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Chile’s Route 11: one of the world’s most scenic drives (Page 3)

Alpaca in Parque Nacional Lauca © Craig FastWildlife
Watch out for alpaca, llama, vicuňa (a rare relative of the llama and alpaca), flamingos, vizcacha (a bizarre rabbit-like animal with a squirrel’s tail), emu and Andean gulls as you drive through Parque Nacional Lauca. Most of these species are so abundant here that you’re unlikely to miss them, and the sheer numbers put most other parts of South America to shame.

Parinacota
This Aymara village, 5km from Route 11, has adobe houses and an 18th-century church, plus the opportunity to stretch your legs with a well-signposted 3.5km trek – don’t underestimate the effort this short walk requires at this altitude.

Vicuna in Parque Nacional Lauca © Craig FastRefreshments and souvenirs are on sale in the village centre, next to the church.

Tips for driving Route 11:
Acclimatise.
Spend a day in Putre before driving to greater altitudes.
Be prepared. Take plenty of water, sunblock and warm clothes.
Drive carefully. In general, Route 11 is in good condition but there are many heavily loaded lorries plying the route to Bolivia and potholes can appear overnight. Accidents aren’t uncommon, as the many road-side shrines make plain.
Hire a four-wheel drive. A rugged vehicle will allow you to explore some of the many tantalising dirt tracks leading away from the main road.

Read related features and reviews
Images: Parque Nacional Lauca
Review: Hostel Pachamama, Putre

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Overland Traveller copyright © Emma Field 2010