For a city rimmed with great beaches, a relaxing vibe, and constant sunshine, it is very easy to spend a few days in Arica in the sand, or seeing the sights in town, at a slow pace. However, if you really want to pack your days, and make them memorable, add at least one of these day trips to your agenda. Your travel photos will also instantly get a lot more interesting.
Cuevas de Anzota
This is some of the most ruggedly beautiful coastline you will see in Chile. A short drive, or a relaxing, yet windy, bike ride 12km south of Arica, the road will turn into a path that becomes the entrance to these unique coastal caves. These natural caves have been carved out over millions of years by water, sand, and spray to create huge caves that you can walk through. At the end of the path, there is also a ridge along the sloping coast that will lead you to a secluded beach, La Liserilla.
Lauca National Park
An enjoyable 2.5 hour, ascending drive with sweeping corners will take you inland from sea level, towards the Bolivian border, and into Parque Nacional Lauca. You can spend a whole day driving and taking photos, as the drive itself provides great views, and the park is some of the most raw, impressive scenery in all of Chile.
San Miguel de Azapa
Head out into the tranquil Azapa Valley, to visit San Miguel de Azapa, and the Archaeological Museum in town, which explains the history of the Chinchorro people who occupied this region some 3500 – 9000 years ago, and has the oldest discovered mummified human remains in the world on site to marvel at.
Even though it functions as the main accommodation hub in the Lauca National Park, Putre is still a very traditional town located at 3500 meters above sea level in the company of some incredible surrounding views, as it sits at the base of the Taapaca Volcano Complex. The hand-laid stones that make up the main roads, and plaza in town, coupled with the thatched roofs, will be a constant reminder that Putre has not changed in centuries.
La Tropilla Geoglyphs
Just outside of Arica, and before the town of San Miguel de Azapa, you can get a view of the ancient symbols, embedded in the rocks that rise up on each side of the road. The geoglyphs, which have survived hundreds of years, are only still visible and preserved due to the lack of precipitation in the area. You can do tours, or receive information from the tourist center within Arica and visit on your own by taxi or rental car.
If you plan to challenge yourself when in this part of Chile, taking on the Parinacota Volcano will do just that. The perfect cone-shaped volcano that stands alone in its flat surroundings will take you up to 6,300 meters above sea level and tests your ability to find oxygen in this thin air. It will also take you into Bolivian territory, as the base of the volcano is shared between Chile and Bolivia, but the peak is in the latter.
If you are not up for the task of climbing Paranicota Volcano, but want to get a view of it, you can double up and also view the glassy, beautiful lake of Chungará. On a clear day, you can get the photo of a lifetime, with Parinacota Volcano in the background reflecting off the lake that acts as a mirror.
Las Cuevas de Lauca
On your way down Parinacota, you can take refuge in the idea of stepping inside the hot springs at the bottom, known as Las Cuevas de Lauca. Located near the entrance to the park, these hot springs will allow you to relax your muscles if you spent all day dominating the volcano, or even if you spent it on your backside in a car driving out there. Either way, you deserve it!
Jurasi Hot Springs
Want to turn up the heat? The Jurasi Hot Springs get sizzling and offer an outdoor pool and two indoor pools for you to enjoy a soak, and also offer some pretty spectacular scenery as you do so.