climb Licancabur volcano at 5924m altitude - recreating the climate on Mars
Licancabur means the mountain from the Lican people who lived at the foot of it (nowadays San Pedro de Atacama). The volcano with its perfect conical shape is recognized from far away and his image associated to laguna Verde is a classical picture.
The volcano became famous when NASA scientists discovered that the climatic conditions around the crater are the closest on earth to the conditions expected on planet mars. Licancabur thus already served as play ground for space travelling robots !
Even though the highest point does not reach 6000m, the day hike should not be underestimated as you have to gain ~1300m +d starting at 4600m altitude in the first place. For acclimated people we estimate an 8 hour hike on a trail crossing mostly scree slopes. As you reach the crater you will be surprised by the frozen crater lake. There are only 5 lakes in the world found at higher altitudes ! A reason good enough to descend into the crater.
The ascent to the crater is rather a challenging altitude hike and not serious mountaineering. Be aware that it can get really cold early in the morning and on windy days. Pack clothes in consequences.
There are 2 ways to get to the base of the Volcano. One option is to start from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. The other alternative is to add on the ascent during a tour in the south Lipez / Uyuni Salt flat region in Bolivia. Note that you can leave San Pedro de Atacama, and continue your trip in Bolivia.