Thermal waters and exotic fruit
Pica: paradise in the pampa de Tamarugal
A must for those visiting the north of Chile, among its attractions are a natural thermal swimming-pool and the delicious Pica lemons, right in the middle of the desert.
Friday, June 04, 2010
Pica is considered to be a veritable oasis in the desert of the pampa de Tamarugal
On the way to Iquique, in
the region of Tarapacá and in the midst of enigmatic deserts is one of the most attractive tourist
destinations in the north of
Chile. Pica is a town with
many attractions to offer, such as its citrus fruit
and agricultural activities. It is no wonder that it was distinguished with
the 2006 National Tourism Award by the
Association of Tourist Municipalities of the country, because of its
substantial contribution to this region of the Chilean territory.
Pica is considered to be a veritable oasis in the desert of the pampa
de Tamarugal, located 114 km south-east of Iquique. In a relatively small
area of 8,934 square kilometers, it offers a large number of tourist
attractions. In addition, it has the temperate
climate of the north of the country, making it possible to enjoy its
curative waters to the fullest.
Among its main attractions is La Cocha, a natural swimming pool of thermal waters.
This town also has historic
neighborhoods, a museum, typical sweet-filled pastries (“alfajores”) of Pica or
Matilla, tropical fruit, sanctuaries and a church that represents the architecture
of the colonial period.
Without any doubt, Pica is a “must” place
to visit, where you can’t miss the following:
Visitors can taste, in juice and jellies,
the different delicious fruits that grow in the area. Mangoes, grapefruit, guayaba and the popular Pica lemon, the main
ingredient of the local food, delight tourists with their citrus flavors.
Pica lemons are
known worldwide due to their very small size and acid taste. They represent a major
source of income for this region, because they are sold all over Chile. In addition, according to the Arica and
Parinacota Development Corporation, they are also exported to countries such as
Japan and the United Kingdom.
It is therefore not surprising that the Pica lemon was the first Chilean
product to obtain a registration of geographic origin issued by the
National Institute of Industrial Property (Inapi), and has become a registered
Chilean brand name.
It is imperative to visit places with high
architectural value such as the San
Andrés church, where every so often a celebration in honor of this patron
saint of Pica is held. It was built over a century ago, in the decade of the
1880s. It represents the religious
architecture of the times, and inside a
large reproduction of “The Last Supper” is on view.
Thanks to the bountiful produce of this
town, the farmers can market their own products. They make some delicious pastries known as “alfajores de Pica”. These sweet-smelling
delicacies are also healthy, because they are made non-industrially on the basis of honey, fruit nectar and jellies
from the region.
The inhabitants of Pica agree that the greatest attraction of this town resides in
its natural swimming pool called La Cocha. This resort receives a large number of visitors in the
summer season and is a very attractive alternative for holiday-makers.
It is a large pool of greenish-blue
crystal-clear thermal waters surrounded by stones and rocks. The waters issue from underground sources, cascade
harmoniously down some diminutive falls and fill the pool with temperate water.