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What to see in Chile Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos

What to see in Chile

Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos

Tourist attractions Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos

In the middle of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, you’ll find the oasis of Los Flamencos National Reserve. Divided into seven separate sections, you can explore landscapes as diverse as salt flats, altiplano lagoons and rolling, dusty plans if you visit Los Flamencos National Reserve! Covering an area of 740 square kilometres in the Central Andean dry puna ecoregion, the reserve is situated at around 2,300 metres above sea level.

Los Flamencos is home to Chile’s most astounding scenery, and due to its sheer size, it’s recommended to spend at least a few days exploring its unique sections to get a good overview of this bucket-list-worthy reserve.

What makes Los Flamencos National Reserve so special is the diversity between its different areas. In some parts, you can view huge flocks of flamingos bathing in saline lagoons, whilst the more barren areas offer you the chance to watch the sunset over the aptly named ‘Valley of the Moon’. See llamas in their natural habitat, spot rare Andean birdlife and discover the jaw-dropping sight of the third largest salt flat on the earth. A trip to Los Flamencos National Reserve is a journey through one of the most remote destinations in the world.

To travel to Los Flamencos, you’ll probably want to base yourself in the nearby town of San Pedro de Atacama. This is the most popular jumping-off point for adventures into the reserve. Activities such as birdwatching, hiking, horseriding and wildlife spotting are the most popular things to do in Los Flamencos National Reserve, although simply contemplating the landscapes will surely keep you occupied! With its desert climate, you can expect large temperature fluctuations between day and night. 

Things to see in Los Flamencos National Reserve

Of all the natural attractions to experience in this vast reserve, the Valle de la Luna, or Valley of the Moon is the most popular and perhaps the most unusual. This ancient landscape is like something from another planet, with its rugged rock formations and shifting sand dunes resembling the surface of the moon. Watching the sunrise or sunset at the Valley of the Moon is one of the most popular things to do in Los Flamencos National Reserve, as the shadows cast by the rocks create an unforgettable sight. Furthermore, a bicycle trail links the valley with nearby San Pedro de Atacama town.

The largest salt flat in Chile, the Salar de Atacama is an unmissable highlight of this national reserve. A magical place home to some of the most unique landscapes imaginable, this vast salt flat is boarded by volcanoes and saline lagoons and stretches way beyond the confines of Los Flamencos Reserve. In fact, it covers an area of 3,000 square kilometres in total! In the midsts of the seemingly lifeless Salar de Atacama, you’ll find the heavenly Laguna Chaxa, one of the best things to see in Los Flamencos National Reserve. This pastel-hued lagoon is a natural oasis, supporting a large population of flamingos. In fact, three of the six known species of flamingos can be found here: the Chilean, Andean and James flamingos. A bird-watching paradise, visit early in the morning to catch a glimpse of the flamingos at feeding time. 

Another curious sight to visit within the reserve is the Monjes de la Pacana, or ‘Pacana Monks’. Not real monks but rather vertical rock formations found within the Agua Calientes salt flat. The remains of ancient volcanic eruptions these strange monoliths appear to keep guard over the otherwise barren landscape!

Finally, if you travel to Los Flamencos National Reserve, be sure to make a stop at Tulor Village, an ancient archaeological site not far from the Valley of the Moon. The ruined village dates back to around the 8th-century, but some parts are thought to be even older! These remains of adobe houses and other structures cover an area of around 2 kilometres. Little is known about the inhabitants of this place or why they disappeared, but it’s certainly one of the most fascinating things to see in Los Flamencos National Reserve. 


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