Iquique first steps

On Dry Land

Our tour tickets and bus designation ( “number 2” ) firmly in hand, Pam and I walked the gangplank from the tender (see yesterday’s post), into the Iquique International Cruise terminal, then out to the sunshine to find out bus, following the crowd.

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Downtown High rises soar above downtown

Touring this way can feel link a rodent maze, it was not our feeling at all. The groups maxed at 15, the guides friendly and knowledgeable, the tour buses luxurious. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. Here we are, later that day, dressed for adventure.

Mike and Pam Wills on tour at the Pintados Geoglyphs, Tarapac√°, Chile within the Atacama desert.

Our itinerary for the day is to navigate through the city, across the desert to visit a World Heritage Site, Humberstone, and ancient geoglyph sites, touching on local ecology.

Another view of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception among the downtown high-rises of Iquique.

Here is our tour, time to hop on the bus, get going.

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Here is a slide show of our day so far.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iquique Tender Views

From Ship to Shore

Ninety minutes after docking our assigned tender pulled away from the Regatta for a twenty minute trip to Iquique. A tender is a boat with an enclosed seating area designed to transport about twenty persons in quiet waters from an anchorage to port. I recall the morning announcement from the ship Captain advising use the winds were high (or the waves), and he negotiated a mooring with the port, instead of the planned docking, in order to save our visit to Iquique.

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The approximate anchorage of the Regatta marked with a pushpin. The tender transported use from the Regatta to the base of the island port.

Above is a screen capture from Google Earth, the entire Iquique harbor is pictured from Punta Negra (see photo from yesterday) to the base of the island port connected to the mainland with a road. The tender port is at this base, on the shore side. If you wish, download the following PDF document with a clearer image. You will need a PDF viewer.

Shipping containers being unloaded from the container ship San Christobal.

Here are some of the sights visible from the tender. I recall sitting next to the large rear window. Above is the large red container ship. From earlier posts, the San Christobal is docked at the outer berth. The ship is being unloaded, you can see a yellow shipping container on the crane.

Today, aneconomic reason for Iquque’s prosperity is the status as a duty free zone the government dubbed “ZOFRI.” Another is tourists flocking to this “Miami of South America” for duty free shopping (there is a mall), the shore lined with tall hotels and condominiums. Adventure-seekers love the surfing and hang gliding from the escarpment.

Notice the fishing nets in the stern with yellow floats

This is the scene close to the tender port, past mooring for smaller fishing and other boats.

Replica of the Chilean navy ship Esmeralda sunk during the Battle of Iquique. It is a nautical “living museum.” From the website: “The museum script of the Museum ‘Emerald Corvette’ is represented by thirteen museum scenes that inspire the guided tour, where it was recreated what life was like on board on May 20, 1879, the day before the historic Pacific War day.” The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is to the right of the ship stern. Here is a previous post with more about the Esmeralda in historical context.

After disembarkation, I looked back for this shot of our tender pilot.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iquique by Sea VI

At Anchor

Forty one minutes have passed and we are close to the anchorage site. There are shore birds flying beyond the pilot boat. The post header photograph is Punta Negra, the northern harbor boundary. I know the white is from a layer diatomaceous earth that runs along the coast. We first experienced it at out last port, Mollendo, Peru.

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I use the zoom (300mm) of the variable zoom lens to identy the birds flying in the linear formation I am familiar with from Florida: pelicans!!

The pilot boat stops between us and the anchored fishing boats.

Here are some close views of the fishing boats. I can just make out the shape of a Monkey Puzzle tree on the shoreline road, to the right in the expanded view (click photo).

The full 300mm zoom power of the lens on a stable tripod is coming into use for this series.

Anchor has dropped and we are ready board the tender from the trip from anchorage to port, the start of our day’s activities.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iquique by Sea V

Headed to anchorage

Thirty minutes have passed since Part I and the pilot boat from Part IV is pulling away, the pilot has climbed the rope ladder up the side of the Regatta and the boat is pulling away.

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I use the wide angle (70mm) of the variable zoom lens to provide a panorama of the scene.

With the pilot at the helm, watched by the Regatta crew, the ship slowly approaches the anchorage, just outside the harbor.

The ship will anchor outside the navigation lane, along with through far from, fishing boats.

Zoom into the scene to see the “dead end” highway, built into the escarpment above the fishing boat anchorage, were service vehicles are parked.

There is only one road linking Iquique to the outside world.

We will use the road to visit the World Heritage Site, Humberstone, site of a nitrate mine on the Atacama desert, on a plane above the city.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iquique by Sea IV

Pilot Boat Approach

One hundred and thirty six (136) years and nine months after that foggy morning of the Battle of Iquique (see yesterday’s post) our view of the harbor was clear. Instead of dreadnoughts steaming out of the fog to gun us down, a small fast boat waited to guide the Regatta into harbor.

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A pilot boat waits outside Iquique harbor.

My first meeting with a maritime pilot was hundreds of miles from the ocean, on an Arizona mountain (click me for this post “Cochise Dawn”). Today it was at a distance, across water, as Pam and I enjoyed our port side stateroom balcony and these views of Iquique harbor.

A escarpment hundreds of feet high backdrops the city. Today, we will visit a former nitrate mine on the desert plateau on top the escarpment. Our ship will anchor beyond the breakwater.

It is the maritime pilot on this tiny fast boat who will guide us through the dangerous, crowded and unfamiliar waters of the harbor.

The profession has existed since Greek and Roman times when fishermen used their knowledge of local waters to guide ships with valuable cargo to dock.

Today, the pilot is carried out on a fast, specialized boat to come alongside to climb up a special ladder created for this purpose. Onboard, the pilot takes over controls of the ship. The ship Master retains ultimate responsibility for his ship.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iquique by Sea II

God’s Thumbprint

Eleven minutes have passed since Part I. A large ship like the Regatta moves ever more slowly the closer it comes to port. In the intern I swapped out the 24 mm lens with a variable “zoom”, 70 – 300mm.

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The lens allows me to glean more details. Compare the upper and lower photographs. Between the ghost town Caleta Buena and Iquique the coastal range falls directly into the Pacific. The word “caleta” means a small bay, just enough protection and space to build a dock from which to ship nitrates mined from the plane.

The upwelling of nutrients by the Humbold Current makes for excellent fishing grounds. This small fishing boat was headed out the for day. Click the photo for a closer view of this craft. This photograph also shows how the mountain falls directly into the ocean.

Here you can see the top of the pediment, a vast irregular, inhospitable plain.

Through an accident of geography (“the imprint of God’s thumb on the land)…..

….the cliffs recede south of a place called Punto Negro (above), leaving space for a substantial city to make a foothold….Iquique.

Above, to the right is where the cliffs start to recede.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iquique by Sea I

Coastline Panorama

Very early morning, February 10, 2016 the Oceania Regatta cruise ship sailed the Pacific Ocean on approach to Iquique, the first Chilean port on our voyage along every one, and more, of the 2,672 miles of length.

These are views of the Atacama desert coastline, the driest land in the world, on par with the frozen Antarctic. The ship is making progress against the cold Humbolt current, flowing from southern Chile to northern Peru, the view encompasses contrasting cold water with land rising sharply from the Pacific.

Above and below are views of a dark point of land marking the abandoned town Caleta Buena on a 750 foot escarpment above the remains of piers. Nitrate mining was the reason for the town’s existence, just as it was for Iquique.

These are sequential shots, working north to south, using a 24 mm “wide angle” Canon lens, mounted on a tripod, to form a seascape panorama.

We are on the balcony of our port side stateroom. I did much great work from this spot. During out 250 mile overnight sail from Matarani, Peru absolute blackness was the norm along this desolate coast.

Those are coastal mountains rising to the Atacama desert plain.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved