How to visit the Altiplanic Lagoons
To experience the charms of this place, travelers should set aside a full day in their itinerary. Agencies usually leave San Pedro de Atacama very early in the morning and the beautiful roads leading to the lagoons already reflect the beauty of what lies ahead.
Along the way, as the altitude rises, you can see the vegetation change. While in the lower part the scenery is very dry, the altitude reveals very vibrant yellow vegetation.
On this route, if you’re lucky, you can see wildlife very close to the road. It’s not uncommon to come across vicuñas, foxes and also, a little more difficult to see, the small vizcatias, a species of rodent that lives among the rocks.
Upon arriving at the attraction, the beauty of the Miscanti Lagoon is the first thing that strikes the traveler. With the Miscanti Volcano in the background and other high points in the Cordillera, the blue hue of the larger of the two lagoons reflects the colors of the sky.
At this point, travelers have the opportunity to walk around and feel the energy of this place intensely. When you take the tour with an alternative agency, which prioritizes smaller groups and more time in each place, you can walk in silence and appreciate every moment of this incredible attraction.
Walking at altitude should be slow and without sudden movements, so that you don’t feel the effects of the 4,200 meters above sea level.
Walking on, you’ll reach the second lagoon, Laguna Miñiques, which, although smaller, is incomparably beautiful. On days with little wind, the lagoon becomes a perfect mirror and reflects the volcanoes around it.
It’s worth noting that the hiking route between the Altiplanic Lagoons is marked out and well signposted, and cannot be crossed outside the markings. As this is a place of fragile nature where a large number of travelers visit every day, it is essential that the rules are respected.
Tips for enjoying the tour to the Altiplanic Lagoons
As it’s a high-altitude tour, going over 4,200 meters above sea level, it’s important to be well prepared for low temperatures and strong winds. In the winter months, care must be taken. But make no mistake, even in the hottest months of the year it is possible to encounter low temperatures on high altitude tours.
Our suggestion is that you dress in layers so that, if the temperature rises during the day, you can take off the warmer layers.
As the wind can greatly affect temperatures, we recommend wearing windproof jackets and pants. For footwear, sneakers or light, well-sealed hiking boots are great options. Also remember gloves, caps and, if possible, scarves to protect you from the cold and wind.
It’s important to take a bottle of water with you to keep you hydrated throughout the day. Using sunscreen and moisturizer for your skin, especially your lips, will make a big difference during the tour.
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Photos of the Altiplanic Lagoons of Atacama
Which agency to hire in Atacama
Robson Franzoiauthor of the blog Um Viajante
“One of the most beautiful and incredible places in the Atacama Desert. I always recommend the Altiplanic Lagoons as an unmissable excursion that cannot be left out of any itinerary. A real painting!”
Diogo Fernandespassionate about coffee and travel
“It's hard to describe the beauty of the Altiplanic Lagoons. When I got there I was speechless and even a little moved by this place. The design of the mountains and volcanoes are reflected in the lagoons... it looks like a mirage.”
“Lagunas Altiplanicas is a beautiful walk and I can say that it is the most incredible in the Atacama. I'm completely in love with this place. You can't go to the Atacama and not visit the lagoons.”
“The most incredible place I've been to in the Atacama. You can't fail to be impressed by the beauty and perfection of the Altiplano Lagoons. It's worth putting on your itinerary, it's top notch!”
“I cried when I arrived at the Altiplanic Lagoons. The first photo I saw of Atacama was of this place and getting there was a dream come true. I can't tell you how much this place represents... just go and see for yourself.”