Laguna Miscanti, high in the Andes of Chile

Laguna Miscanti is a lofty lake high in the Andes of northern Chile, at an altitude of about 13,000 ft. It is in the Altiplano (high plain) region - a volcanically active area that stretches into Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.

Laguna Miscanti, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile Miscanti Lagoon, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Laguna Miscanti is part of the Los Flamencos National Reserve. As you might guess from the name, this nature preserve is a breeding ground for flamingos. If you've always thought of flamingos in flat tropical areas like Florida, this is pretty much the opposite.

A group of flamingos in breeding season Brilliant flamingos in breeding season

There are 5 species of flamingos in the world, and 3 of them can be found here, including the rare Andean Flamingo. Altogether, a few thousand flamingos live in the Chilean highlands, and your chances of spotting some are good when you visit the National Reserve.

This area also provides protected habitat for some other protected species, including the Vicuña. This animal is a relative of llamas, alpacas, and guanacos, and it is well adapted for the chilly winters here.

You may have seen high priced vicuna wool scarves, prized for their softness and warmth. Vicuña wool is very expensive because these wild animals can only be shorn every three years.

Vicuñas were protected even back in Incan days, when only Inca royalty were allowed to wear items of vicuna wool. Nowadays, anybody who wants to spend $1,000+ on a scarf can have one. That leaves me out!

Vicuna, a relative of the llama Vicuna, a relative of the llama

As soon as I saw the photo at the top, I wanted to see Laguna Miscanti. I also wished I could paint a scene like this, but traveling is more likely to happen! 🙂
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PHOTO CREDITS:  Lake - Jim Trodel, Flamingos - Pedro Szekely, Vicuna - Neil K

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