The town of Calama is part of the region of Antofagasta and is located in the northern part of Chile. A drive to Santiago de Chile in a hire car is about 600 miles. In the middle of the Atacama Desert, Calama is the driest spot on the earth. The yearly rainfall is recorded as 0mm. This means that the area around Calama has very little vegetation. Previously the town was called Chiu-Chiu and was a part of Bolivia. Today, it is famous for its Coppermine- Chuquicamata. A visit to the gigantic Coppermine in your car hire will definitely impress any visitor although Calama is not a typical tourist resort.
The city is situated 2250m high and is very clearly laid out in the city centre. The centre stretches between the train station in the east and the Avenida Santa Maria in the west of the city. Both locations are connected via the main streets Ramirez and Sotomayor- great if you have a hire car!. In between you will find the tranquil Plaza 23 de Marzo where you can enjoy a little rest in the shade on one of the benches. Near to the Plaza you will find the Iglesia San Juan Bautista. With your rented car it is worth taking a trip 2km south of the city to Parque El Loa. Here you will find a scaled down replica of the church of Chiu Chiu where you can see clearly illustrated the religious architecture of these desert villages. You will also find the Museo Arqueologico y Etnografico- where a collection of pre- Columbian desert culture is exhibited.
Don’t forget to go on a few excursions in the area surrounding Calama in your car hire such as the Copper-mine- Chuquicamata. In order to get there you need to travel along the motorway 16km (10 miles) until you reach Avenida Jose Miguel Carrera. Here you will find the PR-office, the assembly point for a visit to the mine. Once here, you can commence your visit to the biggest open cast copper mine in the world. However, there are a few items of importance you should be aware of: During your visit you must wear closed shoes and your arms and legs must be covered. Video cameras are forbidden and children under the age of 12 are not allowed to visit for security reasons. You will travel through the mine on buses and the tour lasts around 2 hours.
The eastern oasis of Chiu Chiu is another place you can visit and can be reached from Calama. The easiest and most independent way to cover this distance is with car hire. In Chiu Chiu you will have the opportunity to admire the most beautiful original colonial church in the region which is located in the Parqu EL Loa. The church that was built in 1672 has clay walls that are over a metre thick. Inside, the church is partly lined with cactus bark. With car hire in Calama you can quickly reach the fortifications of Pukara von Lasana that lie 8km (5 miles) from Chiu Chiu. These fortifications were built by the Indios. If you have the desire to see a little more of the surrounding area of Calama then it is definitely worth driving to the small village of Caspana. Caspana is a productive valley in the middle of a desert landscape. For those of you who are interested in learning a little more about the culture of this area you should visit the local museum to find out more about the historical background of this tiny village or you could also visit the colonial church San Lucas.
CarDelMar wishes you a pleasant stay with car hire in Calama.