Travel to Northern Chile – Episode 585

categories: south america travel

Travel to Northern Chile - A Two Week Itinerary (Podcast)

Hear about travel to Northern Chile as the Amateur Traveler talks to Steph Dyson from about her adopted country.

Steph left her home country of the United Kingdom 3 years ago and moved to South America. A “one month” trip to Chile has turned into a year and a half. She says, “I have fallen desperately in love with this country and do my best to see as much of it and write as much about as possible”.

She was drawn to South America because she knew so few people who had been there and she was ready for an adventure. “The great thing about South America is that if you can speak a bit of Spanish you can visit a variety of countries that are unique and very culturally different.”

Steph says, “one of the things that I love about Chile is the real diversity of natural landscapes here. It’s really a country for people who like being outdoors and who like experiencing nature. You’ve got the world’s driest desert, the Atacama in the north. You’ve got Patagonia with glaciers and ice fields and king penguins in the south. In the middle of the country, you’ve got vineyards. You’ve got volcanoes, You’ve got beaches, places to go skiing. There’s pretty much everything that you could possibly think about doing outdoors.”

We follow Steph’s direction to the northern part of Chile, starting in San Pedro de Atacama and heading north from there. We visit the Atacama desert with its well-known salt flats.

We head from there to Iquique for a beach break and further up to Arica to see the oldest mummies in the world, the Chinchorro mummies which are over 7000 years old.

We then talk about heading out to Lauca National Park and Las Vicuñas National Reserve which are both spectacularly beautiful and much less well known than San Pedro de Atacama with salt flats to the horizon and volcanos brooding over wild llamas and flocks of flamencos.

This show talks about a slower pace trip than we often do because so many of these areas are at altitude. You need to schedule appropriately. Hear about this unique and spectacular area.

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Show Notes
Atacama Desert
Chuquicamata (largest copper mine)
San Pedro de Atacama
Los Flamencos National Reserve
War of the Pacific
The Alchemy of Air (book)
San Pedro de Atacama Tours
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)
El Rincon De Cachuperto (restaurant) Iquique
Nazca Plate
Museo Regional de Iquique
7 Off-The-Beaten-Trail Places To Visit In Northern Chile
Museo de Sitio Colón 10
Museo Arqueologico San Miguel de Azapa
Chinchorro mummies
Lauca National Park
Las Vicuñas National Reserve
Terrace Lodge and Tours
Salar de Surire Natural Monument


Our guide Khalid on the Amateur Traveler trip to Morocco named the best guide in the world

Elspeth wrote about Travel to Kiev, Ukraine – Episode 581:

Really enjoyed the Kiev podcast – we visited recently and were really surprised what an attractive city it was and how much there was to see and do (one really full day was not enough!). A couple of additional points – we’d recommend the Chernobyl Museum (not sure if the tour there is compulsory – but if not, take the option – our tour guide was brilliant and helped us to get the most out of the museum).

We also did a 2 day trip to Chernobyl itself and would recommend that. We did it as a photography tour and there is a huge amount to see and think about, and some amazing photos to be taken – a huge radar station, the town of Pripyat (complete with Ferris wheel, dodgems, cinema, cafe, supermarket, etc), surrounding abandoned villages now looking like Angkor temples with trees growing through buildings, various monuments both to Soviet accomplishments and now to the Chernobyl disaster and rescuers, and of course the reactor. It was a fascinating place and you can stay in a basic hotel in the outer zone and, certainly on our tour, visit a ‘self settler’ ie an original resident who has gone back there to live (and who was a really interesting chap).

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Travel to Northern Chile - A Two Week Itinerary (Podcast)

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

2 Responses to “Travel to Northern Chile – Episode 585”

Robert Cooke


Nice episode. I visited Northern Chile at this time last year. I decided against Arica and the mummies but now I kind of regret not doing it!

1 attraction I was surprised was not mentioned is the old mining town of Humberstone. You visit it from Iquique and it is currently listed as the number 1 attraction on TripAdvisor and became a UNESCO world heritage site about 10 years back. It was a huge saltpeter factory and town for miners and their families for around a century. It was shut down in early 1960’s and basically abandoned. Because of this it is now a renovated Ghost town. You get to visit the old factories where it was mined, some with roofs and some don’t. You see the houses families used to life in with old letters, cots, dolls etc. You learn all about saltpeter, which is something that I know came up in the show, what it did and the importance of it worldwide in late 19th century. All that combined what with walking through a spooky ghost town that is straight out of X-Files or some Wild West movie. I visited with a friend and only saw 10-20 people in the 2-3 hours I was there.
It’s easy to get to, you can do a tour or even cheaper just get a local bus out there. The locals know exactly what you want even if you don’t speak Spanish so easy to organise and about a 45 minute bus journey to get you there.
It’s definitely worth a visit if you have a few days in Iquique.

Mark Roberts


Went to Chile a month ago, part of a class trip in Law School. So much history, so much that happened.

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