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Getting to and away from Monumento Natural Salar de Surire

The only way to visit Monumento Natural Salar de Surire is on tour or in a private or rented vehicle. From Reserva Nacional Las Vicuñas, continue along Ruta A-235. This is a dirt road much transited by trucks. The salar can also be reached from Colchane, through Parque Nacional Volcán Isluga (79 km / 48 mi, 2 hours).

 

From the coast, take A-31, a poor dirt road that begins 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Arica, off the Pan-American Highway (Ruta CH-11). Check with carabineros or Conaf about the condition of A-31 before setting off. There are other backroads to Salar de Surire, but maps of this part of Chile are extremely poor. From the Salar de Surire ranger station a new road heads to Parcohaylla (13 km / 8 mi; camping) and then across desolate plains inhabited only by the occasional ñandú or vicuña. The road becomes narrow and steep in parts. Twenty-two kilometres (13.5 mi) after Parcohaylla is an unmarked crossroads; go left. After 42 kilometers (25.5 mi) you’ll come to A-35, which goes to Codpa on the edge of the Precordillera de Belén and to Arica.

 

No matter which route you take, ask carabinero posts and Conaf about road conditions. During the rainy season (December-February) high-clearance vehicles with four-wheel drive or chains are recommended. Bring extra gasoline (for at least 500 kilometers / 300 miles), as there are no stations along the way. Check tires, brakes and other mechanics before setting out.










By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

25 Jun 2009




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