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Ojos del Salado - 16 days Mountain Expedition to the worlds highest volcano

The highest volcano on earth, the Chilean Ojos del Salado, might be qualified best for getting a taste of climbing mountains in altitudes of almost 7,000m. In good weather conditions it is not even necessary to use ice axe or crampons when hiking the normal path leading up. This expedition is clearly the ideal tour for all who want to reach the top but don’t like the complex logistics that usually comes with every expedition. Nowhere on this planet you can reach summits in such altitudes so easily. The tours character promotes the ‘Ojos’ to be the next step for all who might have experienced climbing Africa’s highest volcano – the Kilimanjaro - and want to go up even higher now.

Nestling between the fascinating wonders of the Atacama desert – colorful lagoons, glistening Salares and whooshing geysers, to name just a few – the tour is more than a challenging mountain expedition with its acclimation hikes:

It is also a dive trip into an absolutely beautiful characteristic landscape.

Price per person starts at USD 3.590,-

Length of the expedition:  16 days
Season:                              December - March
Start/End:                           from Calama/to Caldera
Group size:                        min. 6 - max. 12 persons
Departures:                       on request

Optional Extension

Combine this expedition    
with our Easter Island   "Rapa Nui"-Trip!

Trip-Highlights

  • Acclimation-hiking to the Atacameño-Village Machuca - Atacama Desert - Chile
  • Basecamp 'Atacama' - Ojos del Salado - Chile
  • Refugio 'Tejos' - Ojos del Salado - Chile
  • Crater lip Ojos del Salado
  • Summit Ojos del Salado 6,893m, the world highest volcano
  • Descent from Ojos del Salado
  • Vaca Muerta at the Green Lagoon - Atacama Desert - Chile

Itinerary

Days 1 - 3: San Pedro de Atacama – Geyser El Tatio – Moon Valley – Cerro Toco (5,604m)

Day 1
You will reach the airport of Calama, in the North of Chile. From there, we bring you to the camp Rio Grande (elev. 3,150m), which we set up together in desert-like surroundings. In the afternoon, your first hike will lead you through Valle Arcoiris – a valley with bizarre rock formations and narrow ravines. After this tour we will drive you back to the camp where we spend the night in tents. Hiking time approx. 3-4 hours, difference in elevation 50m. (-/-/D
Day 2
Another trekking tour that allows you to acclimate will bring you through fertile valleys, terrace cropping to the left and to the right, up to a small settlement of indigenous people called Machuca (elev. 4,000m). On your way you will pass the typical mudbrick houses of the Atacameños and surely see some lamas and alpacas. Right next to the small village and directly at the shore of the hill moor called Bofedal we will set up our camp for the night. Hiking time approx. 7-8 hours, difference in elevation of 850m ascent. Overnight stay in tents. (B/L/D). 
Day 3
Very early in the morning, we start our tour to the geyser “El Tatio” on an elevation of 4,300m. Here, the break of dawn will capture us in an unforgettable atmosphere. After that we drive to the starting point of our first 5,000m summit – the Cerro Toco (5,604m). Total walking/hiking time approx. 3-4 hours, difference in elevation of 400m ascent/descent.  And in the evening the setting sun will offer us a wonderful opportunity to see the play of colors in the absolute bizarre landscape of the famous “Valle de la Luna”, the moon valley. We will stay overnight in a guesthouse in San Pedro de Atacama. (B/L/-)

Days 4 - 5: Salar de Atacama - Laguna Chaxa – Vulcano Lascar

Day 4
Ithe morning you have some time to discover San Pedro de Atacama on your own. After noon we drive into the Salar de Atacama and visit the Chaxa Lagoon, an extraordinary pool of water in the middle of the salt desert, marvel at the scores of pink flamingos and other birds. After that we drive to the base camp of the volcano Lascar. We spend the night in tents. (B/L/D)
Day 5
Today, we will ‘attack’ the 5,000m-elevation mark of the volcano Lascar. Almost 1,000m in elevation have to be faced (depending on road-conditions). But again, an overwhelming panoramic view down on the grand Salar de Atacama will wait as a reward for you. Total walking/hiking time approx. 6-7 hours, difference in elevation of 1000m ascent/descent. We spend the night in tents. (B/L/D)

Days 6 - 9: Coastal town Taltal – Laguna Verde – San Francisco (6018m)

Day 6
Today we are leaving the Atacama desert in direction of the Pacific Ocean. In the evening we will reach the coastal town Taltal. We will stay overnight in a guesthouse in Taltal. (B/L/-)
Day 7
Your probably tired legs get finally a break today! However, our day trip to the lagoon Laguna Verde won’t relax your eyes or the lens of your camera as the drive (that takes the whole day) leads us through a landscape that is simply unique in the world: Snowcapped volcanoes, turquoise lagoons, the unbelievable vastness of the Puna and probably even some shy herds of Vicuñas will turn the long trip into an unforgettable drive through the wonders of nature. In the evening we reach Laguna Verde (4,400m/14,430ft) – this incredibly turquoise lagoon that is framed picturesquely by snowcapped summits, all higher than 6,000m. Right on the shore of the saline-lagoon we set up our tents using tent-sites with protecting walls against the omnipresent winds. After our long and dusty trip we will be more than happy to take a refreshing bath in the hot springs that are right next to our tents - beautifully framed by natural stone and right on the shore. Overnight stay in tents. (B/L/D)
Day 8
This day at the lagoon is all yours! We need it to acclimatize and as there are certain ways to do so we want you to find out what is best for you: You might use it to relax in the hot springs or in the cold saline-lake right next to the lagoon (no swim-movements necessary, the water leaves you floating on the surface). If you feel like hiking you might hike along the lake and if your camera feels like taking pictures then try to come close to flamingos. However, everybody will find a perfect way to relax and get acclimatized. Overnight stay in tents. (B/L/D)
Day 9
This acclimation-peak today will let us pass the 6,000m-elevation mark. It is only a 15 km stretch over a well-prepared dirt road up to the Paso San Francisco (4,750m/15,580ft) – the international border crossing between Chile and Argentina in the deserted vastness of the Puna. From here, a 4x4 jeep will bring you to an elevation of 5,000m. We will hike only the last 1,000m in elevation. The path is in quite good condition, just debris and boulders, in the summit area sometimes a few smaller snow- fields might demand tiny detours. The incline is easily manageable and soon we reach the summits plateau. On the highest spot (6,018m/19,740ft) you can proudly write into the summit-book that can be found here. The view from up here over a dozen summits with a similar height is simply astonishing! After our descent over the same path we drive you back to Laguna Verde where another refreshing bath is waiting for you. Overnight stay in our tents. (B/L/D)

Days 10 - 14: Camp Atacama (5,200m) – Camp Tejos (5,820m) – Ojos del Salado (6,893m)

Day 10
Today we drive directly to our camp at the Refugio Atacama. This camp is consisting of two containers serving rangers as a post on an elevation of 5,200m. If you prefer to relax for the rest of the day, you are welcome to spend the day in the camp. If you rather relax actively you can do some short acclimation hikes. Overnight stay in tents near by the Refugio Atacama. (B/L/D)
Day 11
Today we will bring some equipment and water to the the Refugio Tejos on an elevation of 5,800m. You should take this acclimation hike really easy as we need all of our power to get prepared for the no. 1 highlight of this expedition – the ascent of the Ojos del Salado. It takes us only 3-4 walking hours and elevation of 600m ascent/descent. Overnight stay in tents near by the Refugio Atacama. (B/L/D)
Day 12
Once again it takes us only 2-3 walking hours and 600m in elevation to reach the Refugio Tejos on an elevation of 5,800m. Our path will follow a jeep road. The camp is consisting of two containers forming a large bivouac and some tents where we spend our last night before the ascent of the Ojos del Salado tomorrow morning.  (B/L/D)
Day 13
Even before sunrise we will leave our camp at Refugio Tejos and start ascending the Ojos del Salado. The first part of the path is technically not complicated at all but the high elevation can make every single step much more difficult. At the last 30m (of a total of 1,100m difference in elevation) before the summit plateau there is a fix rope section. In normal weather conditions it will take us 6-8 hours to finally reach the top on 6,893m/22,615ft. The breathtaking panoramic view from here will make the sensational feeling of having reached the top even more complete. To find your own speed and rhythm is certainly the most important thing when ascending. For descending we will need another 3 hours. We stay another night in tents near by the Refugio Atacama. Total climbing time today 8-12 hours. (B/L/D)
Day 14
We keep that day to have a certain time buffer in case the conditions do not allow an immediate ascent of the Ojos del Salado. However, if everything went according to our plans we drive back to the Pacific Ocean. We will spend the night in tents or in a guesthouse in Bahia Inglesa or Caldera. (B/L/D)

Days 15 - 16: Caldera – Bahia Inglesa

Day 15
Today we are leaving the mountains in direction of the Pacific Ocean, crossing the Altiplano. You can once again take in the fascinating impressions of the vastness and uniqueness of this part of the world. In the afternoon we will reach the famous coastal town Bahia Inglesa. Here, the finest beaches and the surf of the Pacific are waiting for you! In the evening we recommend to try one of the countless fish restaurants – their catch of the day is always worth it. We will spend the night in a simple but immaculate hotel or in a guest house in Bahia Inglesa or Caldera. (B/-/-) 
Day 16
Transfer to the airport Desierto de Atacama / Copiapo. (B/-/-)

What's included

What is included?
  • Accommodation: 12 nights in roomy, high quality 3-person expedition tents (to use for 2 people)
  • Accommodation in the cities: 3 nights  in clean 2-3 star hotels or guesthouses of Chilean category in doble room with private bathroom
  • Meals: 15 x breakfast, 13 x Box lunch, 12 x dinner
  • Guide: local bilingual english/spanish speaking mountain guides
  • VHF-radio equipment, Satellite phone
  • Transport: all transfers in cross-country jeeps or vans/minibuses
  • Entry Fees/Admission as per detailed itinerary
  • Local team of cooks and drivers
  • Complete Camping Equipment
Not included
  • Summit permit for Ojos del Salado
  • Personal mountaineering equipment
  • Not appointed meals and beverages
  • 1 additional night in guesthouse in Caldera on Day 14
  • Optional trips
  • Tips/gratuity, Local payments
  • International and domestic airfare and airport charges 
  • Excess luggage fees
  • Travel insurance is not included. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy.

Trip Notes

This tour is an expedition for all experienced trekkers who are willing to spend time in remote regions without infrastructure and contact to the outer civilization. Every participant has to be in very good physical shape and of excellent health. We assume that you are able to act independently in the mountains, using crampons on ice and snow.  However, extreme weather conditions, natural disasters or even arbitrariness of local authorities can make it impossible to complete or follow a tour as described in the tour program. Therefore, the given description of the tour is regarded as a flexible guideline and you can be assured that it is our utmost intention to realize the program as planned. Team spirit, tolerance and compromising towards the guide and other participants are very significant elements of a successful expedition. Participants take part in these tours under their own risk and responsibility.  
 

Level of difficulty  
  
Excellent physical fitness and a good tolerance for changes in altitude are as necessary for this tour as team spirit and abdication of comfort. Furthermore, you should be able to hike long distances (up to 10-14 hours on one day), carrying a backpack (40l to 45l) and managing differences in elevation of 200m to 1,100m a day on an already high elevation of 3,500 to 6,893m / to 22,615ft. We are spending our nights in 2-person tents. The equipment for your belongings throughout the day has to be carried by yourself on all hikes and mountain expeditions. You should have a basic knowledge in using crampons and ice axes. The use of trekking poles and isolated plastic boots is mandatory.