The Puna is a geographic region, historically and culturally well defined, characterized by plateaus at more than 3.000 meters above sea label (masl), dry lands, salt fields, and mountains whose peaks are well as 5,000 meters. Understandably, the weather conditions of such place are extreme, specially during winter time. In spite of these "unfriendly" climate conditions, the Puna is the home land of the colla community. The local flora and fauna, which had to adapt to these extreme climate conditions, completes the picture.
The vegetation is sparse, low-slung by strong winds, small leaves and thorny, in order to retain water. In the highlands it rains only during the brief summer months. The animals are specially adapted to travel long distances to obtain water and food. Typical animals are llamas and vicuñas, both from the camelid family, and very useful for the wool they produce. The llama is a domestic animal that also serves to load, while the vicuña is highly prized for the quality of their wool.
There are some lakes in La Puna formed by low rainfall, which then bring out large areas of salt fields that seem to draw on the horizon the image of an endless ocean. There are parinas, animals belonging to the flamingo family, which gracefully fly over the Andean sky. Salinas Grandes (Great Salt Fields) is notable for its extension. For people, the Puna is a hostile environment. The height is synonymous with low atmospheric pressure, and therefore a smaller amount of oxygen is present in the air. Those who are not locals may experience what is called altitude sickness or mountain sickness, so it is advisable to take some precautions, such as avoiding sudden movements, alcohol and overeating.
The climate in the Altiplano is called Árido Andino Puneño, whose characteristics are dryness and moderate cold in summer, reaching intense cold of winter, with minimum temperatures that can reach -30°C and annual average between 15 to 20°C. The low rainfall, and both the high insolation and evaporation in the area, give rise to permeable soils which rarely present permanent water, and also real "seas" of salt (or salt fields) are found across the whole region.
Ampliar Ampliar
The LLAMA Telescope and the neighboring Colla communities
San Antonio de los Cobres - Salta official website