Hiking the Atacama Desert, Northern Chile
Machuca Village to Río Grande Hike Trail
Hiking around San Pedro de Atacama with Amity Tours will make you feel like you’re in the old times. Most of the trails have been used by shepherds and ancestral caravans that crossed the Andes during the Tiwanaku period. This hike starts in the village of Machuca, located 4.000 meters over the sea level. This town is a privileged site surrounded by nature. It only has one street where we can appreciate the roofs made of cactus (Echinopsis Atacamensis). The church is very interesting due to its cultural significance and birds such as flamingos, sierra fiches, horned coot and Andean geese as well as llamas can be seen in the area.
We will hike 15 kilometers through the ravine that connects both villages. This hike starts with a descent through a desert moor. We will walk alongside the river passing through land used by shepherds.
We will be able to see abandoned refuges and terraces for cultivation. After 3,5 hours, we will stop at the Peñaliri homestead. During 1980, the families abandoned the site and never came back. You can still appreciate the houses and some of the tools people used for farming. This is the perfect place to recover energy. We will enjoy a tasty picnic lunch and rest for a while before continuing. The hike keeps going along the river until we reach the village of Rio Grande. The vegetation will change and its geological formations too. This town is located where the Domeyko Mountain Range and the Salt mountain Range meet so the rock and mineral formations are very unique.
Once in Rio Grande we will be able to appreciate how this community still uses old traditions for growing potatoes, garlic, onions, peas and broad beans. They collect water through canals in order to irrigate their fields. Shepherds are still practicing their activities like the old times. You can still watch women carrying their babies in Aguayos (colorful textiles) while farming. It is a magical village that is bringing back their ancient traditions in order to share them with visitors.
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