Chile's High North is a sparsely populated area of deserts, Altiplano and towering active volcanos.
Most people live in or move to the towns on the Pacific Ocean, leaving the small hamlets in the harsh hinterland more and more depopulated. Life was and is not easy on the Altiplano.
Around 7000 BC the Chinchorro culture developed around Arica. They were skilled fishermen and mummified their dead, long before the Egyptians.
The Atacama Desert is very rich in copper, lithium, sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate and has been mined for these substances since the 19th century.
Northern Chile sports a very diverse and extremely scenic landscape, from the huge waves rolling in from the Pacific Ocean via the salt flats of the Altiplano to towering active volcanoes on the border with Peru and Bolivia.
Arica is the area's main port and city and features several historic sites and buildings.
The National Parks of Lauca, Las Vicunas and Isluga all have a distinct flora and fauna. This part of Chile has few facilities for tourists and you may have to adapt to basic lodging and dining. And of course you have to endure altitudes of 4000+ meters...
Villages like Cariquima have interesting churches that mix Christian and Aymara culture.
Near Iquique you find the remains of the deserted nitrate mining village Humberstone.