After Iquique, we headed up to Arica – the home of surfing. Plus it was going to the last stop in Chile before we headed off on a marathon journey to Cusco, Peru!
The journey from Iquique to Arica was really interesting. We drove through the Altiplano which is quite stunning in the fact that the high mountains are completely flat at the top with wide open and desolate plains.
Arica turned out to be a bit of a disappointment after Iquique. We had visions of lovely sandy beaches where we could watch the surf dudes and dudettes do their thing. The place couldn’t have been more different. It didn’t help that the surfing season is during our summer months! Arica is a big sprawling city which seems to be sponsored by Coca-Cola. The seafront has a busy port smack dab in the middle of it with a beach on either side. Only one of them was in reasonable walking distance to where we were staying and it turned out to be the safest beach too as it was well protected.
Although we weren’t enamoured with Arica, we did find some things to do and see that was of interest. To give the town credit, it has a pleasant pedestrian shopping area and we found a few really nice restaurants to eat in. We also replaced our sunglasses that we lost in the surf of Iquique for only a few pounds, bargain!
We went to visit the Virgin on the hill behind where were staying and the statue of Christ on the hill near the seafront, next to the Military Museum.
There was a huge contrast between visiting these two monuments. The area around the Virgin (top right) was completely covered in broken glass and lots of graffiti. The area around the Christ was completely clean. I guess having a military presence had a lot to do with that!
You could see that the plazas were beautiful at one time. The fact that the water was stagnant in all of the fountains really let them down though.
I won’t say that we grew to like the place, but sometimes you need to find something good in places that are not ideal. For us, Arica was a resting point before our long bus journey to Cusco. We met some really lovely people at our very clean hostel, had a few really nice meals and got some exercise exploring the area. The weather was great too and nothing bad happened apart from Bob taking out his little toe on the corner of the bed. Thankfully nothing got broken!