Written by SeenThat on 10 Aug, 2007
Arica is the perfect spot for renewing a Bolivian visa: this facet of such a visit is a modern variation of its colonial history.ClimateThe climate is arid: hot during the day and cold at night; the humidity is low at all times.Prehistoric TimesArica was populated…Read More
Arica is the perfect spot for renewing a Bolivian visa: this facet of such a visit is a modern variation of its colonial history.ClimateThe climate is arid: hot during the day and cold at night; the humidity is low at all times.Prehistoric TimesArica was populated by the Chinchorro culture, which is notorious for its mummies; those date eight-thousand years back and predate the Egyptian ones. Technically they are not mummies, since all the muscles and soft tissues were removed from the bodies and then vegetal fibers were used to fill the gap between the bones and the skin. They can be watched in the Museo Arqueológico San Miguel de Azapa, twelve kilometers away from downtown Arica. It is open everyday between 10am and 6pm.FoundationThe Spaniards arrived to the area in 1535 and found it populated by the Ariaccas. Subsequently, the city was founded in 1541 and given a simplified version of that name: Arica. Quickly, it became the main exit port for the silver mined in the nearby Potosi. Due to the malaria, the control of the route was done from nearby Putre, halfway up to the plateau.Famous TouristsThe silver trade attracted some of the worse pirates in history. In 1579 Francis Drake attacked it and afterwards Spilbergen arrived in 1615 and Watlin in 1681.Decline and RevivalTwo hundred years after Arica’s foundation, the silver trade moved to Buenos Aires and the city declined sharply. Instead, a trade in saltpeter and guano developed; the workers in those were mainly black slaves that were resistant to the malaria.EarthquakesEarthquakes in 1604, 1615, 1681, 1868 and 1877 destroyed much of the city. The one in 1868 lead to the construction of two structures by Gustav Eiffel himself; he designed the metal structure of the Church of St. Marcus, which survived the 1877 earthquake, and the old customs building.Changing CountryArica was part of Peru until the Pacific War of 1879, when it was captured by Chile. The Treaty of 1929 legally transferred it to Chile.MalariaThe eradication of the malaria began in 1925 and was ended in 1953; nowadays the city provides a healthy environment to the visitors.The PortArica still has an important port which serves Bolivia and the nearby Peruvian city of Tacna. Unfortunately, it occupies the city center and blocks the access to the beach from downtown.The LandmarkThe Morro is a distinctive hill delimiting the town to the south. It was where the main fight between the Peruvians and the Chileans was fought. Nowadays it became a symbol of peace and a “Cristo de la Concordia” statue was erected there.The BeachesA beautiful promenade leads from downtown to the beaches in the southern outskirts, from the Morro southwards. The Pacific Ocean offers here a glorious and unspoiled look; the sandy beach is wide and long offering thus a perfect place for relaxing and enjoying the views. Surprisingly enough, the citizens limit their visits to the beach to their vacations, thus the coast is pleasantly empty even in seasons warm enough to enter the water.The ShoppingA few hours south of Arica is Iquique, that with its duty free zone attracts hordes of people from the three surrounding countries in search of bargains. Close
Written by SeenThat on 26 Sep, 2005
If Arica is a beach town outpost in the far north, Iquique (pronounced Eekeekae) is a commercial hub with a big port serving northern Chile and Bolivia. Its duty-free zone attracts hordes of traders searching for the latest gadgets and cheap clothes from the Far…Read More
If Arica is a beach town outpost in the far north, Iquique (pronounced Eekeekae) is a commercial hub with a big port serving northern Chile and Bolivia. Its duty-free zone attracts hordes of traders searching for the latest gadgets and cheap clothes from the Far East (well, from here it is to the west). While traveling in the central west areas of South America, Iquique is the place to refill your backpack. Arriving there from Arica is very easy, as several companies do the 301km way between the bus terminals. The trip costs 3500CHP, plus 100CHP terminal fee, and takes a little more than 4 hours. The terminal fee is a bad practice adopted in most of South America and is the reason why most buses leave half-empty the stations and collect people waiting at their doors. I witnessed cities without a terminal charging it at improvised ticket offices and fees reaching 15 percent of the ticket’s price. Highway Number One, which crosses most of the Chilean coast, reaches up only to Iquique. Thus you travel between there two cities through Road 5. Road 5 is an inland road away from the ocean that passes through a total desert, and not even succulents grow there.
Once in Iquique, the main sights in the town are concentrated around Plaza Prat, not far away from the port, including the Torre Reloj (a stylish clocktower), the Teatro Municipal, the Croatian Club, and the Centro Español, which looks more like a Moroccan structure. The port area, especially the zone next to the bus terminal, north from the center, hosts many seafood restaurants, although few of their owners were inspired enough to place them in clear sight of the amazing ocean nearby. The southern coast offers some beautiful beaches, especially the Playa Cavancha; luckily, Chileans approach their beaches only at given times of the year. On a fine day, you may find an astounding beach with a tempered, pleasant ocean completely empty! The Zona Franca is where the duty-free shops are, and any city-bus traveling north will take you there, but the shopping centers had spread out of it. Well worth a note is the Ripley (it has nothing to do with the museums one) at Vivar 550. If you dined on a late lobster by the port, you may pass through the bus terminal around 10pm. At this hour, the buses leave to La Paz, Oruro and Cochabamba, and you will see the Bolivian traders packing the buses until their roofs bend in.
Written by SeenThat on 13 Sep, 2005
Even if you are not planning to continue to Bolivia, even if you just entered from Peru and are eager to reach Santiago, I do strongly recommend reaching at least the limit between Chile and Bolivia in Tambo Quemado. Few places in the world allow…Read More
Even if you are not planning to continue to Bolivia, even if you just entered from Peru and are eager to reach Santiago, I do strongly recommend reaching at least the limit between Chile and Bolivia in Tambo Quemado. Few places in the world allow you to climb from sea level to well over 4km in less than 200km of well-paved road. The morning buses leave at 9:30am and costs 7000CHP. It would be a sin to take the night buses, as well as uncomfortable, since they leave after midnight in order to arrive at time for the pass opening in the morning.
Most of the way climbs through a very arid landscape, with occasional llamas and cactuses, but 150km after the departure, you will arrive to Putre, the Tarapaca Region’s capital. It is well worth visiting the place since it retained the colonial features of previous centuries, including a church of adobe, called Iglesia de Putre, dating back to 1670. The international bus does not stop here; if you want to visit, you should take a local one from Arica’s terminal.
The spectacular limit is divided in two different areas: the Chilean and Bolivian outposts are some 10km from each other, and each one provides different views. The Chilean side name is Chungara, which is the name of the neighboring lake as well, and both are at 4844m above sea level. The deep-blue water practically touches the immigration building ,and friendly birds will allow you to take their pictures while you wait to your stamp. Beyond the lake, there are two beautiful volcanoes of an almost perfect conical shape that are called Nevados de Payachata and which occasionally smoke.
Once in Bolivia, the pass is called Paso Portezuelo de Tambo Quemado. Beyond it, you can clearly sea the highest mountain in Bolivia, actually a silent volcano called Sajama that rises up to 6,550m above sea level. From here on you are on the Bolivian Highlands, and if you are heading to La Paz, a slight decent along the plateau is all what expects you. The way between Arica and La Paz longs about 8 hours, and the morning buses include breakfast and lunch.