Calama in the Antofagasta region of Chile.
Chuquicamata can only be visited on a free guided tour organized by the Chilean state-owned copper company Codelco. Although mining operations run throughout the year, tours are only conducted from Mondays to Fridays, holidays excepted. Reservations need to be made in advance through email at [email protected] or through telephone at +56 55 322122. Tours run for about two hours.
The tour departs from the Codelco Norte visitor office on the north side of Calama, at the junction of Central Sur and Granaderos; the office is accessible by Buses B and D, and should not be confused with the Codelco Norte headquarters building opposite the Calama Plaza Mall on Balmaceda.
Both the ghost town and the mining facility can only be visited on guided tour.
The tour run by Codelco Norte is conducted simultaneously in both English and Spanish. It begins with a circuit around Chuquicamata town, once a thriving company town with banks, restaurants and playgrounds, but which has since been evacuated due to legal and health issues. The bus does not stop for visitors to get off in the town.
The tour bus continues into the mine, passing mining trucks and old equipment, and stops to let visitors off at the Mirador, which offers a panoramic view of the central mine. There are some informational posters on the copper and mining extraction process, and a pile of copper ore for visitors to pick through.
Bring wide-angle lenses for panoramic photographs of the mine. Regular cameras have trouble capturing the immense width of the mine.
Access to Chuquicamata is restricted and there are no shops open to the public.
Access to Chuquicamata is restricted and there are no restaurants open to the public.
Visitors are advised to bring water due to Chuquicamata's dry location and the lack of shops.
Due to new legal restrictions requiring a buffer zone of 10 km around the mine, the town of Chuquicamata is closed to any form of accomodation or permanent residence. The closest accomodation is found in the town of Calama.
The tour run by Codelco Norte ends in their visitors office in Calama, at the junction of Central Sur and Granaderos.