Chaxa Lagoon (Laguna Chaxa) often serves as an introduction to the salt flat for visitors. The ground here is crusted with an inedible salt, and in the morning, a pinkish light comes over the horizon as the sun rises. While the crystalline ground is fascinating and curious, the wild flamingos in the area often turn heads.

And the presence of flamingos should be no surprise, as the Chaxa Lagoon is one of the easiest entry points to Chile’s National Flamingo Reserve and a great place for photographers with good reflexes (and zoom, as the birds often keep their distance).

As the pinkish light dissipates and the air warms up, packs of the birds take flight over the lake. Three different species often reside here: theChilean, Andean and James' flamingos. A variety of other birds can be seen here as well, including the Andean avocet, the puna plover and a type of sandpiper, a small bird with a long beak that feeds on small organisms in the mineral-rich water. The birds are most active at sunrise and sunset.

Practical Info

The Chaxa Lagoon is located about 30 miles from San Pedro de Atacama. Birds are usually found here in the early morning, although sunsets are also spectacular.

Tours & Tickets

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4-Day Atacama Desert Tour: Moon Valley, Geysers del Tatio and the Chilean Salt Flats

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 5 Reviews

Experience the other-worldly landscapes of Chile’s Atacama Desert on a four-day guided tour from Calama to San Pedro de Atacama. Explore Moon Valley, where ...  Read more

Location: Calama, Chile
Duration: 4 days (approx.)

From USD $683.99

Atacama Salt Flat Day Trip from San Pedro de Atacama including Los Flamencos National Reserve and Socaire Village

Visit the Atacama Salt Flat and its neighboring villages and attractions on this day trip from San Pedro de Atacama with a local guide. Start at Chaxa Lagoon ...  Read more

Location: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Duration: 7 hours (approx.)

From USD $136.99

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