El Morro de Arica
El Morro de Arica, altitude 110m, is a headland overlooking the city and the mouth of the Azapa Valley. The views allow a good appreciation of the extent of the city, beaches, the coastline and surrounding desert hills. The military museum on the summit was the site of a crucial battle during the War of the Pacific, 1879. On the 7th June 1880, 1250 Peruvian and 467 Chilean soldiers lost their lives in a 55 minute confrontation. Arms, munitions and uniforms of the period are on display.
El Laucho Beach
The beaches, La Lisera, (2.5 km) and El Laucho (2 km), are south of the city and especially popular on summer weekends. Chinchorro Beach, 2 km to the north, extends to Las Manchas, good surfing and on through to the border with Peru. This beach has become a focal center with a large children’s playground popular with families throughout the year. Safe swimming and good surf are features of Chinchorro Beach.
Ex Island of Alacran
The ex-island of Alacran was connected to the mainland by a causeway in 1969. It is the site of ruins of a fort established during Spanish colonial days to protect the galleons carrying exports of Bolivian, Potosi silver from Arica, against English and Dutch raiders. The surf break to the south is known as “El Gringo” and gained international fame with the Rip Curl Competition of 2007
Bolivian Railway Station
The Arica-to-La Paz Railway Station was constructed in 1904 and the line inaugurated in 1913. Outside and inside the magnificent building are museum pieces, old engines and carriages from the days of the “El Dorado” passenger train services. It is a virtual museum.
San Marcos Cathedral – Cultural Center / Ex Aduana
Gustave Effiel and Co. designed a number of cast steel framed buildings for both Arica and Tacna in Peru (63 km to the north). The San Marcos Church, built 1875, on Plaza Colon and the Cultural Center or Old Custom House, built 1874, both show the unique cast iron framework that has enabled both buildings to withstand numerous strong earthquakes.
Fish Market / Entrance to Port Arica
The Fishing Terminals, across the Avenue Comandante San Martin,and on the waterfront inside the port facilities, have a wide range of fish and Shell fish for sale. Also inside the port on the waterfront can be found the “Matarangi” sea food restaurant and tourist launches that depart for excursions. On Saint Peter’s Day, 29th June, (the patron saint of fishermen) there is a special religious festival after which a replica of the saint tours the harbour accompanied by a flotilla of boats, fireworks and celebration.
The Arica Casino is sited on the street Velasques. It has gaming machines, bars, restaurants, hosts shows and dances. A popular night spot! Numerous bars and discoteques provide a range of nightlife.
Cemetery San Miguel de Azapa / Geogliphos
The Archeological Museum, Cemetery and Geogliphos are situated at San Miguel, 12 km into the Azapa Valley. They can be reached by “collectivo” communal taxi. The museum is run by the University of Tarapaca and has an excellent display of pre-Spanish indigenous cultures, which include mummies that predate those of Egypt by 3500 years. The Azapa river mouth and Chinchorro beach areas have been populated for over 9,600 years and the museum documents the development of the cultures since that time, showing the connection with the interior mountain regions, Tiahuanaco and Inca cultures. The cemetery has been in use for about 3,000 years and is very colourful, quite unique!
The national park “Parque Lauca” (137,883 hectares) including Lago Chungara (2,100 hectares) at an altitude of 4,570 m above sea level, surrounded by volcanic mountains, makes a popular one-day tour. The swift climb from sea level to high altitude causes some people to suffer altitude sickness as there is little time to acclimatize. A better approach to visiting the interior mountain area is to take more time and stay overnight at some of the numerous small towns scattered between 2,500 and 4,500 m above sea level. Putre, established 1670, population 3,000, at 3,500 m above sea level, is the most popular town. It is on the main sealed highway to Bolivia and serviced by both local and international bus companies.
Reserva Nacional Las Vicunas, and the Monumento Nacional Salar de Surire (salt lake), are other unique areas that can be visited but require more planning.