Official language: Spanish
Time zone: UTC-4 (summer), UTC-3 (winter)
Currency: Chilean peso (CLP)
The first part of description is easy to understand if taking into account the city’s locations. The second part is due to the fact that Calama makes 40% of total mined copper in the country.
Nearby there is located Chuquicamata – the second biggest opencast mine in the world, and the first one among those mining copper. This ore is fundamental for Chile’s economy.
The name Calama, in Kunza language, means the city in the middle of waters, as it creates a sort of an islands, is surrounded by a river and located in the middle of desert area.
Calama – the city located in the northern part of Chile, in of the five natural regions of the country – Norte Grande. It is a capital of the province El Loa. It is situated on an average altitude of around 2 400 metres above sea level. Calama isn’t a big city, thanks to which you will manage to visit its centre on foot in quite short time.
Copper mining is very important part of the city’s and region economy, with its essence deeply rooted in citizens’ minds. The proof of this can be the fact that the roof of the city’s cathedral - Catedral San Juan Bautista – is made entirely of this material. Sanctuary is at Avenida Granaderos, close to Plaza 23 de Marzo, the main square in the city. In the centre there is also the monument of a miner during work.
You can watch for yourself where copper is mined on a visit to mine Chuquicamata. The vast space, where every year around 600 tons of copper is mined, definitely makes impression. Trips are organized by local tour operator, entrance to the mine is free, but you will have to pay for getting there and also it is possible that someone will ask you to donate money to foundation.
From the city you can go for a trip to San Pedro de Atacama, a small town that attracts a lot of tourists. It is situated 100 kilometres from Calama, but the place is worth a journey. It is called the gate to Atacama, one of the biggest and the most dry desert in the world. San Pedro de Atacama is also referred to as the archaeological capital of the country, as you can see there traits of Incan culture. Majority of buildings were built with brown brick, most of them back in the ancient times.
Do you fancy some Chilean cuisine? Go to one of restaurants. Locals and tourists alike recommend among others Patagonia by Avenida Granaderos 2549, where you can get barbecued dishes. Other place worth visiting, that offers similar, simple cuisine, is Rustico at Avenida Huaytiquina 2091.