Maricunga Salt Flat

(Ten Lineages)

Maricunga Salt Flat in the North area of Chile

Maricunga Salt Flat in the North area of Chile

Maricunga salt flat is located 111.8 miles northeast from Copiapó and belongs to a set of salt flats and lagoons located between the Andean foothills (Domeyco’s mountain range) and high mountain range (Claudio Gay’s mountain chain). Maricunga’s salt flat and Santa Rosa Lagoon (Laguna Santa Rosa) belongs to the north area of Nevado Tres Cruces National Park.

Extended throughout 8.300 hectares at 3756 masl altitude, shelters flamingos and many other aquatic birds live as well as foxes, guanacos and vicuñas. Surrounded by an amazing landscape full of snowed tops, its reddish and gray surface amazes the visitors that come from all parts of the world.

The weather at Maricunga salt flat is generally dry and cool, with a significant amount of fallen snow during winter and windy all year round.

Fauna that lives at Maricunga salt flat is represented by birds such as parinas or flamingos, taguas, and wild ducks.

Access and routes to Maricunga salt flat:

The main access road is the one of Paipote’s canyon (International Road C-31) that leads to the north side of the salt flat. There is another alternative by the International Road until La Puerta detour (Desvío La Puerta) (do not get confused with La Puerta located in Copiapo Valley) and from there to Portezuelo Santa Rosa, to get to Santa Rosa Lagoon located in the south side of the salt flat.

It is possible to make a longer trip from Diego de Almagro first visiting Pedernales Salt flat and then approach from the north side of Maricunga Salt flat.

Finally you can reach Maricunga Salt flat and Santa Rosa Lagoon by the south route: Copiapó Valley – Carrizalillo Canyon (Quebrada Carrizalillo) up to La Guardia – Figueroa River’s Valley (Valle del Rio Figueroa) up to Refugio Mine (Mina Refugio). In this way you get to Negro Francisco Lagoon (Laguna del Negro Francisco), from which there is an access to Santa Rosa Lagoon through a road which is generally in good shape (to take this route you need to ask permission at the office of the enterprise in Copiapó).

In the south west area of the lagoon there is a small refuge from CONAF that serves as a shelter, but does not have bathrooms nor water.

Always following Maricunga salt flat you will reach km 184 where San Francisco’s Border Office is, report your entrance and trip plan to policemen. It is opened from 9 to 19 hours.

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