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Majestic Licancabur

Diego Salas

In kunza, the dialect of the native Atacameñan people, Licancabur means “the people’s mountain” (lickan= people, ckabur= mountain).

This 5,916-meter-high volcano, located right on the border between Chile and Bolivia, is considered by many high-plains indigenous cultures to be a sacred, protective mountain.

Given its ceremonial uses, this part of the desert is rich in great archeological findings. Many stone altars have been found and it is even believed that long processions took place between San Pedro de Atacama and the lagoon in the volcano’s crater, where priests conducted rituals and communicated with divine beings.

Artifacts of Incan ceremonies have been found in the volcano. The Inca threw in different sorts of gold objects that supposedly still lie on the lagoon floor. Locals claim that if someone touches one of these treasures, Licancabur will wake up furious and erupt. Experts, nonetheless, say that this volcano is completely dormant. The lagoon on its peak is the fifth largest in the world. During winter, low temperatures should turn its waters into ice, however, due to the gases that circulate inside the volcano, the water never freezes entirely.

Aside from being an essential and beautiful part of the landscape, Licancabur projects a strength that everyone perceives. The architecture of Tierra Atacama takes this into account, allowing guests to appreciate and become part of the desert’s natural landscape from each of the guestrooms, pools and common spaces; and also by way of our cuisine, excursions and spa treatments.

San Pedro de Atacama radiates a very special energy. In addition to the Licancabur there are many other volcanoes and hills that are part of its arid landscape. Among them are the Lascar Volcano and Toco Mountain, which are both included on our list of excursions. These tours promise a challenging experience with incredible views of the entire valley. However, to take part in this adventure, it is important to be quite physically fit and plan several nights of acclimatization prior. Are you up for it?