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CHILE NATURE

PAN DE AZUCAR NATIONAL PARK

Pan de Azucar National Park

Deserted plains, fantastic beaches, and an island too; geographical contradictions in the Pan de Azucar National Park, created in 1985 to protect singular semi deserted areas where rain is scarce and the greenness is kept thanks to the comanchaca, the dense characteristic fog that is predominant in the zone.

This National Park's coast presents a variegated fauna, where you can also watch species proper of the highlands such as the guanaco (Lama guanicoe) and the condor (Vultur Griphus). There are Andean foxes (Pseudalopex culpaeus), kestrels (Falco sparverius) and swallows too, amongst other animals.

There is an important number of sea wolfs and Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) on the surroundings of the beaches and on Pan de Azucar Island, which gives its name to the Park, besides a great amount of seabirds such as the common red-backed hawk (Buteo polyosoma), the plover, the pelicans (Pelecanus occidenatalis) and the seagulls.

Regarding the flora, more than 20 cacti species have been reported with those of the copiapoa cacti genus, an endemic species in Chile, standing out, amongst other plants proper of the coastal desert. Although the landscape transforms during the spring in rainy years, when a mantle of wild flowers covers the zone. This phenomenon of indescribable beauty is known as "Flowered Desert".

The Park has an extension of 43.769 hectares on a territory shared between the Communes of Chañaral (III Atacama Region) and Taltal (II Antofagasta Region).

The National Forest Corporation (CONAF) administers it, and travellers will find all the services (specialised guides and transportation) needed to know this protected area at their offices, which are located at the fishermen's cove of Pan de Azucar.
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    It is possible to go on amusing hikes and to pedal relentlessly along the mountain bike routes in this life zone, located 381 kilometres away from the City of Antofagasta. Aquatic sports such as sport fishing, scuba diving and rides on boats are other options on the menu of adventures.

    There are three ways or access zones to the Park, which are passable throughout the year. Once inside, travellers will find camping areas provided with restrooms, cabins powered with solar energy and even a mini market.

    Access: It can be accessed flying up to Copiapó, and then going seawards and following the Pacific coastline northbound. The distance is of 167 kilometres along a paved road and a further 37 kilometres through a dirt road in good conditions.

    The route has interesting spots along the way, such as the beach resort at Inglesa Bay and the Port of Caldera, 133 kilometres away from the Park. There is also the City of Chañaral, where you may buy the necessary supplies, at 37 kilometres from the Park.

    There is no public transportation to get to Pan de Azucar though there are tours organised departing from Copiapó or Inglesa Bay.



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