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Calama, Chile - A Stopover 90mins From San Pedro de Atacama

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Chile travel blog by Mark Berman - May 2009 May 2010 April 2014   » View Photoset (18 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 12yrs!
Calama is not the most exciting or most beautiful city in Chile I have been to. I stayed here for 2 nights as a break from bus travel. Around town there were some buskers, a rock fountain, a church, plaza, another rock fountain with a few animals on top. A man selling colorful dust brushes posed for a photo and I saw another fountain with a statue of a man drilling rock at the top. There is a huge multi-floor shopping center in the city that has a lot of people and activity. There are lots of places where you can buy a big hotdog with guacamole, mayonnaise and ketchup. I ate 2 daily during my stay here. I also tried a couple of times a restaurant chain called SchopDog that have some nice salads, chicken and meat dishes.

Things To Do

I made an attempt while in Calama to find out about a tour to the copper mines called Chuquicamata just a few kilometres north of Calama but it seemed like a hassle and big drama to get there and it wasn't clear where I should go to get on a tour, so I didn't - the tours are run by CODELCO. There is however adventure to be had in and around Calama in the form of sandboarding and 4WD excursions. You can rent sandboards near Atacama and go to Valle de la Muerte where there are 150 meter high dunes. There are several volcanos around Atacama called Lascar, Licancabur and Sairecabur that can be climbed if you are very fit.

Pleasant Place

The people I met and dealt with in Calama were friendly and helpful. Most travelers use Calama as a gateway to the Atacama desert and salt flats and just pick up supplies and carry on straight through. If you are looking for a modern shopping mall to buy things other than ponchos and stone carvings, you will find a fantastic multi-level one around the central shopping area.

Bus 5hrs to Iquique

I took a Pullman bus north for 5hrs to Iquique on the coast from here. San Pedro de Atacama is 90mins south / east.


View all photos in the Calama Photoset

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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Calama, Chile:

Casa de Huespedes, Calama, Chile - Large Photo
Casa de Huespedes, Calama, Chile (May 2009 - 2 nights) - Pretty cheap for Chile, very basic room, the beds were not good and the walls are far too thin for a great nights sleep, as thin as paper, I complained about 3 times about the noise, its central.

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Calama, Chile - A Stopover 90mins From San Pedro de Atacama. You can visit the copper mines of Chuquicamata or just pass through like most do to get to San Pedro de Atacama!