Published: April 15th 2012April 15th 2012
Not a shred of green graces the highway out of Calama all the way to the Pacific Ocean as we head towards Iquique, the capital of Region I Tarapacá. The city sprawls along the coast, hemmed in by enormous sand dunes and desolate brown hills which tower over its white sandy beaches. After the dustiness of Calama and the high-altitude tranquility of San Pedro, it feels rather odd to arrive in Iquique, with its refined beach-resort feel and its opulent late-19th century architecture. What funded the city's handsome houses and public buildings came out of the ground - but it wasn't copper. Iquique owed its wealth to something more prosaic: nitrate fertiliser. More on that in the next entry.
We take advantage of Alex's birthday and some gorgeous weather to indulge in Iquique's most exciting pastimes: paragliding! A combination of geographical factors (proximity to the sea, dry air, tall dunes) make this one of the best places in the world to run off a cliff with a canopy strapped to your bag. We couldn't agree more!
There are more photos below