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Travel Guide South America Chile Arica

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Introduction

Arica is a commune and a port city with a population of 196,590 in the Arica Province of northern Chile's Arica y Parinacota Region. It is Chile's northernmost city, being located only 18 kilometres south of the border with Peru. The city is the capital of both the Arica Province and the Arica and Parinacota Region. Arica has a mild, temperate climate with some of the lowest annual rainfall rates anywhere in the world. It's quiet, relaxed and safe, with several nice beaches and sun virtually every day of the year. You will rarely find any clouds in the skies over Arica. Arica is located at the bend of South America's western coast known as the Arica Bend or Arica Elbow. At the location of the city are two lush valleys that dissect the Atacama Desert converge: Azapa and Lluta. These valleys provide fruit for export. In addition it is the end station of the Bolivian oil pipeline beginning in Oruro. The city's strategic position is enhanced by being next to the Pan-American Highway, being connected to both Tacna in Peru and La Paz in Bolivia by railroad and being served by an international airport.

Its mild weather has made Arica known as the "city of the eternal spring" in Chile while its beaches are frequented by Bolivians. The city was an important port already during Spanish colonial rule. Chile seized the city from Peru in 1880 following the War of the Pacific and was recognized as Chilean by Peru in 1929. A substantial part of African Chileans live in or trace their origins to Arica.

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Sights and Activities

  • Cathedral of San Marcos is designed by Gustave Eiffel (of the eponymous Tower in Paris). It's a popular attraction. Entry is from Plaza Colón.
  • The views from el Morro are superb. One can follow the work being done in the harbour closely or gaze at the mountains gradually turning into the altiplano in the east. The hill looks like a giant sand dune from a distance but it is in fact made of solid rock. The paved footpath visible from anywhere in town starts at the south end of Calle Colón. Allow 10 minutes for walking up and enough time for philosophic discussions on top. There is a war museum on the hill for those into uniforms and cannons from the 19th century. Beware of the dishonest Coca Cola vending machines, bring water and snacks from town.

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Weather

According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Arica features the rare mild desert climate, abbreviated "BWn" on climate maps. Unlike many other cities with arid climates, Arica seldom sees extreme temperatures throughout the course of the year. Arica is also known as the driest inhabited place on Earth, at least as measured by rainfall: average annual precipitation is 0.76 mm, as measured at the airport meteorological station. Despite its lack of rainfall, Arica typically has a relatively high humidity, with levels similar to those of equatorial climates. The sunshine intensity is similar to the Sahara desert region in the Northern Hemisphere (or like the Cape Verde islands).

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Getting There

By Plane

Chacalluta International Airport is the main airport in Arica and is located 18.5 kilometres to north of the city. In this terminal operates three domestic airlines, LAN Chile, Principal Airlines and Sky Airlines to many Chilean airports and also to Arequipa, Peru and La Paz, Bolivia.

By Train

Passenger train services on the Arica–La Paz railway ceased in 1996, but as of 2017 there were proposals to restart services from Arica as a tourist attraction (and for freight).

By Bus

Numerous buses arrive daily from centers further south in Chile. Daily buses come in from Bolivia, La Paz, Cochabamba and Oruro (If you wish to come from Oruro you should note that you will also have to get a bus to Patacamaya to transfer to the bus to Arica, there are no direct buses. It may be best to go to La Paz - they have direct buses - because the transfer is very confusing!). Colectivos (shared taxis) arrive and depart continually from Peru during the border opening hours of 08:00-22:00, taking passengers from the International Terminal in Arica to the International Terminal in Tacna, Peru. From the National Terminal (alongside) buses come in from other centers in Peru. Note there are no direct buses from Arequipa, Cusco or Puno to Arica.

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Getting Around

Walking will get you most places in town, although buses run along the major avenues for those in a hurry. They are also handy for getting to and from the bus station. The usual fare is CLP320.

Radio taxis (colectivos) average CLP550 per trip.

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Sleep

View our map of accommodation in Arica or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

There are cybercafes in every major and midsize city and at all tourist destinations. Some libraries are in a program called Biblioredes, with free computers and Internet. Wifi is getting more and more common. They're usually in metro stations, airports, malls, cafes, public buildings and several public spaces. Check for the ones that say gratis - for free. McDonald's and Starbucks are chains which almost always have free wifi.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Chile is: 56. To make an international call from Chile, the code is: 00. Emergency phone numbers include 131 (Ambulance), 132 (Fire) and 133 (Police).

Public phones located on streets are very likely to be tampered or vandalized, so it's better to use a phone located inside a commerce or a station. Prepaid cards for mobile phones and public phones are sold at most newspaper kiosks, supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies and phone dealers. Mobile GSM networks are ubiquitous in all major cities and most of the territory of central and southern Chile. A basic prepaid cellular phone usually costs about 15,000 pesos, most frequently charged with 10,000 pesos worth of prepaid minutes. No ID is required to buy a prepaid phone. GSM SIM cards from ENTEL, Movistar or Claro are usually available for 5,000 pesos, but without credit, so you'll need to buy some prepaid minutes to be able to call. Money can be charged into a cellphone from some pharmacies (Ahumada, Cruz Verde and Salco Brand) on the counter and in cash, or by using a credit card through an automated service operator, with directions in Spanish or English.

Post

Correos de Chile is the national postal service, and although relatively slow it is reliable with post offices throughout the country. On the website you can find more information about prices to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. Post offices are generally open Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 6:00pm and Saturday until 2:00pm, although there are sometimes longer opening hours in the bigger central post offices and shorter ones in small places. Ask around. If you want to send packages internationally, you might consider companies like DHL, TNT or UPS, which are fast, reliable and usually competitively priced as well.

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Accommodation in Arica

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Arica searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Arica and areas nearby.

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This is version 9. Last edited at 13:24 on Oct 6, 17 by Utrecht. 9 articles link to this page.

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