The old industrial heartland of Chile, Antofagasta now touts seafront promenades and a vibrant plaza at its centre, while tourHQ’s local guides can show travelers salt pans, mineral mines, sand sculptures and plenty more.
Sandwiched between the arid wasteland of the Atacama Desert and the scintillating blue surf of the Pacific Ocean, Chile’s second-largest city of Antofagasta has long been one of the nation’s beating industrial hubs. Today, truckloads of minerals from the mines of the North still rumble over its concrete highways, while a charming historical kernel sits watched over by the ever-looming silhouettes of steel scrapers and haphazard high-rises bearing brand names of multinationals and shipping companies. Recent renovation projects have done well to leave traces of old Victorianism and Spanish colonialism peppering the streets around the Plaza Colon here, while an all-new seafront promenade development is now the hunting ground of sunset viewers, romantic strollers, and Antofagasta tour guides eager to point out rugged coastal protrusions and floundering sea lion packs to wide-eyed visitors. Escaping the city’s foray for the wonders of the greater Antofagasta Region is also certainly worth the effort, with the La Portada archways, one curious desert sculpture by Mario Irarrazabal, and even the stone trees, snow-capped peaks and flamingo-dotted salt lakes of the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve in Bolivia beckoning from afar.
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