Surrealism in the middle of the desert is the best way to describe the Red Lagoon, one of the most extraordinary places in Chile. Its waters of an intense red resemble the blood, and the streams that are born from it authentic veins that cross the earth. It is located in a desolate place, until recently completely unknown except by the Aymara inhabitants of the area, whose legends soak the place with an aura of mysticism and mystery. This is a natural wonder and one of the most incredible landscapes in the world.
The Red Lagoon, located at 3,700 meters above sea level, is a place that stands out not only for its deep red waters. Its temperature always remains high (40 – 50 ºC) and the surrounding land is dyed red too. As if it were not enough with this lagoon of unusual color, next to it there are other 2 smaller lagoons, the “Lagunas Hermanas”, one yellow and one green. Studies have never been conducted in this place, so it is not known why these gaps have these colors or their depths are known.
The villagers attribute to them supernatural and dark powers. One of the local legends in this regard that centuries ago, during a long drought, 3 virgins were offered in sacrifice to the gods to end the desperate situation. They were tied and abandoned, and each wept in a different color, giving rise to the 3 lagoons that exist today. It is said that so many were the tears that spilled in their despair that they actually managed to return the water to the area, but they brought with them a curse: anyone who dared to bathe in its waters would disappear or suffer serious misfortunes.
Scientists believe that the red color of the lagoon is due to a certain type of algae present and to local sediments dissolved in the water. Regardless of what one believes, it is important to visit this place with care and respect for the beliefs of the local people.
The road to the lagoon is an attraction in itself. It is not necessary to travel more than 5 hours to the lagoon in one pass, as there are very interesting places where you can stop. Taking a small detour on Route 5 you can visit the Giant of Atacama (blue on the map), a huge geoglyph drawn on the side of a hill, 15 km from the town of Huara. This geoglyph has been the focus of various mythologies and histories, from UFO interventions to a representation of the Andean deity Tunupa-Tarapacá.
Another attraction of the route is the valley located in the Quebrada de Tana, where the town of Camiña is located. This is a green and fertile valley in the middle of the desert, crossed by high ravines. Agriculture is the main activity that develops throughout the valley, numerous cultivation areas and small towns and hamlets are part of the route to Camiña. Not only can you see beautiful landscapes, but there is also a series of petroglyphs along the route through the valley, with the Chillaiza petroglyphs being the most important.