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

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

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
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
Chile Photo - Pedestrians in a Calama street.
Pedestrians in a Calama street.
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
Chile Photo - Fountain with animals, cactus and sunshine on top of rocks in Calama.
Fountain with animals, cactus and sunshine on top of rocks in Calama.
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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Distances & times (if available) from Calama (Chile) to:


Map location: Calama, Chile. You can visit the copper mines of Chuquicamata or just pass through like most do to get to San Pedro de Atacama - that's a better bet!
 A : San Pedro de Atacama - Chile 91 kms 91 kms straight distance | 1hr 17mins 1hr 17mins by car (105 kms) | 1hr 32mins 1hr 32mins by bus (105 kms) (105 kms)
 B : Antofagasta - Chile 187 kms 187 kms straight distance | 2hrs 49mins 2hrs 49mins by car (233 kms) | 3hrs 22mins 3hrs 22mins by bus (233 kms) (233 kms)
 C : Paso de Jama to San Pedro to Calama - Chile 211 kms 211 kms straight distance | 2hrs 59mins 2hrs 59mins by car (262 kms) | 3hrs 34mins 3hrs 34mins by bus (262 kms) (262 kms)
 D : Iquique - Chile 279 kms 279 kms straight distance | 4hrs 36mins 4hrs 36mins by car (394 kms) | 5hrs 31mins 5hrs 31mins by bus (394 kms) (394 kms)
 E : Salta to Paso de Jama (Chile Border) - Argentina 319 kms 319 kms straight distance | 5hrs 26mins 5hrs 26mins by car (427 kms) | 6hrs 31mins 6hrs 31mins by bus (427 kms) (427 kms)
 F : Uyuni & the Salar de Uyuni (Salt Flats) - Bolivia 311 kms 311 kms straight distance | 7hrs 41mins 7hrs 41mins by car (429 kms) | 9hrs 13mins 9hrs 13mins by bus (429 kms) (429 kms)
 G : Iquique to Arica to Peru Border - Chile 342 kms 342 kms straight distance | 4hrs 46mins 4hrs 46mins by car (429 kms) | 5hrs 43mins 5hrs 43mins by bus (429 kms) (429 kms)
 H : Tupiza via Atocha to Uyuni - Bolivia 329 kms 329 kms straight distance | 9hrs 48mins 9hrs 48mins by car (527 kms) | 11hrs 45mins 11hrs 45mins by bus (527 kms) (527 kms)
 I : Uyuni to Potosi - Bolivia 393 kms 393 kms straight distance | 9hrs 13mins 9hrs 13mins by car (534 kms) | 11hrs 3mins 11hrs 3mins by bus (534 kms) (534 kms)
 J : Jujuy - Argentina 413 kms 413 kms straight distance | 6hrs 55mins 6hrs 55mins by car (580 kms) | 8hrs 18mins 8hrs 18mins by bus (580 kms) (580 kms)
 K : La Quiaca to Jujuy - Argentina 377 kms 377 kms straight distance | 6hrs 54mins 6hrs 54mins by car (585 kms) | 8hrs 16mins 8hrs 16mins by bus (585 kms) (585 kms)
 L : La Quiaca & Bolivian Border - Argentina 347 kms 347 kms straight distance | 7hrs 54mins 7hrs 54mins by car (595 kms) | 9hrs 28mins 9hrs 28mins by bus (595 kms) (595 kms)
 M : Villazon & Argentinian Border - Bolivia 345 kms 345 kms straight distance | 8hrs 9mins 8hrs 9mins by car (599 kms) | 9hrs 46mins 9hrs 46mins by bus (599 kms) (599 kms)
 N : Tupiza - Bolivia 349 kms 349 kms straight distance | 9hrs 32mins 9hrs 32mins by car (690 kms) | 11hrs 26mins 11hrs 26mins by bus (690 kms) (690 kms)
 O : Salta - Argentina 437 kms 437 kms straight distance | 8hrs 36mins 8hrs 36mins by car (713 kms) | 10hrs 19mins 10hrs 19mins by bus (713 kms) (713 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


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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