Known as the 'city of eternal spring' for its pleasant climate, Arica is the capital of the state bordering Peru and Bolivia in the far north of Chile. Situated on the coast with pretty squares and attractive beaches nearby, the Musuem of San Miguel of Azapa has archeaological finds dating back more than ten thousand years. It is also more importantly the departure point for visits to the Lluta and Azapa Valleys, the highlands with scenic villages such as Parinacota and Putre, as well as the spectacular wild Lauca National Park, the National Reserve of Las Vicunas and the Surire Salt Flats.
Located at 3500 above sea level, the highland village of Putre with its Andean colonial architecture makes a great base for visiting the parks of the region. It is still a ritual centre for the Aymara indian population with a popular craft market and a beautiful 18th century church.
Lauca National Park, named as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO (together with Las Vicunas National Reserve and Surire Salt Flats), is a wildly beautiful high Andes region close to the Bolivian border. The typical flora and fauna includes camelliods, vizcachas and varied birdlife as well as the spectacular Chungara Lake and the Parinacota, Pomerape and Guallatire volcanoes.
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