DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Terrain - CHILEAN COAST-- SOUTH, CENTRAL AND GENERAL  

 

This page treats some of the general aspects of Chile's long and wild Pacific coast, and specifically presents a few photos from the icy fjord zone in the south up to the start of the Atacama Desert.

 

Starting at the southern tip, a view out over the Straits of Magellan (Estrecho de Magallanes) from near Punta Arenas.  Also the 4 masted barqetine Esmeralda, training ship for the Chilean Navy, as it appeared in 1966 before being used as a floating torture center following the coup of  1973. Click to see big picture (640x366 pixels; 78 KB)
Although a few tourist and other ships ply the south coast of Chile, there is really no road to the coast until much farther north at Puerto Chacabuco near Puerto Aisen. Click to see big picture (640x396 pixels; 66 KB)
An Island in the Gulf of Corcovado  (Golfo de Corcovado), which separates the mainland from the southern part of the Island of Chiloe. Click to see big picture (514x402 pixels; 61 KB)
And a scene from the Gulf of Ancud (Golfo de Ancud), between the mainland and the northern part of Chiloe. Click to see big picture (640x389 pixels; 54 KB)
The stormy and remote southwest corner of Chiloe is an area seldom visited.  This is from near Punta Peligrosa. Click to see big picture (640x358 pixels; 95 KB)
And in the same area, the mouth of the Rio Zorro. Click to see big picture (640x388 pixels; 83 KB)
At the north end of Chiloe island, various ferries take cars and passengers from the mainland at the town of Pargua. Click to see big picture (640x340 pixels; 70 KB)
At a similar latitude on the mainland, sunset over Caleta el Manzano near the village of Hornopiren. Click to see big picture (640x401 pixels; 66 KB)
Looking down Estuario de Reloncavi, Chile's most northernly fjord, located southeast of Puerto Montt.
And finally the city of Puerto Montt, which stands between the fjord zone and the Lake District of Chile.  This coastal scene is at the end of one of its frequent showers. Click to see big picture (640x376 pixels; 59 KB)
Continuing north, the next dependable road to the coast is from the city of Osorno to Bahia Mansa.  The name translates as "gentle cove" but it is a rocky and unwelcoming shoreline. Click to see big picture (623x421 pixels; 118 KB)
The city of Valdivia is only about 10 km.in from the sea.  This is a scene typical of the coast to the south, beyond the town of Corral. Click to see big picture (640x371 pixels; 91 KB)
South of Puerto Saavedra, the beach berm built up by the waves imprisons Lago Budi near Punta Puaucho. Click to see big picture (640x293 pixels; 42 KB)
South of the mill town of Constitucion, there are some unusual sea stacks.  Click to see big picture (637x460 pixels; 119 KB)
This one has a window wave-excavated right through it.   Click to see big picture (342x480 pixels; 77 KB)
The picturesque village of Pichilemu is the "surfing capital" of Chile. Click to see big picture (640x406 pixels; 105 KB)
Although youngsters seem to be able to find a suitable wave just about anywhere that the surf isn't dangerous. Click to see big picture (640x422 pixels; 85 KB)
Bucalemu, south of Pichilemu, was a sleeping fishing hamlet until recently.  Then somebody paved the access road-- now it is a mob scene.
We have come to the central part of the Chilean Coast, where cities such as Valparaiso and Viña del Mar are joined to Santiago by high speed highways.  The result is mob scenes in season. Click to see big picture (640x419 pixels; 141 KB)
And with the mobs, come great wads of beach garbage. Click to see big picture (640x464 pixels; 139 KB)
And where there is garbage, there are clouds of seagulls. Click to see big picture (640x293 pixels; 78 KB)

 

Increasingly condos and restaurants are being stacked along the coastline, but there are also some very tasteful homes, such as this one which belonged to nobel laureate poet Pablo Neruda.   It was closed to the public by the Military Government when this photo was taken.

Click to see big picture (638x449 pixels; 142 KB)
Heading farther north, the climate and the vegetation become semi-arid, entering the realm of the Atacama Coast, which will be treated under a separate page. Click to see big picture (640x412 pixels; 116 KB)
Despite Chile's long coastline, there are few natural harbors north of the southern fjords. And on this open coast, waves can be big and deadly. Click to see big picture (606x438 pixels; 79 KB)
This limits the areas suitable for many water sports, especially for families.  When the sea is up, it can be fearsome, making many beaches more suited to tanning and tanga watching. Click to see big picture (640x342 pixels; 60 KB)
Makeshift breakwaters like this have been thrown up in a few places, but these problems explain the popularity of lakes and rivers for family outings. Click to see big picture (640x371 pixels; 92 KB)
Which isn't to say that there aren't places and times when conditions are perfect for everything from scuba to wind surfing. Click to see big picture (632x447 pixels; 125 KB)
But some of those places aren't very environmentally attractive, here near Coquimbo, protection is afforded by a giant iron ore loading dock. Click to see big picture (620x395 pixels; 114 KB)
And there are worst things than storm waves.  Chile is a land of many earthquakes (tremblores).  This is an aftershock to a 1975 quake in Coquimbo. Click to see big picture (640x428 pixels; 116 KB)
And sometimes these cause a tsunami (maremoto).  Most coastal cities were historically built well above their reach.  Iquique, however, is trapped between the coast and a giant sand dune, and has been hit twice. Click to see big picture (640x374 pixels; 75 KB)
This is the ruins of the old Bolivian Port of Cobija (before the Pacific War), which was destroyed by a tsunami and never rebuilt. Click to see big picture (633x407 pixels; 68 KB)
But now, with history conveniently forgotten, beach condominiums are sprouting like mushrooms along the Chilean coast.  It is only a matter of time.
Click to see big picture (640x392 pixels; 99 KB)
Time ran out for the south coast of Chile at 3:34 AM on the 27th of February, 2010; and the tsunami warning system largely failed.  The central and Atacaman coasts still await their hour. ruins