacific coast. This 2000 kilometer journey on back roads in four wheel drive vehicles is punctuated by moderate hikes permitting visits to the Tatio geysers, the Lagunes Verde, the Colorada and also the Atacama and Uyuni "salars" (salt flats).
Summit seekers will find fulfillment in the ascensions of three volcanoes; the Licancabur (5916m), the Uturunco (6020m) and the Tunupa (5400m). These climbs present no particular technical difficulties (no crampon use, etc) and allow contemplation of the immense salt flats dominated by these peaks.
In this primitive natural environment where topography and climate unite to render the earth sterile and where the mark of man is rare, we nonetheless will find an abundance of Andean fauna: nandus, vicunas, llamas, pink flamingos...Join us for a magical journey in astonishing surroundings!
Organisé par Frédéric Cambe, guide de la Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix.
Day 1: Evening departure from Paris (London,Geneva…) on regularly scheduled flight.
Day 2: Midday arrival in Santiago,Chile. Transfer to hotel in town center. First impressions of this capital city and its many faces, where colonial churches juxtapose modern skyscrapers in the business quarter. Evening with traditional Chilean ambiance.
Day 3: Early morning flight to Calama. Meet our local guides and 4x4s. Visit Chiu-Chiu, a superb Indian village. Drive to the pretty town of Caspana (3200 m). Acclimatizing walk on the plateau and along the Rio Salado gorges. Overnight in lodge in Caspana.
Day 4: One hour drive from Caspana. 2-3 hour hike at 4000m to the Tatio geysers via the Vizcacha pass. Overnight in mountain hut next to the geysers at an altitude of 4300m. Baths in hot springs at over 4000m. Just us and the sunset – a unique experience.
Day 5: El Tatio (4200m) geyser show! (4200m) At daybreak, cooler temperatures combine with steaming geysers to create a spectacular display. Transfer to San Pedro d'Atacama. Lunch at our hotel followed by an unforgettable visit to the Valley of the Moon. Overnight in hotel.
Day 6: Morning departure for the Miniques et Miscanti (4200m) lagoons. Hike around the lagoons on the slopes of Cerro Miniques. Afternoon visit to Tocoano and to Quebrada de Jerez, an oasis complete with irrigated fruit orchards in the middle of the desert. Return to San Pedro and late after-noon hike in the dunes of Valley of the Dead. Splendid sunset is on the program!
Day 7: Departure for Salar de Tara. Superb hike at more than 4300 m of altitude near the Argentinean border. Cross into Bolivia in the afternoon. Overnight at Lagune Verdé hut (4500m) to prepare ascension of the Licancabur volcano.
Day 8: Ascension of Licancabur (5916m). Seven hours of effort and 1300 meters of vertical gain to reach the waters of the crater – the world’s highest unfrozen lake. Views from the summit of the Laguna Verde and the south Bolivian Lipez are simply unreal. The vibrant colors of the lagoons separate the sky and swaths of the surrounding hills with spectacular intensity. Return to hut on the shore of the lagoon for a well earned rest.
Day 9: Departure for Laguna Colorada where pink flamingoes mingle with vicunas and alpacas. Enroute to the Sol de Mañana geysers, astonishing spectacle born of a boiling planet. Baths in hot springs. Late afternoon arrival in Quetena, a tiny Bolivian village on the isolated altiplano. Overnight in lodge.
Day 10: Easy climb of the Uturunco volcano (6020m), after two hours on a dirt road to the entrance of an old mine at more than 5700m of altitude. Transfer to Villama, a village lost in the middle of the altiplano. Overnight in a lodge with showers!
Day 11: Traverse the Salar d’Uyuni. Visit town and then cross the salt flats to Inkawasi island and its giant cacti. Overnight in lodge in Coquesa, an Indian village at the foot of the Tunupa volcano.
Day 12: Ascension of Tunupa (5400m). Incredible views of the Salar d’Uyuni which covers 3,000 square kilometers. Yet another colorful shock between the immaculate white of the beds of salt and the pigmented minerals in the flanks of the volcano. Overnight in Coquesa.
Day 13: Transfer day. Cross the Salar de Coïpasa. Re-enter Chile at the village of Colchane. Settle into village hostel. Visit the Isluga reserve in late afternoon.
Day 14: Morning departure for Iquique. Visit this city situated between the Pacific (and its sea lions) and the desert dunes. Afternoon flight to Santiago. Dinner in a Chilean cabaret. Overnight in hotel.
Day 15: Visit Valparaiso, legendary port with its narrow streets and cable cars from another era. Spectacular night in a unique Art Deco hotel overlooking Valparaiso.
Day 16: Santiago. Early afternoon flight.
Day 17: Midday arrival in Europe destinations.
Dates : 28 october -13 November 2016
Price : 2990€ (not including flights)
(approximately 1,200€ -1,400€ for international + regional flights)
Price does not include :
drinks or personal expenses (equipment rental, extra baggage charges, telephone, insurance including: accident, personal, civil liability, cancelation, repatriation, etc.)