Welcome to Copiapo, Chile!
Copiapo is a small city, in the northern part of Chile, located about 65 kilometers (40 Miles) from the coast. Copiapo was founded in 1744, and the city expanded more and more because of the silver mines located nearby. In fact, one of the town’s monuments is a bronze statue of Juan Gooy, the founder of the local silver mines.
Copiapo is small, in comparison to many other cities in Chile, but it is probably one of, if not the most biodiverse places in the entire country. The land surrounding the city is unlike any other, with desert sand dunes, snowy glaciers, salt lakes, volcanoes, and mountains, all within the proximity to the city. This insider’s guide will allow you to travel as a worldwide local and know what makes this place unique and worth visiting.
Worldwide Local Tip: Copiapo, despite being a city that is centuries old, is pretty easy to navigate. The city is built on a grid system, so finding your bearings shouldn’t be too hard, even if you don’t speak Spanish. Walking is a good way to get around the city center, but if you’re looking to explore the outer regions of the city consider a car or taxi.
Start with One of the Best Things to Do in Copiapo
As previously mentioned, Copiapo has some very diverse biomes in the vicinity of the city. A lot of people that visit here are the outdoorsy types and for good reason, because you would not want to miss out on some of the amazing beauty that Copiapo has to offer. One place that is popular with locals and visitors alike is Laguna Verde. The famous salt lake is a place that is very unique in its presence, and not only because of the water’s odd color but because the absolute natural beauty of the mountains surrounding the lake is breathtaking.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re an experienced hiker and are looking for an amazing adventure in Copiapo, the nearby mountains are climbable. The trek up the mountains might be a little difficult, but once you’re up there you’ll have access to some of the most amazing views of South America. Your choices include volcanoes, deserts, and Laguna Verde, 42000 meters below you. Tours are offered and recommended for those with a little less experience.
Chill Out at The Plaza
Maybe you’re not into climbing mountains or maybe you’ve just returned from a trek in nature, and now just want to relax while doing a little people watching. As a worldwide local, you’ll know that going to the central area where the locals go to hang out, is what you do to get a feel for the city. The Plaza is where locals go to hang out in the park, enjoy the weather, and meet up. The park is right in the center of town and has plenty of spaces to hang out. Take in the natural flora of the area or snooze under a tree.
Worldwide Local Tip: There are a lot of restaurants in the area as The Plaza is a very central and busy location that’s always bustling with locals. Cafe Colombia is a great choice for snacks, sandwiches, or delicious fresh coffee. Take it to go and have a picnic in the park, or check out La Chingana. It’s a little more upscale, but has great cocktails and live music on weekends.
Hike San Francisco Pass
Copiapo is full of natural beauty that simply cannot be ignored. A less grueling activity than mountain climbing, but still taking in the surroundings of Copiapo, is the legendary San Francisco Pass. Located high up above the Andes mountains the road here is the dividing line between Chile and Argentina. On one side is the dusty road of Chile, and the other is the paved one in Argentina. The road is located 15 thousand feet above sea level, but don’t worry you don’t have to climb it as you can always hitch a ride. Make sure to bring a camera, because the views and ride up are spectacular.
Worldwide Local Tip: The pass goes high up into the mountains, and unless you're below the valley in the desert, a lot of the locations in the hills and mountains (especially around the Andes) can get very cold. Always make sure to dress appropriately and bring the proper walking shoes if you’re hiking because the paths can get pretty rocky.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Copiapo is a nature photographer’s paradise, but even if you are, it’s a place where any worldwide local can definitely enjoy the views.