Antofagasta (City) - Chile
Updated: Dec 27, 2022
Table of Contents
II. The Sunsets
III. The Food
IV. The Resorts
V. The Trade
VI. The People
Antofagasta is a difficult place name for many English speakers to pronounce! (Something like: An-'toe-fa-GAH-sta). The name is shared by a city, a province, and a region of northern Chile. That is, Antofagasta is a city that's the capital of the province it's in (bearing the same name)--a province that has the same name as the region it's in. So, when you're talking about "Antofagasta" with others, it's important to clarify which one you're talking about!
Today we are talking about Antofagasta, the beautiful port city. With a metro area of roughly 450,000 people, the permanent population seems to be steadily increasing by just over a thousand individuals per year! Functioning as the world's largest copper-exporter situated along South America's Pacific Coast, this centuries-old transit hub is attracting folks from various walks of life, for various purposes, hailing from various regions from around the world. . . .
II. The Sunsets
The Vanabond Tales, a popular van-based global travel blog, describes the unique geological situation of Antofagasta as "a dramatic collision of earth and sea." The website's editors, Kelli and Eddie, describe the wonders of Antofagasta as being found in the local people, geology, and history: "There are no swaying palm trees or tiki huts lining the beach here, . . . [but] its tourism industry continues to develop thanks to its position as a gateway to the Atacama Desert and Chile’s north."
Even if you have nothing to do with the international copper industry, Antofagasta likely has plenty of cost-effective travel destinations for you to plan out for yourself, your loved ones, or your next business trip. As many already know, I am a big fan of local history, so many Antofagasta sites that interest me are the Huanchaca Ruins Museum, Museo Regional de Antofagasta, Centro Cultrual Estacion Antofagasta, and Huanchaca Cultural Park, just to name a few. You, on the other hand, may be more interested in more modern amenities. . . .
III. The Food
While there is no shortage of Subway restaurant franchises (and quite a few McDonald's) scattered throughout the city, Antofagasta is home to myriads of cafes, restaurants, and markets that feature both local and international cuisines and marketable to just about any budget you're working with. Some cuisine styles I have spotted in Antofagasta include Asian street food, Italian, Peruvian, Taiwanese, Sushi, local seafood, steakhouses, and the list goes on. (I'm getting hungry and thinking about booking a trip to get over there right now!)
Not only does this help satisfy you and your traveling companions, but you will be supporting the local economy. There are tens of thousands of people in Antofagasta who are supporting themselves on the city's tourism and business industries. So, if you are planning on going to this multi-national commerce hub on business or recreation anytime soon, you may as well support the local community whilst you're there. (After all, you gotta eat at some point; you may as well support the income of local households whilst you're doing it).
Okay, so we talked about eating. What about where you'll be staying? . . .
IV. The Resorts
Fortunately for us, Tripadvisor has made it easily accessible for us to view all 37 listed hotels in Antofagasta, ranked by tens of thousands of verified traveler-reviews. Below is a current list of their top 15 "Traveler Ranked" hotels in Antofagasta, complete with transparent reviews rationalizing each ranking:
Holiday Inn Express Antofagasta - Esquina - Ave. Grecia, Antonio Poupin 1490, 1270070 Antofagasta, Chile
Geotel Antofagasta - Tr.ª de Coloso 03463, 1272059 Antofagasta, Chile
Hotel Terrado Suites Antofagasta - Gral. Manuel Baquedano 015, Antofagasta, Chile
hUB Antofagasta - Aconcagua 965, Antofagasta, Chile
NH Antofagasta - Av. Ejército 01151, 1240000 Antofagasta, Chile
Panamericana Hotel Antofagasta - Av. Balmaceda 2634, Antofagasta, Chile
Enjoy Antofagasta - Av Angamos 01455, Antofagasta Chile
RQ Antofagasta - Balmaceda 2415 Local l3-108, Antofagasta 1240000 Chile
Ibis Antofagasta - Avenida General Jose Miguel Carrera 1627, Antofagasta 1270004 Chile
Hampton by Hilton Antofagasta - Av. Edmundo Perez Zujovic 5440, Antofagasta Chile
Wyndham Garden Antofagasta Pettra - Avenida Grecia 1730, Antofagasta 1271826 Chile
Florencia Suites - Avenida Republica de Croacia 0126 Jose Toribio Medicina 030, Antofagasta 1240007 Chile
Spark Hoteles - Avenida Argentina 1234, Antofagasta 1270001 Chile
Hotel Marina - La Canada N 15, Antofagasta 1244258 Chile
Hotel Diego de Almagro Antofagasta Costanera - Manuel Verbal 1632 Costanera, Antofagasta 1270006 Chile
Travel planners would do well to utilize this list as a base for further independent research, as everyone's travel needs are unique. Of course, you always want to consider first the purpose of your trip, then build your plans around that primary purpose. If you're organizing a pivotal business meeting, you may want to prioritize comfortable amenities. If you're intent is to see new exciting places on a shoestring budget, then local bed and breakfasts may be more ideal. . . .
V. The Trade
As an OSIRIS traveler, I am interested in more than just the daily life of the local citizens. I can't help but notice indicators of an underground economy, evidence of human trafficking, threats to global security, and other features of humanity's dark side that are easy to miss or dismiss in any typical travel blog. These criminal undercurrents of civil society are everywhere, and Antofagasta is no exception.
In October 2022, Reuters, the international news agency, shared a shocking press release from Chilean officials revealing that an unidentified criminal organization (or plurality of organizations) has systematically stolen scores of metric tons of copper at a time, intercepting train shipments heading for Antofagasta. One October shipment that authorities had intercepted was on its way to cross the Pacific Ocean towards Asia, and possibly China and the Korean peninsula according to Chilean prosecutors. A national railway union stated that approximately 70 similar train heists have occurred in the past three years alone.
Disruptions to the global supply chain like this affect the local economy of Antofagasta, especially hundreds of impoverished families and thousands of individuals who flee to this Chilean port city as an opportunity to survive. . . .
IV. The People
Myriads of shantytowns, villages, and other tiny unofficial residential communities can be found along the outskirts of Antofagasta, especially along the coastline, sandwiched between the inhospitable Atacama Desert and the endless Pacific Ocean. Families migrate to Antofagasta, often from out of state, seeking to provide opportunities for their children yet unable to afford the cost of living in the city. Some families separate to allow their children to earn money on the streets in the city, leaving many minors in Antofagasta effectively parentless.
SOS Children's Village Antofagasta is an outreach program established to help families "stay together, care for their children and make a living," because often the key to producing a new healthy generation of adults is by ensuring children make it successfully into adulthood. SOS provides financial support for struggling families so that the kids can stay with their parents; in some cases, the kids can be placed in a loving home until the age of 14, and then they are transferred to another program to prep them for adulthood while earning an income.
Civil society programs like SOS Children's Villages help provide continuity of individual sovereignty from childhood to adulthood for at-risk individuals due to their age, economic situation, and educational vulnerabilities. Though mining has helped the Antofagastan economy grow, it has also attracted a highly organized criminal element whose theft of the nation's natural resources threatens the lives of the children that programs like SOS strive to help. This article is designed to help you attain a deeper understanding of a unique port city that you may have never heard of and that I hope you will now visit one day--whether it be for business, leisure, humanitarianism, or a private security/intelligence co-op with the Chilean government.
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