Destination guide: Copiapo, Chile
Copiapo is a mining city and an oasis where the “flowering desert”, a natural phenomenon rarely seen in Chile, occurs. Located in the Copiapo valley, the city is bordered by hills and a river, giving it a special beauty. From here, it is possible to visit other gorgeous destinations, such as Caldera and Bahia Inglesa.
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With a pleasant climate and many historic buildings, you may find yourself oddly comfortable amidst the milling miners and down-to-business pace of Copiapo. This said, you want to make a foray into the remote mountains near the Argentine border, especially the breathtaking Parque Nacional Nevado Tres Cruces, Laguna Verde and Ojos del Salado, the highest active volcano in the world.
The town does earn some kudos for being the site of several historical firsts: South America’s first railroad (completed in 1852) ran from here to Caldera; here, too, appeared the nation’s first telegraph and telephone lines, and Chile’s first gas works. All of these firsts came on the back of the 18th-century gold boom and the rush to cash in on silver discovered at neighboring Chañarcillo in 1832. Today, it’s copper that keeps the miners and beer-hall gals in the green.
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