Altiplano – Bolivia, Peru, Chile
Nowhere on this planet does a site remind us so clearly that there was a time before human time.
Altiplano is a high plateau that towers over the southern Andes, the longest mountain range in the world. It is a sediment filled depression between the eastern and the western chains of the Andes. This in filling occurred millions of years ago as an ancient seabed was pushed up when the modern peaks were elevated.
Erosional deposition continues till this day from peaks that are more than 20,000 feet high. The region is divided into two: the cooler, drier puna in the south and in the north the wetter jalca.
Plants and animals living here are quite distinct, although frost and wind resistance are key survival characteristics for plants in both areas. The Altiplano also contains the ancestors of the modern potato and tomato, as well as other crops which are locally important.
Attractions along the Altiplano
The driest place on earth, Atacama Desert, situated south of the Altiplano and the largest tropical rainforest on Earth, Amazon Rainforest to the east of the Altiplano are some of the nearby attractions. Read more about some of the endangered animals that live in the Amazon Rainforest here.
Some areas of the Altiplano are protected, including Chile’s Lauca National Park, near the town of Arica. The area has a long history of human occupation, with a million people living there today.
High, cold, and receiving little rain, the Altiplano has a stark beauty.
Though Altiplano is among the driest places on earth, you do find animals here though some of them are endangered. Common animals are alpacas, Llamas, vicunas, gray foxes, the volcano flamingos of Laguna Colorada (the blood red lake) near Andes Mountain (the largest mountain range in the world). The ecosystem though harsh by human standards, is quite fragile and if disturbed will affect the few tens of thousands of this endangered species in the Altiplano.