4 days / 3 nights
The Lickan-Antay region, later called “Atacama” by the Spanish Conquerors, was populated about 12.000 years ago, in the area from the Atacama salt flat up to the altitudes of the Andes. Previous to the Inca domination in the 15th century the Lickan-Antay Culture was strongly influenced by the Tiwanaku Culture. The arrival of the Spanish Conquerors in this area of the Atacama desert, preluded the downfall of the Lickan-Antay Culture and their language, the Kunza.
This diverse 4-day tour in the north of Chile, will let us get into the rituals, traditions and the way of living of the Atacameño Culture (also called Lickan-Antay Culture). Accompanied by people of the Andean Community we will visit the region main sites: the Atacama Salt flat, the Moon Valley, the Natural Reserve “Los Flamencos” as well as some of these culture mystical sites, where their ancestors settled thousands of years ago in the oasis of the driest desert of the world, the Atacama desert.
The tour starts in the North of Chile (Atacama Desert)! You will have to take a flight to the Calama airport. Once you are here you will be transferred to San Pedro de Atacama, a colorful and unusual village located 2,300 meters above sea level and surrounded by a beautiful green oasis in the middle of the desert. On the limits of San Pedro de Atacama there are several small villages of indigenous communities of the Atacameños (or Lick-Antay in their original language Kunza). These localities are called Ayllus – in Kunza this means an organized structure of neighborhood assistance based on the land rights of the common ancestors and expressing the importance of community co-operation.
In San Pedro de Atacama you will see a variety of small cozy restaurants, and there will be some time for lunch or for having a snack. Then we drive about five kilometers towards the southwest and reach the community Ayllu de Coyo. Upon arrival, we will visit two of the Atacameño families and they will guide us through their traditional paths, showing us the local irrigation system and animal husbandry, as well as the production of Atacameños artisan handicrafts. The sale of these handmade goods is nowadays more difficult by the increased supply of foreign goods (mostly coming from Bolivia and Peru) in the local markets.
Tonight you are staying in the Hotel Altiplanico.
Today will have an amazing day…we will start with this tour in this area of the Atacama desert! During the morning we visit the impressive Moon Valley “Valle de la Luna”. It is located about 18 kilometers west of San Pedro de Atacama and it is part of the “Los Flamencos” Natural Reserve, which is co-managed by the Atacameño communities. This unreal place, one of the most spectacular of the Atacama Desert, is called like this because of its unique geological formations that are very similar to a lunar landscape. Here we will explore this beautiful landscape and visit the strange shapes nature has created out of salt and clay.
After picnic/lunch you will visit the lakes Tebenquiche and Laguna Cejar, which are located in the northern part of the Atacama Salt Flat. This is the largest salt lake in the world, created millions of years ago by the transformation of the Andean and the Domeyko Mountain Ranges. It is impressive to observe at the spreading salt crusts in octagonal shape in the middle of the driest desert in the world. Here we can also observe the three flamingo species that feed on the brine of salt.
Finally, the Laguna Cejar offers us an extraordinary pleasure: due to its high concentration of minerals, we have the opportunity to swim/float in the water. We go back to our Hotel “Altiplanico”.
(Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)
Today it is all about the Atacameño traditions! We will learn a lot about this culture. First, a unique experience waits for us in the morning – the traditional caravan. This walk with llamas allows us to bring back to life this centuries-old way of moving in the desert. At the same time our tour guide will teach us a lot about these symbolic animals of the Andes.
Later on, we will visit the community of Ayllu Vilama in the “Cordillera de la Sal” (Salt Range) with its old watermill used by the villagers for a century. Here we can also lend a hand and do some of their daily activities with the members of the Atacameño community.
On the way back we will see again the Cordillera de la Sal, an impressive mountain chain of folded sedimentary rocks with salt deposits.
In the evening we will share a unique cosmic experience: members of the Atacameño community will introduce us to the world of Andean astronomy, to the ancient systems of Lickan Antay for getting orientation from the stars.
Overnight in Hotel Altiplanico.
(Breakfast and picnic-lunch included)
Today our adventure in the Atacama desert finishes. After breakfast we will go to the airport in Calama. If you want there is a possibility to extend your stay to have the chance to visit the Tatio Geysers or the Chuquicamata copper mine, the biggest one in the world. Let us know if you are interested to organize it.
We know you will never forget this experience in this part of Chile!