Tornado Tour of South America – Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil
A tour of Iquique in a day, exploring the beach and town center along Baquedano Street.
Iquique is a major Chilean port city and the capital of the Tarapacá Region. The town grew due to its bustling saltpeter mining in the Atacama Desert in the 19th century.
Recently on April 1, 2014 an 8.2 magnitude earthquake occurred about 60 miles from the city. This caused a 7 foot tsunami to smash the city. Only a few people died from the event (of heart attacks mostly) but 80,000 people were displaced.
Having arrived from Santiago the night before, I had a good half a day to explore the port city before my flight to La Paz, Bolivia.
After a shower and a filling breakfast at my beachside accommodation, I headed out to the beach.
Though early in the day there were already plenty of surfers tackling the turbulent waves. Onlookers waited their turn or watched their friends. Couples took strolls hand in hand while small groups were exercising in the park gym equipment.
I walked along to beach to the main road leading to the center of town.
Walking down this cobbled street transports you back in time to when this colonial area was owned by Peru in the 19th century. Schools, government buildings and the occasional cafe make up the buildings on either side.
A quiet street except for hawkers selling their wares, mostly antiques, laid out on sheets in the middle of the road. Police regularly patrol the area in their SUVs.
Baquedano meets the clock tower and the old square. This is the most touristy part of the city with old trams sitting on rails, museums and dining options. Most of my tour was observing the locals and the slow pace of the city.
I had a flight to catch so I made my way back.
The beach was much more packed as it was later in the day. There were a lot of activities in the area like surfing down the dunes, paintball, kitesurfing and some British girls I met even went paragliding.
Taking an airport collectivo for 5,500 pesos, we filled every seat before making our way to the destination. I arrived with plenty of time before my flight. The road to the airport was quite scenic as it ran long the water. Resort and activity areas dotted the coastline. We even saw a military airport which to my surprise was actually connected to Diego Aracena International Airport (IQQ).
There was a Salones VIP Pacific Club where I spent my time before the flight eating dry cookies and drinking Quilmes while getting some writing done.
The beach town was a fun stop over. Next time I’m definitely going to stay to enjoy some of the activities of this laid back city.
Next stop: Bolivia.