Iquique and how to get a prepaid SIM

First task: SIM Card in Chile

After our experiences in other south american countries and according to travel guides and several blogs we where curious how complex it will be to get a SIM for Chile.

We prepared ourselves which provider has the best prepaid SIM offering and found that WOM (which does not have the best coverage) would be the best (which was a good decision).

So we asked at hotel reception where to find a WOM shop. They told us to visit the “big” Iquique shopping mal (which has about 50 stores). So we go there, armed with passport and all other documents we might need (according to travel guide and blogs) and found a WOM store immediately.
“Prepaid SIM? Not here! The are only available at “Falabella” shops.” was the answer to request, so we searched for the mentioned shop. After questioning around within the shop (it was really large) we finally found the right area and asked for a prepaid WOM SIM.

We where excited! How complicated will it be? Just as in Peru with passport copy, fingerprint, pay at checkout and waiting?
The Employee opened a locker, took a small package (like a CD envelop), passed it to us and asked for 2.000 chilenien pesos (about 3 Euro).

We where confused! That´s it? No Passport? No blood test or fecal sample? No fingerprints? No pilgrimage to a checkout and no waiting at a counter somewhere? Where are we? In Europe or South America?! We are shocked! That should have been it?

Yes, this was it!

In addition, he offered us to help us with the initial configuration steps (activation)! And this all for 3 Euro! Then we ask for adding credit to our new SIM. “This can be done at almost every pharmacy, supermarket or most kiosks, but not here!” was the answer. OK, so we searching for pharmacy´s and kiosk’s, but everywhere the answer was: “Sorry, we do not offer this service”.
So we got the the supermarket next to the shopping mall – as huge as Carrefour. At the cashier we got the answer: “No, not here, you have to go to a pharmacy over there” (which is after the cashier area, right next to a loundry). Let´s guess the answer there! Right: “No, we do not offer this service, sorry!”. So we went to the next supermarket called Jumbo which is, believe it or not – only a block away. There we finally where able to charge 5.000 Pesos (6,50 Euro) which is enough for some minutes calling, 1GB Social Media, unlimited WhatsApp (including talking) and 2GB Internet traffic valid for 30 days – wow, thats also very cheap!

Iquique – a little like Rio?

Next day, we took a walk on the beach of Iquique and made a detour in the colonial center – but from the beginning.

Iquique is imprisoned between the Pacific ocean and a mountain chain – or, rather, a higher hill chain. The historic center and most of the high-rise buildings are located by the ocean.

We started our walk at a replica of a historic warship.

Unfortunately, we would have had to wait over an hour for the next tours (only spanish), which was too long for us. So we decided to walk back to the hotel.

Only two blocks later we came to the harbor, where sightseeingtours are offered by boat. When we arrived, the boat just started with a tour….

But we have been able to observe some animals.

Then we went through the historical center. Unfortunately, a large part of the buildings need renovation.

After that we went on the beach. I find it partly even more beautiful than in Rio – unfortunately the water is cold because of the Humboldtstream, so it is not as pleasant to swim compared with Rio.

On the coast there are also many high-rise buildings, partly quite pretty, but not to compare with Punta del Este in Uruquay.

Behind it, the buildings look like much poorer, but not at all like the favelas in the Rio. Only on the slopes of the hills we where able to see more beautiful buildings again – as far as we can be judged of this distance.

Currently, the temperature varies between 14 degrees at night and 18-20 degrees below day. I can imagine with a worse winter;).

I think Iquique is pretty – and so is the comparison with Rio. Kasia is not so enthusiastic because of the many needy houses in the center. The beach and the promenade she liked too!