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Published: April 17th 2011
Iquique is a beautiful port city located in northern Chile on the pacific coast. Its location generates a seemingly perfect climate (if you are like us and love the sun) – the city has the beautiful beach on one side and the Atacama Desert on the other. They normally receive about three days or less of with rain each year! The weather was beautiful while we were there too - warm days with a nice breeze at night. The city has some colonial aspects, and it was actually part of Peru until after the War of the Pacific in 1879 when Chile won the territory. Sarah and I spent most of our our time surfing, sandboarding, paragliding / parapenting and generally enjoying the chilled beach scene. (I also managed to sneak in a few games of soccer!)
The 14 hour bus ride from La Serena got us to Iquique in the morning, when we got a room at a really cool surf hostel beside the beach. We immediately felt at home at ‘Uma Jaqi’. The hostel is run by Miguel and his Austrian girlfriend, Carina who were a lot of fun and very helpful. We also met a couple of
really fun Dutch girls who were always up for a laugh. All in all it was a great crew.
Sarah’s and my own surf experience was previously limited to a couple of fun weekends in Cocoa Beach, Florida with our friend Paul. We had both managed to catch a couple of waves there and we were excited to surf again in Iquique. We would grab our boards and wetsuits at the hostel and walk across to the beach with the rest of the Uma Jaqi gang. Miguel was a good teacher and it wasn’t long before Sarah and I were catching a few more waves for ourselves (and wiping out a lot too!).
Why not?! It sounded like fun to us and it proved to be just that. The Uma Jaqi crew headed up to the big sand dunes beside the city, called ‘Cerro Dragon’, one evening before sunset. Everyone had a blast maneuvering the dunes. I crashed hard a few times and as I write this I am still cleaning sand from my right ear daily! Boarding down the dunes was great, but walking back up was torture. I think we are going to try
it again in Peru in a few weeks too.
Now that’s what I’m talking about! Get me up in that air. I’d done a few parachute jumps in years gone by, and a bungee jump while at college in Ireland; Sarah and I had even para-sailed in West Palm Beach with some friends but I’d never done paragliding (or parapenting as they call it). That changed in Iquique, when Sarah and I both did it. While I was gagging to get going, Sarah was a bit more apprehensive about the whole thing but I knew she would love it when she was up there, and she did. Iquique is apparently the best place in the world to do parasailing - the climate is predictable and the wind is usually always favorable. So, we drove to the top of a mountain ledge overlooking the city and suited up with our instructors. Within a few minutes we were off – check out the pictures below. After about 40 minutes of gliding, rising with the thermal currents and flying over the city we landed on the beach just down the street from our hostel. Nice.
Heading into the Desert and
Closing in on Iquique, in Northern Chile.
Biking from 3800m altitude
Sarah and I also managed to get into the desert for a day. We decided to do an excursion that brought us from the beach at sea-level up to almost 4000m. The desert was beautiful and mighty. Once we had drove up to the highest elevation, we suited up for our bike ride. From 3800m we descended downhill for over 50km, absolutely booking it with speed at times. Thankfully our brakes were in good working order! Hopefully the practice will serve us well before we take on 'Death Road' outside La Paz in a few weeks...
Hope you enjoy the photos. We really enjoyed Iquique!
Tot: 1.321s; Tpl: 0.052s; cc: 14; qc: 59; dbt: 0.037s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb