A Travellerspoint blog

One of the most significant events in South America

Carnival in Arica, Chile

View Around the World! - Part 1 on Where2FromHere's travel map.

Sometimes timing is everything ... and today we timed it right. The Arica Carnival, considered to be the happiest festivals in Chile, began today on the shores in the immediate proximity of where the ship docked. The international Andean Carnival named The Strength of the Sun was an explosion of colors, rhythms, and traditions. Not only Chileans, but also Peruvians, Bolivians, Aymara, Afro-descendants, among others come together to thrill an audience of over 100,000 spectators in a celebration of the diversity and cultural richness of the region.


This celebration brings together more than 60 groups, made up of approximately 20,000 performers and musicians, in Arica. The atmosphere is filled with joy and lasts for three days of non-stop festivities. The competition is intense, featuring a variety of dances, including the acrobatic tobas with feathers, the caporales, and the Bolivian tinku, which is a type of ritualistic combat. Participants traverse a distance of 2 miles, with many female dancers performing in heels, all under the scorching desert climate of Arica. Here are just a few of the extravagant costumes:


We were headed to the church, as an original part of today's tour, but the crowds were massive in spite of the time of day and the heat. Below are two of my favorite photos - our young friends with some of the Afro-descendates, whose dance was brought by African slaves 400 years ago and the corporales, in their high heels!


We also took a tour of an olive garden located in the Azapa valley. The original olive trees were brought from Africa, some being as old as 150 years. Additionally, we saw the Geoglyphs on the hillside, which are believed to have guided travelers towards the coast for trading activities centuries ago.



The Asoagro Market was our subsequent destination, a place that is highly recommended for those keen on immersing themselves in Arica’s local culture. This market is a treasure trove of regional agricultural produce, sourced from various geographical terrains, encompassing a range of items such as potatoes, tomatoes, fruits, and notably, olives. The market is thoughtfully designed with a thatched roof, providing us with much-needed shade from the intense sun and heat.


Our tour concluded with a visit to a re-creation of a village, the likes of which are usually found at Chile’s highest altitudes, around 14,000 feet above sea level. We were welcomed with a Mango Sour, took a leisurely stroll through some of the shops, witnessed a traditional dance performance, and savored a revitalizing Porter.


During the day, I was compelled to capture images of two “Classics”: An antique GMC - a straight frame flatbed [for my son-in-law], and another relic of the past, a payphone. Interestingly, the payphone was accompanied by something frequently seen in Chile - directions to an evacuation route in the event of a tsunami triggered by an earthquake. The area had recently experienced an earthquake in 2014, which struck off the coast of Chile on 1 April, at a magnitude of 8.2 on the Richter scale (which goes from 1 - 10). Our knowledgeable guide, "Jave", said Chileans are so used to earthquakes that they are largely unfazed by them. After all, they reside atop a tectonic plate.


Fortunately, the only thing we felt shake, rattling and rolling today was from the drums and dancing during Carnival!

Posted by Where2FromHere 17:49 Archived in Chile

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