A mining city in the north, and capital of the Atacama region, Copiapó became the center of world attention when 33 miners became trapped deep below the earth and were subsequently rescued. A good stopover when traveling the Atacama desert, it has about 200,000 inhabitants.
In February, there is a huge celebration that attracts religious dancers from all over the region. They dance in ornate costumes in devotion to La Virgen de la Candelaria who is said to guard the safety of miners in this area heavily dependent on mining. Between September and November each year, the surrounding desert blooms in bright flowers for a short time -- something worth seeing if you find yourself in the area around this time.
Matador editor Kate Sedgwick was there with her camera in October of 2010 as the miners were rescued, and you can see those articles below. Photo: Kate Sedgwick