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Pisagua: A Town of Memories

Strolling among Pisagua's 19th century wooden buildings is bound to put you in a contemplative mood. Many display grand façades erected during the saltpeter boom, now bleached and cracked by time and the sun. The feel of the place will make you want to learn more about the town's long and varied history.

Located 191 km north of Iquique and 90 km from Huara, Pisagua is the ideal place to find peaceful beaches with gentle waves. Punta Pisagua, Punta Pichalo, Playa Seis and Pisagua Viejo are sheltered by the arms of the Coastal Mountain Range, which abuts the sea as high black cliffs.

The climate of Pisagua is coastal desert, which means that it is enjoyable throughout the year. The annual average temperature is around 25°C, and oscillations are mild because the site is protected by the high peaks of the mountains.

But Pisagua also saw action during the War of the Pacific and was a major port during the saltpeter boom, as one can see from the neoclassical architecture of its Oregon pine buildings. The town also is known for being used as detention center during the first half of the 20th century and under the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1989). Indeed, the town feels like an open air museum or memorial. Your walk around town can begin with wooden buildings similar to those of the historic district of Iquique, some of which have been declared National Monuments, including the Teatro Municipal, which was built in 1892, the old hospital, the jail, and the clock tower, which dates back to 1887.

If you head north to the mouths of Tiliviche and Camiña Ravines you can see the remains of a number of indigenous settlements and an old church as well as the beaches of Pisagua Viejo. Here you'll find the historic Tiliviche Hacienda, where the English—who owned the saltpeter works—had a summer club.
If you like history and having beaches all to yourself, come to Pisagua.


Featured Destinations of Iquique



Tours you can do

Iquique - Pozo Almonte - La Tirana

Huara - Isluga Volcano National Park - Colchane
Iquique - Mamiña

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter offices




Archaeology Routes Camping Sun Protection
Pisagua has been inhabited by indigenous peoples for centuries and traces of their civilizations can still be found in the area, especially if you head south to Punta Pichalo. It is quite likely that you will find shards of ancient pottery there, but we ask that you show respect for our ancestors and refrain from taking them home as souvenirs. If you choose to stay for a few days, you can use the municipal campsite. Pisagua is still a little-explored destination, so there aren't many choices in terms of accomodations, but there are basic shops where you can buy provisions. Always wear sunscreen and cover up, even on cloudy days. Do not go out without sunscreen and sunglasses.


Some tour operators offer historic tours of the desert, including Pisagua and other key sites such as the saltpeter works of Humberstone and Santa Laura, Hacienda Tiliviche and the English cemetery, and the town of La Tirana.



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