Mystic North

Discover the hidden treasures of the Chilean Altiplano

The area between the beaches of the northern Chilean Pacific Coast and the highlands (Altiplano) is full of breathtaking landscapes. With your own rental car, you are flexible, and you can discover all the amazing attractions of the Altiplano independently. Well planned with the right partner, a rental car trip to the Altiplano region is safe and uncomplicated.

Our sample itinerary covers the Altiplano in a nutshell - after all, there is so much to discover in the rest of Chile! It’s best to plan your trip in Chile with your own rental car in stages and to cover the long distances with domestic flights.

First, a few tips on trips with a rental car to the Altiplano area:

Some highland roads are remote gravel roads where you rarely see other vehicles. There may be poor cell phone reception, so in case of a breakdown you should be well prepared.

Please be aware, that most of the roads are made of gravel, sand or stones, so we recommend careful driving. Keep in mind that, on gravel roads you can only go about half as fast as on asphalt. Always bring about twice as much drinking water as you need and don´t forget to put warm clothing or blankets in the car - in the evenings, the temperatures in the Altiplano drop very fast. Also, make sure to fuel your rental car at every opportunity, because gas stations are few and far between in some areas.

Be careful with the altitude! As the name says, the Altiplano (“high plateau”) is located high; some attractions are at about 4,500m altitude. Travelers with health issues or those having suffered from altitude sickness before, should rather refrain from this tour - health comes first!

Sample Itinerary for a Rental Car Trip to the Chilean Altiplano

  • Day 1

  • Day 2

  • Day 3

  • Day 4

  • Day 5

Arica

Pick up your rental car at the airport in Arica. Start exploring Arica, the City of Eternal Spring. In the beautiful city center the work of Gustave Eiffel awaits you. The French engineer designed the San Marcos Cathedral as well as the historic customs office on the main square. Visit the famous Morro rock, the symbol of Arica. It is a sandstone outcrop of 130m, which was stormed by the Chilean army during the war against Peru.

There is a small museum that highlights this important event in Chilean history, and the viewpoint on the top of the Morro offers a spectacular vista of the city, the long beaches, and the lush Lluta Valley. Enjoy the rest of the day at one of the nice beaches.

Overnight stay in Arica. Distance covered: about 20 km on asphalt (only airport - city center).