Located in the far north, the Lauca National Park has the highest lake in the world, the Chungara, whose waters reflect the snow on the Parinacota volcano. This volcano is a favourite with tourists due to its natural beauty and the breathtaking views it offers from the impressive height of 6350m. Visitors who reach the top can see the 700m wide and 240m deep crater which reveals that the volcano is still active. However, the last eruption was between 500 and 600 years ago and treks up the mountain are deemed safe.
In Lauca National Park, 137,883 hectares of flora and fauna are protected by its Reserve of the Biosphere status. There are two distinct climates in the North of Chile. Below 3,500 metres and in the Atacama Desert especially, the weather is dry, meaning only limited vegetation can grow there. However, above 3,500 metres (the location of Lauca National Park), the tropical Amazonian influence becomes evident, leading to a wealth of flora and fauna.
Here, travellers can observe llamas, vicuna and viscachas (a type of large hare with small ears and the tail of a squirrel), as well as over 100 different species of bird. Rheas (small ostriches) often cross the roads at speed, while hundreds of Andean flamingos bow into the water. These majestic birds are the largest type of flamingo living in Northern Chile. There are various species of cactus, including the candelabra, which can grow to be 49 feet high.
Lucky visitors may even witness lava rivers from the park's several volcanoes pouring down the valleys from 6000ft above sea level.