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The only reason a traveler without family connections to Chañaral needs to visit this town is to use it as jumping-off spot to Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar. And even then it is recommended to visit the park as part of a day-trip from Copiapó. This tattered town has been hopelessly contaminated with the toxic waste from the immense El Salvador mine. Clean-up efforts have had little effect; the beach is still dirty from the toxic wastes dumped from the mine and the air is polluted. The Environmental Health Service even considered moving the whole town to escape this mess.


There are mostly basic accommodations in Chañaral. Hostal Los Aromos is on a residential street at Los Aromos 7. There are single ($16), double ($26) and triple ($38) rooms available. Hotel La Marina on the main street at Merino Jarpa ($8-12) is cheap choice with shared bathrooms and chilly showers. As far as food goes, there are mostly little restaurants serving traditional Chilean dishes such as El Rincón Porteño located at Merino Jarpa 567.


There is an ATM at BCI located at Maipú 319. At Comercio 442, you will find Entel for long-distance calls, the post office is located on Comercio on the west side of town and limited tourist information can be found at the Municipalidad on the corner of Merino Jarpa and Conchuelas.

Telephone code: 52, Population: 14,000


Other places nearby Chañaral: Caldera, Alto del Carmen, Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar, Ovalle, Los Vilos, Vallenar, Vicuña, Tongoy, Coquimbo and Guanaqueros.

By Chris Hughes
Traveling South America to give Viva readers the most up-to-date information...
08 May 2009

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