Getting there & away
Arica has two main bus terminals. Terminal Rodoviario de Arica (Terminal de Buses; 241-390; Diego Portales 948) houses most companies traveling south to other destinations in Chile. Next door, Terminal Internacional de Buses (248-709; Diego Portales 1002) handles international and some regional destinations. The area is notorious for petty thievery, so keep an eye on your luggage at all times. To reach the terminals, take colectivo 1, 4 or 11 from Maipú or number 8 from San Marcos.
More than a dozen companies have offices in Terminal Rodoviario de Arica, and ply destinations toward the south, from Iquique to Santiago. Some major ones:
Buses Pullman Santa Rosa (241-029)
Flota Barrios (223 587)
Pullman Bus (223-837)
Pullman Carmelita (241-591)
Pullman San Andrés (242-933)
Ramos Cholele (221-029)
Tur Bus (241-059)
A schedule board inside the terminal helps you find your bus (but it's not always accurate). Buses on Sunday run less often.
Bus Lluta (cnr Chacabuco & Av Vicuña Mackenna) goes to Poconchile and Lluta five times daily (US$1.50, one hour).
Buses La Paloma (222-710; Germán Riesco 2071) travels to the Belén precordillera villages of Socoroma on Tuesday and Saturday (US$3.50), Belén on Tuesday and Friday (US$3.50) and to Putre daily (US$3.50); all depart Arica at 6:30am. It's recommended you take a taxi to this area when leaving early in the morning. La Paloma also goes to the precordillera villages of Tignamar and Codpa Tuesday and Friday at 8am (US$3.50, three hours), returning at 5pm. It's possible to make a loop on public transportation, but it's not particularly convenient. You would have to walk or hitchhike (with very few vehicles on the dry and dusty road) the 13km between Belén and Tignamar. Lonely Planet does not recommend hitchhiking.
For Parinacota (US$6 to US$7) and Parque Nacional Lauca, look for Buses Martínez (220-106), Buses La Paloma (260-164) and Trans Cali Internacional (261-068), all in the international terminal. Most trips depart on Tuesday and Friday morning.
To get to Tacna, Peru, Adsubliata (263-526) buses leave the international terminal every half-hour (US$1.75); colectivos charge US$4. Give the colectivo driver your passport; he'll deal with the border crossing. No produce is allowed across the border. Tas-Choapa (222-218; Terminal Internacional de Buses) has a service to Lima, Peru (US$45, 20 hours) on Tuesday, but it's cheaper to take local transportation to Tacna and then buy a separate ticket to Lima, Cuzco or elsewhere in Peru.
To get to La Paz, Bolivia (US$12.50 to US$21, nine hours), the comfiest service is with Chile Bus (222-817), but cheaper buses are available with Trans Cali Internacional, Buses Litoral, Pullman Zuleta, Cuevas y Gonzalez (241-090) and Trans Salvador (246-064) in the international bus terminal; most have morning departures (8am to 10am). Buses on this route will drop passengers in Parque Nacional Lauca, but expect to pay full fare to La Paz.
Trains to Tacna (US$1.75, 1½ hours) depart from Estación Ferrocarril Arica-Tacna (231-115; Av Máximo Lira 889) at 10am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday.
Aeropuerto Internacional Chacalluta (211-116) is 18km north of Arica, near the Peruvian border. Santiago-bound passengers should sit on the left side of the plane for awesome views of the Andes and the interminable brownness of the Atacama Desert.
Lan (600-526-2000, option 8; 21 de Mayo 345) has seven daily flights to Santiago (US$195 to US$360) via Iquique (US$75). Lan has five weekly flights to La Paz (US$120), coordinated with Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (251-919; Bolognesi 317): ask here for onward connections in Bolivia.
Sky (251-816; 21 de Mayo 356) has slightly cheaper but less frequent flights to Santiago (US$192) and Iquique (US$57).