alternative guide tour
This site compiles relevant information for
those who are visiting the city of Arica. This an alternative
guide because it has no comercial nor official support. Comments and
recomendations are just personal, based in my own experience of living
in Arica since 1974 (Tomas). Data are complemented with cross
another sites, personal opinions and unformal evaluations on different
places of the city.
Two ways to arrive to Arica
There are not fligths from
Peru to Arica, peruvian fligths end or start from Tacna and you must go
there by land (60 km aprox).
Automatic telling machines
How to orientate
|How to move in the
Arica is relatively small and flat, you can go walking to many places, but for the not so near you can go in "colectivo" (shared taxi) for US$ 0.70 or "microbus" for US$ 0.50 approx. The problem with both is that they follow fixed paths (recorridos) not easy to memorize even locals usually stopany and ask "which may I take to go to....?). Another choice is radiotaxi, they are relatively cheap (US$ 2 aprox) and payment is in a "point ofdestination" basis, unlike colectivos and microbuses which you must pay per passenger, that is in a radiotaxi can trip 5 persons for the same money as far they go to the same place. Radiotaxis are asked by phone to any of those numbers: 250000, 255000, 266000, 220000, 264040, 264242. For airport taxi you must call 254812 y 255907.
|Looking for a place to stay
Three main choices: first hotels, second hostales and third furnished appartments. Best hotels in the city are Hotel Arica and hotel El Paso, comparing both Hotel Arica has newer and best accomodations and Hotel El Paso has best service (is managed by the owner). At the high end also Hotel Azapa in the entrance of Valle de Azapa, There are good hotels for bussinesman as Volapuk, Inti Jaya and Diego de Almagro, the former with a good quality/price ratio. Fares are often negotiable at the desk, specially out of the high season or in the edge.To ask previously by phone and make reservation is highly advisable, you may ask also if there are some cut price.
On the hostals there are a broad assort of quality and price, Patricio Lynch Street and DiegoPortales, in front of Terminal Rodoviario are full of hostals, the first are better located and near downtown. Check our List of Hotels and Hostals for a complete information.
Furnished apartments are the best choice when you are a groupof people, because are payed as unit, nomatter how many people receive.Also you have the kitchen, and laundry facility and much more privacy than in a hotel. to rent an apartment you may contact a Real Estate Agent (Corredor de Propiedades in spanish).Main agents are OVI propiedades ,María Cristina Mena, Carrio y Espouyes, Garate y Niedblinsky and Victor Pizarro Bossay.
|Foods for cooking
IIf you rented an apartment surely you will cook, Thereare three supermarkets in Arica, and several minimarkets and small groceries. The biggest and most assorted is Lider in Diego Portales Avenue. Las Brisas in Pedro Aguirre Cerda street and Santa Isabel in Santa Maria avenue are smaller but you can find best quality foods there. There are also a small and well assorted minimarket in 18 de Septiembre with Colon streets. In front of Casino Municipal there are a minimarket Tiger which is opened 24 hours.
|Dinning in a restaurant
If you want toknow about restaurants check our List of Restaurants, for fish and seafood we reccomend Club deYates, at the entrance of Isla del Alacran (not listed) fresh and good quality, for an excellent quality/price ratio wereccomend Cyclo Express, in mercado Colón you can eat also good seafood in cocinerías (reccomended to try "Copa Martinez" in "Caballito de Mar"), also there are a good aracuya" in Costanera surrestaurant "El Rey del Marisco". For best meat in town there is "Los Aleros de 21".A fancy and luxurios restaurant is "Maracuyá" in Costanera Sur. The best coffe and ice creams in "Dimango", their italian food is also OK. In Casino Municipal de Arica there are also a fairly good restaurant.
|Get connected, cybercafes
There are everywere, even in the most humble sectors you can find small places with some computers and good speed connection, in 21 de Mayo and around downtown may be some 10 or more, also in Chinchorro beach and every poblacion. Some places where you probably do not find cybercafes are Costanera Sur, Azapa and Lluta Valley, just ask to a radiotaxi or colectivo chauufer for "internet cafe" and he bring you to one. If you have a PDA with wifi may go to the lobby of Hotel el Paso, besides Casino Arica, they have an open wifi service .
|So, we are installed in Arica,what may I do now?
Arica is a slow city where nobody is hurry. Most of bussines close at 1 PM for lunch and sleep siesta or go to the beach, and reopen after 5PM, First thing you must do is relax and dont get nervious if things do not happen as past as you wish. If you like spreed better leave, Arica is not good for you. When in Arica do as ariqueños, go first to El Laucho o La Lisera, thi is our lifestyle. To check more pics of Playa El Laucho follow the link.
Walking and biking
Arica is specially fit to walk or biking, but is not easy to find bikes for rent. At the entrance of Costanera Sur there is a small tent with antiques and colectibles for sale called "Akala" their owners Roberto Pickert and Jorge sometimes rent bikes, they also edit a homemade touristic newspaper, and serves as guides in city tours.either you choose bikes or walk there are several Trecking alternatives also is mandatory The visit to Morro, because offer an unique view of the city layout from 130 meters high,the best choice is to climb walking at a time where sun is noy too high.there are not public transportation there so if you decide take a taxi you must will pay for the round trip plus the wait which may cost over 20 dóllars, as always we reccomend to negotiate price in advance.
21 de Mayo street is the most popular walking place for ariqueños, so we reccomend you enjoy a good coffe in "Dimango", a beer in "La Scala" or "Shop Dog" or a taco with some dos equis in "Altillo". Morning (lets say from 11 AM) is the best time to see the city life in the street, you will find lot of people just passing by o drinking some in the street tables. Many people meets there tomake bussines or just see and been seeing,.Another interesting visit is Iglesia San Marcos in Plaza de Armas. this church was made at Eiffel works in Paris at 19 century. You can explore all sector centro just walking, same as "el casco viejo" with the old casas pintadas.
You may also visit las ferias in Colón nighborhood (feria Sangra, Cosmocentro, Manuel Rodriguez, Las Parinas, El Morro, Las Palmeras, etc.). Those ferias born during the contraband booming for Peru in the eigthies,there are lot of electronics and all kind of free zone merchandises.at good prices. Every sunday a big flea market is installed along several squares of Chacabuco street. The same products as in ferias: electronics, chinese clothes, etc.
A special feria is Máximo Lira (also know as feria de las peruanas) located besides the Arica-Tacna railroad station,and near the port. You can find there good peruvian artesany specially vicuña wool items at good prices and natural medicines as "uña de gato", "maca", "cápsulas de ajo y caiwa" etc. In front is locates theold railroad station of Ferrocarrifind les Arica-La Paz, now it is a museum, same as the old customs building now "Casa de la Cultura" constructed alsoat eiffel works two centuries ago.
At Paseo Bolognesi you find also artesany.
As long you are oriented and made your first walking in the city you may dare to go further. A visit to Terminal Agropecuario It worths, specially if you enjoy cooking, you can find there groceries, fruits, meal and so on from our valleys and south Perú, sunday morning is the best day to visit because there are the most assort of things for sale. There are two terminals besides: ASOAGRO from farmers and ASOCAPEC from merchants, both are interesting to see, there are also a flea market inside. There are also a restaurants area with tipical meals such as fricasé, picantes, carapulca, etc. They are located at the south entrance of Arica and you can go there by microbus, colectivo or radiotaxi.
A second long visit is to cuevas de Corazones, there are not public transportation there but you can go with bike (some 8 km to Playa Corazones) from Costanera Sur, the fishing works, and the road along the sea in the border of a big cliff. Then in Playa Corazones there area small place where you can eat fresh seafood and good empanadas de mariscos (the owner is a scuba diver). Following the border of the cliff you reach to huge natural caves where prehistoric ariqueños used to live. Folowing for impressing landscape with seawoof islands you reach to Playa La Liserilla some 15 km away from the city.
Another choice to visit is Valle de Azapa, visiting Museo Arqueológico de San Miguel de Azapa, a small museum but world notorius for the interest of the pieces, including the old Chinchorro mummies, the world oldest known. This museum has appeared in National Geographic and Discovery TV shows and receive every year lots of visit from scholars and tourists. San Miguel de Azapa is a small village not so attractive, and if fleas are not an issue for you, you can lunc or eat good sopaipillas con pebre in "La Picada del Muertito" just besides the town cementery. A visit to tomato and olive oil factory may be interesting, specially Jussef Bo Antoun and Lombardi s family.
The another valley of Arica is Lluta, on the road to high plateau and Bolivia. It has many archeological points who are not evident unless you take a guided visit. There are an interesting inner road wich connects both villages San Miguel de Azapa and Poconchile in the Lluta valley. Besides Poconchile you find also a weird Hare Krishna Farm open for visitors, where you can eat vegetarian foods and chat with the monks.
The best "serious" place to go at nigths in town is Casino de Arica, It has restaurants, bars, karaoke,slot machines and games halls, remains open all nigth with live music and perform shows in a regular basis. Specially good there is bar La Cava and restaurant, both fancy and good prices, you dont need formal clothes to enter. There are also many bars and places good and economic: discos and bars for all ages and the you-cant-miss Isla del Alacrán, when lots of people meet since 1AM every nigth, It is a sort of town square where people go to passing by foot or car, to drink and chat. It is a safe place and -theoretically- it is forbidden to drink in the street, butt here area de facto agreement and Carabineros will not mess you unless you are making scandal. The nigth in Arica is generally safe, delincuency is odd at nigthlife, A lot of pics of nigthlife you willfind at Arica Vaina and Arica Webeo. In Salgamos website it appears a list of places and events in town.
Folklore, Salsa, Sex bars,
In 21 de Mayo with Patricio Lynch streets there are a nice Salsoteca called Habana Vieja, weekends there are often live salsa.
In front of Habana Vieja there are a sex bar with sadomasochistic deco,it works day and nigth. In 18 de Septiembre street passing Patricio Lynch There are "café Sófocles" another sex bar with perfomances, only at nigth.
There are few prostibules in Arica (most of prostitutes works
freelance, you can check their phone nunbers in the local newspaper "La
Estrella de Arica"), the remaining prostibules are Skorpios in Pedro
Aguirre Cerda street and Casa
Amarilla in Anibal Pinto street. Both are safe places and any taxi
driver must know how to get there
There are two gay-lesb places in town, the first is Bunker in Playa Brava (it change the name frequently), few meters south of Playa la Lisera, the other one is Fandango in Diego Portales avenue, besides pub Kamisaraki. Wenesdays to saturday are the most moved days
Lake Chungará is not enough
To Tacna, Arequipa and Cusco
Tacna, the peruvian city (200.000 souls aprox) is only 60 km away from Arica and both are a closely tied in geographic, economical and historical terms. Many ariqueños has relatives in Tacna and viceversa, a Trip to Tacna is an aditional attractive for tourist To go there the more easy way is by your own car or colectivo (US$ 4-5 per passenger), more adventurer, pintoresque and cheaper is take the old train Aricañ-Tacna. You can also go the by bus, but it doesnt worth, it is very slow due all contrabandist with his/her merchandises go this way. Chilean citizens can trip up to Arequipa just with their ID card, childs under 18 must trip with both parents and birth certificate or any other identification, otherwise mus carry a notarial autorization of parents.
The frontier remains open from 8:00 to 24;00 hrs, except fridays and saturdays where is open all around 24 hours. Tacna has very good and economic places to eat such as Rancho San Antonio, the cevichería Puerto Viejo in Vigil street, A Todo Vapor and many more restaurants in Pachia valley near the city, There are also many doctors, optometrists, dentists, at very reasonable prices, but you must review the credentials and reputation prior to contract because there are been some malpractice cases. When in Tacna remember ask for price before to avoid problems. Further information on the city and its attactives for further info check Aquí Tacna (spanish). Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru (5-6 hours from Tacna in bus) and the ideal starting point for the main touristic attraction in Peru Cusco-Machu Pichu.
A trip to La Paz (Bolivia)
¿Too far you think?, not so, the city of La Paz is only at 7-8 hours by bus, the road fully paved cross some of the world most impressing landscapes, there are good and economic bus lines. In Arica-La Paz step by step this trip is described in detail.
|Entering to Desierto de Atacama, a trip to Iquique
Despite Iquique -in my view- has not much touristic interest for aliens (except for some old architecture such as Teatro Municipal) the trip is a good way to adventure into Desierto de Atacama, the driest place in the world, visiting the ghost town of Humberstone and the tiny and charm pueblo de Huara where you can visit an century old Farmacia. You may also visit the nice oasis of Pica and Matilla deep into the desert but easy to acces for a day trip. There are lot of ghost town and cementeries in desert such as pueblo fantasma de Negreiros. In Arica-Iquique Paso a Paso the trip is explained in detail.
Trip to Codpa valley, desert and precordillera
Codpa is a valley located deep into desert, it has a nice hostería and to reach there you cross impressing sceneries. In Cabalgata a Codpa and Cabalgata a Livilcar are detailes some private expedition with horses.
|Sports and extreme
Arica wheater and location is nice to practice many sports: Parapente is very popular here with -at least- tho schools offering courses an biplaza fligths: Raul Peric and Rober Goubernatis schools, there are also Landsailing, and Off Road 4x4 cluibs and, of course, surf, one of our most traditional sports all over the year, in Arica surf you can check in the local move, in Low Pressures guide Arica appears as a World Class surf spot, in Wannasurf there are some technical info on conditions of the city. For swimming, there are in Arica an Olympic pool with jumping pool, body building facilities, etc. Desierto and valleys are also a good choice for Trial and mountain bike.
Motorhomes and RVs
In playa Chinchorro there are a camping zone, very good to camp in winter, just in front of Carabineros quarter but is also very noisy in summer nigths. It is not a safe place in case of tsunami, as fact is just in the inundation zone far away of any heigth.
Parque Centenario, near Chinchorro is often used by motorhomes
to camp at nigth, another good places are
Playa Brava and rutacentro Copec, besides the gas station in the south
entrance of the city, there are a very good bathroom service with hot
water shower and so on.
Arica rates high into the safest cities in Chile, however is not extempt of risks as any place in the world, following we expose some of the main risks in the city and how to avoid it.
|Tsunamis and earthquakes
Arica is a very active seismic zone because is placed just over the place where Nazca tectonic plata press behind the Continental plate. small quakes are not rare and there are a very good seismic culture in people. So, when a quake occurs usually there is no panic scenes and victims are rare even in the stronger. Buildings are very strong constructed and the soil is mainly rock and salt, the safest fos this kind of events. There are inundation charts such as Inundation chart 1 Inundation chart 2 Inundation chart 3 indicating which points would be under waters in case of tsunami. Both costaneras, all balneario de Chinchorro and all las Machas upthe hills are unsafe points, in general terms any heigth 30 mts over the sea level is considered safe, there are a time from a minimum time of 20 minutes to 1 hour after a big earthquake with epicenter on the sea to reach a safe place, and in case of a "silent tsunami" created by a quake in other continent, our early alarm system gives us 24 hour to evacuate. We have a sop histicated tide telemetric system into the deep sea in front of our costs connected by sattelite with the world warning center in Hawai.
Three big earquakes areregistred in the history of Arica;the first one in 1600, due an eruption of Hayna Putina vulcano in Arequipa (Peru). Then in 1604 a strong earthquake followed by tsunami sweeped the town and in august 13, 1868 the strongest of our history, actually was 3 sucesive earthquakes followed by tsunami, causing big destruction, even in Bolivia, it up the coast level and trow the american vessel "Wateree" with allits crew several kilometers inland. Not long after, in 1877 another strong earthquake/tsunami combo hit the city, bringing back the vessel "Waterre" near the cost.ince then there are a seismic silence which may expect for a new "big one", every day we have unperceptible quakes and every certain time earth menaceus with noise and movement. The last big quake was in 1986, grade 8 in the Richter scale with just a pair of casualities, the city reacted pretty good this time.
In the event of a big quake with epicentre on the deep sea the city is preety good prepared, we know that sea retreat first and there are enough time to look for a safe place in the heigths. Due our seismicity construction regulations are very strict. The early warning system is in charge of Armada de Chile in Sistema Nacional de Alarma contra Maremotos you can see the complete description of the warning system.
Drugs and delincuency
Drug traficking scene is very flat since 80s, when the
military goverment ordered to install mined fields in the border with
Perú. Today is not easy to find marijuana in the city, cocaine
and pasta base is some more accesible but there is not easy to find.
Violence or gangs tied to drug traffic is almost unexistent in the
city, except for a very few specific spots (CarlosPezoa Veliz street,
In Tacna (Peru) there are also a wide offer of healt services
and prices are often most convenient,but you must check credentials in
advance because malpractice problems had happened.
Work in progress