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stacks_image_229Chile is considered by most of astronomers as the center of astronomical exploration. The Atacama Desert in the northern part of the country provides clear skies to astronomers over 340 days a year, without clouds, but also without humidity, as it is the second driest place in the world with an average of less than 1% moisture throughout the year. Cities (usually small in size with less than 100,000 inhabitants) are 300 to 500 kilometers distant from each other, allowing astronomers to benefit from nights with practically no parasite. This is why the Atacama is the region of the world with the largest concentration of telescopes, including the biggest ones of our planet: the Very Large Telescope (VLT) located on the Cerro Paranal, south of Antofagasta; the New Alma telescope located next to San Pedro de Atacama; Geminis, La Silla and many others … No wonder that the country offers excursions to astronomy lovers into those places, to practice their passion with specialists and observe the stars under the best conditions. No need to be a big passionate to be interested in observing the night sky. We offer you just an example of a path in relation to astronomy. You can use only a small part and include it in a more “classic” route.

A 12-day journey
that begins in Santiago and Valparaiso, then goes around the “Little North” region around the Serena, where most of Chile’s telescopes are: the Silla Observatory (made up of 19 telescopes) La Campana (LCO), Cerro Tololo IAO and Blanco, Gemini … Continue your trip to the north to the brand new ALMA Observatory (Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array). Make a stop to visit the wonders of the Salar area and its surroundings. You will then go back South to the center of the Atacama desert, and to the South of Antofagasta to visit the Very Large Telescope (VLT) which overlooks the Cerro Parranal at over 2600 meters above sea level. Throughout this itinerary, you can observe the stars of the Southern Hemisphere in sites that welcome serious amateurs for long nights of observation.
This route can be the basis for creating your own route. Think about preparing your trip well in advance. The more you get there early, the more you’ll get competitive rates, and the more you’ll have choice in hotels and flights, much in demand during the high season from September to March. Quickly fill in our online questionnaire and we will get back to you with a tailor-made itinerary.

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Santiago (Ch) - Valparaíso (Ch) - Chiloe (Ch) - La Serena (Ch) - Observatoire La Silla (Ch) - San Pedro De Atacama (Ch) - Antofagasta (Arg) - Cerro Paranal (Ch) - Santiago (Ch)

Day 1 – Santiago (Ch)

✈ Arrival in Santiago. Welcome to the airport. Transfer to the hotel. Discovery of the capital. Visit of the city market with its various fish displays. Visit of the historic center of the capital, Plaza de Armas and its historic buildings: La Moneda (presidential palace), Casa Colorada (colonial house), San Francisco Church (the oldest building in Santiago). Visit of Santa Lucia park, located on the hill where the city was founded. Night in Santiago.

Day 2 – Valparaiso (Ch)

Departure for the famous port of Valparaíso, classified World Heritage of Humanity in 2003 (1h30 drive). Discover the old districts by taking the elevators that pace the hill, classified national monuments. Discover the Bellavista district and its open-air museum. Visit of Pablo Neruda’s residence. You will discover the whole universe of the poet with unusual collections and fetish objects. Night in Valparaiso.

Day 3 – La Serena (Ch)

Transfer to Santiago airport ✈ Flight to Santiago / La Serena (1 hour flight).Transfer to the hotel. Discover the old colonial town and its craft market. Night in La Serena.

Day 4 – La Silla astronomical site (Ch)

Discover La Silla observatory located 150 km north from La Serena. The site is more than 2440 m above sea level, with over 14 buildings with telescopes. Departure at the end of the day for the village of Vicuña, a pleasant place with its plot, its church, its tower and its craft market. Visit of El Pangue, initiatory astronomy observatory, observation of the stars. Night in Vicuña.

Day 5 – The Elqui Valley (Ch)

Discover the magnificent valley of Elqui with its vineyards on the mountainside. You will cross many small villages including the one of Gabriel Mistral. Lunch at Pisco Elqui. On the way back visit the Pisco Capel Distillery with Pisco tasting, a national alcohol. Departure by night bus (large and comfortable seats, reclining at 180º as the ones in business class while taking the plane).

Day 6 – San Pedro de Atacama (Ch)

Arrival in San Pedro de Atacama, archaeological capital of Chile and oasis located at the foot of the Andes mountains (1h15 of road). Discover this typical Atacaman village with its 18th century church (one of the most beautiful of Chile with its roof made of cactus wood), its place and its beautiful surroundings. Night in San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 7 – San Pedro de Atacama (Ch)

In the morning, visit by foot of Pukará de Quitor, a 12th century Atacaman fortress reinforced during the occupation of the Incas. Discovery in the early afternoon of Le Paige museum (45 minutes). Discovery of the Death Valley and the Moon Valley, with its natural statues made from geological formations of salt and sand. Climb of the sand dunes to observe the amazing colours of sunset over the Andes and the Licáncabur and Lascar volcanos. Night in San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 8 – San Pedro de Atacama (Ch)

Departure for Salar de Atacama, the largest in Chile. Stop at the Chaxa lagoon, housing a colony of flamingos. Crossing and stop in the heart of the Salar. Visit of the village of Socaire, pre-Hispanic village known for its terraces irrigations. Arrival at the Laguna Miscanti and Laguna Miñiques, two lakes nestled at an altitude of more than 4300m in the national reserve “Los Flamencos”. Passage to Socaire. Visit of the village of Toconao, built of volcanic white stone, and the Jerez canyon, a lush oasis of fruit trees and small streams at the bottom of a natural fissure. Night in San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 9 – San Pedro de Atacama (Ch)

Early departure (05:00 am) for Geysers del Tatio located at 4300 meters of altitude (bring warm clothes) that let their strange fumaroles of sulfur water vapor. Breakfast on site. Possibility of swimming in the natural thermal pool of the site. During the trip, discover the fauna: Vizcachas (marsupial between rabbit and squirrel), vicuña, guanaco and llama (all three of the camelid family), wild donkeys, Ñandus (wild ostrich), Zorro … Visit of the remote village of Machucca. Free afternoon in the area. Nocturnal observation to discover the starry sky. Night in San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 10 – Astronomy Site El Paranal (Ch)

Departure to Antofagasta (3 hours’ drive) and stop on the way to the Chacabucco mine. Discovery of the city. Night in Antofagasta.

Day 11 – Site Astronomique El Paranal (Ch) – Visits on the last two Saturdays of the month

Discovery of El Paranal observatory located 150 km south of Antofagasta in the Atacama desert. It is known as an Eldorado for astronomers thanks to its pure and clean sky. The European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) installed its Very Large Telescope (VLT), the world’s most powerful observatory. Night in Antofagasta.

Day 12 – Antofagasta – Santiago (Ch)

Transfer to airport ✈ Flight Lan Airlines Antofagasta / Santiago (2h flight). Transfer to hotel ✈ International flight.