Calama Travel Guide

Located in the northern part of Chile, this city is one of the most arid places in the world. Situated 2250 metres above sea level, this city has been dubbed the ‘bedroom city’ because most people would stop here for a night’s stay enroute San Pedro de Atacama. Calama is an economic hub as it propels though copper cash; therefore, it happens to be the pride of northern Chile. Signature copper is visible at all places, statues, walls etchings, copper-plated spire on the cathedral and more. The city has deep connections to Chuqicamata, as it inherited mining population from the copper mines of Chuquicamata. Calama is situated between the pre-Andean desert and the Pacific Ocean.

Getting around

Though Calama is situated on the northern banks of Rio Loa, it is by and large accessible for pedestrians. Typically, cabs or taxis and car rentals are the most common forms of transportation. Short cab rides takes tourists to Aeropuerta El Loa and San Pedro de Atacama. Numerous taxi colectivos to Chuquicamata leave from Abaroa near Plaza 23 de Marzo. Those renting cars to visit the geysers at El Tatio might find it hard to travel in car. A truck would be suitable for the rugged roads.

Top Sight Seeing Places

The most important local attraction in Calama is its mining history. The proximally located Chuquicamata, hosts the largest open pit mine in the world. Numerous tours commence near this pit and proceeds to Calama city after an immersion in the mining museum. The museum takes one through the arrival and struggles of the early miners and their numerous sacrifices that have catapulted Chile to international fame.

For those tourists who interested in religious and spiritual living, the Iglesia Cathedral San Juan Bautista located in shady Plaza 23 de Marzo at the end of Calle Ramirez stands the prominent copper- and -pinkish colored Cathedral. Near the southern end of the city center, there are some attractions like the Museo Arqueologico y Etnoloico, which is a small museum displaying the Atacama highland culture, palaeontology and the ecology of this region. Nearby is the Parque el Loa which has a riverside pool and a replica of Chiu Chiu’s church where tourists can unwind and relax away from the confines of a densely-miner town.

As tourists integrate with the miner’s town, one interesting activity is ‘eating with the miners’. The Club Social Empleados has been the dining room of choice for several decades. Here, the miners congregate to consume the unique menu provided daily. Though the dining room does not offer much of variety, it offers a great experience to get to know the miners, firsthand

Outside the city

Located about 100 km from Calama is a hamlet San Pedro de Atacama where the streets are al brown and lush with electric wires arising from tall buildings. Rich with desert around this city, it is the equivalent of an archaeological capital of Chile because like the human population, several of its remains are untouched, and offers great clues to the intellect minds. Needless to say archaeological and anthropological tours have mushroomed in this part of the world. Noteworthy is the Valley of Moon, also known as the sanctuary of nature unique for its morphological aspect of all tourists visiting San Pedro de Atacama. This place attracts huge crowd on full moon nights. The Valley of Death is apparently a sand dune suitable for hiking trips, sandboarding and paragliding.

Chuquicamata is home to the largest copper mine in the world and this mine is an engine to the Chilean economy. A 16 km bidirectional track separates the mine from the Calama city, and this mine supplied over half million tons of copper. On one side is San Pedro de Atacama and another is Calama, as they highlight the existence of different communities which is a tourist ensemble.

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