I must say that I had a really great time at the Academia de Artes y Lenguas where they have Spanish courses... It wasn't too expensive and the classes were one-to-one. The teachers are experienced and I learnt a lot in my time there.
I would highly recommend it!!
I also had a breath-taking mini-trek up the famous Morro; there is a path at the end of the calle Colón and the view from up there is just fantastic.
Another thing I really enjoyed was renting a bike and cycling out to the caves, to the south of the city. You just have to keep on going south along the coast until you get there - it was really something. I then went north, until the Mouth of a river, I think it's called Lluta where there's a really nice place where the birds rest before they migrate north.
One evening, I went to a lovely little bar called "Chill-out" where I ate the BEST chicken and beef "tabla" - ¡muy rico!
I didn't get chance to go myself, but I met some people who had take Salsa lessons at the "Vieja Habana" salsoteca. They said it was cheap and that great fun.
In general, I had a fab time in Arica!!!
- Study Abroad
- Food and Dining
PARQUE NACIONAL LAUCA
Parque Nacional Lauca is one of the most spectacular and dramatic national parks in Chile.
A visit from Arica basically takes one from sea-level to 4500+m in one day. All tour vans were required to carry oxygen masks to resuscitate any dying tourists. But don't worry, as on the way up, they make many photo stops and one mate stop (where you stock up on mate de coca) to help you acclimatise.
The park changes from dry desolate landscape to green flatlands with grassy moulds and finally to snowy volcanoes, some over 6000m and lakes, Cotacotani and Chungara. Lake Chungara is the highest lake in the world. It passes a few bleak altiplano towns like Putre.
The park contains many species of bird, including the flamingoes, the vizcacha (a kind of animal that looks like a rabbit with long tail), herds of the rare and very graceful vicunas, which are of the cameloid family and pumas.
There are great views everywhere.
Be aware that you will be at very high altitude when you reach Parque Nacional Lauca and so you should bring warm clothes - coat / jacket, hats, gloves - even though you may set off from clammy Arica, a seaside town.
Some tourists arrange to stay over at Parinocato (4300+m) and Putre (3500+m) overnight. If you would like to do this, you may arrange with your tour company and see if they can pick you up on the return trip the next day (when they come with another group of tourists). But do be very, very prepared with good sleeping bag and warm clothes. The locals here drink 96% alcohol to keep warm for a reason.
Hanging up around the place
By my short experience of one night there, you can, in the morning, go to the beach, go to the fancy avenues and go to the shopping ones.
In the afternoon just stay about drinking a jug of beer in some fancy avenue.
In the evening, however, there are cassinos to visit.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
On the way up to Atacama there are a kind of restaurants by the road. Make a stop and drink a Coca(in) tea. It's harmless and it will help you out (?) with altitude. If instead of Lamas you start seeing girafas...probably you had too much tea....
- Food and Dining
- Hiking and Walking
There is a lot of animals in Atacama.
Lama is one of them. Some of them are behave almost like a pet. They come to you and eat gently from your hand. Don't forget of to take with you some bread from the hotel / supermarket before you go to the Atacama.
The Pacifc Ocean
For most europeans that have been in Brazil may take for sure that because of the latitud the sea water temperature it's similar. Big mistake. The beach at Arica it's long, in some of them you may find very good surf conditions, but the water is cold in spite of the hot air temperature. To get to any of the beaches you may take a taxi or just walk...
Lauca National Park
Declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, Lauca is the most accessible park in the Chilean Altiplano. Here you'll find Lago Chungara, one of the world's highest lakes, and wetlands habitat which home to a singular community of wildlife, including wild and domesticated american camels and over a hundred bird species.
In the heart of the Chilean Altiplano, The Lauca National Park (created in 1970) treasures a collection of flora and fauna unique in the world, in a setting of lakes, volcanoes and salty lakes.
- National/State Park
Altiplano - Atacama Desert
Northern Chile is a land of extreme contrast, where two uniquely Andean environments, the Altiplano and the Atacama Desert, combine with unpredictable and overwhelmingly beautiful results.
The vast and colorful Atacama Desert is said to be the driest desert in the world. In some parts of this desert, no precipitation has ever been recorded.
- Adventure Travel
Take Geotour To Parque Nacional Lauca
From Arica, we took a one day tour to Parque Lauca in the Chilean Andes. The cost with Geotour was 12000P/$20 each, including a decent lunch. It was a pretty long day with many stops. We went from sealevel to over 14000 feet, saw some fabulous landscapes, volcanos, animals (including alpaca, vicuna, guanaco and llama), unusual plantlife, Indian ruins, etc. It was really something not to be missed.
We had plenty of time to take photos. We were not rushed on this tour. Would have been nice to have had a bi-lingual guide.
Going up to 4500 meters from Arica was a physical challenge to some of us. It's not fun to feel like you are going to fall down at every step. Having sparkling lights flashing through your vision, while rather pretty, was not a good thing. If you could spend a night in Putre (3500M) before getting into the higher altitude, it may have been easier on you than doing it all in a single day.
- National/State Park
Museo Arqueologico San Miguel de Azapa
This very interesting museum is located in an agricultural area east of Arica. Getting there is easy and cheap. Go to the corner of Lynch and Chacabuco in Arica and pick up a 'yellow taxi'. They will take you to the museum for 700P per person.
If you are into Indian artifacts/bones/etc, this is a great place to spend a couple of hours. It was the only museum we visited that provided us with a pamphlet in our native language, describing what it was we were seeing. Each of the display cases was numbered and listed in the pamphlet.
Admission was 1000P each. When we visited (late Nov), it was open 7 days a week. Our only complaint was poor lighting which made reading our trusty English pamphlet difficult at times. There are some petroglyphs outside of the building. The bathrooms were outside; clean, had toilet paper but no hand towels.
When you are ready to return to town, do not wait for a passing 'yellow taxi' at the museum. Instead, walk about 1/4 mile from the museum down to the main Azapa Valley road and sit on whatever is handy. We didn't have to wait long and the trip from there was only 600P per person.
Parque Nacional Lauca
Located approximately 150 km east of Arica, the parc considers the pre-mountain range (3200 - 3800 m) and the plateau with prairies (the secano - dry - and the bofedal - wet) and volcanoes reaching 6300 meters.
It is home of more than 60 different species of birds, many Llamas, Alpacas and Vicuñas, and of an interesting flora. The Chungara Lake with the Parinacota volcano and the Cotacotani ponds are must sees!
The main town of the park is Putre, located at its entrance, where finding accomodation and food is easy. The second main town is Parinacota (181 km from Arica) where it is possible to find accomodation with families.
There are 3 main ways to visit the parc :
- by tour arranged by an agency in Arica or in Putre
- by bus from Arica to Putre or Parinacota and then walking or hijacking
- with a rented car
This last option is from far away the best as you will have the opportunity to explore the whole parc and even head south to the Salar of Surire (See Travelogues)
- Hiking and Walking
Arica y sus atracciones
These are the points of interest when you are going to Arica:
*The old building of the "Aduana", designed Eiffel's factory, inaugurated in 1874.
*Arica's Morro, a giant rock, that reminds the triumph of the Chilean troops in the Pacific war (anyway, who cares about wars...)
*Arica's Casino, the paradise for gamblers. :))
(I think I discovered there that I'm one of them)
*The Maximo Lira Fair and the Sunday Fair (Just behind the Casino)
*The Arica - La Paz train, inauguratde in 1913.
*The Chinchorro Beach.
Cathedral of San Marcos, Plaza Colon, & la Aduana
Arica is a lovely town. It has several buildings design by the imfamous Eiffel (same person who constructed the infamous Eiffel Tower in Paris). I visited the Cathedral of San Marcos, located near the lovely plaza Colon. A block or so away, you can see another building designed by him, la Aduana.
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