Iquique is the capital of Region I, which comprises of regions in the northern tip – Arica, Iquique and Parinacota. One of the popular attractions in the northernmost area of Chile, this city of Iquique is located in a golden crescent of the coastline offers a warm and mild climate juxtaposed with Atacama Desert. Situated about 300 km from Arica and 1850 km north of Santiago, Iquique is squeezed between the ocean and the brown coast line.
From Iquique it is possible to access Peru and Bolivia. Iquique was a Bolivian territory and was used by Spanish explorers to export silver mined in Bolivia to Spain. The nitrate, a nitrogen fertilizer mined in the barren desert in this region enabled this region to become an economic hub. Iquique offers one of the best beach resorts in Chile and hosts a casino and a plethora of water-sports. The clean beach and surfing opportunities are a huge attraction for tourists.
Getting around in the port city of Iquique is possible through the Colectivo, the local bus transport system. Some areas in the north-eastern side of the intersection between O’Higgins and Ramirez have been reported unsafe, at night. Being one of the cheapest cities in Chile, hiring a taxi cab is probably convenient, as it costs almost as much as the bus ticket fare.
Top Sight Seeing Places
As a commercial centre and tourist-base for adventurists who want to explore the desert of wanting to enjoy sports, deep sea fishing or the archaeological tours and beaches, Iquique offers great excitement. Several hot springs and geothermal mud baths offer healing therapies to visitors.
The city’s plaza, Plaza Prat in Iquique’s central square has a Torre Reloj clock tower and bell dating back to 1877, remodelled to present a sugar-frosted look. This area has been landscaped to have shady areas, with benches and trees. The noon-military parade is a daily ritual and weekends are filled with entertainment and musical events.Centro Español is located north of the tower and displays paintings from Don Quixote era by Vicente Tordecillas. The Teatro Municipal is on the south, served as an Opera House in 1890. In the north is the customs house that houses the Naval museum (Museo Naval de Iquique) depicts scenes from the Civil War fought by President Balmaceda’s supporters and Congressional forces in 1891. It is dedicated to Captain Prat for his courageous leadership in the war.
Avenue Baquedano is supposedly the main thoroughfare and its northern section is filled with attractive malls. The tram is a miniature version that criss-crosses the avenue, during the peak tourist season.
The regional museum (Museo Regional) of Iquique located in the former courthouse has great collections of pre-Hispanic era. Though most explanations are in Spanish, the collection earnestly tries to trace and recreate a traditional altiplano village in full with mannequins in Aymara dress and represents the ethnography very succinctly. Some exhibits which will surprise you include elongated Tiwanaku skulls, animal foetuses floating in formaldehyde and masked Chinchorro mummies.
The weather in the northern part of Chile, and in particular, Iquique is very friendly, due to its sunny and warm days. Winter is very short and gives off, a cold and cloudy feeling. Playa Brava offers gorgeous sceneries as the waves come gushing towards you. Though the rip currents at Playa Brava make it unsafe for swimming, one can enjoy the ample facilities for sunbathing. The huge dunes of Cerro Dragón are overlooking the sea. Taxi colectivos offer rides from downtown to the Playa Brava beach. Numerous rental outlets offer bikes and car rental
Outside the city
Pica, the village of pre-Hispanic origin is situated about 115 km from the south-east Iquique. Standing 1325 meters above sea level, Pica village is rich with a variety of fruit plantations including lemons, mangoes, grapes, oranges, making this place home to food-processing industry. Located on the side of Inca Road, history indicates that the Spaniard who discovered Chile, Diego de Almagro, travelled on road. The buildings and facilities resemble Spanish architecture.