A Trip to the Past: Humberstone & the Jewels of Iquique
Duration: 4 1/2 hours
Tour Code: iqu-004
The contrasts are astounding on this excursion, which presents the desert ghost town of Humberstone and the natural beauty and architectural gems of Iquique.
Depart from the pier and drive due east into the “pampas” of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest environs on earth. In the 1830s, the natural fertilizer nitrate began to be heavily mined here, fueling an economical boom in Iquique that lasted more than 100 years.
The town of Humberstone was established in this sun-scorched landscape in 1862, drawing thousands of workers until the price of nitrate plummeted. A ghost town since the factories closed around 1960, Humberstone presents a fascinating look into a once-thriving desert mining town, now filled mostly with abandoned housing and industrial structures.
The landscape changes dramatically as you return to Iquique and drive along the resort-like waterfront, where high-rises tower over the long stretches of idyllic beach.
Besides its natural beauty, Iquique is renowned for its late-19th century architecture, which you will observe up-close in Plaza Arturo Prat during a guided stroll that includes viewing the opulent Municipal Theater which was constructed almost entirely of Douglas fir imported from the United States. Later, during a panoramic driving tour through the city, you will see Astoreca Palace. Built in the early 1900s as the residence of a nitrate baron, the palace is now a museum filled with period furnishings.
Finally, after enjoying a traditional Chilean drink in the Moorish-style Centro Español, which was constructed in 1904 for Iquique’s Spanish community, you will drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 90 minutes of moderate walking/standing that includes some uneven surfaces and steps to negotiate. Total travel time in the coach is approximately 3 hours. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests, and may not be suitable for those with mobility concerns who are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Light-weight clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.