Lauca National Park is located in the furtherest northern part of Chile just across the border of Bolivia and neighboring Sajama National Park. The park encompasses an area of 532 square miles (1,379 sq km).
The Bolivia-Chile Payachata volcanic group along with Guallatiri and Acotango volcanoes serve as the foundation of the national park creating striking panoramic landscapes. Accordingly, volcanic calderas, lava fields, and lakes have added to the interest and intrigue of the park.
Lake Chungara and Lake Cotacotani are located in the central part of the park. The lakes are located at an altitude of over 14,800 feet (4,511 m). These lakes, along with Lauca River and Lluta River create a variety of waterways for the aquatic enthusiasts.
The park is situated amongst the Andean Mountains which represent the longest continental mountain range in the world. The leading volcanoes are over 19,000 feet (5,791 m).
The cougar sits atop the food chain and is one of the most coveted wildlife sightings. Other mammals include alpaca, guanaco, llama, taruca, and vicuna. Bird watchers gravitate to Lauca with over 140 species of bird that nest or migrate through the park creating one of the leading birding watching destinations in the country. The Chilean flamingo, Andean condor, and Andean goose are some of the hopeful sightings.
The Andean mountain, often referred to as the Andes, are majestic mountains that create towering landscapes. Being amongst these giants is often a highlight for most travelers.
Guallatiri is a stratovolcano that reaches a summit of 19,918 feet (6,071 m). The last eruption occured in 1960. It features multiple fumaroles across the summit region. From 18,000 feet (5,500 m) and up, the volcano is snow-capped year round.
The cone is fairly symmetrical, however the summit is more dome shaped.
Acotango Volcano is one of the tallest stratovolcanoes that is situated on the border between Bolivia and Chile. It reaches a summit of 19,856 feet (6,052 m) coming in just under Guallatiri.
It is the tallest compared to Capurata (19,652 feet (5,990 m) and Umurata 18,799 feet (5,730 m) which make up the Kimsa Chata group of volcanoes that straddle across the border of the two countries.
Lake Chungara is located at 14,820 feet (4,517 m) in the region of the Andes that makes up the national park. The lake features a surface area of approximately 8.7 square miles (22.5 sq km). It reaches a depth of 131 feet (40 m). It is one of the highest lakes in the world.
Lake Cotacotani is a neighboring lake to Chungara. It is situated at an elevation of 14,747 feet (4,495 m). It features a surface area of 2.3 square miles (6 sq km). The lakes work together to create one of the leading attractions of the park.
Lauca National Park Trails
Hiking and trekking are the most commonly experienced activities of the park. It is one of the best ways to experience this world biosphere reserve. Because of the altitude and elevation gain, most trails are rated moderate to more challenging.
Plaza de Putre - Rio Putre Trail
This is a 1.7 mile ( km) trek that features an elevation gain of 380 feet ( m). Hikers will travel along the river experiencing stunning panoramic views. One of the highlights is the historic old church.
Parinacota Volcan Trail
This is a challenging hike up the volcano with an elevation gain of 2,368 feet ( m) while covering a distance of 14.4 miles. Along with the elevation gain, parts of the trail may be washed out or rocky creating more rugged terrain.
Lauca National Park was created to protect the lacustrine region and the puna ecoregion of the park. This region of Chile is one of the most coveted for the variety of bird species that nest among the parks border. The park also protects the vegetationa and habitat of the varied wildlife living in the area.
- Guallatiri Volcano
- Acotango Volcano
- Lake Chungara
- Lake Cotacotani
- Go Chile, Lauca National Park, https://www.gochile.cl/en/lauca-national-park/, retrieved January 2022.
- LAC Geo, Lauca National Park and Biosphere Reserve, https://lacgeo.com/lauca-national-park-biosphere-reserve-chile, retrieved January 2022.
- Visit Chile, Lauca National park, https://www.visitchile.com/en/lauca-national-park/, retrieved January 2022.
- Wikipedia, Lauca National park, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauca_National_Park, retrieved January 2022.
- World Atlas, Lauca National Park Chile, https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/lauca-national-park-of-chile.html, retrieved January 2022.