National Monument: The Surire Salt Plain
The Surire Salt Plain, a National Monument, is situated 4245 m above sea level and encompasses17500 hectares. It is 266 km southeast of Arica.
Its name is taken from the animal species characteristic of this area known as a ‘suri’ or ñandú (sometimes referred to as an American ostrich). The eastern area was declared a National Monument in 1983, the purpose being to preserve the varied fauna that inhabit the area.
The common vegetable species that you will be able to see here are; the tuna cactus which grows on the high Andean Plateau between 3300 and 4500 metres above sea level, the tola which grows in the Andean foothills at 3000 metres, the paja brava which grows between 3300 and 4500 metres and the bofedal which is found at 4000 metres on the Andean Plateau.
The fauna characteristic of this area is the llama, found in the foothills, the alpaca, vicuña, ñandú or suri and the Puna Quail on the plateau. Many flamingos such as the Andean Flamingo, the James Flamingo, and the Chilean Flamingo live in the interior lagoons of the salt plain alongside the Caití and the Juarjual duck.
The area experiences extreme thermal oscillations, with temperatures fluctuating between -15°C at night in winter to 5°C during the day.
Geographically, the flat surface area corresponds to the Surire Salt Plains and the central area, with a predominant height of 4322 metres, corresponds to the Oquealla Hill.