The Andean legend
Cerro Toco: A trekking for everyone
San Pedro de Atacama enchants its visitors with amazing landscapes, photographic postcards that generates interest in tourists. In addition to being a super destination, in Atacama the people maintain great respect for their nature, their beliefs and their inspiring legendary culture.
There is a trekking that surrounds you with an emotional legend, since it turns out to be healing for many. On the top of Cerro Toco you will feel how special it is to be listening to this story, because besides that you will be in its place of origin, you will experience the power of the landscape and its height.
This volcano seems to be the younger brother of the imposing volcano Licancabur, but the Toco as his guides call him, is the perfect summit to start in high mountain trekking. This ancient volcano is currently asleep and is only 47 kilometers from San Pedro de Atacama. Its maximum height is 5,616 meters above sea level, alerting its visitors to suffer from Puna disease. Get ready by infusing coca water, it is very important that you stay hydrated before and during the tour. Do not forget your breathing and stop if you start to get dizzy, do not expose yourself to suffer major complications.
Toco means “Rincón” and comes from the Kunza indigenous language, this tekking has low difficulty and is one of the most visited summits in the area. It has an ascent time to its summit of 1 hour and a half to 2 hours and a half, all this will depend on your pace. Do not panic this hill is known as the volcano for everyone, and its vertical ascension distance is approximately 500 meters.
Hey Camper! Take all the necessary equipment: warm clothes (second layer, windbreaker, gloves, etc.), in addition to sunscreen, trekking boots and canes. Consider these recommendations, have a light breakfast, bring enough caloric food and water to accompany you on the way.
To get to Cerro Toco you must hire a guide or tour operator, do not take risks if you do not have much experience, it is better to make the path accompanied by someone who knows the trails and can help you with the height.
The route begins leaving San Pedro in a 4WD towards the international road CH-27, the same route that takes you to the “Volcano of the town” the incredible Licancabur. Take a deep breath because in just 15 minutes on the way you will already climb 3,000 meters high, a moment necessary to take a half-hour break. Here you can enjoy the majestic desert, where the Salar de Atacama, the Death Valley and the town of San Pedro stand out in the distance.
You will drive 60 kilometers more to have a new and short stop at 4,200 meters high, you will have to deviate along a stony road towards the southern sector of Toco. From there you will have a vision of the Chajnator Valley and the largest astronomical project in the country; SOUL (Atacama Large Millimeter Array).
The road will indicate the end at 5,200 meters high; descend from the all terrain and equip yourself to begin this incredible adventure.
When everything is in order, the safe and confident journey of your abilities begins. You will feel the wind hitting your face at speeds close to 60 and 70 kilometers per hour, then it increases according to the height. At 5,300 meters from the southern slope is the road to a firm path without marking, you will recognize it for its dark hues and volcanic rocks.
You will take the first steps to this path in an Indian row, slowly and avoiding talking, due to the problems it can cause while the body produces adrenaline, oxytocin and endorphin. High-altitude breathing becomes more difficult and icy wind and punishing sun are the biggest obstacles. That is why you must continue at your own pace.
May the difficulties not stop you! You will do it!
This is a special time to appreciate this incredible postcard of the driest desert in the world. It seems to be unreal to be more than 5616 meters high, only the constant effort and the necessary hydration will allow you to reach 5,616 meters from the Toco.
From the top you can see the summits of Llulaillaco, Juriques and the Licancabur volcano. You will also discover the figure of a simulated jaguar on a rock that appears to be the head of the cat, drawing attention for its being on the tip of the hill.
The ancient Andean legend tells that there was a time when food shortages forced carnivorous animals in the pre -illeilleran areas of San Pedro de Atacama to look for food in the plains. That was how a hungry jaguar found a little boy playing next to a campfire; the cat feared the fire but managed to stalk it and took it with him to the summit of Cerro Toco. It turns out that the child was the son of a shaman, a magical man from the town who went out in search of the tracks of the cat to avenge the death of his child. When he managed to find him, he decided to turn it into a rock to calm his pain. It is said that the people who conquer the 5,616 meters high of the Toco can deposit an offering there to calm their sorrows.
This story is one of the many emotions that you will live on the summit of Cerro Toco. It is a unique experience, we invite you to dare to the most spectacular mountain climbing of San Pedro de Atacama.
|Destination Name: Cerro Toco|
|Distancia from town: 47 kilometers from San Pedro de Atacama|
|Type of road: Normal/Gravel|
|Type of vehicle: 4WD|
|Fueling: San Pedro de Atacama|
|Tour prices: $65.000 per person.|