The remote far north of Chile is for those looking to venture off the beaten track. From the coastal city of Arica, located only 50km south of the Peruvian border, you can travel inland, high in to the Andes, and find a region dotted with the remains of pre-Columbian cultures. Here, ruined Incan fortresses lie alongside picturesque adobe villages. Mysterious rock paintings and ancient mummies that pre-date their Egyptian counterparts by 2,000 years can also be discovered. The small villages of Codpa and Putre are ideal places to break the journey and acclimatise en route to the high Altiplano and Lauca, while exploring the beautiful and peaceful surrounding landscape. Codpa is located in a little green oasis in the fertile Codpa valley, approximately 1,950 metres above sea level, and enjoys a temperate climate.
Further into the Andes, the small Aymara town of Putre (situated at 3,530 metres) has a number of colonial-era buildings. The surrounding ancient terraced hills are still used today by local farmers to cultivate alfalfa for their domestic animals. Close to the border with Bolivia lies the desolate and dramatic Lauca National Park. Snow-capped volcanoes overlook the emerald green Lake Chungara and Cotacotani lagoon, while flamingoes, rheas, guanacos and alpacas roam the Altiplano.