Day 15 Iquique to San Pedro de Atacama


I think today’s submission will be entitled “A Tale of Two Cities” – unfortunately, neither one is terribly interesting but I hope this will break up the pictures of the ocean and the desert. They do have a lot of each down here.

Iquique, where we begin our day, has one of the largest duty-free commercial port centers in South America and has been traditionally called Zofri. There are around 2.4 square kilometres (0.93 sq mi) of warehouses, banking branches, and restaurants.

Copper mining, mainly in Quebrada Blanca, Cerro Colorado, and Doña Inés de Collahuasí, is also an important industry in Iquique.

So much for Wikipedia and what it had to offer – maybe the Spanish version was more informative.

We can verify they have shipping along the coast – at least that is some obvious form of industry in the area, I was getting concerned.


We took the route south along the ocean for about 200 kilometers and had a foggy mist most of the way – strange, ocean on the right and mountains on the left.


This was not the first of these signs and based on the close proximity of the oceanfront, this is probably a major concern.


Sights like this are certainly beautiful but are becoming repetitive – what a burden …


Back to the rally, here we were passing Bill and Biddy Bolsover in their lovely 1927 eight liter Bentley. That is an enormous motor in that car, Bentley made very few of these small bodied, large motor automobiles and it can pass everything except a gas station.


All along the beach we see these little shacks just sitting out on the sand, some in groups and others by themselves.


These are our good friends Fritz James and Lang Whiteman in their 1929 Ford Model A – sorry I didn’t get a better picture of their. We shared a Yurt in Mongolia with these guys on the 2010 Peking to Paris Rally. They drive this great car in charitable events on a frequent basis.


Some of the more upscale beach dwellings – note the flow through foundations …


Just an interesting rock right on the shore … Rocks do not come in white naturally, birds have a great deal to do with this phenomenon and nitrates were a very important part of Chilean history around WW II.


Back in the mountains – we went from sea level to 9850 feet in one very long ascent. At the end of that climb, even the Caddy was struggling.


And of course the mountains are part of the desert – what a strange combination.


Apparently steel trees are quite plentiful out here – seems like that is all that grows here.


More Peking to Paris alumni – Paddy Walker and Scott Greenhaigh in their 1937 Buick Series 40 Coupe. It has been nice seeing them again.


These steel trees grow everywhere …


As repetitive as the mountains are, they are also very beautiful.


Then we came to Calama which we learned is near one of the world’s largest open-pit copper mines – based on the standard of housing, copper mining is a good booming business. Calama is also one of the world’s driest towns with only 0.2 inches of rain annually.


These are clearly the nicest houses we have seen anywhere outside of a major city (maybe anywhere including the cities) and the entire town was of the same quality. Guess it just takes money – why should it be different here?


Coming into San Pedro we get to see the real serious Andes. Snowcapped peaks at an undetermined elevation – all I can add is the picture was taken from 11,275 feet and looking up.


I don’t think we can credit these white rocks to the birds – it appeared they were leaching some chemical …


Now for the tale of the other city. San Pedro de Atacama is located east of Antofagasta, some 106 km (60 mi) southeast of Calama and the Chuquicamata copper mine, overlooking the Licancabur volcano. It features a significant archeological museum, the R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, with a large collection of relics and artifacts from the region. Native ruins nearby now attract increasing numbers of tourists interested in learning about pre-Columbian cultures. Tourists also visit for other popular activities including sandboarding and stargazing, with the views of the stars from the Atacama unrivalled across the continent.

Wikipedia seems to have been better informed about San Pedro and I can vouch for the stargazing here, it is truly spectacular!

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