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Round trip - Chile

Chile Astronomy Tour - To The Stars

Highlights

  • Stargazing tours in Santa Cruz, Elqui Valley and Atacama Desert

  • Santiago de Chile city tour including admission to the pre-Colombian museum

  • Wine tasting at the Santa Cruz and Viu Manent wineries in the Colchagua Valley

  • Includes observatory tours and excursions in the Elqui Valley

  • All-inclusive & 3 excursions during your stay at Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa

Description

How about an adventure to the stars? This astronomical journey is like nothing you’ve experienced before. The impressive starry sky of the southern hemisphere offers front row seats to the Milky Way. For the earth adventures, the Atacama Desert and glittering capital, Santiago, will also amaze you.

Destination

South America

Santiago de Chile – Santa Cruz – La Serena – Elqui Valley – Calama – San Pedro de Atacama

October to March is ideal for visiting the Atacama Desert because of the pleasant temperatures and chances of animal sightings in the higher elevations. Between July and August, it’s rather cold in the desert, and at night, temperatures drop to -20°C.

Your astronomical journey begins in the country’s central city, Santiago de Chile. Upon arrival, our partner agency will greet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. The city’s impressive landscape includes imposing mountain scenery that’s the backdrop of most views. Despite the 6 million inhabitants, the city is still great to explore. The architecture is a blend of colonial buildings and modern architecture. To get to know the city, we’ve organized a tour (included) for you where you can soak up the fragrant smells and learn about the cultural flair. First, you’ll drive past Club Hípico, a horse racing track in a traditional residential neighborhood. The magnificent Palacio Cousiño built back in 1878, and the Parque O’Higgins is next on the list. Alameda is the main street that leads you directly to the city center. On the way, you’ll see La Moneda (the government palace), the Universidad de Chile, San Francisco Church, the National Library, and Santa Lucia Hill (where Santiago was founded in 1541).

In the heart of the city center, visit the main square, where you will see its cathedral and old post office. Afterward, history lovers are in for a treat! You will go to the Pre-Colombian Museum (closed on Mondays), where you will learn more about Chilean history. Your journey will then continue through Santiago to the Mercado Central, the city’s biggest seafood market. As you continue following the Alameda, you will cross to the Río Mapocho.

Drive through the artist and nightlife district, Bellavista, and then over to the Cerro San Cristóbal viewpoint. From here, relish fantastic views of the endless sea of Santiago houses and the breathtaking mountain range. Lastly, you will visit the modern residential areas of Vitacura, Las Condes, and the business and shopping district of Providencia.

Santiago de Chile airport: approx. 30 minutes / approx. 25 km

Overnight in Santiago de Chile, Chile

Today’s adventure includes Chile’s famous wine, cuisine, and traditions in the region around Colchagua Valley. It’s one of the most famous wine destinations globally because of the Tinguiricia River’s delicious grapes, mostly known for its red wine. The sophisticated irrigation system is so good at keeping the cultivation fertile that the valley makes up 90% of Chilean wines.

We will take you to Viu Manent Winery, founded in 1966 and over 260 hectares in size. Here you will find a variety of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec, syrah, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and many more that are grown here then exported to over 28 countries.

Visit the main house, where an exhibition will teach you about the historical agricultural equipment and filling machines for wine production. Enjoy a delicious lunch outside next to the vineyards or in the rustic restaurant (lunch not included in the price). Then a horse-drawn carriage will take you through the vineyards and production facilities. Have a look inside the laboratory where a wine expert will explain the processes of wine production!

Next on today’s tour is a visit to the Santa Cruz Winery, about 25 km south of Santa Cruz in the Colchagua Valley. Taste three excellent wines! Another highlight is a visit to Chile's various Indian cultures, such as Mapuche, Rapa Nui, or Aymara, which has been recreated directly in the winery. You can reach the village by cable car (extra price, not included in a standard winery tour). Please note that the tour and wine tasting occurs with other international travelers and the transfers are private.

After a delicious wine day, you can look forward to looking up to the stars for the first time. San Cruz Winery has its own observatory, so with the help of its modern technology, you can see the southern hemisphere sky! This experience will show you starry sites that cannot be seen in the northern hemisphere, for example, the famous constellation called the “Southern Cross.”

Santiago de Chile - Santa Cruz: approx. 2.5 hours / approx. 200 km

Overnight with breakfast in Colchagua Valley, Chile

In the morning, your transfer will take you from your Colchagua hotel to Santiago Airport. Hop onto a plane (flight not included in price) to La Serena, where a transfer will pick you up and take you to your hotel in Elqui Valley. In the evening, you can attend a one-hour stargazing experience at the hotel’s observatory. Your guide will explain the constellations that glisten overhead as the sea of lights in the dark sky amaze you. The white band that stretches across the vast sky is the Milky Way, sparkling and glistening as far as the eye can see. It will finally become clear as to why Chile is the mecca of sky gazers. The dryness of northern Chile offers more than 300 cloudless nights a year, and hardly any pollution from dust makes it the perfect area of attraction.

After an exciting day, return to your unique accommodation: a domo! These dome tents have an open roof so that you can look up to the starry sky from the comfort of your bed—what a wonderful place for dreaming.

Santiago de Chile - La Serena: approx. 1-hour flight

Two nights with breakfast in Elqui Valley, Chile

Enjoy a full-day excursion (approx. 8 hours) in the mystical and fascinating Elqui Valley. Its unique location between the beginning of the Atacama desert in the north and the south's vegetation zone places you in another world. It radiates energy because of the new geomagnetic center of the earth in Elqui Valley and Cochiguaz village.

The valley’s distinctive landscape has narrow but extremely fertile strips of land where vegetables, papayas, chirimoya trees, and grapes flourish. In contrast, cacti dot the hills because of the typical semi-arid climate.

On a nearby mountaintop, you can see the Tololo Observatory’s dome. It’s the perfect place for stargazing since Elqui Valley’s atmosphere is one of the clearest on earth. What will amaze you even more are the wineries’ varieties of Muscat and Torontel grapes used to make pisco. This traditional brandy is produced and bottled in the region!

A short visit to the Los Nichos pisco distillery gives you an insight into the process of distilling wine into pisco. During your cellar tour, the exhibition room will teach you more about pisco and even allow you to taste the Chilean national drink. Afterward, you will visit the Horcón handicraft village and the Pisco Elqui village.

The drive continues with a short stop in Montegrande and then to the Diaguitas village, an important Elqui Valley destination where the Molle and Diaguitas cultures were established. You will have the opportunity to try their home-brewed beer.

Vicuña is the capital of Elqui Valley and about 65 km from La Serena. Visit the farmer’s tower (the old town hall), the church and the main square. As you leave the capital, the valleys narrow, the mountains rise, and the contrast increases between the steep slopes and the green wineries.

With a clear, blue sky, a spectacular view of the entire valley will leave you speechless. Breathe in the crisp mountain air and feel its freshness embody the space around you.

In the evening, the bright stars await you! Embark on an observatory tour at the Alfa Aldea nature planetarium. The experience includes wine taste, cheese, dry fruits, and a guide introducing you to the universe’s history.

A transfer will take you from your hotel and back to La Serena Airport. Hop onto a plane via Santiago to Calama (flight not included in the price), where a transfer awaits you in the arrivals hall. With other travelers and a Spanish-speaking driver, you will head to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama.

San Pedro is known as the desert oasis. It rises 2348 meters high and is home to friendly residents who live in mud houses. For the next days, you will explore Atacama Desert’s surreal landscapes and enjoy this mysterious destination’s highlights.

Did you know that the Atacama Desert is one of the driest landscapes in the world? That’s because there are hardly any rain clouds that pass overhead. The clouds usually already dumped most of their water in the Andes Mountains. Heavy rainfall only happens every 6-10 years, then the desert blooms with gorgeous color and radiant life — a unique scene only a lucky few have seen.

Your accommodation for the remaining days is the Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa. The all-inclusive program includes an English or Spanish-speaking expert during your included excursions. They were trained according to the ethical principle of “leave no trace.” The lodge offers thirty different excursions, unforgettable experiences, and a variety of breathtaking sights. Choose between a selection of tours, from geyser trips, hot springs, mountain biking, volcano climbing, horseback riding to Inca ruins, and much more. The traditional mud house architecture fits perfectly into the deep red desert scenery.

La Serena - Calama (via Santiago de Chile): approx. 5-hour flight

Four nights all-inclusive in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

The day quickly begins after breakfast with an exciting excursion.

South of San Pedro lies a fantastic backdrop of the snow-capped volcanic peaks of Salar de Atacama, an approximately 3,000 square kilometer salt lake. It might look like a hostile environment, but it’s home to the gentle flamingos. Watch the beautiful birds forage for food and then drive to the village of Toconao.

The village is home to 546 inhabitants and has a charming colonial church and a free-standing bell tower from the 18th century. Liparita, a white volcanic stone, is a common material used in Toconao. Locals use it to build their houses and create decorative handicrafts out of it.

Your drive continues along Ruta 23, a route that passes through Chile and leads to Argentina. After a while, the road begins to get steeper, the landscapes changes every kilometer or so, and altitude increases. As the Andean highlands are left behind, barren stong deserts replace the surroundings. Impressive views of the vastness of the shimmering Salar de Atacama and the striking Andes mountain range will take your breath away.

The last part of your journey takes you over a bumpy slope, across a stunning hilltop, and suddenly to a viewpoint of the twin lagoons Meñiques and Miscanti. The two salt lakes shine in an almost unreal dark blue against the might backdrop of the bare, snow-covered volcanoes. At their edges, deposited salt crystals glitter a brilliant white tone. The beautiful sound of silence surrounds you in the lonely landscape, and the occasional wild ducks and flamingos will greet you.

With over 350 days of sunshine a year, the clear atmosphere and clean air make this the ideal place for stargazing. Look up into the starry sky and discover distant stars, planets, the Milky Way, and faraway galaxies! Alto Atacama Lodge offers the perfect stargazing experience. Meet your guide at reception and walk with him to the lookout point, just 5 minutes away. Follow the 50 stone stairs that lead you to the top, where an observation deck, six comfortable chairs, and a telescope await you. Your guide will give you a 15-minute introduction to astronomy, then hot and cold drinks will accompany your experience.

If you feel like exploring the incredible landscape of the Atacama Desert today, then we recommend an excursion to the geysers!

Set those alarm clocks early and encounter one of the most impressive natural phenomenons. Around 04:00, you will set off for the Tatio geysers, about 90 km north. A breakfast box will be served on the way.

Just in time for sunrise, you will reach the high Tatio valley at 4321 meters above sea level. It is the highest geyser field in the world! And even this high up, it still can tremendously hiss, bubble, and steam. The early morning will be worth it because of the natural spectacle awakening beneath the sunrise. With a little luck, you might even see vicuñas, the llamas’ wild relatives. Their fur is considered the second finest fabric after silk, so sadly, the little creatures have been hunted almost to extinction in the last few decades. In Chile, vicuñas are now under nature protection and have made a comeback by reproducing magnificently.

On your way downhill, visit the beautiful Baños de Puritama. The hot springs nestle in a green canyon and offer a tranquil place to bathe after an eventful start to your day.

Sign up for one of the 30+ early morning excursions offered at Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa.

And in the evening, we recommend a one-of-a-kind highlight: a sunset in the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). The stunning view boasts the bizarre desert rocks and a backdrop of the snow-capped volcanoes on the horizon. Be sure to spot the most impressive, perfectly shaped cone of Licancabur. The sun's last rays give the quiet landscape a color show, switching from shades of orange to red to purple—an unforgettable experience and the perfect way to end your astronomical round trip.

After your replenishing breakfast, it’s sadly time to say goodbye to the Milky Way and the red desert. Your transfer will pick you up at the hotel and take you to Calama Airport. From there, you will fly to Santiago (not included in the price) and then continue onto your return flight or your planned extension.

Our experts are happy to advise you on an extension! Contact us today.

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Best Western Premier Marina Las Condes****, Santiago de Chile, Chile (One night)

Nestling at the Andes Mountains foot and just a few blocks from the city’s largest shopping center, Parque Arauco, is the modern Best Western Premier Marina Las Condes. The 244 comfortably furnished rooms include LCD TVs, telephones, minibars, irons, desks, and coffee/tea making equipment. Enjoy local and international delicacies at the Rosso Restaurant, or order oven-fresh pizza at the Capriccio Restaurant. To top off the perfect day, relax by the pool, or kick up your legs in the sauna.

Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza****, Santa Cruz, Chile (One night)

Welcome to Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza—it lies in the city's heart, making it the ideal starting point for Colchagua Valley winery experiences. The 116 colonial-style rooms have a desk, air conditioning, a safe, minibar, TV, and a hairdryer. Foodies will be in heaven! The in-house restaurant Los Varietales is one of the best Chilean restaurants. Savor first-class dishes of local cuisine, all made from fresh ingredients. Next to the pool, you’ll find The Tambo, which tempts with fresh salads, oven-fresh pizza, and hearty sandwiches—the perfect afternoon snack! To round off this special accommodation, you can relax with various body treatments at the Inca Spa.

Hotel Elqui Domos***, Elqui Valley, Chile (Two nights)

Your accommodation in Elqui Valley is 110 km away from La Serena, just off the road towards Horcón. The hotel offers 7 domos, tent-style domes, that fit up to 4 people. Each domo has two levels, the lower being a living room, bathroom, and large terrace; the upper level being the double bed and detachable roof. Other room categories include unique observatory rooms (max. 3 people) made out of wood and located higher up. Each wooden house has three levels, the living room and bathroom on the first, a double bed and a window overlooking the sky on the second, and a terrace that offers impeccable views of the surrounding landscape.

Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa*****, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile (Four nights)

Close to the Pukara de Quitor ruins, this beautiful hotel is just 3 km outside of San Pedro de Atacama, nestles in the Katarpe Valley, and surrounded by the Salar de Atacama (Salt Mountains). The 32 suites come equipped with a minibar, internet access, a safe, and a telephone. The hotel also offers a restaurant, bar, spa, swimming pool, and a stargazing observatory.

Duration of the trip: 9 days / 8 nights

Including

  • 8 nights in the mentioned hotels

    • 1 night at Best Western Premier Marina Las Condes**** in a Standard Room, Santiago de Chile
    • 1 night at Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza**** with breakfast in a Standard Room, Colchagua Valley
    • 2 nights at Hotel Elqui Domos*** with breakfast in a Standard Domo, Elqui Valley
    • 4 nights at Hotel Alto Atacama ***** with all-inclusive in a Catarpe Room, San Pedro de Atacama
  • 8x breakfast, 3x lunch, 4x dinner

  • Private city tour which includes pre-Columbian museum admission in Santiago de Chile and a tour guide

  • Tour and wine tasting (group basis) at the wineries in Santa Cruz and Viña Viu Manent in the Colchagua Valley

  • Stargazing at Santa Cruz Winery - on a group basis

  • Observatory tour at Hotel Elqui Domos - on a group basis

  • Private excursion to the Elqui Valley with a tour guide

  • All-inclusive program at Hotel Alto Atacama includes full board, accommodation, bar until 23:00, access to the wellness area (sauna, steam bath, indoor whirlpool, etc.), excursions, and an English or Spanish-speaking tour guide - on a group basis

Excluding

  • International flights

  • Domestic flights: Santiago de Chile - La Serena, La Serena - Calama (via Santiago); Calama - Santiago de Chile

  • Meals and drinks not mentioned in the scope of services

  • Excursions and entrance fees not mentioned in the scope of services

  • Personal expenses, such as minibar and tips

  • Visa, if required

  • Insurance