A van drives along the paved road from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama as it cuts through the Cordillera De Sal at sunrise in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.

Sergio Ballivian

Calama Chile

It may appear industrial and gritty but Calama happens to be the pride and joy of northern Chile, an economic powerhouse that pumps truckloads of copper money into the Chilean economy year on year. And while it holds little attraction for visitors – most people will only stop here for the night on their way to the la-la land of San Pedro de Atacama – there is a visceral appeal to this mining town that definitely goes that extra mile in 'keeping it real.'


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