Last Updated on June 3, 2023

Iquique, a vibrant coastal city in northern Chile, boasts a unique attraction that has captured the hearts of locals and visitors alike.

Known as Cerro Dragón or Dragon Hill, this colossal sand dune stretches for approximately 4 kilometers within the city, creating a natural spectacle that leaves a lasting impression.

With a surface area of 337.53 hectares, Cerro Dragón stands tall as an emblem of Iquique’s identity and charm. It is situated along the litoral zone of the Tarapacá Desert, making it the largest urban sand dune in the world, surpassed only by the mighty dunes of the Sahara.

Rising from a narrow rocky ledge that precedes a 500-meter-high cliff, this awe-inspiring natural formation holds a place of distinction in Iquique’s landscape.

Sandboard at Cerro Dragon
Sandboarding at Cerro Dragon, Iquique, Chile. Photo courtesy of Cristian Calcagno

Cerro Dragón: An Urban Oasis

Despite being situated in the middle of a bustling city, Cerro Dragón remains a haven of tranquility. It provides a refreshing escape from the noise and chaos of the urban environment, allowing visitors to relax and unwind amidst its serene beauty.

With activities like sandboarding and motorcycle rides, Cerro Dragón also offers a unique and thrilling experience for travelers looking to add a little spice to their itinerary.

A Playground for Adventurers

Beyond its beauty and tranquility, Cerro Dragón offers an array of exciting activities for thrill-seekers. Sandboarding, motorcycle rides, and rally races are among the popular sports enjoyed on the dunes and sandy hills of Iquique.

The unique combination of wind patterns and topography has shaped Cerro Dragón into a haven for adrenaline enthusiasts, providing an unforgettable experience amidst its sandy terrain.

For those seeking a more relaxed adventure, the hill offers stunning views of the city and the Pacific Ocean. Its summit provides a panoramic vista that stretches as far as the eye can see, offering a breathtaking glimpse of Iquique’s coastal beauty.

A National Monument and Nature Sanctuary

Recognizing its exceptional value, Cerro Dragón was declared a National Monument and Nature Sanctuary on April 18, 2005. This designation ensures the preservation and conservation of the dune’s unique ecosystem, protecting its flora and fauna for generations to come.

The support of regional and community entities played a crucial role in securing this prestigious status for Cerro Dragón. This designation also acknowledges the hill’s cultural and historical significance. Cerro Dragón has been an important landmark for the indigenous Changos tribe for centuries, and its preservation is a testament to the region’s rich cultural heritage.

The Legend of the Dragon

In the realm of folklore, Cerro Dragón holds an intriguing legend. According to popular belief, a colossal dragon expelled from China long ago found its resting place on the shores of Iquique. It sought to seize the land and strike fear into the nearby Changos tribe.

Tales tell of the dragon’s extreme dominance, which even led to the kidnapping of the tribal chief’s daughter. The dragon’s lair is said to reside on the outskirts of Cerro Dragón, shrouded in mystery and captivating the imaginations of locals and visitors alike.

The Perfect Destination for Sandboarding Adventures

Cerro Dragón, with its expansive sandy slopes and breathtaking views, stands as the perfect destination for sandboarding enthusiasts from around the world. The combination of its immense size, unique topography, and favorable wind patterns creates an unparalleled playground for this adrenaline-filled sport. As you ascend the towering dune, anticipation builds.

The wind whips through your hair, carrying with it the echoes of excitement and adventure. With the sun casting its golden rays upon the sandy landscape, you strap on your sandboard, ready to conquer the dragon’s domain.

With a gentle push, you glide down the steep incline, your board effortlessly carving through the fine grains of sand. The sensation of speed and freedom washes over you as you navigate the dune’s twists and turns, feeling the rush of adrenaline with each descent.

The soft texture of the sand provides the perfect surface for controlled slides and daring maneuvers. Whether you’re a seasoned sandboarding pro or a first-timer seeking an unforgettable experience, Cerro Dragón offers a variety of slopes and challenges to suit every skill level.

The panoramic views from the hill’s summit add an extra element of awe to your sandboarding adventure. As you take a moment to catch your breath, you’re rewarded with a sweeping vista of Iquique’s coastal beauty, the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean stretching out before you.

Cerro Dragón’s status as a national monument and nature sanctuary ensures the preservation of this natural wonder for future generations of sandboarding enthusiasts to enjoy. It’s a testament to the hill’s significance, both as an adrenaline-inducing playground and a site of cultural and historical importance.

So, gear up, strap on your sandboard, and prepare to conquer the colossal dunes of Cerro Dragón. This urban wonder beckons adventurers to experience the thrill and beauty of sandboarding in a setting unlike any other—a true paradise for those seeking an unforgettable ride down the dragon’s sandy domain.

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