Chile (IFMSA-Chile) - Antofagasta
Internal Medicine-General, Infectious Diseases, Urology, Gynecology and Obstetrics, Traumatology, Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine
January, June, July, August, September
Host family
Host Family

We are more than pleased to welcome you to our lovely city, where is always summer! That includes a lot of sun, beaches, etc but also historical buildings, museums and the Atacama desert just right in the corner. The first thing you will notice when the plane lands in Antofagasta is that there is no vegetation on the landscape that hasn't been planted there, well, this is because rain in Antofagasta is extremely rare, averaging less than 4 mm a year with recorded rain free droughts of over forty years!! Instead, it is the brightly colored houses and shops that bring color to the landscape. So here you will have the experience of living right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the Atacama desert, the driest desert of the world and for this last thing you will soon learn that a bottle of water could be your best friend.

About Antofagasta

Antofagasta is a city in Northern Chile. The Atacama desert rises in the east and the Pacfic Ocean provides a western limit. This is an industrial center in the region and is one of the most pleasant cities in the north, with a increasingly attractive (mainly for tourists). Travellers heading to San Pedro de Atacama and between far north and central Chile usually find it a convenient stopover. Antofagasta is a prominant port town and has a population of over a quarter of a million people - the fourth largest in Chile. Because of it's proximity to the mines, much of the economy in town is in support of the mining industry..

Speaking of water... there is none. The only fresh water existent is naturally filtered through run-off from the mines and has been known to contain high levels of arsenic, that's why we don't even give a try to put it out from the earth. Today, the city gets much of its water from sea water desalinization (you should take a look of it). Either way, bottled water is a good idea in the city and an absolute must beyond this point on during the trip. You cannot have too much water! (and remember... Con Gas = with bubbles, Sin Gas = without).


Desert weather, with homogeneous temperatures in the shore. The high media temperature is 24,5ºC and the lowest is 17,1ºC. The rain is almost non existent due to couldiness, with a high media of 3 milimeters.

Hospital Regional de Antofagasta
Universidad de Antofagasta
Provided by Host families.
Provided by Host families.

By plane
Here we have the Andrés Sabella airport (IATA: ANF), long ago called Cerro Moreno airport is a military airport who belong to the Chilean airforce but it also works as a domestic and internacional airport. Probably this is the way you will arrive here.

By bus
Usually all the departures/arrivals are from the Antofagasta Bus Station with conections to Calama, San Pedro de Atacama (5 hours, $8.000, Tur-Bus), Iquique, Arica, Copiapó, La Serena (12 hours, $12.000) and Santiago de Chile. If you are coming from Santiago de Chile you will probably prefer to come by plane, because the bus takes about 20 hours to get here and the price is similar.

The higher transportation consists of thirteen lines of minibuses, which correspond to buses with a capacity of less than thirty people. The public transport is within a tender and is known as TransAntofagasta. The route of these buses finish in the Caleta Coloso (south end of the city) during the year, and during the summer come as far as "Balneario Juan Lopez", which is out of town. The lower transport consists of taxis lines, corresponding to a black sedans that make their way through the urban area through fixed routes.

By railways
The most important railroad town is the "Ferrocarril de Antofagasta a Bolivia" (FCAB) founded in 1888, during the economic boom of the saltpeter industry. Unlike other contemporary mining railways, survived the market crash of natural nitrate and today provides a variety of transportation services, highlighting the transport of mining products and consumables such as copper cathodes and sulfuric acid, through a network of 900 kilometers (560 mi), which is connected with the Ferrocarril Andino de Bolivia, Ferronor (in Chile), and Ferrocarril Belgrano in Argentina (Salta–Antofagasta railway).

  • City tour
  • International dinner
  • San Pedro de Atacama Trip
  • Beach party
  • Trip to Arica and Iquique
The area of interest for most visitors is easily covered on foot.
  • Sea lions, pelicans and smaller birds getting fed on fish waste in the fishermen´s harbour.
  • The sunset from the seafront walk to the south.
  • La Portada, is a 140 foot tall archway of sandstone (resting on top of the La Negra) formed from continuous marine erosion of the shorline cliffs.
  • Mano de Desierto, is a large-scale sculpture of a hand located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, 75 km to the south of the city of Antofagasta, on the Panamerican Highway.
  • La Riconada Beach
  • Hornito Beach
  • Boy Bay
  • Coloso Bay
  • El Medano Stream
  • Loa River
  • Quillagua Valley
  • Cinemas in the two large seafront malls.
  • Walk the pedestrian mall that links the two main squares, Plaza Sotomayor with its market, and Plaza Colon with its Big Ben replica.
  • Mall Plaza Antofagasta. The main shoping center in the city
  • Georgio pizza, 14 de febrero 2403 (in the corner with Calle Boliviar), Great pizzas in an unpretentious and pleasant atmosphere. Take away available. Pizza and drinks for two is Ch$7000. No beer.
  • More than a dozen tiny restaurants at the Mercado, Plaza Sotomayor. All offer set lunches at $1500. Number 67 is good.
  • The bars in the center are either strip clubs or purely male workers´ hang-outs (the girls you see are at work).
  • The pedestrian Paseo Arturo Prat has a couple of pavement cafes, that are good for people watching.
  • A few decent spots along Av. O´Higgins (a.k.a. Av. Brasil), and also the seafront parallel to it.
  • The otherwise standard hellish food court of the Mall Plaza has a neat outside area with a couple of bars and restaurants.
Many options in the area near the bus stations. If you get further inland from here, it can get seedy at night.

Beware of pickpockets at the bus stations when leaving. They'll try to snatch your belongings when you load your bags into the buses. Always park your private vehicle in guarded estacionamentos. The free guarded parking at supermarkets is not safe.


  • Atacama desert, the driest place in the world
  • Nevado Ojos del Salado, highest point: 6,880 m
  • San Pedro de Atacama
  • El Tatio Geysers
  • Salar de Atacama
  • Valle de la Luna
  • Paranal Hill Observatory
  • San Pedro de Atacama
  • Arica
  • Iquique, city home to the duty free zone called "Zofri" and a growing number of high rise resort hotels along its beaches
  • Lauca National Park. First you have to get in Arica, then take a bus ("La Paloma") at "Tucapel" market at 7:00 hrs, bus who will take you to Putre, 127 km away.