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Norte Chico

The Norte Chico stretches from the Santiago region up to about 500km north. The geography is characterised by long parched hills, punctuated occasionally by lush valleys, that have sprung up around rivers that flow down from the Andes to the ocean.

This is where Chile‚Äôs national drink ‚ÄėPisco‚Äô comes from, but the region has prospered mainly due to the huge reserves of gold and silver that were discovered by the Incas and are still being mined today.

The coast is a definite highlight, and the beaches here are considered among the best in Chile, although few have been developed for tourism like those nearer Santiago. However, their sandy bays and turquoise-waters make a relaxing getaway for those who want to chill out and do nothing for a few days.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of this region though, is La Serena, Chile’s second-oldest city and arguably its most attractive with its colonial architecture and seaside setting. It makes a great base for exploring some of the nearby beaches, as well as the inland scenery.

Parque Nacional Nevada de Tres Cruces is another great spot to visit, with its vibrant green lakes and snowcapped volcanoes, as well as abundant wildlife. It‚Äôs easy to get to from the city of Copiap√≥, but surprisingly little visited by tourists ‚Äď which makes it all the more pleasant for those who do visit.

By Chris Hughes
Traveling South America to give Viva readers the most up-to-date information...
25 Jun 2011

Mines, train stations...see the region's unusual historical attractions

Escuela de Minas

The Escuela de Minas (School of Mines) located west of town is now home to the Universidad de Atacama. Railroad enthusiasts cannot miss the attention-grabbing black-and-yellow Locomotion Copiapó ...
Historical Building
Copiapó, Chile

Palacete Vi√Īa de Cristo

Although now it belongs to the Universidad de Atacama, this palace once was the premier place to live in Copiapó. It was built in 1860 by Apolinario Soto - who made his fortune as the owner of Tres ...
Historical Building
Copiapó, Chile

Iglesia Catedral

Iglesia Catedral is an English-designed church perched on the southwest corner of the Plaza Prat. It was given a three-tiered tower and a tiered wooden steeple by British architect William ...
Historical Building
Copiapó, Chile

Estación de ferrocarril

This train station was originally built in 1850 - and shows the wear and tear to prove it. This unique piece of architecture was the terminus for South America’s first railroad. ...
Historical Building
Caldera, Chile
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