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.

Pica is considered to be a veritable oasis in the desert of the pampa de Tamarugal
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 overChile. 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.

Pica Alfajores
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.

La Cocha
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.

This post is also available in Spanish