Northern Region of Chile

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Come and Discover the Northern Region of Chile

Northern Chile is home to the world’s most arid desert and its salt flats, hot springs and geysers as well as large deposits of copper and other minerals and mines in Chuquicamata, Calama and other parts of the altiplano. It also boasts fertile ravines and oases whose unique fruits make for excellent culinary tours and is inhabited by some of the country’s native peoples. Both Incan and Spanish influences can be seen in its villages and religious festivities, which attract visitors throughout the year.

Northern Chile is made up of two main regions — the Norte Chico (‘little north’) and the Norte Grande, also known as the ‘far north’ or the ‘great north’.

The Norte Chico stretches just below the Atacama Desert to the Santiago region. And the geography is characterized by hills, punctuated occasionally by lush valleys, that have sprung up around rivers that flow down from the Andes mountains to the ocean.

To the north of Norte Chico, the hills and the valleys gradually change to the more desolate plains of the Atacama desert, marking the beginning of the Norte Grande. On the eastern edge of the country, the desert climbs up into the Altiplano highlands, where salt flats and lakes spread out far into the distance, eventually spilling over into Bolivia and Argentina.

This region of Chile contains the driest, most arid desert on earth, the Atacama Desert, and is a vast land of extreme contrast, color and beauty. In some parts of this desert, no precipitation has ever been recorded.

This remote part of Chile contains a landscape similar to what you might find on the moon. As a matter of fact, NASA uses this vast expanse to test their moon exploration vehicles. The diverse topography is evident through the large volcanic geysers, salt flats, lagoons, springs and farmland with grazing llamas and alpaca’s.

The region has a rich cultural heritage where ancient relics of indigenous human habitation are reflected through carvings of human and animal figures as seen on the barren hillsides. The gateway to exploring this fascinating geographic region is through San Pedro de Atacama and ecotour friendly Lauca National Park.

Here you can also visit the world’s largest open copper mine at Chuquicamata.

At the Tres Cruces National Park located in the Chilean Andes, there are vast opportunities for adventure lovers such as mountain trekking and climbing. This is a great place to spot pink flamingos.

From north to south, some of the principal destination cities in northern Chile are Arica, La Serena, Copiapo, Rio Huertado / Pisco Elqui, Antafogasta and Calama. Of these cities, all but Calama are coastal cities, with fine beaches, where clouds and 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.

Come and explore some of the top destinations in Chile. This growing destination offers haunting reminders of lost civilizations, surreal desert and mountain landscapes.

Popular Destinations To Visit In The Northern Region of Chile

San Pedro de Atacama

— Arica

Iquique

— La Serena

— Copiapo

— Rio Huertado / Pisco Elqui

— Calama

— Antafogasta