Day 359: Huarango, Chile
I didn’t write much about Iquique, mostly because there wasn’t anything to say. It was a beach town where I caught up on my tan, read a book and drank too much red wine.
I left for Huarango to visit parents of a friend in Toronto. They own El Huarango, an amazing campsite where you can either do luxury camping on beds in tents or traditional camping.
Huarango and its surrounding area is a salt flat oasis in the middle of the desert. Smack in the middle of miles of sand there is a patch of dry, arid land where salt thrives. But the trees and plants are so strong that their roots are able to reach beyond the salt cracked earth to the water below.
I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this land.
Coca and Marco used to lived in Lima, Peru but moved to the area because they loved the land. The best way they know to protect it from development is to create a campsite for travelers, ensuring the land remains untouched.
It was incredible to be meet people so passionate about the environment they were taking its future into their own hands.
Coca scoffed at learning that I had only been on the beach in Iquique and wanted to show me the area. She allowed me one day to adjust to the desert air but the next day we were going out to see the land.
I like Coca a lot.
She’s passionate, feisty, and I know I won’t have to make many decisions because she’ll be making them all for me.
We visited Salar de Llamara, which she told me was very special to her. There is a lagoon in the area, which is unimaginable for me as the Atacama desert is one of the driest places on earth.
The salt flats were formed by the water evaporating from the land. You can see many of them throughout Northern Chile, but Salar de Llamara is particularly important as it’s one of 4 areas in the world where you can find organisms and living fossils from prehistoric times.
Rightfully so, the area is protected and ecologists and environmentalists are studying the land.
It was like being on another planet.
While the area is well-studied, tourism isn’t encouraged and there are no tours or mentions in guide books. Coca disagrees with this because she believes that if people see and fall in love with an area they will want to protect it.
This is so important because due to its special qualities it’s ideal for mining, but that would threaten the lagoon.
For now it remains protected and I hope it stays that way.