North of Chile, Arica & Iquique
After the great adventure of crossing the border from Peru to Chile (you can read the post here); we stayed for 2 months in the North part of Chile, Arica and Iquique. For car-travelers, find below where to camp, where to eat, what to do; for the rest of the readers, enjoy two sunny coast-line cities.
Arica, called the city of the eternal spring for its mild weather, is located 18 km south of the border with Peru and is an important and strategic port for a large inland region of South America. Imagine a place where the weather is just perfect all the year around. This is Arica!
Where to camp
Are you traveling in a motor home, combi or whatever home on wheels? Camp in La Lisera Beach, nobody will bother you in there. Do you have children? Your kids will thank you a thousand times for the thematic parks!
In this place we met wonderful open-minded-free-on-wheels adventurers. Their life stories are the best novels I have ever “read”! Ana fell in love with little Elliot, French-Argentinian kid who is traveling with his parents, Mayra and Youn, in the yellow-submarine T2 Vw Combi.
Look for their adventures here . She played all day long with him learning how to share with little “road brothers”. Aris learnt a lot of interesting things about photography, light and “ dark rooms” having Fernando as a teacher. Fernando is from Spain and he is traveling in a car which he has transformed in a “dark room” on wheels named “ Museo Interactivo de la Luz”, great concept, by the way (.https://www.facebook.com/museoluz/).
Carla used her creativity and with his help made a piece of art, capturing a flower she picked up from a tree and using the light she transferred it on a Canson paper.
For two weeks we spent time also with a couple from Chile, Criss and Naty, who is traveling projecting cartoons and movies for schools and kindergartens. Look for their adventures here.
One night we were invited to join a group of kids to see the movie “Rango”. The kids made fire and ate marshmallows. Carla, Aris and Ana enjoyed every moment! Thank you, guys!
Thank you, Nico and Fran, for the printed book “ Wv combi book for idiots”. We used it several times in our journey!
Where to eat
There are several nice restaurants and cafes in the center of Arica. The food is great and service amazing.
If you want a nice and romantic atmosphere, go to the local market, buy fresh vegetables and fruits, run and buy a good wine and enjoy your dinner on the beach (*take care with alchool on the beach, in Chile is prohibited). Very clean beach, friendly people.
If you have luck you can meet Daniel who taught us how to make “aroz con mariscos”, right there in our combi kitchen!
What to do
Anything! Enjoy the beach, amazing weather and read books. You will get bored soon of the center of Arica and the stores. Enjoy the sun or go fishing!
Iquique is fantastic. I fell in love from the first sight. A glamorous city built in the middle of the desert.
Where to camp
You can camp for no more than 3 nights in Cavancha Beach (after that you will deal with the police inspectors). There are some good deals for hostels, the hotels are very expensive. See Backpacker’s Hostel, right in front of the beach, clean, good food, internet, “buena onda” people and, very important, pet friendly. You can check the rates here.
We met people who became our friends! Thank you Coach Luis for sharing your heart, your time, your house, your atelier and your books with us. Carla read more than 30 books in English as Luis has a collection with more than 7000 books for children. Now, Carla is able to write in English her adventure journal. Having Luis as a personal coach for a month, with three fitness sessions on the beach/ week, transformed our bodies and we learnt a lot about nutrition and fitness. In his workshop we were able to transform Lollipop who received new chairs, a convertible bed, solar panels, shelves and a fridge! Important upgrades for our family! We miss you Luis, even before leaving Iquique!
Here Ana had her officially “ pololo”, Alonso! Alonso is 6 and he asked Gabi if Ana could be his “fiance”! Ana received flowers and chocolate. A lot of “ drama” moments, but sometimes at this age, love means suffering! Aris gained a good friend and Carla played a lot with Magdalena, Alonso’s baby sister. Thank you Claudia and Cristian, for sharing your house with us and for amazing lunch and Cuban dinner! Thank you so much for the Sea Lions adventure tour, which I highly recommend if you go to Iquique.
Where to eat
There are good restaurants all around Iquique. We recommend Mulata Restaurant for seafood. For cheaper and incredible delicious food there is the option for “colationes” (one plate street food).
What to do
You can enjoy the beach and big waves. You can go surfing, fishing or Parapente (the best deals ever). Chileans are very fit and like jogging and sports.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 21.00 to 22.30 you can go to free fitness classes on Pina Cavancha beach. Say hello to Coach Luis and Veronica! If you have kids, go to the Circus (no animals!) or Ice Skating. Go to see Sea Lions in a boat tour. Visit Pica and Humberstone about 30 km away from Iquique. There are also a lot of parks and playgrounds you can enjoy!
Every Saturday and Sunday there is a huge Market in Alto Hospicio with all kinds of stuff from clothes, spare parts for cars, books and so on American-quality- second-hand-things, cheap fruits and vegetables. Maybe you want to take a look!
Please take care when crossing the street or driving. I saw at least 15 serious car accidents in less than a month. Two times I was almost hit on the zebra crossing!
Iquique is a free tax city. The cars are crazy cheap. This is the place to fix your car! Lollipop was upgraded here, but more information about this in a future post!