Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Arid North > Hunter gatherers and coastal fishermen

Environment and Location

These groups inhabited the segment of the northern Chilean coast that extends from Pisagua to Chañaral, a riverless zone where one of the planet’s richest seas meets one of its driest deserts. Along this entire strip of land, no rivers cross the intermediate depression to the ocean, except for the Loa. This rugged coast boasts the highest peaks of the Coastal Mountain range, and in some places the mountains drop down to the sea so sharply there is no beach. The mountain barrier also traps the sea mist, called camanchaca, which provides enough moisture to produce a variety of vegetation on its slopes, including cacti, bushes and grasses. These plants sustain animals like the guanaco, the taruca or Andean deer, the chinchilla and other rodents, as well as birds.