This enormous volcano, sacred to indigenous people, appears on the desert horizon and immediately captivates the attention of those who visit San Pedro de Atacama. It is dormant, but does not appear so. Rising above the high plains, it is part of the Andes Mountain Range and its crater contains the fifth largest lagoon in the world.

In kunza, the dialect of the people of the Atacama, Licancabur means “the people’s mountain” (lickan= people, ckabur= mountain).

This 5,916-meter-high volcano, located right on the border between Chile and Bolivia, is considered by this and other high-plains indigenous cultures to be a sacred, protective mountain.

Given its ceremonial uses, this part of the desert is rich in great archeological findings. Many stone altars have been found and it is even believed that long processions took place between San Pedro de Atacama and the lagoon in the volcano’s crater, where priests conducted rituals and communicated with divine beings.

Artifacts of Incan ceremonies have been found in the volcano. The Inca threw in different sorts of gold objects that supposedly still lie on the lagoon floor. Locals claim that if someone touches one of these treasures, Licancabur will wake up furious and erupt. Experts, nonetheless, say that this volcano is completely dormant. The lagoon on its peak is the fifth largest in the world. During winter, low temperatures should turn its waters into ice, however, due to the gases that circulate inside the volcano, the water never freezes entirely.