- Atacama Desert & Altiplano
- Pan de Azúcar National Park
The Pan de Azúcar National Park is located on the North coast of the Atacama Region. It is characterized by its flora and fauna endemic, penguins, archaeological remains and the beautiful beaches surrounding it.
Pan de Azúcar National Park has a surface area of 43,769 hectares (96,291 acres), of which, 11.790 belong to the region of Antofagasta, and 31.964 to the region of Atacama. 110 hectares correspond to an insular area, made up by Pan de Azúcar Island, Las Chatas Islets, and emerging rocks called Las Mariposas. The park is characterized by its abundance of flora and fauna, and its Humboldt penguin colony on Pan de Azúcar island. It is also an area of great archeological and historical richness.
There are several hotels in nearby areas, such as Copiapó and Caldera. You can get to them buying a plane ticket in our flights section. To get to Pan de Azúcar we suggest you to rent a car.
Location: Región de Atacama, 194 km (122 mi) north of Copiapó. 30 km (19 MI) south of Chañaral.You can only enter the park through tourist operators or in private vehicle.
When to go: Year round.
Climate: Mediterranean climate, attenuated by the presence of the sea and the influence of coastal banks of fog. Summer is hot, it rains in winter, and the highest peaks are usually covered in snow.
Services: Accomodation, meals, station, transport, roads. The park has cabins equipped. Besides, there also are 53 camps to.
Pan de Azúcar National Park Infrastructure and Services
Entrance portico: it is located on the south side of the park. Here, the visitor must register and learn about the park and its norms.
Administration and Environmental Information Center: it is located in the Playa Piqueros area, across from Pan de Azúcar Island, 29 kms away from Chañaral, and 10 km. from the entrance portico. Here, you will also find the Environmental Information Center (CIA), where you can see a museum hall with samples and information boards. It has digital and multimedia information about flora, fauna, and the park's different ecosystems.
Cactarium: it is an education and environmental facility, where you can see samples representing the vegetal ecosystems, and the different cactus species present in the park. The cactareo has disabled access and environmental information boards.
Lecture room: located in Pan de Azúcar cove, this is where the park rangers give lectures about environmental education for visitors, with images and videos of the park.
Las Lomitas station: checkpoint and shelter. It is used by the park rangers so as to inform, give advice, and help the visitors who arrive here.
Attractions in Pan de Azúcar National Park
What to see: Among the most interesting places you can find:
- Las Lomitas: it is an area located over the coast cliff, at 700 mts. m.s.l. You can get there through a self interpretive trail. In it, you can observe flora and continental fauna.
- Pan de Azúcar viewpoint: it is 10 kms. away from the Environmental Information Center. There, you will have a panoramic view of Pan de Azúcar Island and its surroundings.
- Pan de Azúcar Island: located 2 kms. away from the shore, you can sail by renting boats owned by the fishermen who live in Pan de Azúcar Cove. You can see the Humboldt penguin, sea lions, and other coastal birds.
- Environmental Information Center: containing a cactarium, in it you can find the majority of the cactus species in the park. It is also the place where visitors can get in touch with the park rangers.
- Quebrada el Castillo Base Level: located right by camino c-110, from it you can see populations of globe cactus, called copiapoas. Eventually, it is possible to see herds of guanacos near the shore.
- Aguada Quinchihue: here, you can see salty water-adapted natural vegetation, like the gramineae Dystychlis spicata.
- Mirador Trail: it departs from Environmental Information Cenetr to El Mirador Area (18 kms. round trip)
- Las Lomitas Vehicle Trail: from the environmental information center to Las Lomitas area (round trip). Ask for permission to the park administration.
- Aguada Los Sapos Trail: it starts in the bifurcation of Ruta C-112, heading to the area called Aguada Los Sapos (4 kms. round trip).
- Quebrada del Castillo Trail: it is located near Playa Blanca, heading to the inner area of the park. It is possible to observe cacti and guanacos. Ask permission to the park administration.
Pan de Azúcar National Park Natural Heritage
Geomorphology: From a geomorphologic point of view, you can distinguish the following units:
- Coastal cliff: with a maximum height of 800 mts. m.s.l, it features sea terraces that extend for up to 3 kms.
- Gullies ending in the sea: they have high precipitation indexes. Some important gullies are Pan de Azúcar, Esmeralda and La Cachina.
- Cordillera de la Costa is a discontinuous trait of the land, with heights reaching 800 mts. m.s.l. Islands due to the erosion of the coastal area, the mountain range becomes and island called Pan de Azúcar. There are other minor islands and rocky flourishings too.
The flora in the park is eminently xerophilous, this is, species especially adapted to the lack of water. There are a number of species of cactus, such as column and globe. The thick fog coming from the coast makes it possible to find more diverse vegetation near the shores.
Endemic plants: Regarding vegetation, Pan de Azúcar has many remarkable endemisms, namely cacti, with over 18 species. Among them, you can find Copiapoa grandiflora, Copiapoa columna alba, Copiapoa longistaminea, and Copiapoa lauii.
According to Libro Rojo de la Flora Nativa de la Región de Atacama, there are 11 species with conservation problems, with 4 vulnerable and 7 endangered species.
- Chagual del Jote (Deuterocohnia chrysantha)
- Sandillón (Eriosyce rodentiophila)
- Monte amarillo (Gutierrezia taltalensis)
- Palo negro (Heliotropium inconspiccum)
- Palo negro (Heliotropium philippianum)
- Parafina (Oxyphyllum ulicinum)
- Chagual dulce (Puya boliviensis)
- Copiapoa (Copiapoa cinerascens)
- Copiapoa (Copiapoa cinerea)
- Pirqún (Anisomeria littoralis)
- Quinchamalí (Quinchamalium carnosum)
- Fuente: Libro Rojo de la Flora Nativa y de los Sitios Prioritarios para su Conservación: Región de Atacama.
A remarkable characteristic of this park is that it has land and sea environments, allowing the presence of diverse and abundant fauna. Among the sea animals you can find chuchungo or sea otter, and South American sea lion. In the coast there is a great variety of birds, such as seagulls, elegant tern, pelicans, peruvian divin petrel, cormorant, chorlito, playero, pilpilenes, and the remarkable Humboldt penguin. In the continental areas with more vegetation you can find guanacos and foxes. Among the birds, some remarkable examples are eagles, hen harrier, condors, american kestrel, dormilnas, chercanes, swallows, cometocino, turcas, and many others.
Birds: Birds are the most important element in the land and sea ecosystems. Their presence depends on several ecologic circumstances, related to migrations or natural catastrophes like El Niño and prolonged draughts.
- Humboldt Penguin: An endemic species named after the Humboldt current, it is one of the jewels of the Park. Most of the population is found in Pan de Azúcar Island, being one of the largest concentratons in the region of Atacama. This penguin has two nesting seasons, usually incubating two eggs. It is an excellent swimmer but it cannot fly. It feeds on sardines and anchovies near the shore. The average population in the park fluctuates around 2000 specimens, a number that varies according to natural phenomena, such as weather variations.
- Pato Yunco (Peruvian Diving Petrel): It is an andemic species of the Humboldt current, that lives almost exclusively in the sea. Yunco, or Pato Yunco is currently an endangered species. It has a short, flattened beak and small wings. Its flight is a long jump that ends in a sudden dive. It mainly feeds on small crustacean and fish. Its feet have interdigital membranes and the rear finger is vestigial. It is blueish-gray and whiteish on the interior side. It only lays one egg at a time, which is incubated for 32-36 days.
- Guanaco: It is the largest of wild camelids. The size of an adult ranges from 1.2 to 1.75 mts. from head to toe. It weighs from 48 to 140 kg, considering all 4 subspecies. It has a thin, relatively short furr, which is light brown with shades of gray in the head. The areas around the mouth, ears, belly, and inner side legs are whiteish. It is a gregarious animal that froms: polygamous families, male groups, and solitary males. It is a grazer and browser, and in extreme circumstances it can eat roots, stems, and drink sea water. The groups are sedentary when there is enough food, otherwise they migrate. According to the latest census, the population of guanacos in the park has decreased dramatically, with 30-60 specimens.
Pan de Azúcar National Park Historical Heritage
Pre-Hispanic Age: The shores of the park have abundant evidence of the settlement of hunter-gatherer groups, and nomadic fishermen, most of which are over 8000 years old. The remains found in the area are mainly shells, graveyards, caves, and spots of temporal residence. There are stone artifacts, such as projectiles, racloirs, scrapers, bone instruments, and occasionally pottery. Sadly, many places were sacked before the creation of the park.
Historic Age: In the area you can find traits of the coastal development of the region, especially related to the transculturization of the indigenous peoples, mining activity near the shore, the War of the Pacific, and the coastal settlement in Pan de Azúcar. During the colony, the Changos (a coast settled people) kept on developing and started transculturizating with the Spanish population until their disappearance in the second half of the XXth century. During the second half of the XIXth century, the copper mine of Carrizalillo was discovered and its explotation started soon after. In order to support it, the port of San José de Pan de Azúcar was created. There are still remains of houses, warehouses, a foundry, and the facilities abandoned in Aguada de Quinchihue, where the carts carrying the mineral were left.
The cuisine in the North of Chile is characterized by a variety of legumes and cereals, due to the arid climate. Within the most common ingredients are quinoa, a staple in the Inca culture, also is the potato, carrot and various tropical fruits like mango, passion fruit and guava.
Among typical dishes are roast alpaca cooked on firewood, chuño which is a soup-based Popes alpaca, onion, wheat and other vegetables. Also you can find al types of seafood and fishes to make differents dishes.
Further to the North, a typical sweet is the chumbeque this fact of flour, lard and layers of Orange, mango, passion fruit jams. There are also the pululos, which are a kind of very common puffed rice in the north end.
How to go
- Plane: From Santiago to copiapó.
- Bus: From Santiago to Copiapó/Caldera.
- Tour: From Copiapó/ Caldera to Pan de Azúcar National Park.
For more information about prices press the next link: http://www.conaf.cl/parques/parque-nacional-pan-de-azucar/
The weather in this place is desertic, which means that throughout the year there is a very large temperature oscillation between day and night. The average annual temperatures are between 15° C and 3° C.
Stores in rural areas are open all day, but they close between 13.00 and 15.00. We advise you to carry local currency (Chilean pesos), since it isn’t possible to pay with debit or credit cards in kiosks and rural stores.
Do not throw garbage on the beaches, parks or streets. To take care of our environment is everyone's responsibility. Avoid fines by following the rules.