The unpaved road to Salar de Maricunga

Salar de Maricunga is a dazzling white salt flat at an elevation of 3.700m (12,139ft) above the sea level, located in the Nevado Tres Cruces National Park in the Atacama Region of Chile.

Salar de Maricunga

The road to the salt flat is totally unpaved. It’s called Ruta 31-CH. It’s a 280 km long gravel road. It starts in the municipality of Copiapó and ends at Paso San Francisco, on the Argentinian border. This is a maintained road where a high clearance 2WD vehicle is able to travel safely at low speeds on long dry straight-of-ways, without losing control due to wash boarding, ruts, or dips. Desertic weather. The temperature oscillates between day and night time. The climb is simply terrible, with a notorius lack of oxygen that tests the organisms and a high degree of steepness. It has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards, and driving under these conditions, can be extremely challenging. The air dryness and the oscillation of temperatures that takes place during the day and night is one of the features of this area. Day is warm by direct sun and nights are extremely cold.