Welcome to Calama!
Calama, Chile, is a city and commune located in the Northern part of the country, in the Atacama desert. Calama Airport doesn’t welcome too many tourists, but a worldwide local knows that’s not a bad thing. Despite the lack of tourists, the people of Calama will always be there to help a visitor and point you in the right direction for whatever you need. Even if you’ve just made a last minute decision to hop on a Santiago to Calama flight, you’ll always feel like a worldwide local here--and with this insider’s guide, you’ll travel like one too!
Calama is very dry and the environment around here, both inside and outside of the city, is desert-like. This gives the environment a certain unique quality, especially for those who are not used to hot and dry places. Calama might be small but there are some interesting things to do here; all you have to do is scratch the surface a bit to find it.
Worldwide Local Tip: The city is easily walkable, as it is pretty small. Don’t worry about having to rent a car while you’re here, because a good pair of walking shoes should be enough. If you’re going far distances, however, there are taxis that are very cheap and reliable enough.
Drop Down into History
If there’s any landmark around town that is the hotspot of Calama tourism, it is the Chuquicamata Mine. Entwined with the history, the mine is as much a part of the background as anything else. The mine is a former copper mine and is one of the biggest open-air mines in the world. The view is pretty crazy and awe-inspiring, as it is truly hard to fully comprehend just how massive this mine is. Copper mining is one of the most important parts of the Chilean economy, and visiting this mine is a cool way for a worldwide local to get a glimpse into the everyday life of the local people. As a bonus tour, around and to the mine are free, though donations are welcome.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re planning to take a tour of the mine, it is required that you register with the bureau of tourism first. The building is located on a market-lined street and is easy to miss, so make sure to ask around. Afterwards, a bus will pick you up and drop you off after the tour.
For the Adrenaline Junkie
The city of Calama is small, but outside the city is massive, with never-ending landscapes of desert and nature. That’s why you should head out of the city and have a little adventure through the Valle de la Muerte. It’s a perfect place for adrenaline enthusiasts, where you can mountain bike or go sandboarding through the dunes. If you’re looking to relax a bit, the Valle de la Luna is nearby and is the perfect place to camp out, enjoying the view of the moon and stars. Due to the lack of light pollution, the view of the night sky is absolutely incredible.
Worldwide Local Tip: While exploring the Valle de la Muerte and Valle de la Luna, it’s definitely essential that you are prepared to be covered in sand. Everything you own will be covered in sand. Don’t let it be a deterrent to visiting these incredible spots, but be sure you protect any electronics and valuables.
Escape the Heat
Since Calama is in the desert, it can get very hot, and what’s the best way to beat the heat? Head for a swim! The Pozo natural springs are a favorite place where locals come by and take a dip in the water to cool off. It’s a cool place to escape the heat, with bohemian and hippie vibes. There are always people coming and going, and a lot of people here speak English.
Worldwide Local Tip: If the beach isn’t your thing, Loa park is a good alternative. The park is pretty big and popular with locals, so there are always families going about their day and kids playing. Loa park also has a few observation towers people can climb up to get a nice view of the city.
Enjoy Your Stay!
A worldwide local knows that the big cities are good, but the little ones often have just as much fun in them--and Calama is a prime example of that. Spend some time in the desert, exploring the natural beauty of this northern Chilean town.