Antofagasta, Chile

Unless you went to school in South America, it’s likely you never learned about a pivotal moment in the continent’s history. In the late 1800s, the War of the Pacific, fought between Bolivia and Peru on one side and Chile on the other, reshaped the three countries’ borders. Once Chile was victorious, in 1883, it took possession of the horseshoe-shaped bay along which stretches the long, narrow city of Antofagasta. And just like that, Bolivia lost its coast and became a landlocked country, while what would become Chile's second-largest city grew rich from mining in the Atacama Desert. As a gateway to the town of San Pedro de Atacama, Antofagasta is again drawing visitors from the world over, though these days they aren't prospectors drawn by the desert’s mineral riches but adventure travelers looking to experience its natural beauty.  Antofagasta’s allure tends toward simple pleasures like taking in the sunset over the Pacific Ocean or strolling the harbor to watch sea lions and pelicans. Just outside the city are two other attractions: La Chimba National Reserve, in the Chilean Coast Range, and the national monument La Portada, a stone archway perched in the sea below the cliffs that run along this part of Chile’s coast.