Majestic Route 1 in Northern Chile

When people ask us to describe our favorite part of our 6-week Chilean/Argentinian road trip, my husband’s answer never falters – it has to be Route 1.

In Northern Chile, Route 1 follows the coastline from Iquique to Antofagasta, and further down to Taltal. The road itself seems to have been decommissioned, as the newer Route 5 also runs in parallel. Route 5 has gas stations, places to stop, and is actually used. Route 1, on the other hand, has no where to get gas, no establishments, and no one on the road… and when I say no one, I mean absolutely no one.

It also has tragically narrow roads without shoulders nor barriers to prevent you from veering off the road and flying down the cliff into the water.

The road hugs the coastline, with desert hills to the left, and cliffs down to the ocean on the right. The roads are dirt and gravel, and the waves are intense and powerful – and some of the waves seem to break for miles and miles. This road is not for the ill-prepared or the faint of heart.

Take a look at the views from the road:

Not only were the views of the road incredible, but some of the beaches we stopped to explore were also insane. The beach pictured below was the biggest beach I’ve ever seen. The pictures don’t do it justice – it’s so hard to tell just how far the sand expands.

The beach you could tell was also very natural and rarely touched. There were perished sea lions & their remains, and other creatures that roamed the beach.

And in true tourist style, we tried to recreate those depth perception photos that everyone takes at the salt flats… I don’t think we were particularly successful, but it was fun to try.

Check out this beach:

At the end of our Route 1 journey, we ended up at a lovely campsite along the beach in the Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar. It was pretty cloudy, but you could see out to the little island. There were also a few sea creatures to greet us too!

After our stay & cold showers, we hit the road again, and by the end of the day we were back in civilization 🙂

Here’s Pan de Azucar and the final stretch:

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