Shorelines of warm water beaches set against a backdrop of arid deserts make up one of the many contrasts found all across the Northern Chile, a place that encloses the regions of Arica y Parinacota, Tarapacá, and Antofagasta.
The Big North is a vast stretch of land where the dryness and barrenness of the Atacama Desert is broken by the fertility and lushness of its valleys and oasis (such as Azapa Valley and Pica Oasis). The setting is enriched with biological diversity, mostly protected within the confines of both Lauca and Isluga national parks and the Surire Salt Flat.
The geography of the desert and the Altiplano is overly varied and fascinating: you will find attractions the Valle de la Luna (or Moon Valley), a vast moon-like rock formation resembling the moon's surface; the 300 thousand hectare Atacama Salt Flat, the impressive Tatio Geysers and the numerous thermal springs, such as Mamiña.
This is also a land bursting with cultural and archeological wealth. The geoglyphs of Cerro Pintado and the "Pukarás" (fortresses) of Quitor and Lasana are vestiges of an advanced cultural knowledge developed by natives. Moreover, the saltpeter offices like María Elena, established in a more recent period of history, bear silent testimony to their once magnificent past. Also, there's the traditional religious feast of La Tirana, an event featuring the most representative blending of pagan and Catholic customs.
Every city and village of this region are inheritors of the past. There are many towns, such as San Pedro de Atacama or Putre, where the pace and rhythm of life differ greatly from other cities along the coastline, such as Arica, Iquique or Antofagasta. And the latter also differ from Calama, a town founded exclusively for the mining exploitation of Chuquicamata, the largest mineral pit in the world.
The Big North is a place to either relax and enjoy, or to explore in search of adventure. It has all the necessary tourist attractions and facilities to please its visitors.