Pan de Azucar National Park (Parque Nacional Pan de Azucar) is a unique and beautiful national park on the coast of Northern Chile. Located approximately 25 kilometers north of Chañaral, it is a special environment where the Atacama Desert meets the Pacific Ocean. On the land, there are many species of cacti as well as foxes, birds and vicuñas, while the shore is home to many species of migratory seabird including the Humboldt Penguin.
View of Pan de Azucar Island from the headlands
Comprising both desert and marine environments, Pan de Azucar is a unique national park in Chile. With beautiful headlands, white sand beaches, desert ravines and a charming fishing village it is a really interesting off-the-beaten path location to visit in Northern Chile. As it is easily accessible from Ruta 5, it makes for a nice, laid-back spot to break up the journey between Santiago and San Pedro de Atacama.
An overview of how and why the park came into existence.
Pan de Azucar National Park is located on a large coastal plain breaking up the otherwise steep mountains that comprise much of the coastline to the north and south. The most unique and gorgeous feature is the large Pan de Azucar Island which sits offshore of the park as a protected area. The land is part of the Atacama desert, therefore it is extremely arid.
There are four accessible beaches in the park, from south to north:
- Playa Blanca, a large white sand beach near the southern entrance with no services and no camping.
- Playa Soldado, with good views of Pan de Azucar Island and some camping.
- Playa Piqueros, with good views of Pan de Azucar Island, two campgrounds and CONAF offices.
- There is a fourth large beach starting at the fishing village, unknown name.
Flora and fauna
Some of the more common plants and animals that people may be interested in.
What is the weather like? When is the best time to visit?
There is no public transportation into the park. If you do not have your own transportation, you can take a bus to Chañaral then hitchhike from there into the park.
If attended, you can pay at the southern entrance (Cabo Falso), otherwise you can pay at the CONAF offices across the highway from Paya Piqueros. Entrance prices as of March 2017:
- Foreigners: 5000 Chilean pesos.
- Chilean adult: 3500 Chilean pesos.
- Senior, child, foreign child, handicapped: 1500 Chilean pesos.
- Chilean child: Free
There is no public transportation within the park.
CONAF maintains an interpretation center on Playa Piqueros where you can pay your entrance fee, talk with rangers, and learn about the park.
There are five official hiking trails maintained by CONAF within the park.
- Sendero Quedabra Castillo: Accessed from Route C-120 1.5km north of the southern entrance, this trail goes into the hills along a desert ravine. Approximately 2 hours round trip. Ideal for viewing cacti vegetation, wildlife, and geological formations.
- Sendero Aguada Los Sapos: Starting from behind the CONAF interpretation center, this trail goes across the open desert before entering a ravine leading to a seasonal spring. Round trip it takes about three hours. Various cacti, views of the park, and wildlife are the highlights of this hike.
- Sendero Mirador Chico:
- Sendero Mirador Pan de Azucar:
- Sendero Los Lomitas
- Sendero Costero: More or less just walking from the cove to the headlands beyond Playa Soldado, this hike takes about two hours round trip and allows for excellent views of Pan de Azucar island and the many seabirds that live on the beaches.
Additionally, you can get excellent views by exploring and climbing the headlands west of the fishing village, though caution should be excercised as there are no official trails and the rocks are steep and sharp.
There are three restaurants located in the fishing village in the cove, generally serving fried fish meals and empanadas. They may not be open in low season.
List hotels, hostels, etc. within the park. In addition, if there are viable lodging options located outside (but nearby) the park, consider mentioning those as well.
- Name of Hotel/Hostel, Address (extra directions if necessary), phone number (email, fax, other contact if possible) . Days and times open. One to three sentences about the service, atmosphere, view, rooms, what have you. $lowprice-$highprice (extra price info).
- Camping Pan de Azucar, Playa Piqueros, phone number (email, fax, other contact if possible). Largest campground located on Playa Piqueros and managed by Gran Atacama. Has 25 sites with tiki-style shelter and barbecues. Potable water (after boiling), hot showers, and small store are on site. No electrical hookup. $5000-$8500 (low/high season).
- Camping Soldado, Playa Soldado, phone number (email, fax, other contact if possible). Smaller campground located just south of the main campground with the same entrance, reception and management. Has sites with tiki-style shelter and barbecues. Non-potable water and hot showers. No electrical hookup. $5000-$8500 (low/high season).
- Camping Los Yecos, Playa Piqueros, Website: campinglosyecoschile.com, phone number: +56 9 4906 9348 (email: [email protected]). Smaller campground located just north of the main campground, very close to CONAF offices. Unknown management, prices and services. Located in a beautiful Piqueros beach, on the Pacific coast of the Atacama Desert, 26 kms. north of the city of Chañaral, Atacama Region, Chile, and inserted in the Pan de Azúcar National Park, Camping Los Yecos invites you to amazing experiences in one of the most exceptional places on the planet, which stands out for its pristine and vast landscape, as well as for its native flora and fauna, rich in endemic species of Chile.
- Camping Los Pinguinos, Playa Piqueros, phone number (email, fax, other contact if possible). Smaller campground located just north of the fishing village. Unknown management, prices and services.
CONAF does not allow backcountry camping.