The guardians of the desert
Don’t miss this unknown attraction sculpted by the wind.
From the incredible attractions of San Pedro de Atacama and the tranquility that this famous destination delivers, we invite you to discover varely visited tourist areas. In the middle of the desert there are vertical stone formations that have been molded by the action of the wind for millions of years and that have been compared with the Moais of Easter Island.
Los Monjes de la Pacana, are one of the unknown places in Atacama that you must visit. Although not many people know this place, tourist information can be obtained in internet or in the same agencies that offer guided tours. This place is easily accessible and can be travelled on your own.
This visit to the monks is mandatory for those who go to the Salar de Tara, because this place is next to Laguna Legía (or Huaitiquina) a strong attraction of the Los Flamencos National Reserve.
This attraction is also known as: The Sentinels of Tara. They are stone pillars, located vertically in the plain near the Salar de Aguas Calientes. Its name is related to its thin and random forms, similar to the silhouettes of monks, there are those who say that the name of sentinels was established by walkers who saw them as protectors of the place since they resemble human figures.
The road to the Salar de Tara is an adventure in itself, it is advisable to take an all-terrain vehicle or at least one that has a high floor. Our Masai Campers are perfect for traveling this route.
Do you want to visit Los Monjes de la Pacana?
Reserve your Masai Camper and pick up the keys in San Pedro de Atacama, your vehicle will be fully equipped and prepared to take the CH-27 road that goes in the direction of the international Jama pass (the border between Chile and Argentina). On the way, you probably will react to the altitude, we will be at 4600 meters high, so it is advisable to check your ability to cope with this during the route. If it is difficult for you, we recommend you take your time.
The Licancabur volcano greets us from the window, impossible to pass it over. This volcano has an enormous archeological and anthropological interest due to the Inca records found in its surroundings, and reminiscent of ancient sacred ceremonies. During the road you can take a small stop to see the Quepiaco River, which in its landscape, you can see small streams in the middle of vegetation that grows at that height, a very common phenomenon in these highlands where water seeps creating the bofedales.
After 2 hours on a paved road we take a stony road path, where there are not many signs, it’s here when you will love being in a 4WD vehicle such as the JAC Adventure Camper.
The first stop is Los Monjes de Pacana, the outstanding rock formations that enchant its visitors in the middle of the desert plain. The best known of these formations is the Guardian of the Pacana; its challenging size and perfect verticality imposes on anyone who faces it. The panorama is fascinating, the sector is the purest state of the driest desert in the world, reddish-brown mountains, with bushes of wild straw that provide a very striking yellow color. If you were amazed by the silence of San Pedro de Atacama, in the monks of Pacana will be even quieter.
You can continue driving through the desert, reach the nearby areas of the Salar de Tara, enjoy the panoramic views, where you can see an extensive white lake and why not share with typical animals; such as the llamas that observe visitors and pasture in their natural habitat or the friendly Culpeo fox.
A day tour that will take you to the heart of the desert, surrounded by amazing landscapes. In this place excursions are made all year long, since there are no major climatic variations. At the moment there is no entrance fee to visit the Monks of Pacana, which makes it a fantastic day trip from San Pedro de Atacama.