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San Miguel de Azapa

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An Oasis in San Miguel de Azapa

San Miguel de Azapa is located in the narrow Azapa Valley, which produces tropical fruit (including guava), olives and flowers. The area also is home to relics of the cultures that once populated the area. San Miguel de Azapa invites you to spend a peaceful day in a desert valley.

Located about 13 km from Arica, the town is reached via a paved road that leads past lovely scenery and the San José River. The route also passes a number of archeological sites, such as the geoglyphs area and pucará (pre-Columbian fortress) or San Lorenzo.

Other attractions include the San Miguel de Azapa Museum, which is administered by Universidad de Tarapacá and exhibits 10,000-year-old relics of the Chinchorro culture, which predated the Inca.

The town was also home of the first black slaves to arrive in Chile. Unlike the country's chilly southern region, the climate was amenable to them. When they were freed, they were granted their own land and crops. Many of their descendents still reside in San Miguel de Azapa.

You can enjoy the peace and quiet of this desert valley and its brilliant starry nights as well as annual festivities such as Carnavalón. This celebration is held in February (just before Lent) in a number of towns throughout the high plateau in honor of the Pachamama (the earth), Father Inti (the sun), and the burial of Ño Carnavalón. It is thought that symbolically burying this last figure – the king of the carnival – after surrounding him with offerings and then awaking him during the festivities ensures a prosperous year.

You'll find plenty of accommodations here and tour services that will allow you to explore the valley by bike or on horseback. Whatever your means of transportation, make sure to leave room in your bag for bottles of extra virgin olive oil and the enormous olives you'll be taking home with you. Experience everything San Miguel de Azapa and its surroundings have to offer. You won't regret it.


Featured Destinations

aParque Nacional Lauca bParinacota
cPutre dSan Miguel de Azapa
eValle de Codpa fSalar de Surire


Tours you can do

Arica - Putre - Lago Chungará


Getting There

en avion
By Plane
There are daily direct flights from Santiago to Chacalluta Airport in Arica (2 h 45 min). There also are flights from Iquique and Lima, Peru.
By Bus
The bus trip from Santiago to Arica takes a little over 30 hours, so it's best to take a sleeper line. It is about four hours by bus from Iquique.

Buses to San Miguel de Azapa depart the Arica Bus Terminal (Avenida Diego Portales 948) each day around 7:00 am.

en auto
By Car
From Santiago to Arica, take Route 5 north (2,070 km). From Arica, take Route A-27 to San Miguel de Azapa (12 km).
By Taxi
 Some taxis make special trips to San Miguel de Azapa from Arica throughout the day. You should negotiate a price and pay before reaching your destination.




Olives and Olive Oils Best Time to Visit   Summer in Azapa
San Miguel produces a variety of olives, but the most famous are the color of red wine and offer an intense flavor and aroma. You'll also find excellent local extra virgin olive oil and have a chance to visit the companies that make it. The local carnivals and the celebrations are not to be missed, especially Carnavalón (held at the end of February, before Lent), Cruz del Mayo, the San Miguel Arcángel festivities (held in honor of the region's patron saint), and the Day of the Dead (in November). All feature traditional dance groups. The Azapa Valley is very fertile. If you enjoy culinary tourism, come during the warmer months of the year to sample the area's best produce, such as guava, passion fruit, oranges, bananas and corn. The latter is especially good in March.


 Archeological Tour  Geoglyphs  The Slave Route
You can find places to view the stone engravings made by its original inhabitants throughout the Azapa and nearby Lluta Valley. For more information, contact the San Miguel de Azapa Museum or tourist agencies in Arica. You can find many ancient engravings in the area, especially near Cerro Sagrado, La Tropilla and Cerro Sombrero. A visit to this area provides an opportunity to learn about the history of the valley's black settlers.


 Pucará de San Lorenzo
This 12th century fortress is also home to a host of tombs.




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