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Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar

The Humboldt penguin is the biggest draw to this 43,754-hectare national park. It also features immaculate beaches of fine white sand and steep cliffs that drastically rise from the shore. The park is home to a variety of birds, foxes and different types of cactus. A small group of fishermen, the Conaf center (where you pay the entrance fee of $5), a small market and a campsite are to be found in the part of the park known as Caleta Pan de Azúcar.

Two kilometers off shore is the Isla Pan de Azúcar, which shelters such wildlife as seals, sea otters, pelicans, plovers and, of course, more than 3,000 Humboldt penguins. Boats offer two-hour trips to give visitors a much needed up-close look of the island for about $8 per person. The best times to go are in the early morning or early evening when the penguins feed. You can also trek 10km north of the village to get a nice view of the coastline from the lookout at Mirador Pan de Azúcar.

Campsites are available on the beaches around the village, and a bit further south at Playa Piqueros, for approximately $18 per site. There are toilets, water, picnic tables and showers available at these locations. Camping wild in the park is not permitted. A pair of secluded cabins are also available on a beach to the north of the village.

 

Getting There and Away

Chango Turismo (Tel: 52-480484) runs two buses daily to Caleta Pan de Azúcar from Chañaral. Buses leave at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., and return at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The company also runs jeep tours to Mirador Pan de Azúcar ($12). Another option to reach the park is to enlist a ride in a taxi - a good negotiator can usually get the driver to do it for approximately $10-15. On approach from the north, take the turn marked Las Bombas located approximately 45km north of Chañaral.

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Other places nearby Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar: Tongoy, Copiapó, Los Vilos, Ovalle, Vallenar, Chañaral, Hurtado, Huasco, Illapel 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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