Northern Region of Chile
This is Chile's desert area.
Northern Chile is a land of extreme contrast, where two uniquely Andean environments, the Altiplano and the Atacama Desert, combine with unpredictable and overwhelmingly beautiful results.
The vast and colorful Atacama Desert is said to be the driest desert in the world. In some parts of this desert, no precipitation has ever been recorded.
The Altiplano, on the other hand, receives tropical rains in January and February. Altitude, rather than aridity, is the limiting factor governing life on this airy plateau: only the hardiest and most highly specialized flora and fauna can survive the vagaries of life above 12,000 ft.
From north to south, some of the principal destination cities in northern Chile are Arica, La
Serena, Copiapo, Rio Huertado / Pisco Elqui, Antafogasta
, Calama and San Pedro de Atacama.
Of these, all but Calama and san Pedro are coastal cities, with fine beaches, where clouds - let alone rain - are never an issue. Accommodations, transportation, and other tourist services are on a par with the capital, and each city provides access to a distinct portion of the desert, sierra foothills, or Altiplano.
Following the Aymara ethnic path. (9 days)
Aymara culture has its origins in the populations which inhabited the Andes in what is now known as western Bolivia, southern Peru and northern Chile.
The Azapa Valley, near Arica, was the site of the first permanent settlements of these people. In this area, about 8,000 years BC, as part of what is now known as the Chinchorro culture, developed consisting funeral rites of mummification of the dead.
Rio Huertado / Pisco Elqui
Arica is a great place to begin your adventure
in the northern part of Chile. You can enjoy the warm Pacific beaches,
tour around the city and see the hieroglyphs, followed later by a tour to the Altiplano
to experience wild life in the driest desert of the world.
The Atacama Desert has no sign of life on the one hand but on the other hand
the beautiful green valleys that cut through the desert are full of life.
From Arica you can make your connection to the neighboring countries of
Peru and Bolivia, South America.(top)
Close to Calama is the worlds largest
copper mine and some interesting archeological sites. It is
located in the middle of the Atacama desert, the driest of the world.(Top)
Antofagasta is a coastal city in the north
of Chile where beautiful rock formations nearby some of its beaches are a main
tourist attraction. The worlds largest telescope is being built
on mount Paranal, 200 km South of Antofagasta. This is an area with
the clearest skies of the world, where only 20 days out of the year a cloud can be seen in the sky.(Top)
Nice beaches, most of them unexploited,
surround the area of Copiapo. A perfect place to visit the flowering
desert. A phenomenon that occurs only some years, and is one of mother natures most wonderful spectacles.(Top
Serena (Beaches, rent a car)
If you want a nice rest on a perfect beach,
this is the place to go. The well named Pacific (meaning peaceful)
Ocean waters are warm and ready to receive tourists from all over the world.
Close to La Serena, there are beautiful valleys where some of the worlds most famous
Chilean grapes are grown.(Top)
San Pedro de Atacama
This oasis is located at the northern end of the Salar de Atacama (salt flat), and was an important center for the Atacamenian or Kunza culture. In the middle of the XV century, it was conquered by the Inca Empire and later became a stopover for the Hispanic expeditions on their way south.
Among the attractions in this town are an interesting archaeological museum and colonial church. In the surrounding area, you will find the pre-Hispanic village of Tulor, Quitor Pukará and the Inca ruins of Catarpe.
The main natural attractions are the Valle de la Luna (moon valley), the Tatio Geysers and the Salar de Atacama (salt flat) itself.
Hurtado/Pisco Elqui (horseback, trekking, hacienda living, bed and
Experience Adventure in the desert and its valleys on
horse or on foot. One of North Chile's greatest hideouts.
Activities in the area are horseback riding,
trekking, enjoying the beauty of the desert and its valleys and staying
in an old reconstructed hacienda.(Top)