Some of the differences between high and low altitude cities include; air temperature, ease of breathing, and humidity. Coming from under developed Peru to Northern Chile was a change that was more than just altitude related. First off, the spanish Chileans speak is simply different and much more difficult to understand.
The cuisine is vastly different as well as the general cost of everything. Northern Chile is more expensive than anywhere in Peru. At least double the cost for just about everything. Once arriving, we were excited and a little worried that we bit off more than we could chew… or pay for.
A few hours on the beach and hanging out in our AirBNB on the 24th floor of an amazing condo building with a huge pool overlooking the ocean, and we released some of those insecurities. We were liking (not loving) Chile. Iquique, Arica, and Antofagasta were all places we passed through in Northern Chile on our way to Santiago. The landscape is surreal in the Atacama Desert. Nothing grows there…. nothing! Not a bush, not a blade of grass, not even a cactus. I have never seen a landscape quite like it. Our multi-hour bus rides were interesting nonetheless. The landscape is beautiful and desolate.
Iquique in particular was the only place in Northern Chile we stayed for a while. It’s an interesting city with beaches, colder than Alaska waters, walking streets, clear skies, and sand… lots of sand. It’s also a world-class paragliding mecca where the ocean pushes air inland and up the steep dunes to create just the right amount of lift to stay in the air nearly indefinitely.
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