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Gigante de Atacama - Ruin Huara - Chile

On the side of Cerro Unitas, a mosaic-eyed man with upraised hands stares out across the arid plain. Was this a tribute to a ruler or to an extraterrestrial god? We may never know who the Gigante de Atacama represents, but such geoglyphs are common in this region of northern Chile. The Gigante is considered to be the largest in the world, being 86 meters (280 ft) tall; if his crown is included, he measures 115 meters (374 ft). To the sides of the figure are a staff and a trumpet. To the right are two circles, one of which may have indicated to travelers a nearby water source. It was created about 900 AD.

Km 11 of Ruta A-55
Huara, Chile

Ruin Types:
Earth art (geoglyphs)

Getting There
At Huara on the Pan-American Highway is the turn-off for A-55, where at Km 11 is the Gigante de Atacama, on the north side of the road. To get to the Gigante de Atacama from Iquique with public transportation, you must first take any bus heading northward

Travel Tips: The tradition is to choose a stone from the pampa and hold it to the sun. Meditate on that star’s energy as it hits the stone and passes into your hand, through your body, down your legs, into Pachamama.


Such designs were created by scraping the design into the earth, then covering it with caliche (nitrate-laden soil) so it would gleam in the sun. To hold the alkaline caliche in place, it was mixed with an acid – in this case, uric acid (urine).

Price Description: Free.

Relative price: Budget

Open Hours from:Dawn

Open Hours to:Dusk

Travel Skills: None

You Need to Bring: The air is dry here, so be sure to bring plenty of water. Protect yourself from the sun as well; use a hat, long sleeves, sun screen and sun glasses.

Swim, sunbathe or surf at Cavancha and the other beaches in Iquique. Stroll down Paseo Bolognesi, visiting the historic houses and museums. Head out to the arid pampas to visit the old nitrate mining oficinas Humberstone and Santa Laura, or to check out the other geoglyphs decorating the desert hills. Visit historic Pisagua. Soak in the hot springs at Pica or Mamiña.

Currencies accepted
Chilean Peso

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

01 Jul 2009

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