picture perfect
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unlike rabbits viscachas sport a real tail
humans have used this cave as a shelter for 10.000 years
this vicuna did not make it
viscachas are not related to rabbits but a nice example of convergent evolution
yes, solid frozen!
on our way to the thermal hot spring on the other side of the road
the evergreen yareta plant grows above 3000 meters and can be thousands of years old
we return to Route 11
these rodents are well adapted to the harsh andean climate but enjoy the warming morning sun
las Cuevas

Las Cuevas is a small area 20 km east of Putre on Route 11, near the junction with the A211 dirt road that leads into Las Vicunas National Reserve.

The site features a prehistoric rock shelter and a thermal hot spring, all set in a very scenic panorama at 4400 meters above sea level.

The hot spring spouts water of 31 degrees C and fills a small outdoor pool. The water has a high arsenic and boron content. It is said that bathing in this water has an age reducing effect.

Prehistoric hunter-gatherers already highly appreciated this location, as indicated by archeological finds like arrowheads and fire pits that date back to 9500 years BP.
They even found a shark tooth, which is interesting because in roughly the same timeframe the Chinchorro culture evolved from fishing communities near Arica, 150 km to the west.

On a cold day in July 2011 we visited Las Cuevas, inspected the cave and hot spring, enjoyed the fantastic panoramas and found several Viscachas dozing in the morning sun.

 

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there is nothing wrong with the view
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these wetlands are called bofedales and are typical for the andean highliands
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a dozing viscacha completes the perfect panorama
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a group of vicunas up the hill, One is keeping an eye on us
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a simple building covers the hot spring source
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a male Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, these birds are endemic to the altiplano
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