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Norte Grande

As you move north, the sun-baked hills and gentle valleys of the Norte Chico gradually give way to the more desolate plains of the Atacama desert, marking the beginning of the Norte Grande. On the eastern edge of the country, the desert climbs up into the Altiplano highlands, where salt flats and lakes spread out far into the distance, eventually spilling over into Bolivia and Argentina.

 

As a whole, the area takes up nearly a quarter of the country’s landmass, yet houses less than 5% of its inhabitants, a testimony to the aridity of the land.

 

Apart from the Lake District, the Norte Grande is the most visited area of Chile. Most people opt for a tour, as the vast and inhospitable landscape makes independent travel difficult.

 

In the Atacama desert, you can take a trip out to the nitrate ghost towns of Humberstone and Santa Laura, which can be easily accessed from the coastal town of Iquique. Another of the desert’s highlights are the immense geoglyphs carved into the side of the vast ravines, by long-departed indigenous tribes. The vast, steaming El Tatio Geysers just south of San Pedro are spectacular and also worthy of a visit.

 

Up in the highlands of the northern Altiplano, head to one of the national parks on the border of Bolivia, such as Parque Nacional Lacuna and Parque Nacional Volcan Isluga, and admire their mineral baths and shimmering blue lakes, among miles of empty salt flats.









29 Jun 2009

The highest-rated tours in Norte Grande

Mata Rangi

Mata Rangi is the one company offering tours of Arica’s bay with a focus on birdwatching. The basic one-hour tour visits bird colonies of Inca tern, boobies, cormorant, gulls, pelican, elegant ...
Tour Operator
Arica, Chile

Chuquitour

With over 20 years of tour experience, Chuquitour offers a wide range of tours in the area surrounding Calama. Organized trips include visits to local archeological sites/ruins, Atacama\'s numerous ...
Tour Operator
Calama, Chile

Peninsula Travel Service

Peninsula Travel Service offers tours of Iquique city, the ex-Salitrera route (Humberstone and Oficina Santa Laura), the hot springs at Pica, down the coast and out to see the pinturas rupestres. ...
Tour Operator
Iquique, Chile

Turismo Lirima

Turismo Lirima offers mainly all-day tours to sites in and around Iquique. The Oasis de Pica program visits Santa Laura and Humberstone, Pozo Almonte, Reserva Nacional Pampa de Tamarugal, Pica and ...
Tour Operator
Iquique, Chile

O.C. Travel

O.C. Travel has one of the most extensive lists of tours in the Iquique region. Some all-day tours offer trips to Pica and the salt mines ($36 per person) and the Mamiña hot springs ($40). This is ...
Tour Operator
Iquique, Chile

Tour Operator Summary

Most tourists quickly skip through Calama to head for San Pedro de Atacama. Calama itself is unremarkable, expensive and can be relatively dangerous in many places once the sun sets, so it is ...
Tour Operator
Calama, Chile

Tour Operator Summary

All tour operators in Putre are conveniently located on Calle Baquedano. Excursions to Parque Nacional Lauca are much cheaper to do from here than from Arica. Expect to pay about $40-70 per person. ...
Tour Operator
Putre, Chile

Atacama Connection

Atacama Connection is one of the more established tour operators in San Pedro de Atacama. The company offers excursions to the salt deserts, lagoons, mountains and valleys in the surrounding area. ...
Tour Operator
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Vulcano Expeditions

Vulcano Expeditions specializes in excursions and adventure sports. Enjoy sand surfing, biking, horse riding, volcano ascensions and tours of Geysers del Tatio, Termas de Puritama and Salar de ...
Tour Operator
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Raices Andinas

One of the most commonly used, long-recommended tour operators in Arica is Raices Andinas. It takes groups of up to six people to Parque Nacional Lauca. A four-day trip visits Reserva Nacional Las ...
Tour Operator
Arica, Chile

Parinacota Trek

141518With more than 30 years of experience travelling in the Altiplano, the owner of this travel agency, Horiols Aqueveque, arranges Tours and Treks in Northern Chile from the Atacama Desert to the Andean ...
Tour Operator
Putre, Chile

Explore the deserts of Norte Grande

Reserva Nacional Pampa del Tamarugal

133062La Pampa de Tamarugal stretches across the arid lands of Chile’s north, from Quebrada de Tana to María Elena. Across these sterile plains are vestiges of ruined civilizations: rock paintings by ...
National Park
Chile

Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos

Southeast of San Pedro de Atacama, the Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos extends over 73,986 hectares (180.4 acres) divided into seven separate sectors. With a broad palette of attractions - lagoons, ...
National Park
Chile

Parque Nacional Volcán Isluga

Just north of Colchane is Parque Nacional (PN) Volcán Isluga. This 174,744-hectare park was founded in 1967 and modified in 1985. The land rolls from 2100 meters (6825 ft) altitude to 5400 meters ...
National Park
Chile
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