Sunset Over Laguna Chaxa

Laguna Chaxa is a pristinely beautiful spot to observe flamingos in their natural habitat and watch the sunset. 

Flamingo Watching

I had never seen a flamingo in real life prior to traveling to Chile. 

To be honest, I’ve never really understood the attraction that people have to flamingos. But, maybe that stems from the fact that I’m not really a bird person. I guess I always assumed the allure had something to do with how unique and elegant these birds are.  Or the way they perfectly balance themselves while perched on one leg… However, after having seen these birds now, the allure for me isn’t their peculiarity. Instead, I was amazed at how beautiful flamingos are when in flight. Not only are they very graceful once they are soaring through the air, but their pink color also pops against the blue sky and the mountain backdrop. 

Pink flamingos take flight at Laguna Chaxa.
Flamingos at Laguna Chaxa in the Salar de Atacama.

Did you know flamingos get their pink color from the bacteria in the brine shrimp that they eat? The brighter or more red colored ones are the healthier and more well-fed flamingos.

I think we could have watched the flamingos fly back and forth across the Salar de Atacama (the Atacama Salt Flat) all evening. And we did for quite a while. It’s a little tricky to capture a good photo of the flamingos in the air, but I think Luke was able to get a few good shots. What do you think?

Pink flamingo flies in front of the mountains at Laguna Chaxa.
Aren't they beautiful? You can also see many other flamingos in the background feeding on brine from the salt flats.

Laguna Chaxa is located about 2 hours from San Pedro de Atacama. It sits just outside of the Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos, a nature reserve known for, you guessed it – flamingos, that spans across the border of Chile and Argentina. Because of the (relatively) close proximity to San PedroLaguna Chaxa is probably one of the more popular spots in the area to see the flamingos and the salt flats. Salar de Tara is another option, but it’s potentially less accessible especially on a shorter trip.

We spent five full days in the Atacama, and we didn’t make it out to Salar de Tara. It’s funny – when I was initially planning our vacation, I thought five days would be more than enough time to see everything in the Atacama. On day five, we weren’t ready to leave. We felt like there were still so many more things that we wanted to see and do. 

I’ve often noticed that people from outside the U.S. talk about “knowing” a place when they travel. It always struck me as an odd thing to say, and I just attributed the word choice to a mistranslation. I think I get it now. I feel lucky that I got to know the Atacama pretty well, but I wish that I had more time to know the Atacama better

Anyway, from my research, if you like what you see here at Laguna Chaxa or in the Lagunas Altiplanicas, it might be worth the extra time it takes to get out to Salar de Tara. Regardless of which salt flat you choose to visit, I’d highly recommend visiting at sunset. 


The sunset we saw at Laguna Chaxa was hands down the most beautiful sunset I’ve seen in my entire life. 

Living on the west coast, we are blessed to be able to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. I’m probably biased, but the sunset over the ocean is nothing like watching the sunset behind the mountains. (Time for another confession: I love adore mountains. That is the #1 reason I love living in the Pacific Northwest.) 

Mountains at sunset at Laguna Chaxa in Salar de Atacama.
The mountain colors behind the salt flat are pretty incredible just before sunset.
Mountain reflection at sunset at Laguna Chaxa in Salar de Atacama.

What a perfect ending to another perfect day in the Atacama desert. Can you imagine anything better than savoring this sunset while sipping wine with the one you love? 

Check out our other adventures in the Atacama Desert or read about the rest of our day in the Lagunas Altiplanicas before you go. 🙂



Tour: Full Day XL – Tuyacto + Piedras Rojas + Lagunas Altiplanicas + Salar de Atacama (excl. the closed portion of the Lagunas Altiplanicas)

Total Time: around 8 hours because of the closures at Lagunas Miscanti and Miñiques. I believe the full tour would have been longer! 

Activity Intensity: Very Easy – some light walking around the salt flat

Company: Sorbac

*Disclaimer: These are not affiliate links so I will not receive any commission when you click. Any links provided are for your convenience and for experiences we can wholeheartedly recommend based solely on our personal experiences. To aid in identification, I’ve formatted links to other locations within my own blog in navy blue and links to external content in royal blue.


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Kate Vista

Kate Vista

Hi there! I'm Kate. Welcome to my blog. In real life, I am an actuary, coffee addict, dog lover, and a newly minted blogger. In our spare time, my husband, Luke, and I like to hike in our home state of Washington. We also love active adventure travel to Scenic Vistas. See what I did there? :) I think we travel to some cool places and I just want to share our photos and experiences with you!

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