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Getting There & Away

Parque Nacional Lauca is administered from the refugio (rustic shelter) at Parinacota. Otherwise, rangers at the Las Cuevas entrance and at Lago Chungará are sometimes available for consultation; posts are, in theory, staffed from around 9am to 12:30pm then 1pm to 5:30pm. If you prefer to visit the park independently, you'll need a car with extra supplies of gas, lots of flexibility and a laid-back attitude. Inquire with Conaf in Arica about hikes and lodgings (the latter mainly basic options for the hard core).

The park straddles Chile 11, the paved Arica–La Paz highway; the trip from Arica takes just under three hours. There are several buses from Arica. Other bus companies with daily service to La Paz, Bolivia, will drop you off in the park, but you will probably have to pay the full fare.

Agencies in Arica and Putre offer tours. Renting a car will provide access to the park's remoter sites such as Guallatire, Caquena and beyond into the Salar de Surire (the latter only with a high-clearance vehicle, since you'll ford several watercourses, and not during rainy season). Carry extra fuel in cans; most rental agencies will provide them. Do not forget warm clothing and sleeping gear, and take time to acclimatize.