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Ojos del Salado & Altiplanic lagoons

Our acclimatization itinerary commences in the northern Chilean city of Copiapo, the Atacama region's silver and copper mining centre.

We trek for five days in the spectacular and remote Nevado Tres Cruces National Park, in the vicinity of the Santa Rosa and Negro Francisco lagoons. Located to the south of the Maricunga Salt Lake, the Santa Rosa lagoon is famous for it's large population of pink, yellow-legged Andean Flamingoes, striking birds which are year-round residents.

Both the Santa Rosa and Negro Francisco lagoons are internationally protected wetlands with fauna including vicuñas, guanacos, and the Andean fox as well as richly varied bird life including the Horned Coot, Andean Goose, Piuquen and Patagonian crested duck. Moving towards the north-east, we reach Laguna Verde (4,400m / 14,765 ft), a stunning turquoise lake set in a landscape dominated by snow-capped volcanoes and red desert hillsides. From this point we travel to our destination, Ojos del Salado, in 4-wheel drive vehicles, arriving at the Refugio Atacama base camp (5.350m / 17,000 ft). Here we will take time to allow our bodies to acclimatize to the considerable elevation, making progressively higher ascents to allow our body to adjust to increases in elevation. Ascending gradually is essential to reduce the risk of altitude sickness and serious conditions like pulmonary edema.

From the Refugio Atacama base camp, we ascend to Refugio Tejos (19,350ft / 5,750m), commonly regarded as the highest mountain hut in the world. Crossing scree slopes and occasional snow patches we'll reach the main summit, where we'll use a fixed rope on the final 80 meters. From the summit we'll enjoy impressive views of the other high peaks of this range-no fewer than 13 above 6,000m / 19,685 ft.

Route Map

Route Overview

Route Overview

Day 1 Copiapo. On arrival, we'll settle into our hotel in this bustling centre for mining and agricultural activities in the region. We'll meet the guides and other members of the group, make an equipment and gear check, and have a power point presentation on the expedition.
Hotel / Elevation - 543m / 1,781 ft

Day 2 Copiapo - Valle Chico.   This morning we'll make the aproximately three hour journey to Valle Chico, on a road that is half paved and half gravel. We'll arrive to our camp, have lunch, and in the aftenoon take an acclimatization hike. Dinner and overnight at our campsite.  Transfer distance 130k / 80 miles / Transfer time 3 hours / Tent / Elevation Min - 543m / 1,781 ft - Max 3,200m / 10,498 ft

Day 3 Valle Chico - Laguna Santa Rosa.  Today we travel to Laguna Santa Rosa, a high altitude lake in the stunning Nevado Tres Cruces National Park. We'll hike part of the distance in the morning along the road. The Nevado Tres Cruces Park is famous for its spectacular altiplanic scenery and abundant and varied wildlife, including three varieties of flamingoes, and herds of vincuña and guanaco. The striking Laguna Santa Rosa is located on the southern edge of the Maricunga salt lake, the most southern salar in Chile. It is ringed by imposing snowy mountains including the impressive Tres Cruces (6,753m / 22,155 ft) and, dominating the southern horizon, Volcán Copiapo (6,052m / 19855 ft). Overnight at our campsite.
Transfer distance 90k / 56 miles / Transfer time 1.5 hours / Tent / Elevation Min 3,200m / 10,498 ft - Max 3,600m / 11,811 ft

Day 4 Laguna Santa Rosa Lake - Laguna Negro Francisco.  Today we travel around the east side of Volcán Copiapo to reach Laguna Negro Francisco (4,100m / 13,451 ft). This laguna is larger than the Laguna Santa Rosa and is home to three species of flamingoes and a wide variety of waterfowl. We'll stay overnight at the Conaf (National Forestry Corporation of Chile) hut.  Transfer distance 85k / 52 miles / Hut / Transfer time 1,5 / Elevation Min 3,600m / 11,811 ft - Max 4,100m / 13,451 ft

Day 5 Laguna Negro Francisco.  Today we'll make an easy hike near the Laguna San Francisco to aid in our acclimatization and enjoy the awesome views. Trekking Time - 3 hours / Hut / Elevation 4,100m / 13,451 ft

Day 6 Laguna Negro Francisco- Summit Volcán Copiapo - Laguna Negro Francisco. Early this morning we'll transfer to the base of the Copiapo Volcano (5,000m / 16,404 ft) a trip of approximately 45 minutes. We'll ascend this active volcano, with its sulphur fumaroles and summit lagoon, a trek of 8 to 10 hours. We return to the Conaf hut to sleep.  Trekking Time - 8-10 hours /Hut / Elevation - Min 4,100m / 13,451 ft - Max 6,052m / 19855 ft

Day 7 Laguna Negro Francisco - Laguna Verde.  We'll travel to Laguna Verde (4,325m / 14,189 ft), a beautiful lake of turquoise waters set on a high plateau, surrounded by the highest concentration of tall peaks in the Andes. These include Incahuasi (6,615m), Mulas Muertas (5,897m / 19,347 ft) and Ojos del Salado (6,893m). In the afternoon we'll luxuriate in the exquisite natural thermal water at the rustic Laguna Verde hotsprings. Transfer distance 44 k / 27 miles / Transfer time 1 hour / Tent / Elevation Min 4,100m / 13,451 ft - Max 4,325m / 14,189 ft

Day 8 Laguna Verde  A rest day, today we'll relax, drink plenty of liquids, and eat well to assist in our acclimatization. We'll enjoy the stunning landscape around this jewel of a lake.  Elevation 4,325m / 14,189 ft / Tent

Day 9 Laguna Verde - Summit Mulas Muertas - Laguna Verde  Today we ascend Mulas Muertas--Dead Mules--(5,897m /19,347 ft). We may not reach the summit as it's an exhausting one day trip. Our objective is to gain height to aid in our acclimatization and then return to a lower elevation to sleep. We will also get a spectacular view of Laguna Verde and the route we will take on Ojos del Salado.  Elevation Min 4,325m / 14,189 ft - Max 5,897m /19,347 ft / Tent

Day 10 Laguna Verde - Refugio Atacama   We move today to the Refugio Atacama (5,350m / 17,552 ft), with its magnificent views of the majestic Ojos del Salado. Of the overall distance we will hike approximately 12 k / 7 miles. Between driving and walking the trip will take about 4 hours. Transfer distance 35 k / 21 miles / Trekking Time 2 hours / Tent / Elevation Min 4,325m / 14,189 ft - Max 5,350m / 17,552 ft 

Day 11 Refugio Atacama - Refugio Tejos - Refugio Atacama  This is a portage day in which we'll take equipment and gear to Refugio Tejos (5,750m / 18,864 ft), a distance of 5 k / 3 mile, a hike of 2 to 3 hours. We'll return to Refugio Atacama in the afternoon. Today's portage--climbing up to a higher altitude and descending to a lower one to sleep--is aimed at making us stronger and helping in our adaptation to the elevation. An optimal acclimatization increases the possibility of reaching the summit successfully and in a safe and comfortable manner.  Trekking Time - 3-4 hours / Tent / Elevation - Min 5,350m / 17,552 ft - Max 5,750m / 18,864 ft

Day 12 Refugio Atacama   We'll take a rest day in camp, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating well. This will aid in our acclimatization and make us stronger for summit day.  Elevation - Min 5,350m / 17,552 ft / Tent

Day 13 Refugio Atacama - Refugio Tejos   Today we ascend to Refugio Tejos where we'll spend the night.  Trekking Time - x hours / Tent / Elevation - Min 5,350m / 17,552 ft - Max 5,750m / 18,864 ft

Day 14 Refugio Tejos - Summit Ojos del Salado - Refugio Atacama   We set out at 4 or 5 in the morning, depending on the wind. This is a windy zone and, due to the altitude, extremely cold-temperatures can descend to -20 to -25 c. The ascent is by way of a scree slope, following a zigzag path for aproximately 4 hours, reaching the plateau of the volcano, a climb of 25 to 30 degrees, and on up a wide ridge to a small lagoon. At the end of the scree, we turn right, toward the west side of the volcano, arriving, after two more hours, to the crater. Towards the east we can see the summit. Skirting the left side of the crater we ascend a rocky ridge. The first part is without difficulty. The final part, however, contains a short technical section of grade 5 on the French scale. The guide will install a security rope and with a harness and assistance from the guide, climbers will ascend to the summit. From the top we have spectacular views of the heart of the Andes, including the impressive 6,000m plus trio of volcanoes: Nevado Tres Cruce (6,749m / 22,142m), San Francisco (6,016m / 19,737 ft ), and Piscis (6,792m / 22,283 ft). We return to Refugio Atacama to sleep--because of the altitude, it's difficult to get a good nights sleep at Refugio Tejos. Our descent will follow the same route and will take between three and four hours.   Trekking Time - 10-13 hours / Tent / Elevation - Min 5,750m / 18,864 ft - Max 6893 m / 22615 ft 

Day 15 Refugio Tejos - Summit Ojos del Salado - Refugio Atacama We'll keep this day in reserve to allow for poor weather conditions.
Trekking Time - x hours / Tent / Elevation - Min 5,750m / 18,864 ft - Max 6893 m / 22615 ft

Day 16  Refugio Atacama - Copiapo   Today we return to Copiapo, and the Ojos Del Salado through the Altiplanic Lagoons expedition comes to an end!.  Transfer distance 300 km / 186 miles / Transfer time 5 hours / Hotel / Elevation Min 543m / 1,781 ft - Max 5,750m / 18,864 ft

Services Included

✓ Professional Bilingual Mountain Guide.
✓ Ratio Guide Clients 1-4.
✓ All local organization and supervision by KL Adventure Staff.
✓ Private transportation.
✓ Two (2) Hotel nights double occupancy with breakfast in the city of Copiapo.
✓ Ojos del Salado permit till US $ 160 each.
✓ Difrol permit process.
✓ All meals during the expedition and trekking program.
✓ Full base camp set up dining tent, chair, tables, etc..
✓ High quality expedition common gear: The North Face, Mountain. Hardware and Marmot tents, isolate mattress, high camp stoves & Gaz.
✓ Permanent access to hot drinks, tea, coffee, biscuits at base camp tent.
✓ First aid kit, hyperbaric chamber, oxygen bottles, oximeter.
✓ Radio communication VHF 2 mt.
✓ Satellite phone at base camp on a per minute payment basis.

Services Not Included

✘ All personal climbing equipment gear
✘ Porter for personal gear.
✘ Any cost involve in an early or late departure.
✘ Any drinks (soda, beer or wine) in Copiapo.
✘ Arrival and final dinner.
✘ Cancellation, accident and rescue insurance.
✘ Cash for extra expenses.
✘ Any other service not mentioned in the list.
✘ Gratuities are not included.


☝ All itineraries are subject to change due to changes in the weather, individual's acclimatization rates, and the guide's criteria.

☝ Any departure date can be re-scheduled with a minimum of 6 persons.

  • Duration: 16 days
  • Difficulty: Excellent Physical Shape
  • Departures:
    Jan 08 - Jan 23, 2012
    Jan 29 - Feb 13, 2012
    Feb 12 - Feb 27, 2012
    Mar 04 - Mar 19, 2012
    Nov 04 - Nov 19, 2012
    Nov 18 - Dec 03, 2012
    Dec 02 -Dec 17, 2012
  • US $
  • Single room suplement:US $400
  • Reservation cost:US $700
  • Balance payment date: 75 days prior departure
  • Space available: 6 private