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Laguna Chungará - Birdwatching - Chile

Lago Chungará, at the east end of Parque Nacional Lauca, is the park’s largest lake, covering 21.5 square kilometers (8.3 square mi). Its deepest point is 37 meters (120 ft). At an altitude of 4,517 meters (14,680 ft), this is the world’s highest non-navigable lake. Chungará is a major bird habitat. Species include the Tagua Gigante (Giant Coot, Fulica gigantea), Pato Juarjual (Crested Duck, Lophonetta specularioides alticola), Pato Jergón Grande (Yellow-billed Pintail, Anas georgica), Pato Puna (Puna Teal, Anas puna), Tagua Chica (White-winged Coot, Fulica leucoptera), Yeco (Neotropic Cormorant, Phalacrocorax brasilianus) and Flamenco Chileno (Chilean Flamingo, Phoenicopterus chilensis), among others. On the shores graze vicuña (Vicugna vicugna). Other common mammals are lauchón orejudo boliviano (Bolivian big-eared mouse, Auliscomys boliviensis), lauchón orejudo común (leaf-eared mouse, Phyllotis darwini) and vizcacha (Lagidium viscacia). Lago Chungará’s blue waters reflect Volcán Parinacota’s snow-glazed peak (6,342 m / 20,612 ft). To the east are the nevados Quimsachatas and Quisiquine, both over 6,000 meters (19,500 feet) high. A 30-minute interpretive trail with five observation points leads you through an important part of the wetlands. The path begins at the mirador along the main road (Ruta CH-11). Nearby is a tambo, or roadside inn dating from the Inca period.


Birdwatching Types:

Getting There
Lago Chungará is near the far east end of Parque Nacional Lauca, along Ruta CH-11, 37 kilometers (22.5 mi) from the western entry near Putre and 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) from the eastern entry, Tambo Quemado, on the Bolivian border.

Travel Tips: This is the only place in the park where you can camp. Sites here have stone wall wind breaks. There is also a refuge with an equipped kitchen (per person, per night: Chileans $7, foreigners $19). At the ranger station are an information office, bathrooms and a souvenir stand.


When hiking around the lake do not leave the trail. The ground is delicate and many of the plant species are endangered.


Conaf has a good, free pamphlet of the hike, available only in Spanish.

Price Description: Free.

Relative price: Budget

Open Hours from:Dawn

Open Hours to:Dusk

Travel Skills: None

You Need to Bring: Bring warm clothing, as weather conditions change quickly. Use a high-factor sunscreen and UV sunglasses. Carry food and water. If you plan to take a dip in Termas de Jurasi or other hot springs, take along a swim suit and towel.

Hiking and climbing to the other attractions in Parque Nacional Lauca: Las Cuevas, Parinacota village and its Bofedales, Cerro Guane Guane and Laguna de Cotacotani. Visiting Putre and the villages of the Precordillera de Belén, Reserva Nacional Las Vicuñas, Monumento Natural Salar de Surire.

Currencies accepted
Chilean Peso

Here are other activities in and around Parque Nacional Lauca that may be of interest: Laguna de Cotacotani,

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