Antofagasta is the largest city of the Norte Grande region, a product of the mining boom that hit the region in the 19th century. Today, Antofagasta is the embarkation point for copper mined at La Escondida and Chuquicamata--the latter of which holds the distinction of being the largest open-pit mine in the world. With 12 miles of beachfront and a mild climate, Antofagasta is also a year-round beach resort.
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Find yourself at one of the southern hemisphere's most renowned geographical points and then explore the historic towns of Baquedano and Chacabuco.
Boarding your coach at the pier, you'll leave Antofagasta behind and travel north on the Pan-American Highway. As you drive through the desert, you will pass several copper mines before reaching the Tropic of Capricorn, where a recently-built monument marks this famous spot. After a brief stop for photos, you will continue on to the small town of Baquedano which was once an important junction of the Antofagasta and Bolivia Railway Company. Here, you will stop for a visit of the old railway station which houses an interesting collection of old locomotives that were used in the nitrate industry.
From Baquedano you will continue on to Chacabuco, once a large nitrate town built in 1922 for workers of the nearby nitrate plant. The town was abandoned after nitrate prices fell below market sustainability levels and was largely untouched until put into use again between 1973 and 1975 by the Pinochet government as a concentration camp for political prisoners. In recent years, the old buildings have been restored using funds granted by the German government. During your visit you will be able to visit a worker's house, the church, theater, stores and the mineral plants. Afterwards, you'll re-board your coach for the relaxing 90-minute ride back to the pier in Antofagasta.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 2.5 hours of moderate walking/standing and approximately 2 hours of travel in the coach. There may be some steps and uneven surfaces to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and may not be suitable for those with mobility concerns who are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing that should include a sweater and light raincoat or umbrella; sunglasses; and flat, waterproof walking shoes are recommended.
Discover the sights of this major hub in northern Chile along with the best-known attractions found just outside the town.
Traveling from the pier, it's a short drive to the busy downtown area where after a brief panoramic drive you will leave your coach behind and have a short walking tour around Plaza Colon. Plaza Colon is the city's main square and is surrounded by monuments that have been donated by the various foreign communities that reside in Antofagasta. During your guided walk, you'll pass the Clock Tower, the Bandstand, the Old Customs House and the former Railway Station. The old nitrate dock, the fishing port, and the pedestrian zone complete the downtown picture overview. Before continuing on, a short visit at the Regional Museum will give you some further insight about the history of this part of the Chilean desert.
Rejoining your coach, you will leave the city behind and drive south past the university campus to the Huanchaca Ruins. The ruins are actually the striking remains of a Bolivian silver refinery that was built in 1868 and closed in 1903. From below, the ruins resemble a fortress rather than a factory. Following a stop for photos, you'll visit the small but informative museum that is found on the grounds of the complex. The museum's exhibits and displays depict the life of the miners, and also the importance of this region for star gazing. This particular area is renowned for having some of the clearest skies in the world. Afterwards, you'll re-board your coach and transfer back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 90-minutes of moderate walking and there are some steps to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and may not be suitable for those with mobility concerns who are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing that should include a sweater and light raincoat or umbrella; sunglasses; and flat, waterproof walking shoes are recommended.