Main image
9th April
written by Hazel

Today we set off on a 11 hour tour of the area south of San Pedro de Atacama. We went with CosmoAndino Expeditions because we heard they had a good reputation. There are so many tours available in this town, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to pick, but we can definitely recommend these guys.

This post is going to have a lot of photos because it was an incredibly scenic day! And there are more in the gallery! Lots more!!!

They picked us up from our hostel at 7 am and after a bit of a drive around town to pick up the other passengers we set off for the Laguna de Chaxa (Chaxa Lake). The lake is in a reserve area and is part of the Salar de Atacama – the third largest salt flat in the world. Our guide, Alex, was full of information and we learned a lot about the birds, minerals, and mining in the area. But the best part was that it was chock full of flamingos and the morning light was awesome on the water!



Red mountains and pink flamingos

Salt flat in the rising sun

More salt

Me with the tour bus

We had breakfast looking out over the flamingos on their lake. The lake is 20% salt and a perfect home for the brine shrimp the flamingos like to eat.

Next we stopped at a tiny little town called Socaire. Most of the people who live there work in the lithium mines in the salt flats. We saw the terraces to grow crops and the small church.

Church and belltower

Our next stop was Lagunas Miscanti y Miñiques, also part of the reserve. On our way there we ran into a fox (not literally!) who seemed to be pretty curious about us. He posed for a good 5 minutes for photos. We also saw a new type of llamaish creature, a vicuña. You can see them if you click through to the photo gallery.

Fox looking at us

Looking cute for the camera

By this time we were at the lakes we were up at an altitude of over 4,000 meters (about 12,000 feet!) and I felt like I had to walk just a little slower than usual in order to not feel the altitude. It was totally worth it for the view though! These two lakes share names with the volcanos that tower above them and they think that the lakes were formed when the volcanos erupted and stopped a river in its tracks. Really beautiful place. We spent about an hour walking along the edge of the lakes and taking pictures and hearing about the scenery from our guide.

Beautiful lakes

Lake and Volcano

Our second to last stop for the day was another salt flat a little further south. I may be wrong, but I think it was Salar de Capur. Here we got another hour of hiking around taking pictures and the colors were absolutely awesome. Red and black hills. Green, blue, and gray water. Brilliant blue sky. So, so pretty. We even had to do a little wading through the salty water. I now owe Justin big time since he carried me piggy-back. His shoes are waterproof and mine aren’t!

Looking over the salt flat

Three Clouds

So colorful!

Looks like rain

Red Rock

Green salt water

We also had lunch here and that is when something very odd happened. It started raining and then hailing! They only get 4 millimeters of rain a year, but we got to get soaked by it! It was very short lived however.

After lunch it was time to start heading back. We had one short stop in Toconao, a small town just south of San Pedro. This stop wasn’t so interesting, but we had ice cream, so it was pretty awesome. After that it was back to town and straight to the internet cafe to admire our pretty pictures and get them up here! Loved, loved, loved today.


  1. Heather

    That first flamingo picture is amazing! :) And the fox is adorable! Looks like an awesome place.

  2. Hazel

    Thanks! It is an amazing place. Definitely never been anywhere quite like it before!

Leave a Reply