The quiet little town of Toconao is located to the northeast of the Salar de Atacama at an altitude of almost 2500 m.
Despite the very dry climate, the locals produce figs, grapes, plums and pears. The fruit trees are grown in oases like Quebrada del Jerez, just east of Toconao along a clear stream of runoff water from the nearby volcanoes.
One of them is the very active
The last eruption of this dangerous stratovolcano was in 2015. And a major eruption in 1993 deposited ash as far as Buenos Aires.
Recently Toconao has become an artisan center where local artists create and sell volcanic stone sculptures.
Like other towns in the area, Toconao features single story adobe houses and partly unpaved roads.
The main sight is the church and its free-standing San Lucas bell-tower. Both date from the mid 18th century but have seen major repairs after damaged by the frequently occurring earthquackes.
In August 2011 we paid a short visit to Toconao on our way to the Laguna de Chaxa.