Chañaral Alto: oasis of Chile


Dear reader,
anywhere you go you can find the one place that seems detached from Earth, the one place where there’s no noise at all, filled with green, hills, and simply peace :) to me that place is Chañaral Alto.

Chañaral Alto is located in the Limarí province in the IV Region of Chile, Coquimbo.

It’s here:

The Coquimbo Region, Chañaral Alto is located in Provincia Limarí, right next to Argentina

The whole area of Limarí is predominantly agricultural, its lands are watered by the Huatulame and Limarí Rivers and in there you can find an amazing production of table grapes, like these ones. My brother’s hand is here to show you the size of this gorgeus fruit

Chañaral Alto grapes©Stefano, 2013

It is always a pleasure to look at my Chile on the map :) so diverse and interestingly asymmetric: from the Metropolitan Region (where Santiago is located) to the south you’ll find surplus of water and green valleys and mountains. But it’s from Santiago to the north where you can see how the landscape changes dramatically, from green woods to dry of the south you’ll switch to arid hills and valleys, not only because you’re approaching the desert but also because water is a delicate issue. The scarcity of water has affected the development of agriculture because this resource is being shared with the mining and energy (hydroelectric) sectors, which are growing at a considerable fast pace demanding more and more water. And if that wasn’t enough, most mining companies are located in the dry areas.

Chañaral Alto dry Stanito©Stanito, 2013

Chañaral Alto little farm Stanito©Stanito, 2013

Because Chile is constantly requiring new energy systems and water, is only natural to assume that at some point a solution will be needed to address this incompatibility. Mining and forestry companies use plenty of water for mineral extraction and energy production. Even bottling companies find their profit from water here in Coquimbo. The thing is that villages that traditionally had plenty of water, are currently supplied by cistern trucks and reservoir, like the one you see below. And if that wasn’t enough, legislation allows you to own land but not the water passing through your land, encouraging the appropriation and misuse of water by mining and energy sectors that unfortunately increase environmental impacts and local people’s sustainable living quality.

Embalse de Paloma (Reservoir). The construction of such reservoirs are just some of the actions taken by private owners and organizations to improve water infrastructure, and the efficient and sustainable management. This is the reservoir you can see when driving from Ovalle all the way to Chañaral, Monte Patria and Combarbalá towns. This photo, unlike the one I took, is much better as you can grasp the size of the reservoir.

In spite of these difficulties and enormous challenges the north is facing, Chañaral is still there, making its way through the best possible way :)

First of all this little guy, Matías, who spent the entire afternoons running his little tractor. My brother calls him Terremoto, earthquake, and given the energy he has, no reason to question…

Little boy Chañaral Alto Stanito©Stanito, 2013

Cute and simple old houses on the little roads on the outskirts of the valley

Little houses Chañaral Alto Stanito©Stanito, 2013

An amazing and friendly working team

Uncle's harvest team Chañaral Alto©Stefano, 2013

And their closing of business day with a much delicious pot of wonderful flavors and chilli, ají

Closing of Business day in Chañaral Alto©Stefano, 2013

Empty beautiful little roads

Calles Chañaral Alto Stanito©Stanito, 2013

And wooden bridges you find everywhere. This one was crossable, the others not so much

Chañaral Alto wooden bridge Stanito©Stanito, 2013

Breathtaking views of the valley

Chañaral Alto river Stanito©Stanito, 2013

View from Roca del Aguila

Chañaral Alto hills Stanito©Stanito, 2013

And these two guys, Burka and Panzer, faithful guardians of our uncle’s property

Chañaral Alto grapes and Burka Stanito©Stanito, 2013

Some fun time for Burka and Panzer

Burka and Panzer Chañaral Alto Stanito©Stanito, 2013

Burka and Panzer 3©Stanito, 2013

Burka and Panzer 2©Stanito, 2013

Until I called back

Stanito calling at the dogs Chañaral Alto©Stanito, 2013

Burka Chañaral Alto©Stanito, 2013

Filthy…

Stanito and Burka Chañaral Alto©Stanito, 2013

And a final sunset view

Sunset Chañaral Alto Stanito©Stanito, 2013

This is Chañaral Alto :)

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4 thoughts on “Chañaral Alto: oasis of Chile

  1. I insist in the need of educating the population in taking individual action to create alternative energy sources. It is extremely easy to make a solar panel, you do not need to have a university degree to build one and this would help greatly avoiding the use of water as the only source to produce electricity. In areas like the south of Chile it is much better (and equally easy) to build a windmill.

    • Excellent idea, but somehow there is the need for a solution about mining, they use water to extract minerals and other resources. What would it be a good substitute of water in the dam facilities?

    • Hi Julie, thanks for your visit and I’m glad you enjoyed the photos.
      You’re right, Chile can be the driest… or the wettest place on Earth even :) depending on where you go the climate changes dramatically. This is because of its interesting prolonged shape so, you fancy the desert? :) go north. You fancy rainy in the woods? you go south :) Care for some Antarctic chills? Go to the extreme south :)
      If you go more north you reach Atacama, the rocky desert, which is unbelievable :P

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