Excursion to Campo de Pedra Pomez (pumice stone field)
April 19th, 2016
After reaching the small village of El Penon in the heart of the Andes in Argentina, the tour to Puna de Atacama begins with an excursion to the Campo de Pedra Pomez (pumice stone field), a curious geological phenomenon unique in the world, where you can see ancient pyroclastic material that has generated an enormous quantity of pumice stone, later transformed by the wind into a huge chaotic maze of oddly shaped rocks. A place not to be missed during any visit to Puna de Atacama.
If you decide to start the tour to Puna de Atacama from the south, you will surely pass by the small town of Hualfin, a community of less than 1000 inhabitants, at the foot of the Andes. The small church of Hualfin (Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary) is a national historic monument dating back to the 17th century.
From Hualfin, the road to the Puna de Atacama winds among the Andes, where the landscape becomes progressively drier. In fact, the clouds will soon disappear, as they will be blocked by the tallest mountains.
With increasing altitude, the cacti protect themselves from the cold and ultraviolet light, through a dense hair.
Having reached the altitude of 3000 meters, along the road connecting Hualfin to El Penon, some spectacular sand dunes appear as the clouds dissolve progressively.
The first stop in the Puna is at Laguna Blanca, a kind of big pond at 3200 meters above sea level where, from October to April, it is possible to observe some pink flamingos, as well as the vicuñas that are present throughout the year almost everywhere.
The impressive panorama of the plateaus among the Andes, near Laguna Blanca in Argentina.
El Penon, in the heart of Puna de Atacama in Argentina, is the ideal base for various excursions throughout the region and we recommend at least 2 overnight stays in the small local hotel. One of the possible excursions is to visit the sand dunes and the Campo de Pedra Pomez (pumice stone field), where you will get to after having crossed a spectacular landscape.
The fabulous landscape of Puna de Atacama in Argentina, near El Penon, before getting to Campo de Pedra Pomez.
Before reaching Campo de Piedra Pomez, you can not miss a stop along the spectacular sand dunes at 3000 meters of elevation.
Arriving at Campo de Piedra Pomez, visible in the distance.
Seen in the distance and from above, the Campo de Pedra Pomez recalls a large glacier with the surface tormented by crevasses, but in the reality, it is entirely made of pumice stone, a soft rock of volcanic origin.
It's not ice... but pumice stone modelled by winds and other forces.