Pan de Azúcar National Park

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For other uses, see Pan de Azúcar.
Pan de Azúcar National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Pan de Azucar National Park.jpg
Map showing the location of Pan de Azúcar National Park
Pan de Azúcar Region
Location Antofagasta Region-Atacama Region, Chile
Nearest city Chañaral
Coordinates 26°08′59″S 70°39′02″W / 26.14972°S 70.65056°W / -26.14972; -70.65056Coordinates: 26°08′59″S 70°39′02″W / 26.14972°S 70.65056°W / -26.14972; -70.65056
Area 438 km²
Established 1985
Governing body Corporación Nacional Forestal

Pan de Azúcar National Park is a national park of Chile. The park straddles the border between the Antofagasta Region and the Atacama Region. Its name, Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar, means "sugar loaf national park".


Entrance to the park

The park is located 30 km north of Chañaral and 180 km north of Copiapó. It was founded in 1985 and has an extension of 437.54 km² (including 1.1 km² of insular terrain).[1] It is importance derives from the relative diversity of species.

How To Get there[edit]

The park can be reached most conveniently from Chañaral.

  1. Take C-120 route that goes from Chañaral to Park's Management office (17.9 miles).
  2. Route 5 - Panamerican Highway at km 1014, at Las Bombas, you can reach it through a secondary road.[2]

A small gravel road leads along the ocean to the park, passing Playa Amarilla (yellow beach) and Playa Blanca (white beach) on the way. Many cactus species can be observed along the road. Some people make the tour by bicycle and spend the night at Caleta Pan de Azúcar or camp on the mountains (the night can get uncomfortably cold because of the mist). If you arrive by bus, there will be a taxi to bring you there, for about 12000-15000 pesos per ride (Jan 2014).

The park[edit]

You can only camp in the park. The price for camping is affordable (from 3500pesos/person), to camp on the beach. When you enter the park you are asked to páy an entrance fee of 4000pesos to the CONAF. CONAF organizes everyday trekking for few hours and up to 2 days to explore the surrounding, as well as some movie nights. Do not forget to bring some food for camping, as there it is very expensive, and you will find only basic things.

Isla Pan de Azúcar[edit]

Cacti in the park

Isla Pan de Azúcar is located 24 km farther. Humboldt Penguins breed on this island. The island can be reached by boat from the mainland but passengers are not allowed to leave the boat.

Caleta Pan de Azúcar[edit]

Caleta Pan de Azúcar (Pan de Azúcar Cove) is a small fisher settlement who cater now to the local tourism. Formerly copper was worked here and freighted by boat. Divers can still explore parts of the wharf, the loading crane and other things below the water. From here the look-out point of Mirador 8 km farther can be reached. On the mountain slopes nearby an extraordinary fauna can be observed which stays alive thanks to the coastal mist.

North of Caleta Pan de Azúcar[edit]

Riding through the Valley

From the cove northward there is a gravel road which connects to the Pan-American Highway. Along the way there are numerous interesting geological formations.


Picture of a Chilla Fox in the park

Pan de Azúcar NP is divided into two ecosystems: the coastal desert of Taltal and the steppe desert of the Sierra Vicuña Mackenna.[1] The absence of rain is compensated by coastal mist, which is known locally as Camanchaca.

There are more than 20 cactus species in the area, mainly of the genus Copiapoa which can be also be observed in the Cactarium located in the Environmental office of CONAF in front of Los Piqueros Beach 4,96 miles from the park entrance. It is open for visits from Monday to Sunday from 8:30 to 12:30 and from 14 to 18 hours.[3]

The Guanaco is the main mammal found in the park. Other mammals include Culpeo Fox, Chilla Fox and European Hare. The shoreline area is home to marine mammals, such as the Marine Otter and the South American Sea Lion. Among the birds are the Humboldt Penguin and Peruvian Pelican. Also reptile species of the genera Tropidurus and Callopistes inhabit the park.[1]