sábado, 10 de diciembre de 2011

Arica, Chile, in a nutshell
What to do, where to go, what to see, how to get there, how much it cost, where those places are, what to avoid, plus, minus, lifestyle, customs, dangers, girls, boys, drinks, food, oddities, delights and many MANY more

(Last updated September 26, 2011)
This site compiles relevant information for those interested in the city of Arica. It is an alternative guide and it does not serve any official or commercial purpose. These are my own observations that are the result from living in Arica since 1974. The information in this page is complemented with cross references to many other sites, personal opinions and casual ratings of different places within the city.

I tried to build a useful and comprehensive website, following the logical mental sequence of a typical tourist: arriving to the city; looking for a place to stay; buying food; places where to go, and so on.

The prices quoted should be used as reference only. The actual prices may differ greatly depending on the time of the year and the exchange rate, just to name a couple of factors.

My purpose is to help visitors with good and practical information, the kind that is hard to find in an official tourist guide; prices, places, gut feelings, the pros and cons, dangers, and difficulties, all from a realistic point of view. I hope that you find this site useful and helpful, so you can have a good time in Arica.
Tomás Bradanovic.
email me here


Casual videos from Arica in my new blog Arica Without Makeup. Not perfect, but I´m working on it...

Do you want to be notified on updates? just send me a mail and I will keep you informed

Last update: visa and residence howto, step by step

(September 26, 2011)
Follow this link to learn all the procedure to obtain your temporary and permanent visa, step by step
G&J ADDED photographs of Gregg´s trip to the religious Fest in Las Peñas, deep into the hillssome 50miles away from Arica, there is no road to reach the sanctuary so the last 12 miles must be done by foot trough the hills and desert in a 3-4 hour trek See the slideshow here.
IMPORTANT: due spam attaks the "comments" section is closed,, any comment please send to my mail.
UPDATE (February 28 2011)
Link to several good sources of information from the National Sevice for Tourism (SERNATUR), only in spanish by now, if you need some specific translation feel free to ask me.
Hotels in Arica with prices (in chilean pesos, Aug 2010)
Hostels in Arica with prices (in chilean pesos, Aug 2010)
Manual of touristic information Arica 2010
Touristic atractions of Arica 2010
Flying from or to Santiago? Check the english website of Aeropuerto de Santiago, very comprehensive with up to date information on fligths, arrivals, departing and services
Horse riding? Best tours in town, from hours to days at Arica a Caballo
Detailed maps of Arica, with every home you can see and download at SNIT

MAIN UPDATE (August 23 2010)
I just added Arica in fgures, who provides some vital statistics in economy and social issues. All sources are oficial and reputable check it HERE
Compare prices many people ask me on the cheapest way to come to Arica from the States, well, the most convenient is to fly from US to Lima first, (you can check for cheap fligths at www.orbitz.com) and then from Lima to Tacna by bus or Peruvian Airlines, and then from Tacna To Arica by colectivo taxi or bus. TIP: it is often much cheaper to purchase tickets in the country of origin of fligth.
Street Art in Arica - Greg & Judy, cycling around the city took some pics of art on the walls, you can see it HERE, soon they will be co-administrators and permanent collaborators, stay in tune!
Just added Official Inundation Charts in case of tsunami for the cities of Arica, Iquique and Antofgasta
The mother ship website in spanish, Infoarica.cl it is again up in the web (Thanks Logan!), so you can access all the complementary information there, specially cost of living, who is one of the most visited sections.
Bird watchers don´t miss to check the most comprehensive guide on birds in our city Aves de Arica and for those who enjoy horse riding check Arica a Caballo
Allchile.net is, in my opinion, the best repository of information for those who consider Chile as an option to move, following I reccomend some of the most interesting topics:
Airline tickets: there are huge differences on price for exactly the same ticket depending where and hoy you purchase it see Lan Ticket Prices
Visa, visa run and legal: are discussed at Legal Issues
Money transfers: are discussed at Chlie Investing and money
Cost of living at Cost of living in Chile

I am also translating to english my Adeventure in the Peruvian Amazonia, in the heart of the illegal gold minning zone, probably the english may be very poor but the adeventures are quite crazy and entertaining
UPDATE (feb 25, 2009) I just added this section Arica Without Makeup , a collection of over 1.000 non-touristic pictures of the real Arica and surroundings organized in 37 slideshows, I also complemented with a description of neigborhoods suitables for rent or buy a home with Google Earth eyeballs, don´t miss it!
Curious about chilean slang or informal spanish? check my knol Chilean Slang Made Easy

Google Earth users! check this link to see satellite image of Arica with marked hotels, restaurants, landmarks, streets, bars, Tacna, Iquique and many more!. You may also download Google Earth software from here . Don’t fail to download version 4.0 Beta with better quality images!

New section: Critics, Claims and Opinions from real travelers. If you have been in Arica and have a claim or opinion please send me a mail to add here, Your first-hand experience is valuable both for local business and prospective travelers, and we may be better informed of our pros and cons in order to improve the tourist offerings.

Moving to Arica? I had receive some questions from people who is considering to move to Arica either for living or for a staying longer than the usual touristic trip (e.g. one year or more). So I wrote a brief guide for the would-be expat with some useful data, feel free to visit and ask me any further question in order to make a most comprehensive guide.

Premium tip: if you are curious about prices, rent, sale, properties, cars, etc., don’t fail to check the classified ads from La Estrella de Arica newspaper. No intermediaries, direct from the source! (sorry, only in spanish, but a good excercise)

Another good tip: do you love books? looking for English books at low cost? There is a flea market in Avenida Argentina with Bilbao Street, called Todos, they sell English books per kilo (approx US$ 4 per kilo). Don’t fail to visit if you enjoy reading!

Recommended: you may read first-hand experience from Danica Bulic´s article at Escape Artist. Also visit Mila´s Blog and Allchile, a very interesting forum for expats in Chile.

Espanol para gringos
: I just started a new blog called Espanol Para Gringos. Not Spanish lessons, but a discussion of the subtly of the Spanish language that often causes misunderstandings, some useful tips and chilenismos, beware, many 4-letter words included. Check it out!

New, last minute added!: SLIDESHOWS, I just added this section with slideshows of many pics collected over time in the city and neighborhood. If you want a preview of Arica this section is a must see!

Learn Spanish in Arica!
Emily, an Englishwoman and her Chilean partner Rodrigo run the Academy of Arts and Languages, they teach Intensive Spanish for Foreign-Speakers, who is a good choice if you are looking for an immersion experience with Spanish. The best: they have Latin American prices, check HERE their blog with details.
THANK YOU! Thanks a lot to RICHARD G., who helped to me with edition and correction of the zillion of gramatical mistakes that I conmitted (this entry is not edited!), to JOHN M. and all those who had contributed with text, opinion, critics, thank you so much to all of them.

I just added some info and pics from my trip in low budget to the Peruvian Amazonia and Cusco, check it out!
Last Update (feb 21, 2009) I just added a brief description of the main neigborhoods in Arica with Google Earth eyeballs and some pictures you may check it here

Arriving to Arica

29 mayo 2005

There are two ways to arrive to Arica

1- By air from the South of Chile or from the country of Bolivia

2- By land from the South of Chile or from the city of Tacna, located in Peru. Also, from Argentina and/or Bolivia.

There are no flights from Peru to Arica, only to the Peruvian city of Tacna (approx. 60 km). The only way to travel to Arica from Tacna is by road.

There has not been any railroad passenger service between Arica-La Paz for ten years, so if you want to travel by land to/from Bolivia, you have to do it by bus or car.

There are a good train service 2 times a day from Tacna-Arica-Tacna for USD 5 approx.

Arriving by air:
Chacalluta Airport is one of the smallest in the country; however during 2005, the airport will be refurbished to make it bigger and more comfortable. It is located just near the border with Peru along Las Machas beach.

Just a few minutes before landing, it is possible to clearly see the border line between Chile and Perú, as well as the mined zone that was placed between these two countries in years past.

Also, you can see the city layout with two valleys that reach the sea from the high plateau and the green spots in the middle of the desert created by the Lluta River and the San José river. The later almost never reaches the ocean, because its water is used by farms located in the Valle de Azapa.

Customs procedures for foreigners are simple and fast and taxes are among the lowest in the world (4% average). You cannot get lost in this airport, because it is small: there is just one arrival gate with many taxi drivers waiting right outside to offer their services either by “taxi" (a car just for you) or a "colectivo" (which is like a taxi, but shared with other passengers).

The golden rule for a tourist in Arica is to always discuss with the driver the final price before getting in the car. It applies also to many other services, if you follow this rule, you may save yourself some money and a bad experience. Always, remember this rule of thumb during your stay in the city.

“Taxis” are more expensive than “colectivos”, but they charge on the basis of point of destination. On the contrary, “colectivos” charge a small fee, basically a ticket, to each passenger. So, sometimes it may be more convenient for a group of 3 or more tourists that share the same destination to take a “taxi” instead of a “colectivo”. Otherwise, because of the price difference, I recommend the latter; if you do not mind sitting very close to people whom you have never met before in your life!

From the airport you can -sometimes- negotiate a direct trip to Tacna by colectivo if there are 2 or more persons interested. I have seen a fee negotiated at CLP$ 4.000 each (some US$ 8.-) with 2 persons (total fare US$ 16 approx). Anyway, there is not a regular service, you must negotiate as a special one. The colectivo fee from the airport to the city is CLP$ 2.500 each (some US$ 5)

It will take about 15 minutes by car to go from the airport to the city. The road runs along the ocean on your right side and the desert on your left side. You will also pass some poor housing developments. Still, this road is safe and clean. Before to reach downtown, you will pass along the Costanera Sur (a narrow highway that runs along the beach on the Southern side) and Chinchorro Beach , one of the three main beaches in Arica, and the longest one.

Arriving by land from the South of Chile
If you are traveling from the South of Chile, you will arrive to Arica after crossing the Desierto de Atacama , the driest place on earth. The trip from Santiago is 2.070 km away , close to 30 hours by bus. It runs across the Central Valley region (Valle Central), the Norte Chico region which includes the cities of Coquimbo, La Serena, Vallenar and Copiapó; then, the long Norte Grande Desert which will take many hours to pass until you reach Antofagasta, Tocopilla, Iquique and Arica . It is a long and boring trip, so we recommend that you take a bus with seats that convert into beds at night, called “buses salon-cama", just like what British Airways offers in its First Class flights, with the difference that here you are in a bus in the middle of the desert in South America. There are three different bus categories for this trip: normal seats (bus regular); seats that recline and leave you space to elevate your legs (buses semi-cama), and the ones previously mentioned, with seats that convert into beds.

Bus fares are often negotiable. You should always ask at the counter if there is some special discount or sale price for a specific trip. By plane, the trip from Santiago to Arica is about 4 hours, very different from land which is 30 hours, as we said before.

When you are approaching the city by land from the south, some of your first sights will be the city jail, (Carcel de Acha) and the Terminal Agropecuario , a native food and fresh produce market that is very appreciated by tourists coming from colder climates like Europe or the northern part of the U.S. Finally, you will reach the Diego Portales Avenue that takes you to the city bus terminal called Terminal Rodoviario .

If you have never been in the city before, the best choice for transportation from the Terminal Rodoviario is by taxi. At the terminal you will find the cheapest taxi fares: $1500 (Chilean Pesos) to downtown, $2000 (Chilean Pesos) to the beach and suburbs.

At the entrance of the bus terminal, you will find many taxi drivers offering their services, but never forget to negotiate a price before getting in one of the cars. Best choice is to pick radio-taxi located at the side of terminal, fares are often cheaper than regular taxis.

Arriving by land from Tacna, Perú
The usual way to do it is in a shared taxi (colectivo) from Terminal Internacional Terreste in Tacna, I recommend you use Chilean companies since they are obligued to use better cars (in Perú technical revision standards are very loose). The average time is typically 1:30 to 2 hours, depending on border traffic. As you choose the car you may be pushed by many "hookers" offering best price. It is advisable check the car before to choosing. You must also waith until 5 passengers are obtained. If you are concerned with comfort you may arrange a solo trip at a higher price (about US$ 20-30). The trip is 60 km through the desert (note prices may vary due exchange rate).

You may also choose the train Arica-Tacna, it is cheap and fast: US$ 5 in 1:30 hour.

Cost of living in Arica

One of the most visited sections in the old website was an Excell spreadsheet with the cost of food, transportation and others who I compiled several years ago. All this info is outdated and my extreme lazyness prevents to me to do the job again.
Anyway, just a few data to give you an ideaon hoy much may cost to live here,provided that this depend much on what you consider okay or basically acceptable. US$ versus Chilean Peso rate is bad and it seems it will be worse in the future, The figures I give here are considering a 1 US$= 450 CLP$
Cost of housing:
If you are young and alone you may rent a decent room for students in a family home for some CLP$ 100,000 a month, that is some US$ 222, this is a good deal because is all included (ligth, water, gas, TV cable, phone and Internet) but it is not easy to find if you arrive in class season (march to december).
To rent an apartment you may find one for as cheap as CLP$ 120,000 to CLP$ 150,000 (US$ 267 to US$ 333), but you have to pay common expenses (some US$ 15), ligth (some US$ 25), water (some US$ 25), gas (some US$ 45/bottle for 2 or more months), Internet+phone+TV cable (from US$ 67 to US$ 90 depending on plan) and brougth furniture and appliances,
To rent a furnished appartmentit is more expensive (from US$ 600 to US$ 1,200 a month) but usually is all-or partially expenses included.
If you are patient to look you may find bargains, but I start on basis that you have not time nor knowledge to negotiate.
Cost of food
Fresh foods, fruits and vegetables may be insanely cheap, depending on season (one kilo tomatoes may cost as low as a quarter dollar when is abundant). Canned food and beverages have prices similar to those in the US or most of the countries.
If you like to walk or byking Arica may be your paradise, you may purchase an used bycicle for as low as US$ 65 or less, you can go everywere in the city walking or byking all the year because here it never rains nor is extremely cold. Buses fares cost US$ 0.78, shared taxis (colectivos) US$ 1.00 and regular taxis some US$ 3.50 everywere in the city.
As soon as I can overcome my laziness I will be more specific with prices
What to do in 1 day visit (cruises)
I have received lot of questions on this topic, what may do a tourist coming in cruises who stops just 7-8 hours in the city? Well, I have tried to figure what a tourist may do in such limited amount of time, Arica is not a city full of atractives for tourists like, let´s say Cusco, Cancún, etc. so there are not much choices because touristic industry is not yet developed here. Let´s review some choices:
Tour to Lago Chungara-Parque Nacional Lauca: it is a tour in a rush, Chungara is some 150 km away from Arica but you have to climb from sea level to 4.600 meters high, which is similar to some of the highest town in Himalayas, the road is winding, the travel may be exhausting and the high altitude may be uncomfortable fore some people. The trip is very atractive due the cotrast between coastal desert and the nice mountain landscapes and full of wildlife of the high plateau, great lesson of geography. If you think that can stand the inconveniences above mentioned I reccomend it BUT always take from an agency acredited with the cruise line, avoid small, cheaper, independent tour operators who has no insurance nor reputable. Safety first.
City tours: it doesn´t worth too much in my view and they are some pricey, even worse is try to negotiate a tour with a taxi driver catched in the street, is not dangerous but they cost a lot of money and probably you will be not satisfied at all.
Rent a car by your own: if you have a valid drivers licence and a credit card it is a good idea to rent a car for one day (US$ 40-80 depending on car) and ramble by yourself around the city, almost any forign driver licence is valid in Chile thanks the Ginebra Convention, so you may climb to el Morro de Arica, then go to the museum in San Miguel de Azapa, lunch some typical chilean food in La Picada del Muertito in Valle de Azapa or wherever else, go to the beach, etc.If you are brave you may even enter to desert to the little village of Camarones or many other places, a car gives you a considerable freedom of movement, I reccomend this choice.
Just stray by downtown, rent a byke and pass the day in the beach or the nearbies, many people from cruises just ramble by downtown and get bored as we do most of time in Arica, this is not an exciting place and you will realize that as soon as you disembark, watchig as we the people from Arica ramble all the day doing nothing and drinking some beer or coffe or just chating in 21 de Mayo Street, at downtown.

Some basic information

Cost of living in Arica

You may wonder how cheap or expensive it is to live in Arica. Well, Click Here to see my informal survey of prices in Arica. I may disclaim: all those prices are subject to change.
Anyway, I will paste the experience of my friend Chuck J. during the year he stayed in Arica:
"Arica is a pretty good choice for a first place to live in Chile, for several different reasons. Low crime, nice weather, laid back pace of life, nice beaches, good central location for touristic things, Machu Pichu, the altiplano, etc. All my expenses - rent for my apt., gas, water, electric, gastos communos and Internet all came to less than 350 USD a month. (I made thread about it here if you want to look it up.) That didn't include food, you'll have other expenses also, like taking the bus. I lived on 800 to 850USD a month, but I'm a tightwad and take a perverse pleasure in living cheaply. For normal people you'll want at least 1k or 1,200 USD a month yep, even in Arica. And Arica is one of the cheaper places to live in Chile. That's for a single guy, if you're married, it'll be much more. Don't try to do work visa's and all that jive before you arrive, just arrive on a tourist visa and then put all that stuff into motion later, you'll need a pituto anyway, someone to help you out. Best advice I can give. 1. Learn Spanish. 2. have as much money as you can scrape together and a reliable means to access it, i.e. several different ATM cards. One main card a a few back-up's. 3. Take notes, mental notes, on things you see to get ideas for a business, but don't rush into it".
(picked from the Allchile forum)

Cost of living information tends to be unclear because depend on what you consider "good" or "acceptable", it tends also to vary with time. On renting the main problem is that people who come here to live look for furnished homes/apartments and those are quite expensive, because tehy are ussualy rented ina daily basis.A typical furnished apartment for one person in a small apart hotel, all included is around CLP$ 250.000 (some US$ 500 at Feb 2011) per month, this include gas, ligth and water bills and sometimes Internet and cable TV
A typical example of rent an (quite expensive) property
Located at Condominio Las Palmas, you can check some picks of the property (currently rented) here
Prices and conditions was as follow:
Monthly rent empty (not furnished) was CLP$280000 plus CLP$40000 for common expenses (concergerie, pool, etc) total CLP$ 320000.- today US$ is CLP$ 470 per 1 USD, so total rent was US$ 680.- monthly
Monthly rent furnished (basic) was CLP$ 450000 that is US$ 957.- monthly
Those values do not included water, ligth, telephone, Internet, cable TV (some CLP$ 80.000 extra in my home).

The basic furnishing included
King bed, TV set, cabinet, dining table with 4 chairs, living, refrigerator, kitchen. The home included also curtains, lamps, complete kitchen furniture, barbecue, tent for the garden

The size of living area is 90 square meters plus yard and garden with ceramic floor, etc. One bedroom in suite and two smaller, 3 bathrooms

Form of payment
When install the renters has to pay one month in advance and one mont as guarantee (refundable when they leave, to cover possible damages in the property), plus notary expenses (around US$ 30.-)

Of course there are much cheaper prices (this is in the high end) but you may have an idea of costs and typical conditions with this example. you can find furnished rent for as low as CLP$ 150.000 monthly plus bills, but in a middle class place.
Automatic teller machines

There are several in 21 de Mayo between Patricio Lynch and Prat streets: Banco Santander, Corfinsa, Farmacia Cruz Verde, Banco de Chile, Scotia Bank, Banco del Estado. Banco de Santiago. In Bolognesi street: Banco del Desarrollo. In Colón street: Banco BBVA. In Tiger Market Juan Noé street in front of Casino de Arica. In Santa María street Sodimac and supermarket Santa Isabel. In Diego Portales avenue Lider supermarket and Copec gas station. In la Plaza de Armas besides Iglesia San Marcos, Banco BCI, In Santa María avenue with Diego Portales (shopping Center del Pacífico) Banco BCI. In Cancha Rayada (población 11 de Septiembre) Banco del Estado. In Panamericana Norte front to Eliat street Copec gas station.

Money exchange

Unlike Tacna, where other currencies are widely accepted, businesses in Arica only accept chilean pesos, usually it is not possible to pay with dollars or currency other than chilean pesos, so you must exchange your money first.

On 21 de Mayo with Colón streets and nearby, usually you will find people exchanging money. On 21 de Mayo near Prat street there are also people in the street exchanging. In Chacabuco with Colón streets (in front of Parque Colón gallery) there are changers. Also in Colón street at entrance of Cosmocentro gallery there is an exchanging office, a few meters away near Maipú street there is another one.

Street exchangers usually work for bigger dealers so they are accountable. They exchange only US dollars and Peruvian Soles. In formal exchange offices they trade another kinds of currency. In general terms it is not convenient exchange in banks but ATMs are very convenient if you have some credit/debit card. Fake money is unusual in Chile, except for Peruvian currency.

Hiring a car

Cost of hiring a car in Chile is expensive. For example, the rent of a Toyota 4x4 or similar from big companies is about CLP$ 75.000 daily (this is some US$ 130). There are smaller companies with better prices but not as new vehicles. A company which I had rented before is Cactus (about US$ 79 daily for similar 4x4).

Those prices include unlimited mileage and insurance. For a complete listing of Rent-A-Car in Arica check here. Anyway you can obtain even lower prices (some US$ 30 daily) renting directly from private people, in the paper edition of La Estrella de Arica (the local newspaper, "avisos economicos" section) you can find those cars for rent. However, they have no insurance nor warrant of good condition.

Hiring a car to drive to Peru or Bolivia is theoretically possible, but not practical because of the very high cost, the need of notarial permissions and the insurance coverage problems. Much better to hire in each country. If you hire the vehicle for one week or longer often you can cut prices.

Weather and geography

(extracted from "Chile – Peru Boundary, The Office of the Geographer Bureau of Intelligence and Research")

The Chile - Peru boundary extends eastward from sea level on the Pacific coast to an elevation of more than 18,000 feet on the snow-covered Nevado el Fraile and 13,000 feet at the Bolivia tripoint. Inland the Atacama Desert has a flat to gently rolling surface of sands, gravels, salt plains (salars), pebble pavements, and rock hills or ridges. The Andes rise steeply above the desert and are characterized by high peaks and spectacular vistas.

The Atacama Desert is one of the driest areas in the world and precipitation is practically nil. In addition to contributing to the aridity, the cold Peruvian current tends to keep temperatures relatively low with small monthly ranges. At Arica July and August are the coolest months with a mean temperature of 60ºF and February is the warmest month with a mean temperature of 72ºF. Although cloud cover is about three tenths in February, Arica often has a higher ratio of cloud cover in winter but a mean frequency of only one day of fog a year. Except for stream courses and places with a high water table, the vegetation is meager or entirely lacking. In some areas lichens, cacti, and low herbaceous plants grow with acacias and mimosas limited to the better watered tracts. With the ascent of the Andes, precipitation increases and at an elevation of some 8,000 to 10,000 feet short grasses are suitable for sheep pasturage. Snow caps the high mountain peaks throughout the year.

Except for Tacna and Arica, there are only small towns and clusters of habitations adjacent to the boundary. The small towns are used by mining concerns or serve as trading centers for people engaged in pastoralism or limited irrigation farming. In addition to the Tacna Arica railroad, a number of automobile roads and tracks cross the boundary, of which the Pan-American Highway is the most important. The Arica - La Paz railroad, including a mining spur, parallels the boundary.

Tips to orientate

Arica is a middle size city with 188000 souls (approx) which extends some 15 Km.along edge of the Pacific Ocean.

Compare the best satellite ima ge that I have found with the map of Primera Region to see our general location. Both pics may be downloaded/amplified because both are high resolution. I just received a new satellite image, even better you can see/download here

In the city, the main points of reference are:

- El Morro, it is a big hill (130 m height) beside downtown where the city originally was built.

-Plaza de Armas, beside el Morro, it has less importance than in other Chilean cities. Its main attraction is Iglesia San Marcos built in Eiffel Works in France, in the XIX century.

-Calle 21 de Mayo, is the main street in Arica, a boulevard of several squares for peasants only where people walk, drink coffee or beer and meet.

-Costanera Sur,it is the main beach zone of the city with the main beaches El Laucho and La Lisera. More to the south (several km) there are Corazones and Liserilla beaches, on the edge of big cliffs

-Costanera Norte, there are the longest beaches Chinchorro and Las Machas usually favourites for aquatic sports. Along this costanera in the direction of the hills there is the industrial zone and the población 11 de Septiembre (now renamed to Raúl Silva)

-Entrada desde el sur, to east of the city, along the San José river there are the neighborhoods of Villa Magisterio, Saucache (wealthy families), to the entrance of Valle de Azapa and south access of Arica.

In Sectores de Arica you can see a sectorized map and here see pictures pics from above
posted by Tomas Bradanovic at 4:14 PM Permalink links to this post
Arica is relatively small and flat, you can go walking to many places, but for the not so near you can go in "colectivo" (shared taxi) for US$ 0.70 or "microbus" for US$ 0.50 approx. The problem with both is that they follow fixed paths (recorridos) not easy to memorize. Even locals usually stop anyone and ask "which may I take to go to....?). Another choice is radiotaxi, they are relatively cheap (US$ 2 approx) and payment is in a "point of destination" basis, unlike colectivos and microbuses which you must pay per passenger. A radiotaxi can take 5 persons for the same money so far as they all go to the same place. Radiotaxis are asked by phone to any of those numbers: 250000, 255000, 266000, 220000, 264040, 264242. For airport taxi you must call 254812 or 255907.
posted by Tomas Bradanovic at 4:12 PM Permalink links to this post
Three main choices: first hotels, second hostels and third furnished apartments. Best hotels in the city are Hotel Arica and hotel El Paso, comparing both Hotel Arica has newer and better accommodations and Hotel El Paso has good service. At the high end also is Hotel Azapa in the entrance of Valle de Azapa, There are good hotels for businessmen as, Inti Jaya and Diego de Almagro, the former with a good quality/price ratio. Fares are often negotiable at the desk, especially out of the high season or on the edge.To call ahead by phone and make reservation is highly advisable. You may ask also if there are some cut price.

On the hostels there are a broad assortment of qualities and prices, Patricio Lynch Street and DiegoPortales, in front of Terminal Rodoviario are full of hostals, the first are better located and near downtown. Check our List of Hotels and Hostals for complete information.

Recommended Hostel, Hostel Jardin del Sol is owned and managed by a good friend of mine so maybe I am not completely impartial, but I knew the place when it was run by his old father and impressed to me so much that I made a webpage for him. Later I learned that he was my friend´s father. Anyway, I recommend it because is one of the few in town specifically oriented to gringo´s needs.

Furnished apartments are the best choice when you are with a group of people, because they are rented as a unit, no matter how many people are included. Also you have the kitchen, and laundry facility and much more privacy than in a hotel. To rent an apartment you may contact a Real Estate Agent (Corredor de Propiedades in spanish). Main agents are OVI propiedades , María Cristina Mena, Carrio y Espouyes, Garate y Niedblinsky and Victor Pizarro Bossay.

If you are looking for a furnished apartment on a budget call Marcelo to any of those celular phones 08-6154919 or 08-8649956, they have a good apartment for hire at fair price.
posted by Tomas Bradanovic at 4:11 PM Permalink links to this post
If you rented an apartment surely you will cook. The first recommendation is to go shopping at Terminales Agropecuarios. If you come from the 1st world you will be delighted with the assortment of fresh and very good products. Another place to visit is Terminal Pesquero near seaport with fresh fish and seafruits. There are three supermarkets in Arica, and several minimarkets and small groceries. They are good for packaged food, wine and liquors. The biggest and most assorted supermarket is Lider in Diego Portales Street then Las Brisas in Pedro Aguirre Cerda street and Santa Isabel in Santa Maria avenue are smaller but you can find best quality foods there. There are also a small and well assorted minimarket in 18 de Septiembre with Colon streets. In front of Casino Municipal there is a minimarket Tiger which is opened 24 hours. . Chek location on the map

The best foods in Arica

I may recommend you try the following fishes: congrio, lenguado, reineta and palometa. At Terminal Pesquero you may find some, at the same place there are also freshwater shrimps and erizos. Azapa Valley produces fine olives for export that you may taste and good tomatoes also. There are good and cheap fruits to make juice or eat: mango, guayaba, melon, citrics, all fresh and produced in our valleys. We are not big producers of meat so we have mostly frozen from Argentina, but we are big producers of chicken which are very tasty.

Regional cuisine

Cuisine in Arica is very influenced by Peruvian cooking. In the following links I show some foods prepared by my friends and me, some are as recipes but most are just pictures of us eating. In Spanish, sorry for that:

Aji de gallina (hot chicken sauce)
Lomo saltado (steak slices at oriental style)
Spanish paella
Arroz con pollo (chicken with rice)
Chita al ajillo (vapoured fish with garlic)
Baby beef
Peruvian fiesta
My 10 minutes recipe (fish, cheese, bacon, tomato in a chinese food container over the grill)
Choritos a la parrilla (mussels over the grill)
Guatia, version 1 (typical food from Arica)
Guatia version 2
Smoked pig ribs
Almuerzo de cumpleaños 1 (birthday lunch)
Almuerzo de cumpleaños 2
Grilled steaks

My personal recipe for pisco sour

Pisco sour is a traditional drink both in Chile and Perú, if you want to prepare it yourself, here is my own recipe, all ingredients are available in any local supermarket:

-3 parts of pisco 35 degrees alcohol (higher is not good for sour)
-1 part of lemmon juice (fresh limon de Pica or canned if you are lazy)
-1 part of Jarabe de Goma (goma syrup)
-1 little bit of Amargo de angostura
-1 egg white

Mix all ingredients except Amargo and cinnamon, then pour into glasses and add some cinnamon and few drops of amargo to every glass ¡Salud!
posted by Tomas Bradanovic at 4:11 PM Permalink links to this post
If you are looking for restaurants, check our List of Restaurants , for fish and seafood I recommend Club de Yates, at the entrance of Isla del Alacran (not listed) fresh and good quality.

For a good quality/price ratio I also recommend Cyclo Express, in avenida Diego Portales. In mercado Colón you can eat good seafood in cocinerías (dare to try "Copa Martinez" in "Caballito de Mar"), also there are a good seafood in "El Rey del Marisco".

For best meat in town there is "Los Aleros de 21". The most fancy restaurant is "Maracuyá" in Costanera Sur. The best coffee and ice cream in " Dimango " (they have also WiFi zone at Chinchorro´s branch), their Italian food is also OK. In Casino Municipal de Arica there are a fairly good restaurants.

Specially recommended restaurant 1: if you are looking for a nice gastronomic experience I recommend you to visit Terra Amata, It is a brand new restaurant in the casco viejo of the city, a very nice place with great views and a superb wine list. The best of chilean wines can be found here either to enjoy at the restaurant or to bring home at a lower price. The owners are a nice couple and good friends of mine, I recommend it because I think is on the top of quality/price rate. Prices are in chilean pesos and you may calculate at a pesimistic 460 pesos per dollar rate (I know, Chile is very pricey nowadays with the strong peso).

Specially recommended restaurant 2: and if you are in a budget there are a very good choice at Terminal pesquero, It is a small restaurant near the sea called Mata Rangi, the owner is a fisherman and you will be sure that the fish is fresh and first quality.
posted by Tomas Bradanovic at 4:09 PM Permalink links to this post
In Arica you can find very good charcoal-grilled chicken with french fries, we recommend specially Maxipollo, in Juan Noe street near Prefectura de Carabineros. It is a nice and economic dish, you can either eat there or order to bring home. There are also good and economic sandwiches in Rolly Sandwich (located in front of Super Agro, Santa María with Diego Portales street) you can purchase the king-kong hotdog (see photo) for about US$ 1.- In "Pollo Chip" (Tucapel and Diego Portales streets) you find also good sandwiches and fried chicken. Of course you can find the ubiquous Macdonalds at 21 de Mayo with Prat Streets


Most of restaurants in Arica offers a fixed menu for lunch besides the usual dishes, those "menus" are cheap two course combos for salesmen, tourists, etc. Prices are from some US$ 3 to US$ 9 in fancy restaurants (by example in Hotels like "El Paso" or "Hotel Arica"). You can find good menus in "La Scala" ( 21 de Mayo street), the fire station "Primera Compañía" (Colón street) , "La Jaula" (18 de Septiembre with Colón streets). Afairly good and economic place to lunch is Casino del Hospital Juan Noé, you must go there for a side entrance to hospital, in 21 de Mayo with Gallo streets.

There are a very good restaurant of this class in the old railroad Station at 21 de Mayo street, it is called "El Andén" and offers excelent dishes at menu prices.
posted by Tomas Bradanovic at 4:04 PM Permalink links to this post
They are everywhere. Even in the most humble sectors you can find small places with some computers and good speed connection, in 21 de Mayo and around downtown may be some 10 or more. Also in Chinchorro beach and every poblacion. Some places where you probably do not find cybercafes are Costanera Sur, Azapa and Lluta Valley. Just ask a radiotaxi or colectivo chauufer for "internet cafe" and he will bring you to one. If you have a PDA with wifi you may go to the lobby of Hotel el Paso, besides Casino Arica, they have an open wifi service, same as in the nearby of Universidad de Tarapacá main campus, at 18 de Septiembre street, there are also open, private wifi signals everywhere.
posted by Tomas Bradanovic at 4:03 PM Permalink links to this post
Arica is a slow city where nobody is in a hurry. Most businesses close at 1 PM for lunch and siesta or just go to the beach, then reopen after 5PM, First thing you must do is relax and don’t get nervous if things do not happen as fast as you wish. If you love the speed, Arica is not good for you. When in Arica do as ariqueños, go first to El Laucho or La Lisera , this is our lifestyle. To check more pictures of Playa El Laucho follow the link. Check here for beaches in Arica

Tour operators

Click this link for a listing of tour operators in Arica, some people coming from abroad have settled in Arica, gotten married and actually work as tour operators giving service in different languages. Check also the listing of guides and translators. In Peru there is a new tour operator that you can find at Sudamericatour website

Walking and biking

Arica is specially fit to walk or biking, but is not easy to find bikes for rent. At Tuto Beach in Playa el Laucho they rent bikes, sun umbrellas, chairs, etc. Either you choose bikes or walk there are several circuits to visit by foot. Also it is mandatory to vist el Morro , because it offers a unique view of the city layout from 130 meters high,the best choice is reach there walking, at a time where sun is not too high. There is not public transportation there so if you decide take a taxi you must pay for the round trip plus the wait which may cost over 20 dóllars. As always we recommend that you negotiate price in advance.

21 de Mayo street is the most popular walking place for ariqueños, so we reccomend you enjoy a good coffee in "Dimango", a beer in "La Scala" or "Shop Dog" or a taco with some Dos Equis beers in "Altillo". Morning (lets say from 11 AM) is the best time to see the city life in the streets. You will find lot of people just passing by or drinking something at the street tables. Many people meet there to do bussines or just see and be seen. Another interesting visit is Iglesia San Marcos in Plaza de Armas. this church was made at Eiffel works in Paris in the 19th century. You can explore all sector centro just walking, same as "el casco viejo" with the old casas pintadas

Riding horses

In the Club Ecuestre de Las Machas or in the Piscina Olimpica you can hire horses for a ride in the long beach of Las Machas and nearby places. Check the site Arica a Caballo

Terminal Agropecuario

John M., from Tokyo spent some time ago in Arica and sent to me this report on Terminal Agro, read it:

I want to recommend the Terminal Agropecuario to anyone visiting Arica. Arica is in an interesting position both geographically and agriculturally speaking and the produce sold at the Terminal Agropecuario reflects this. Produce common in Peru, Bolivia and of course Chile finds its way to this huge produce market. Because Arica is located in a desert region and close to the Andes mountains the variety of fruit and vegetables is extraordinary.

This market is an amazing place in which to wander around and marvel at the abundance of produce in all colors of the spectrum; mounds of bright red tomatoes, multi-colored corn from from colder climes, glossy bell peppers in greens , yellow and reds to rival the tomatoes, mountains of papery skinned onions in purple and yellow, grapes of all hues and types, potatoes from the Chilean south and the andean region, mangos in blends of green, yellow and red, chirimoyas in army green, orange oranges, huge yellow/green papayas, plump avocados, succulent artichokes, and some of the best olives and olive oil in the world from the Azapa valley and other locations in the area, oregano from the foothills near Belen, honey from orchard hives

... I think you get the message. The Agropecuario is a cornucopia of produce. For the photographer or the ambitious chef planning a feast or someone just wanting to while away the day this is the place for you. Yes, the produce is interesting but the people working there are more interesting. Get friendly. Ask a few questions. Ask for a taste! You'll find Latin-American warmth very welcoming,. the people from the andean foothills my be a little shy at first but a smile and a complement goes a long way towards warming things up. Everyone knows where the Terminal Agropecuario is located; buses, taxis and colectivos, cars on fixed routes go from all parts of the city to this amazing market. Admission is free!

Going further

As long you are oriented you may dare to go further. To visit the Terminal Agropecuario is worth it, specially if you enjoy cooking There you can find groceries, fruits, meal and so on from our valleys and south Perú. Sunday morning is the best time to visit because there is the best assortment of things for sale. There are two terminals besides: ASOAGRO from farmers and ASOCAPEC from merchants, both are interesting to see. There is also a flea market inside. There are also restaurants with typical meals such as fricasé, picantes, carapulca, etc. They are located at the south entrance of Arica and you can go there by microbus, colectivo or radiotaxi.

A second long visit is to cuevas de Corazones. There is not public transportation there but you can go with bike (some 8 km to Playa Corazones) from Costanera Sur, the fishing works, and the road along the sea on the edge of a big cliff. Then in Playa Corazones there are small places where you can eat fresh seafood and good empanadas de mariscos (the owner is a scuba diver). Following the edge of the cliff you reach huge natural caves where prehistoric ariqueños used to live. Folow on for impressive landscape small islands populated of seawolves. Then you reach to Playa La Liserilla some 15 km away from the city.

Another choice to visit is Valle de Azapa , visiting Museo Arqueológico de San Miguel de Azapa , a small museum but world notorious for the interest of the pieces, including the old Chinchorro mummies, the world oldest known. This museum has appeared in National Geographic and Discovery TV shows and receives every year lots of visit from scholars and tourists. San Miguel de Azapa is a small village but not so attractive, and if fleas are not an issue for you, you can lunch or eat good sopaipillas con pebre in "La Picada del Muertito" just beside the town cemetery. A visit to tomato and olive oil factory may be interesting, specially Jussef Bo Antoun and Lombardi s family. Poblado Artesanal is a re-creation of an altiplanic village with handcraft masters and a typical restaurant.

The other valley of Arica is Lluta , on the road to high plateau and Bolivia. It has many archeological points who are not evident unless you take a guided visit. There is an interesting inner road which connects both villages San Miguel de Azapa and Poconchile in the Lluta valley. Besides Poconchile you find also a weird Hare Krishna Farm open for visitors, where you can eat vegetarian foods and chat with the monks.


The best "serious" place to go at night in town is Casino de Arica . It has restaurants, bars, karaoke, slot machines and games halls, remains open all night with live music and perform shows in a regular basis. Specially good there is bar La Cava and restaurant, both fancy and good prices, you don´t need formal clothes to enter. There are also many bars and places good and economical: discos and bars for all ages and the you-can´t-miss Isla del Alacrán, where people meet since 1 AM almost every night, It is a sort of town square where people go to pass on foot or by car, to drink and chat. It is a safe place and -theoretically- it is forbidden to drink in the street, but here there is a de facto agreement and Carabineros will not mess with you unless you are making scene. Arica in the night is generally safe, and delinquency is rare. A lot of pictures of nightlife you will find at Arica Vaina and Arica Webeo . In Salgamos website appears a list of places and events in town. Check here for discos and bars in Arica

Folklore, salsa, sex bars, prostitutes

There is a good folkloric bar called "Kamisaraki" with food, drinks and Andean music. It is located in Diego Portales avenue and the best days to go are weekends.

In 21 de Mayo with Patricio Lynch streets there is a nice Salsoteca called Habana Vieja. Weekends there is sometimes live salsa.

In 18 de Septiembre street passing Patricio Lynch There is "café Sófocles" a sex bar with performances only at night. There are several regular and sex bars in the surroundings. Best in area is "Chill Out" in 18 de Septiembre with Patricio Lynch streets.

At the side of casino (Velasquez with Chacabuco Street) there is a tiny but very good sex bar called "Rapa Nui", It is owned by a good friend of mine and -in my opinion- it is the best night club in town.

There are few brothels in Arica (most prostitutes work freelance. You can check their phone numbers in the printed edition of local newspaper "La Estrella de Arica"). The older brothels are "Skorpios" in Pedro Aguirre Cerda street and Casa Amarilla in Anibal Pinto street. Any taxi driver knows how to get there. Another traditional brothel is "Residencial Latorre" at Latorre near Ohiggins Street.

In Juan Noe street, near Casino Municipal there are some hookers, mostly transvestites. It is better to avoid, as they are under no control at all and connected with delinquents and drug traffickers. Casino Arica bar has also plenty of pricey hookers at night.

A new -and probably better- brothel is Sandra y Judith, located in Colón Street near downtown, there are also another without name at Gallo near San Marcos Streets.

Anyway the best paid sex in the area is located in Tacna at Las Cucardas in Campiña de Pocollay, a big brothel with many girls and several orders of magnitude cheaper than in Arica (about US$ 10.- so I have heard). Any taxi driver will carry you there. it is outside of the city and you may feel nervous at first because the isolated location, but it is a safe place.

Gays and lesbian scene

There are two gay lesbian-friendly places in town. The first is called Tunik in Playa Brava (it change the name frequently), few meters south of Playa la Lisera and open just at weekends, the other one is Fandango (I am not sure, this was refeered to me) in Diego Portales avenue, besides pub Kamisaraki. . Wednesdays to Saturday are the busiest days.

1-day tour to Lago Chungará

This is the most popular tour in town, in Bolognesi Street there are lots of small travel agencies devoted mainly to those tours. The price varies between US$ 26 to US$ 36 and includes bus or minibus at your hotel (depending on qty of tourists), light breakfast, lunch and guide (spanish only). It departs usually at 7:30 AM and includes Lluta Valley, Poconchile church, big cactus area, Pucara of Copaquilla (an old Inca fortress in the cliff), Zapahuira (breakfast with coca tea), guanacos area, town of Putre, Vicuñas area, Las cuevas, Chucuyo, Parinacota and Lago Chungara. They are back in Arica at 8PM est. It is a very stressful trip and avoid it if you have some health problems because you climb to 4.600 m above sea level and return to sea level in the same day.

Diving and riding horses

In http://www.aricaexpediciones.com/ you will find an interesting local company which offer some adventures with very seasoned guides, they are friends of mine and English speaking also, same as http://www.clinamen.cl/ which also speak several languages. I recommend you to visit those links if are interested in more serious expeditions (see next section)

One day to Lago chungara is not enough!

The chilean high plateau is one of the most impressive areas to visit in the world, the mysteries which surround the prehistory , the huge dimension of landscapes where man becomes dwarfed, the wildlife with lots of vicuñas, tarucas, venados, viscachas a few meters from visitors and landscaping only compared with tibetan areas, makes this land one of the most attractive for tourism and adventure. Average tourists, however, usually pass by in a hurry, on a tigth one-day tour to Lago Chungará (one of the worlds highest) not fully understanding what they see and unsuspecting what is missing.

That is why my first advice for adventurers is to learn what lies under the surface, to learn the underground stories and to take some time to explore those fascinating and unique places. In Arica Territorio Andino we present a complete encyclopedia (in spanish, sorry) of our Andean zone. To learn some of it will multiply the value of your trip, turning it into an adventure full of sense and understanding. Anyway, if you can not read spanish I encourage you to read the following articles in English from doctor Renato Aguirre: The prehispanic identity of Arica, The anatomy (geology) of the pachamama in Arrica , Arica and the andean world
If you are traveling on a budget, you can explore the altiplano in the same buses used by people from small villages, they are cheap and stop in many small villages (US$ 4-6 person from Arica to Putre). The buses are:

La Paloma, departs everyday at 7 A.M. from German Riesco Street, near Estadio Carlos Ditbornn, returns to Arica at 2 P.M.

Buses Gutierrez: departs every Mon-Wed-Fri at 6 A.M. and returns at night.

In Putre you can stay in a budget at Residencial La Paloma, which also has a small restaurant.

In the article Circuito Turístico Precordillerano (spanish) there are some alternatives to the standard one day Chungara tour, and in De Arica al Lago Chungará Paso a Paso there are pictures and recommendations for the visit to Chungara. In Precordillera y Altiplano Chileno there are a series of photographs from precordillera, high plateau and national parks. In Excursión al Parque Nacional Lauca there are pictures of my own tour to Chungara with some friends. I recommend at least a two day tour sleeping in the village of Putre, where you can stay in the confort of Hostería Las Vicuñas or in the economic hostal La Paloma. Arica and high plateau are also very rich in prehistoric petroglyphs as you can see in Arte en la Roca or in Maarten Van Hoeck website.

For those interested in birdwatching I recommend you check Aves de Arica website or the specialized tour operator Birding Alto Andino

Tacna, the Peruvian city (250.000 souls approx) is only 60 km away from Arica and both are a closely tied in geographic, economical and historical terms. Many ariqueños have relatives in Tacna and vice versa. A Trip to Tacna is attractive for tourists. To go there the easiest way is by your own car or colectivo (US$ 4-5 per passenger)It is more picturesque and cheaper to take the old train Arica-Tacna, but you must book tickets with a couple of days in advance. You can also go by bus, but it isn’t worth it. It is very slow due smugglers with their merchandise going this way. Chilean citizens can tour all Perú, Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil just with their ID card. Children under 18 must travel with both parents and birth certificate or any other identification, otherwise they must carry a notarial autorization of parents.

Train Arica-Tacna

A convenient and picturesque choice is to take the old 2-carts train which departs from Arica everyday at 9 AM and returns at 8 PM (chilean hour, Tacna time is two hours earlier in summer and one hour the rest of year). This train is a preferred way for gringos and cost only CLP$ 1.000 each! (about US$ 1.80 The border remains open from 8:00 to 24;00 hrs, except Fridays and Saturdays when it is open all 24 hours. Tacna has very good and economic places to eat such as Rancho San Antonio, the cevichería Puerto Viejo in Vigil street, A Todo Vapor and many more restaurants in Pachia valley are near the city. There are also many doctors, optometrists, dentists, at very reasonable prices, but you must review the credentials and reputation prior to contract because there are been some malpractice cases. When in Tacna remember to ask for the price before to avoid problems. For further information on the city and its attractions check Aquí Tacna (spanish). Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru (5-6 hours from Tacna in bus) and the ideal starting point for the main tourist attraction in Peru Cusco and Machu Pichu

A trip to La Paz (Bolivia)

¿Too far you think?. Not so. The city of La Paz is only 7-8 hours by bus, the road fully paved across some of the world most impressing landscapes impressive landscapes. There are good and economic bus lines. In Arica-La Paz step by step this trip is described in detail. Bad news for American tourists: visa and US$ 100.- fee is now required for American Citizens to visit Bolivia.

Going ever further: Cusco and Puerto Maldonado

I was recently in a -low budget- trip from Arica to Mazuko, in the Peruvian amazonic departamento de Madre de Dios, and I want to share some tips and data on this wonderful trip.

The best route by land is from Tacna to Cusco, 12 hours trough a fully paved, two lane road, the cost depend on the line of bus you choose and may vary between some US$ 28 (Sagitario or other budget line) to US$ 40 (Cruz del Sur, the best). I recommend to depart from Arica in the morning or noon, to lunch in Tacna and take a bus to Arequipa and then Cusco.

For lunch avoid the touristic places, there are fine small and cheap restaurant and the diference on price may be as high as 10 or more times. Street food in Peru is also good specially fried or cooked (like tamales), avoid the temptation of fruit juices in the street, the quality of water is seldom good, avoid also ceviches and any non cooked meal, prefer the peeled fruits instead, there are lots of delicious fruit in the streets and markets.

In Cusco there are an excellent hostel called "El Sol" near the bus terminal and it cost as low as US$ 8.- even less if you bargain. The best place to lunch or dine is "La Chomba" in the historic downtown, where you can eat pretty good with US$ 5.- There are zillion of people traveling alone so is very easy to socialize in Cusco, it is the place to make friends.

From Cusco you may take a bus to Puerto Maldonado, a nice town in the heart of peruvian Amazonia where the big rivers Madre de Dios and Irimbari meet. The cost is around US$ 20-40 and it take some 10 hours by a dirt road with wonderful scenery, if you are afraid of heigths and big cliffs, you can trip instead by plane and will be there in half hour but it cost double or slightly more. Puerto Maldonado is not a touristic destination and you will see few gringos there, but is a wonderful town, the meals are terrific specially recommended a vegetarian breakfask in a small place near the obelisco, two big dishes and two cups of soja milk for some US$ 2.- in the surroundings there are a nice hotel, brand new for some US$ 8.- per person.

There are lot of very expensive lodges in the near Manu Reserve in the amazonian jungle, I dont recommend it, they are a sort of Disneyland-Jungle for rich people, you can see the same with a cheap visit to your local zoo. If you want a real experience in the jungle visit Mazuko and surrounding area, it is not touristic but real Amazonia, Mazuko is some 200 km away from Puerto Maldonado but the ride it take some 6 hours or more depending on weather. There are cars (colectivos) making this trip but it is not advisable to take it because they often broke in the middle of the road or get blocked with floods from sudden rains, to be stuck in middle of this road is a VERY unpleasant experience. Much better take the truck-turned into bus, is not nice nos comfortable, but much safer despite the appearance. Be sure to vaccinate against yellow fever and hepatitis at least 10 days in advance, carry many mosquito repellent spray (it worked fine for me, zero bites in 2 weeks) and ensure that contain dietitoluamida in the highest possible concentration, I recommend Premier Forte brand, it worked fine for me.

The bad route, my own adventure

Due I was there for business, I choose a worse route. From Arica to Tacna in colectivo (shared taxi) it was around US$ 5.- Then in Tacna we picked a bus at 8 P.M. for US$ 16.- and arrived to Juliaca by 7 A.M. we technically "slept" in the bus (I can´t) and we had to wait up 9 P.M. to take a bus to Mazuko in Madre de Dios Department for some US$ 15.- This route is only for bravest, the road is under construction and goes from 5.000 meters above the sea level (in Macusani) to some 1.000 meters trough a dirty scary road -one lane- carved in the edge of a deep vertical wall. There are often accidents due the bad quality of the road and bad maintenance of buses. At 11:30 P.M. we was trapped due a rolling who blocked the road and we had to wait there until the next day, and continue walking to the near village of Ollaechea. I strongly discourage to take this route, unless you agree to face risks and inconveniences.

See here pics of Arica to Tacna
See here pics from Juliaca
See Here pics from Juliaca to Mazuko (included our long walk to Ollaechea)
See here pics from Mazuko
See here pics from Hyaupetue (not good for tourists)
See here pics from Mazuko to Puerto Maldonado (my mistake, to ride in a colectivo)
See here pics from Cusco and back to Tacna

posted by Tomas Bradanovic at 3:19 PM Permalink links to this post
Despite Iquique -in my view- having not much tourist interest for aliens (except for some old architecture such as Teatro Municipal ) the trip is a good way to adventure into Desierto de Atacama, the driest place in the world. Visiting the ghost town of Humberstone and the tiny and charming pueblo de Huara where you can visit a century old cementery. You may also visit the nice oasis of Pica and Matilla deep in the desert but easy to access for a day trip. There are lot of ghost town and cemeteries in the desert such as pueblo fantasma de Negreiros . In Arica-Iquique Paso a Paso the trip is explained in detail.

Trip to Codpa valley, desert and precordillera

Codpa is a valley located deep in the desert. It has a nice hostería and to reach there you cross impressive scenery. In Cabalgata a Codpa and Cabalgata a Livilcar are detailes some some private expeditions with horses.

Extreme (and not so) sports

Arica weather and location is nice to practice many sports: Paragliding is very popular here with -at least- two schools offering courses an biplaza flights: Raul Peric and Rober Goubernatis schools.

In the neighbor city of Iquique there is -in my opinion- one of the best paragliding schools in Chile owned by the swiss Phillipe Maltry. Check their Website Altazor. Arica and Iquique are among the best spots on the world for this sport.

There are also Landsailing , and Off Road 4x4 clubs and, of course, surfing, one of our most traditional sports all year In Arica surf you can check on the local surf. In Low Pressures guide Arica appears as a World Class surf spot. In Wannasurf there is some technical info on conditions of the city. Body, wind and kite surf are also popular in Arica.

For swimming, there are in Arica an Olympic pool with jumping pool, body building facilities, etc. Desierto and valleys are also a good choice for Trial and mountain bike

Motorhomes, trailers, RVs, camping

Arica is a very good choice as operational base for motorhome travelers, fair weather all over the year and the safest city of the area, Arica is located near many attractive places. There are many places where you can freely park. For overnight the most convenient is Playa La Lisera where you can find a good bathroom service all year with showers (cold water). La Lisera is also a very safe place because there are Carabineros patrolling all night, and in case of tsunami it is very easy to reach a safe high by foot. The minus is that sometimes there are noisy people and loud cars at night, specially on weekends.

In playa Chinchorro there is a camping zone, very good to camp in winter, just in front of Carabineros quarter but it is also very noisy on summer nights. It is not a safe place in case of tsunami, as it is just in the inundation zone with no height.

If you speak some German and do off road or RV, do not fail to check the Tackandin Website produced by Tillman and Claudia Mager, both are exceptionally seasoned explorers that have traveled most of Chile, Peru, Argentina and Bolivia roads. They have also produced a GPS router planning in 2 CDs, you may not miss this site.

Parque Centenario, near Chinchorro is often motor homes to camp at night. Other good places are Playa Brava and rutacentro Copec, beside the gas station in the south entrance of the city, there is a very good bathroom service with hot water shower and so on. For a listing of campings camps, click here. Electric service in Chile is 220 volts 50 hertz and standard plugs are as the picture shows. However is very easy to obtain plug adapters and transformers at cheap price in any of the city ferias.

Arica rates high among the safest cities in Chile, however it is not free of risks like any place in the world, following we expose some of the main risks in the city and how to avoid them.

Arica is a very active seismic zone because it is located just over the place where Nazca tectonic plate presses upon the Continental plate. small quakes are not rare and there is a very good seismic culture in people. So, when a quake occurs usually there is no panic and victims are rare even in the stronger quakes. Buildings are very well constructed and the soil is mainly rock and salt, the safest for this kind of event. There are inundation charts such as Inundation chart 1 Inundation chart 2 and Inundation chart 3 indicating which points would be under water in case of tsunami. Both costaneras, all balneario de Chinchorro and all las Machas (all the low and plain area) are unsafe points. In general terms any heigth 30 mts above sea level is considered safe. There is a time from a minimum time of 20 minutes to 1 hour after a big earthquake with epicenter on the sea to reach a safe place, and in case of a "silent tsunami" created by a quake on other continent, our early alarm system gives us 24 hour to evacuate. We have a sophisticated tide telemetric system into the deep sea in front of our coasts connected by satellite with the world warning center in Hawaii.

Seismic history
Four big earthquakes are registered in the history of Arica; the first one in 1600, due to an eruption of Hayna Putina vulcano in Arequipa (Peru). Then in 1604 a strong earthquake followed by tsunami swept the town. On August 13, 1868 the strongest of our history, actually 3 successive earthquakes followed by tsunami, caused big destruction, even in Bolivia, and threw the American vessel "Wateree" with all its crew several kilometers inland. Not long after, in 1877 another strong earthquake/tsunami combo hit the city, bringing back the vessel "Wateree" near to the coast. Since then there is a seismic silence which may anticipate a new "big one". Every day we have imperceptible quakes and sometimes the earth menaces us with noise and movement. The last big quake was in 1986, grade 8 on Richter scale with just a pair of casualties, the city reacted pretty well that time.

In the event of a big quake with epicentre on the deep sea the city is preety well prepared, we know that the sea retreats first and there is enough time to look for a safe place in the heights. Due our seismicity construction regulations are very strict. The early warning system is in charge of Chilean Navy. In Sistema Nacional de Alarma contra Maremotos you can see the complete description of the warning system.

Drugs and delinquency
Arica is one of the lowest cities in crime and violence in Chile. A few times a year the city is alarmed with the news of an assault or murder, but this is a small city where lots of people know each other, so the offenders are usually caught. Regarding violence, Arica is a pretty safe place. Riots and social unrest are almost non-existent except a few university manifestations twice a year typically.

However there are other kinds of delinquency, running pickpocket -also known as "lanzasos"- and thieves in places where tourists usually go are no infrequent. Tourists usually lower guard in the relaxed appearance of the city. Some of the favorite streets for pickpockets are Colón with Maipú treet, Paseo Bolognesi, Baquedano, Maipú and Chacabuco where a mini red zone is populated by some drunks and thieves. Even in 21 de Mayo street (the main street of Arica) there are robbers when a confident tourist leaves his/her camera or wallet on the table in the open air restaurant. So watch your step, stay alert and always warn if some unknown people try to distract you, this is the usual two-persons trick to rob you.

The drug trafficking scene is very depressed since the 80´s, when the military government ordered installation of mined fields on the border with Perú. Today it is not easy to find marijuana in the city, cocaine and derivated "pasta base" are somewhat more accessible but not easy to find. Violence or gangs tied to drug traffic are almost non-existent in the city, except for a very few specific spots (Carlos Pezoa Veliz street, Chacabuco street),

There are two kind of police at national level: Carabineros de Chile (mostly wearing uniform, preventive, emergencies, etc.) and Servicio de Investigaciones de Chile (detectives, not wear uniform and mostly they investigate under court orders). Facing an emergency you can phone call to:
133 (Carabineros)
134 (Investigaciones)
131 (public ambulance) or
132 (bomberos/fire department).
Usually those phones are free of charge and may be called for free from public telephones.
The best choice in an emergency are Carabineros who are -in my opinion- a world class police force, Carabineros are very professional, relaxed and helpful. You may NEVER offer a bribe to a Chilean policeman. If you try to do so you are in a high risk to go to jail.

There is a wide offering of medical services in Arica. For emergencies the best choice is Mutual del Trabajador,with emergency service for anyone 24x365. There are also several specialized clinics, the bigger private is Clínica San José. Besides the public hospital there are specialized centers for children, trauma, radiology, optometrists, dermatology, surgery and so on. The public hospital Juan Noe in Arica is located in an old building but is very well equipped, the difficult cases are always taken there because it has the best technology and a very good team of physicians, nurses and paramedics.

In Tacna (Peru) there are also a wide offering of health services and prices are often most convenient,but you must check credentials in advance because malpractice problems have happened.

Bus crash in high plateau
In March 2006 a tourist minibus went off of the road falling over a cliff in Cuesta el Aguila, returning from a 1 day tour to Lago Chungara, resulting in the death of 12 American tourists from cruise ship "Infinity". The cause was -almost certainly- lack of experience of the driver who was also the owner of a small tourist agency. It was the first accident involving tourists in many years, however those 1 day tours to Lago Chungara, in a hurry are always risky.

I do not recommend those tours because the schedule is very tight and some operators are not reputable, the road is dangerous if the driver is not experienced and/or the vehicle is not safe enough. Bottom line: if you are security concerned avoid the 1 day tours to Lago Chungará with small companies, they are cheap but not safe.

In Arica there are no shark attacks, nor snakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, storms, terrorism, street gangs, nor big lizards.

Power outageshas been the last year due the country energy crisis, water shortages are very, very rare, except for programed for maintenance, no more than once or twice a year. Drinking water quality varies depending on sector, but most locals prefer to buy purified water, canned (20 liters for US$3-4)

There are one poison spider (araña de rincón) which is uncommon and some few mosquitoes, specially in Azapa and Lluta Valleys. Alacrans are also very rare to find.

Inundation Charts for Arica, Iquique and Antofagasta (in case of a big eastquake/tsunami)


Just some silly questions/answers which may help you with the local etiquette

Q: Are the chileans dull?
A: Well, uhhh, yes, a little.

Q: Are the Chileans a close, unfriendly society?
A: No, we are essentially latinos, but this it is not so evident in Chile as in neighboring countries. We are less extroverted than, lets say, Peruvians or Argentinians.

Q: What is the best way to meet people here?
A: Ask for help. Many chileans are shy and afraid to play the fool, many fear to seem ridiculous speaking bad English, so the best way is that you take the initiative. Once you break the ice usually you will find warm and friendly people.

Q: It is okay say hello to people you do not know in the streets?
A: Well, it is okay but not usual. Much better is a smile and a head nod if you please

Q: It is okay to ask something of unknown people in the streets?
A: Absolutely, no problem at all and usually is the best way to start a contact

Q: It is correct to look directly at eyes of unknown people?
A: It is not usual, sometimes it is interpreted as an intent to flirt

Q: The best way to become popular?
A: Is easy, just appeal to their national pride, just tell a Chilean how much you like a chilean meal, a chilean city, etc. and you will have it eating out of your hand. Use this little trick and you will treated like a prince, everywhere you go.

Q: The best way to pick up girls (boys)?
A: It is easy also, in the beach, or in the entrance of any bar/disco just ask your "target" for a better place to go, say that you are lost, alone in the city and looking for some fun places. It often works but I cannot guarantee anything!

Q: It is correct to bargain prices?
A: It is not as usual as in other places but sometimes works, if a price appears excessive to you do not hesitate to say so, however prices are not flexible most of time.

Q: What to do if nobody understands what are you saying?
A: Most of people understand some English there, but in emergency cases you may write it on a paper or try some body language

Q: What is an appropriate small gift for chileans?
A: For boys basketball/football pennants or posters do it nice. For anyone T-shirts are well appreciated. For older people any memorabilia or souvenir as sold for tourists in your country of origin.

Well, that is all I can think at the moment, but if you have any etiquette or social manners doubt, just ask me with a mail to tomas@bradanovic.cl. I will add your question with the corresponding answer

Work in progress

Well, my idea is to keep this as an open project, adding everyday new information and empowering with the comment of people which has visited the city before. I hope that you, visitors, send me comments, suggestions, useful tips, warnings and anything that you consider useful for a better stay in Arica, I hope to hear you folks, both locals and strangers to help me to add more and more information and personal views.

So, goodbye and enjoy your staying, and if you are lost in Arica or need some small favour or orientation just go to the next cybercafe and send me a mail, I will gladly help you, if I can. By the way I can also help you if you need to empty a bottle of beer or something so. Well, as the song said:

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away

When I'm Sixty-Four/Cuando tenga sesenta y cuatro años (McCartney)



Love the Paul McCartney quote :)
laura campbell - 03 Nov 2009
Thank you Laura very much, I really did it thinking on those who need some info on our city wrote in english and I feel very happy when someone tell me that has been useful, so my aim is accomplished!
Tomas Bradanovic - 03 Nov 2009

Nice Job Tom!

I live outside of Santiago but congratulate you on your writings-and in English for those of us who still have a lot of difficulty with Spanish. I highly recommend your opinions and points of view to others-I always trust you have good reasons for what you say. I hope to take a trip up the coast to Arica and Peru, and will use your useful information.

laura campbell - 02 Nov 2009

Nice job tomas

Hey body, This is a nice job. God luck to you. Grettings from Oregon, I am from Arica too.
Anonymous - 15 Mar 2009
Eres ariqueño?
Saluti conciudadano!!
------ Arica, siempre Arica hasta morir -------
(hay ariqueños por todo el mundo!)
Tomas Bradanovic - 15 Mar 2009

Hola Tomas

"Knoles suramericanos" tiene un direccionamiento desde la Web USA y la Web España hacia él. Dependiendo del País nativo ( de donde eres y desde donde escribes), crea la pagina de Knols de tu país; haz clic sobre Venezuela y entenderás. Esta pagina deberá ser formateada similar a la que existe para "Knoles venezolanos"; con su abecedario, sus mapas y su bandera, pero de tu país. Haciendo clic, por ejemplo sobre Artur Landerzon Barrera Garcia, el link te llevará a todos sus Knols. esto difundirá de manera más efectiva tus escritos. Te invito hacer lo propio con los demás autores del país que promocionas. Gracias por escribir y Suerte.
Artur Landerzon Barrera Garcia - 06 Mar 2009

Well done

Comprehensive information provided for the city of Arica.
Anonymous - 18 Dec 2008
Thank you Bob, my aim is to help travellers or people interested to know about Arica and I feel good when someone find it useful
Tomas Bradanovic - 18 Dec 2008

Pisco made in Perú

Pisco is made in Perú, Chile Pisco is Garbage, Chile copy our Peru Pisco but never will be better than Peruvian Pisco
Giancarlo Falconi Canepa - 09 Dec 2008


Hi Tomas
I'm sure this this site is the best site for information on the northern part of Chile. Thanks for putting up a site in English, I know it's a lot of work. I also hope that I can contribute something to the site someday. Good luck
Anonymous - 23 Nov 2008
And if you want contribute just tell me and I will add you as contributor
Tomas Bradanovic - 23 Nov 2008
Thank you very much John! my aim is to help travelers and any contribution is welcomed, I hope to build a more comprenhensive site every day
Tomas Bradanovic - 22 Nov 2008