We can arrange self-drive itineraries to the Elqui Valley, either as a 6hr drive north from Santiago or a closer 1hr from La Serena airport. We suggest at least 5 nights if coming from Santiago and 4 nights if coming from La Serena airport, La Serena is about a 1hr flight from Santiago.

The Elqui Valley & Vicuña

The Elqui valley is fertile valley running inland from La Serena (La Serena is 470km north from Santiago and accessible on the Ruta 5 or by flight to La Serena (approx 1hr). The meeting of the vivid green of the agriculturally-cultivated valley floor and sides contrasts starkly against the barren, brown sides of the steep mountain walls creating a beautiful, picturesque scene. In the heart of the Elqui Valley is Vicuña, the birth place of Chile’s Nobel Prize-winning poet Gabriela Mistral. The town of Vicuña is authentic, as in not developed for tourists, and is a good base from which to go further into the mountains, especially Pisco Elqui. However, there is also an excellent astronomical observatory called Mamalluca, run by local astronomical hobbyists that offers nocturnal star gazing tours with superb explanations about the cosmos.

The most interesting place to visit from Vicuña is the tiny village of Pisco Elqui, located deep in the mountains about an hour south-east from Vicuna. Pisco Elqui is a tiny Andean village offering general peace and a slow way of life and is popular with hippies and travellers. An ideal place to relax, see the stunningly clear night sky and visit the old pisco distillery.

La Serena

La Serena is 470km north from Santiago by road (on the Ruta 5). It is a popular summer destination for Chileans and Argentineans. It boasts an impressively long sandy beach offering excellent bathing and attractions that include a gambling casino. The city itself is not noted for any charm but it does offer a mock colonial flavour in some quarters. It is a good place to relax and use as either a stopping point to go further north or when coming from the north to the south. It is also a good place from where you can get to Vicuña (66km inland) or explore the other excellent beach towns, such as Tongoy, 30 to 40km further south.

 

 

Arrivals will be principally to Santiago airport and then a flight to La Serena (approx 1hr) or drive to La Serena (approx 5hrs) and further drive to Vicuña (1hr) and to Pisco Elqui (1hr).

 

 

Today & 5 Day Forecast (C°)

La Serena
17°
Cloudy
07:0020:49 -03
Feels like: 17°C
Wind: 9km/h W
Humidity: 85%
Pressure: 1017.1mbar
UV index: 0
WedThuFriSatSun
21/15°C
22/14°C
21/15°C
21/15°C
22/16°C

Today & 5 Day Forecast (C°)

Pisco Elqui
21°
Sunny
06:5620:47 -03
Feels like: 21°C
Wind: 4km/h N
Humidity: 43%
Pressure: 1017.1mbar
UV index: 1
WedThuFriSatSun
25/15°C
26/14°C
28/16°C
28/17°C
29/17°C

Astronomical Observatories

Mamalluca Observatory (Vicuña)

For the Public
This is an astronomical observatory for enthusiasts offering a short introduction lecture about the universe and then viewing through a number of different optical telescopes aimed at specific, key stars and areas in the night sky. It is located on a mountain side close to Vicuna. Reservations must be made in advance at the Mamalluca Observatory office off the main square in Vicuna.

Office Address For Tickets:
Gabriela Mistral 260, oficina 1, next to the Bahuer tower. Times for actual observations, in the summer, are: 20:00hrs, 22:00hrs and 24:00hrs

Professional Astronomical Observatories that do offer tours are below and access is subject to requests in advance. Note that these professional observatories are mainly electronic and they obtain their information via computers. If you want to actually see the stars through a telescope you need the Mamalluca Observatory.

Observatory El Tololo
Located at a high point of 2,200mts, approximately 45km south west of Vicuna is the El Tololo Radio Telescope (i.e. you do not see through an optical lens) Observatory. Visits are permitted, but ONLY with prior notification and with a permit. Open: 09:00hrs – 12.00hrs and 13:00hrs – 16:00hrs. Tel: 51-2-205-200 Access is arranged only from the La Serena office.

Observatory La Silla (ESO – European Southern Observatory)
Professional Astronomical Observatory
Located about 150km north-east of La Serena at 2,240m above sea level. Open on the first Saturday of the month 14:00hrs. Advance registration ESSENTIAL and only by filling in a form, for which this is the link:
https://www.eso.org/public/about-eso/visitors/tourist_and_students_form

Dolphins
Located about an hour north, by road, of La Serena is a place called Punta de Los Choros where you can hire a simple fishing boat, with captain, and see dolphins, sea lions, penguins and birds that live on and around the nearby islands (Isla Margarita). The sea tour takes about two to three hours but CAN be quite hairy in a choppy sea! Hat and sun cream essential and we recommend that you take your own beverages and sandwiches as well as warm clothing as it can be chilly out at sea. We also suggest that YOU consider the conditions and NOT go if you are slightly concerned about safety.

Pisco Elqui
The most interesting place to visit from Vicuña is the tiny village of Pisco Elqui, located deep in the mountains about an hour south-east from Vicuna. Pisco Elqui is a tiny Andean village offering general peace and a slow way of life and is popular with hippies and travellers. An ideal place to relax, see the stunningly clear night sky and visit the old pisco distillery.

 

 

Summer clothes such as short-sleeved shirts, shorts and warmer tops and long pants for cool nights. Hat, sun-screen cream and sun glasses.

 

 

ELQUI VALLEY

LA SERENA

Our selection of hotels includes many of the most popular accomodations in South America. You’ll find the perfect hotel in your budget.

LA SERENA AND ELQUI VALLEY

The Elqui Valley, that runs due East from La Serena, is a little “nugget” of the “real” Chile. A beautiful valley, small Chilean villages and superb observatory at Vicuña.

Please fill out form below:

7 + 8 =