This national reserve stretching for 40 km (25 miles) along the coast north of the town of Chañaral has some of Chile's most spectacular coastal scenery. Steep cliffs fall into the crashing sea, their ominous presence broken occasionally by white-sand beaches. These isolated stretches of sand make for excellent picnicking. Be careful if you decide to swim, as there are often dangerous currents. Within the park is an incredible variety of flora and fauna. Pelicans can
be spotted off the coast, as can sea lions, dolphins, sea otters, cormorants, and plovers. There are some 20 species of cacti in the park, including the rare copiapoa, which resembles a little blue pincushion. The park also shelters rare predators like the desert fox. From the tiny fishing village of Caleta Pan de Azúcar, you can hire local fisherfolk to take you to a large colony of Humboldt penguins on a nearby island.