Pica: Warm Water Oases and Sublime Fruit
Situated just 114 km from Iquique, Pica is an oasis that appears as a splash of green on a sloping plain.
In a region of salt flats and geoglyphs, the town is famous for its limón (similar to a key lime). These small, round green citrus fruits are a key ingredient for a good pisco sour. But Pica
and the neighboring town of Matilla
are known for other fruit including mangos, guavas, grapefruit and aromatic oranges.
These 'miracles' of the desert are irrigated with water from underground aquifers that fill pools known as cochas. The most famous one, Cocha Resbaladero
, attracts swimmers with its warm waters and is within walking distance of the plaza.
residents make delicious and unique alfajor pastries filled with special fruit preserves. The recipes are said to be closely guarded secrets. Pica and Matilla have maintained a rivalry, so try the alfajores in both towns. They're not the same, but they are equally delicious.
The architecture of Pica tells the story of the periods through which the town has passed since it was founded around 1700. You can see it in the churches
and houses that surround the plaza, where the preferred style is similar to that of the historic district of Iquique.
If you want to head out and explore, visit the Huasco and Coposa Salt Flats in the altiplano
, which sit at an altitude of over 4,500 meters. Both are good places for birdwatching
On the way back to Iquique, you can visit La Huaica, a small agricultural town between La Tirana and Pica that also has warm swimming holes.
You'll return from Pica recharged by the marvels of this quiet town and its surroundings.
Featured Destinations of Iquique
Tours you can do
|Summers are hot here. At noon the mercury can rise to 40°C in the shade, and night time temperatures reach 12°C. Daytime temperatures can drop to 15°C in winter.
||The churches in both towns were built in honor of their patron saints, San Andrés in Pica and San Antonio in Matilla. The latter boasts life-size images of "The Last Supper."
||An entry fee is charged for swimming and use of the changing rooms. If you plan on visiting during the summer, it's a good idea to check on the water level first.
|Both Pica and Matilla are dotted with stalls where you can try the best local fruit juices, with or without milk. We recommend guava juice and mango juice with milk, both served ice cold.