My name is Melanie Pardo Espinoza, and I’m a public administrator.
At the beginning of July, Wheel the World offered me the opportunity to become their accessibility ambassador in Iquique. This meant mapping the accessibility of different places around the city.
Although I was raised and have lived almost 20 years in this city, it wasn’t until this task with Wheel the World that I realized that my hometown can be an accessible and friendly city. Since I was very young, I have served as my grandfather’s eyes. He has a visual and hearing impairment. Despite being sensitive to his needs, I had overlooked several accessible features that are present in tourist sections of Iquique that I had not been able to distinguish.
Below, I will tell you a little about what I’ve discovered in this port city, located in the extreme North of Chile.
First of all, you may wonder what the name of this city means. Iquique means something like the “city of dreams” and those who named it that, already knew the value of this destination, precisely for the rest, self-care and relief that we all need these days.
Iquique was developed as a mining city, characterized by a contrast between a high urban density in buildings, precarious housing and a somewhat chaotic urbanization. The city also reflects several changes in its economic activity, such as the fishing industry, the salt industry, mining and international trade.
Accessible Iquique is a city where everything is located close by. Don’t be surprised if you start walking on the beach and suddenly you end up in the center of town!
I hope you enjoy this trip around the city!
Accessible attractions in Iquique
Accessible Cavancha Beach
To begin this tour of accessible Iquique, I literally immersed myself in Cavancha Beach. A beach suitable for bathing and in the summer season offers activities that are accessible to people with reduced mobility: such as swimming or adaptive surfing.
The “inclusive sector” of Cavancha which is located very close to the Casino. It’s possible to access thanks to its wooden access ramps and the ocean is calm, with no strong waves, or risks.
The Municipality of the Iquique provides amphibious wheelchairs chairs, and has lifeguard staff trained if assistance is required.
This traditional zone of the city transports you to the past. Iquique, despite being far from the political-administrative capital of the country, has had much economic importance to the country throughout history.
I want to share with you a “nerd” fact about the patrimonial houses located in Baquedano Avenue. Can you imagine where they got the wood for their construction in a desertic zone with emaciated vegetation? It is clear that the wood is not local, but it is imported, as well as its Georgian style. Many styles of construction line this avenue, which is why it has acquired a universal patrimonial value, understanding that this city was previously Peruvian and these patrimonial houses belonged to families that were rich in the saline industry, mostly foreigners.
On this pedestrian walkway, you’ll find a variety of restaurants and pubs, as well as museums that are available to the traveling public, such as the following:
Regional Museum, the Gallery of the Mining Company Doña Inés de Collahuasi, the Sports Museum of Iquique, the Military Museum, the Building of the Society of Employees of Tarapacá, the Municipal Theater and the Astoreca Palace. In addition to other important buildings: Club Yugoeslavo, the Former Courts of Justice, and the Spanish Casino.
Located in front of the Municipal Theater of Iquique, at the end of the Baquedano walkway.
This place has a basement parking lot with designated accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities and reduced mobility, an elevator near these places, and a bathroom for the visitors. The people who work here are willing to assist if needed.
Corbeta Esmeralda Museum
On the outside, you will be amazed to have the opportunity to witness a scale representation of the Corbeta Esmeralda, a ship that participated in the Naval Combat of Iquique on May 21, 1879, a battle that was part of the Pacific War between Chile, Peru and Bolivia.
Once you enter the museum, you can observe the well-preserved details of the crew’s life onboard. Each scene is totally observable from any height you look at it.
In terms of accessibility, it is a reference in the region, you can not miss a visit to this museum! It has been awarded a total of 15 national and international distinctions that position it as the main historical-cultural center of Iquique and one of the five referential museums in the country.
It is a tourist attraction, which also stands out for its employees, who make you feel at home.
The museum also has accessible equipment such as stair lifts and manual wheelchairs located on every floor.
Among other features, it has a fully accessible bathroom and designated accessible parking.
Just to avoid long waiting lines, there are a few rules to keep in mind to make your experience an unforgettable one: Arrive 10 minutes early and reserve in advance if you plan on visiting during the summer season!
In the future, all of the staff in this museum are interested in continuing to improve its accessibility, so they are very willing to be part of projects to cover other accessibility features.
And this is the end of our little trip around Iquique, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I did. Being an ambassador for Wheel the World has been a very fulfilling process, they are a real team of professionals and I hope to continue collaborating with them for everything that they need!
Also, don’t miss out because in the near future, with the launch of the new platform, Wheel the World will be offering new activities in Iquique. Adaptive sand-boarding or adaptive tandem paragliding are just some of the activities that will join the many things to do already offered in Chile! I hope that you all come to visit soon to participate in these activities, and explore accessible Iquique.
I want to send a big hug to all the readers of Wheel the World. It’s amazing to be part of this incredible blog where so many stories have been shared!