Licancabur is a now extinct volcano in the Atacama Desert, on the border between Chile and Bolivia. It is 5916m high and can be seen from almost everywhere around the chilean town San Pedro de Atacama. Close to Lincancabur is a flat extinct volcano of 5704m called Juriques. On the other side of the salt plain Salar de Atacama you can find Cerro de Quimal (4278m), the highest mountain of the Cordillera Domeyko.

Licancabur ("mountain of the people") is the sacred mountain of the Atacameño, the ingenious people of the Atacama Desert. He is their guardian and protagonist of many legends and traditions. "He", because the Atacameño believe, that volcanos - like Licancabur - are male and mountains - like Quimal - are female. One Legend, that has many versions, is that of Licancabur and Quimal.

The Legend tells that Licancabur and Juriques were two warrior princes, sons of the ancient and hot-tempered Lascar - the most active volcano of the Andes. The princes, who were both very strong and brave, fell in love with the same woman - the beautiful Quimal, who used to wear silver jewelry, that was forged in her interior. But Quimal lost her heart to Licancabur, who already was his father's favourite son and on top was the chosen protector of the people. Juriques, full of bitterness and blinded by desire tried to possess Quimal by force. Although he was not successful, Licancabur, when finding out what happened, decapitated his envious brother with a single strike. Juriques is known as the headless since then. The other volcanos cried for justice for their dead brother and Lascar, although he understood his son's reasons, exiled Quimal to a place in the middle of the desert, a hundred kilometers to the west on the other side of the ocean of salt. 

Now visiting San Pedro de Atacama you can see the mighty Licancabur protecting the village, the headless Juriques at his side and next to them a wide empty space, where Quimal once stood. Looking to the west you can see a solitary mountain on the other side of the salt plain Salar de Atacama, which is the Cerro de Quimal. 

The distance couldn't diminish Licancaburs love for Quimal and with the time his sadness softened Lascar' heart. He allowed the young warrior to be with his beloved for one night every year. And when the sun rises on the day of the winter solstice you can see the shadow of Licancabur covering Quimals body completely. This act of love marks the beginning of the new year for the Atacameños.

Licancabur.jpgSource: http://unaimagenpalabrasmil.blogspot.de/2013/11/licancabur-y-quimal.html