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Calama is all about copper. Not even the church, with its copper-gilded roof, can escape the precious metal鈥檚 influence in the town. At an altitude of 2,250m, Calama is generally used by backpackers as a stopover on the way to San Pedro de Atacama and as a residential area for the huge copper mine to the north of Chuquicamata. Calama also became an important stop on the Oruro-Antofagasta railroad in the late 1800鈥榮.


Although the town is primarily used as a place to collect oneself or withdraw money before a trip to San Pedro de Atacama - as there are no ATMs or banks over there - it does have a few highlights. The town sets off fireworks on March 23 to celebrate the return of Chilean troops from the War of the Pacific. Catedral San Juan Bautista鈥檚 roof gleams as it is comprised of ever-important copper. Parque El Loa offers pleasant strolls and is home to the Museo Arqueol贸gico and Etnol贸gico.


Another reason travelers tend not to spend too much time in Calama is because cheap accommodation can be scarce. Hotel Claris Loa and Hotel Atenas are two of the better low-budget places. Hotel Mirador, Hotel Punakora and the swanky Hoster铆a Calama cost much more. There is a nice selection of eateries in town. Caf茅 Viena has low prices and filling dishes, as do the coiner铆as in the Mercado Central. Bon Apetit and Caf茅 Caruso have good cups of coffee and Cactus Restaurant and Bar serves up hot dishes with Mexican themes.

Pop: 150,000

Neighborhoods in Calama: Chuquicamata,

Other places nearby Calama: Pica, Huara, Iquique, Mami帽a, Mejillones, Arica, Toconao, San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta and Tocopilla.

29 Jun 2009

Top Places in Calama


Chuquicamata is one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world and is located only 16km north of Calama. The huge chasm cut seemingly to the core of the earth produces more than 600,000 tons ...
City Zone
Chuquicamata, Calama, Chile

Things to do in Calama

Catedral San Juan Bautista

Not even the church is immune from the constant reminder of the importance of copper in Calama. The Catedral San Juan Bautista, located on the main square, cannot be missed with its shimmering roof ...
Other Activity
Calama, Chile

Parque El Loa

The main draws of Parque El Loa are a riverside swimming pool and a replica of Chiu Chiu鈥檚 famous church. The Museo Arqueol贸gico and Etnol贸gico is also located in the park, and there is some ...
Other Activity
Calama, Chile

Museo Arqueol贸gico and Etnol贸gico

Located in well-trimmed Parque El Loa is the natural history museum. The Museo Arqueol贸gico and Etnol贸gico displays exhibits from the local culture and relies on dioramas to emphasize the area鈥檚 ...
Other Activity
Calama, Chile

Museo de Historia Natural y Cultural del Desierto

Located within the Museo Arqueol贸gico and Etnol贸gico, the Museo de Historia Natural y Cultural de Desierto del Atacama focuses on local paleontology and ecology. There are interesting displays of ...
Other Activity
Calama, Chile

Chug Chug

The Chug Chug geoglyphs are 300 images spread over a hillside 50km west of Chuquicamata. There are circles, human faces and geometric designs and some date from Tiwanaku culture in 1000 AD. Follow ...
Other Activity
Chuquicamata, Calama, Chile
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