trip in the Valley of Elqui River
The Coquimbo Region enjoy visitors all year around mainly because
its mild climate, beautiful beaches, dramatic landscapes, fascinating
history and activities related to special interests such as astronomy,
agriculture, and gastronomy. La Serena, the capital of the IV Region
of Chile is proud of its Spanish colonial style architecture preserved
in this compact and quiet city where history allows the visitor to
wander through the past by visiting the well documented archaeological
museum. The nearby city of Coquimbo is a well established port with
a natural harbor for the increasing volume of exportation of the early
table grapes from the Region to all parts of the world, together with
the export of minerals and fish products.
The micro climate of this Region also enables the plants and flowers
to enhance the public and residential areas with various hibiscus,
floribunda, poinsettia and bougainvillea in profusion. Visitors enjoy
lingering in this Region to savoir the delights of its many and varied
attractions and to partake in the traditional hospitality, taking
time to taste the local gastronomic dishes, wine and of course to
try the 'pisco', the national drink of Chile, which is made by the
distillation of wine into a type of clear brandy and produced in this
1 LA SERENA - CITY TOUR & ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
and transfer to Hostal del Mar (3*std), located in front of the ocean.
Afternoon visit to La Serena, the second oldest city in Chile after
Santiago, which maintains a Spanish neo-colonial style. The heritage
of the city includes 30 churches, a romantic avenue of replica classical
Italian statues and townhouses dating from the last century. We will
visit the Archaeological Museum which gives insight into the early
history of the El Molle, Animas and Diagüita cultures and their
impact on the settlement of this region with examples of their craftsmanship
in their remaining artifacts. Continue to visit the picturesque handicraft
market of "La Recova", full of typical crafts, papaya products
cultivated from the Elqui Valley, jumpers knitted from alpaca wool,
ceramics with Diagüita designs, crafts in "combarbalita"
stone and jewellery specially crafted from the lapis lazuli semi precious
stone which is only found in this region of Chile and the Americas.
We will enjoy a panoramic view from the hill of the University of
La Serena over the city and the bay of Coquimbo affording a splendid
opportunity for a photo stop.
The tour progresses through the residential areas, modern sector provides
a colorful backdrop with beautiful gardens of hibiscus, bougainvillea
and poinsettias amongst many other flowering plants which thrive in
this warm climate all year round; the Lighthouse, El Faro, the symbol
of La Serena and along the Avenue of the Sea with its beaches, modern
hotels, pubs, discos and restaurants, showing how this area has responded
to the recent growth in tourism.
The traditional fish market by the Port of Coquimbo is typical of
this region, showing the great variety of fish and shellfish which
are available. This colorful scene shows the main industry of the
city and its close connection with the ocean. Meals on your own. Overnight.
LA SERENA - NATURE & PENGUIN RESERVATION "DAMAS ISLAND"
Full day tour driving to the north towards "Norte Chico,"
a semi-desert area with scarce vegetation dominated by cacti. The
route continues over long curving hill roads and low accesses that
allow you numerous perspectives of the rocky coast. In the morning
it is possible to observe a permanent thick fog above the hills, the
"camanchaca", and unique "Fog Water Collection System"
supplies water collected by nets to the coastal fishing village of
Chungungo. Arriving at the small fishing village of Caleta Punta de
Choros, which is 122 kilometers from La Serena, from here the Gaviota,
Choros and Damas Islands can be seen, they form part of the Humboldt
Penguin Natural Reservation and are administered by the National Forestry
Corporation (CONAF). From here the tour departs in a small motorized
fishing boat, with life jackets supplied, the wearing of which is
compulsory. The boat navigates around the three islands in safe waters
depending on weather conditions. There is the opportunity to admire
the marine life of this area. In the waters surrounding Choros Island
lives a colony of bottlenose dolphins, unique in that this is one
of only three colonies in the world. Usually they can be seen often
performing jumps and pirouettes, but they do occasionally migrate
to the surroundings. In the rocky shoreline of Choros Island are handsome
sea lions and a large variety of seabirds, often penguins can be spotted.
At the beautiful and uninhabited Damas Island the tour disembarks
to enjoy a box lunch and admire the pristine beaches. There will be
free time after lunch to walk, rest, swim, or simply admire nature
before returning by boat to the Caleta Punta de Choros and from there
driving back to La Serena during the evening.
LA SERENA - VALLE DEL ELQUI
The tour of this vibrant valley last all day but leaves the tourist
feeling more energized that when he left in the morning. The valley
is tinged with an esoteric air and many insist that it is the "energy
centre" of the world .This place is a geographic configuration
which is unique in the world. It is a narrow, but fertile strip of
land where vegetables, papayas, lucuma, chirimoya trees (custard apple),
and grapes grow alongside the hillsides, covered with cacti, of the
semi arid desert. The tour departs from the city of La Serena along
Route 41 towards Vicuna going alongside the banks of the river Elqui
which provides irrigation for this fertile valley. The newly constructed
Puclaro dam will eventually hold 200 million square meters of water
and 750 hectares of vineyards will be flooded. On the mountain top
the white domes of the Toloto Observatory can be spotted, it is located
in this place because of the clearest atmosphere in the world. No
less surprising are the vineyards, with different varieties of Moscatel
and Torontel grapes which are used to make one of the most characteristic
liquors of Chile "Pisco" which is produced and bottled in
the region. The short tour of the pisco distillery enables one to
see the processes involved in the distillation of wine into this clear
liquor. Visit the cellars, exhibition room and enjoy a tasting before
continuing towards the town of Vicuña. This is the main town
of the valley, 60 kilometers from La Serena, and is also noted for
being the birthplace of Gabriela Mistral, the Nobel Prize winner for
literature. There will be time to see the Bauer Tower (old city hall),
Vicuña's church and the main square. Leaving Vicuña
behind the valley narrows and the mountains become higher and steep
sided with the contrasting green vineyards occupying the valley floor.
Here the vines are grown for the early exportation of table grapes
from the Port of Coquimbo. Lunch will be in a typical restaurant and
is included in the full day tour. Set against the clear blue skies,
on average there are 300 clear days per year, there are breathtaking
views of this magical valley with its incredibly pure mountain air,
close to the mystical Cochiguaz valley. The tour begins its descent
down the valley, stopping at the tomb of Gabriela Mistral in the village
of Montegrande and a visit to the old schoolhouse where she spent
her childhood and is now a small museum. On the return to La Serena
enjoy seeing the mountains with their ever changing colors and the
abundance of fruit, vegetables and vines grown in this unique and
fertile valley, full of sunshine and the clearest of skies.
Return to La Serena to the Hotel. Dinner on your own. Overnight.
LA SERENA - SANTIAGO
Day at leisure, according to your flight departure, we suggest any
of the optional tours. At the agree time transfer to the airport.
Min 2 persons
up to April 2007
- 3 nights accommodations with private bath with breakfast included
- Meals: lunch in full excursions
- All transfer in/out airport La Serena
- Daily private collective tours with bilingual guide (English)
- Entrance fees.
NOT INCLUDED :
- Tips and extra expenses as laundry, meals and drinks out of
program and other items not mentioned
- Other languages like German or Italian speaking guides
- Airfares or taxes
- Any type of insurance.
excursion begins in the morning with a drive along the coast of the
Coquimbo Region passing by such resorts as La Herradura, Totoralillo,
Las Tacas and Morrillos. As the Pan-American Highway veers inland
there is opportunity to observe the customary thick fog that settles
above the coastal hills (known as the "camanchaca"). After
turning off the Pan-American the remaining route to Fray Jorge National
Park is 27 kilometers of country road which is unpaved and passes
wheat fields, goat herds and the traditional goat cheese stands Fray
Jorge became a National Park in 1941, and was declared a Reserve of
the Biosphere in 1977 by UNESCO. Within Fray Jorge's 9,559 hectares
the visitor can observe the contrast between the semi arid hills that
predominate in the park and the groves of forest similar to those
that cover southern Chile. The tour stops at the Visitor Centre for
an introduction to the Park before climbing 560 meters to the top
of the hill for a guided forty minute walk during which the cinnamon,
myrtle and olivillo trees can been seen growing above a carpet of
ferns. This unusual abundant vegetation can grow in this area because
of the coastal clouds (or camanchaca) which forms due to the cold
moisture-laden air coming off the ocean and condensing upon hitting
the high ridge. The high altitude vegetation takes advantage of the
moisture in the clouds, allowing a forest typical of Southern Chile
to survive in the arid north. After the tour of the cloud forest the
descent to the semi arid sector is in sharp contrast for here can
be observed the natural flora and fauna, especially the foxes and
a great variety of birds, birdwatchers bring your binoculars! After
a box lunch in the camping area the tour leaves the Park to continue
towards Ovalle and a visit to the Enchanted Valley, The Enchanted
Valley is located 19 kilometers southwest of Ovalle and was once a
vast amphitheatre which was once a religious sanctuary and has become
an open air museum of scientific and cultural interest. Here petroglyphs,
pictographs and characteristic mortars ground into the rock whisper
of days long gone when the Indians of the El Molle culture inhabited
this beautiful valley of gargantuan boulders and murmuring streams.
After a guided walk to enjoy the magic of this valley and to see the
archaeological remains the tour returns to La Serena along an inland
route in the early evening.
per person US$ only available on saturday
day excursion departs in the morning from La Serena driving south
along the Pan-American Highway with opportunity to admire the beautiful
beaches of La Herradura, Las Tacas and Guanaqueros. Leaving the coast
behind there is an opportunity to observe the permanent thick fog
settled above the coastal hills (the camanchaca) which produces the
high humidity of this area. Going inland towards the east the great
variety of crops grown in this fertile valley can be seen including
the "pepino" or sweet cucumber. Continuing along the route
of the grapes the tour arrives at the "Francisco de Aguirre Vineyard"
which is situated on the gentle rocky slopes of this semi arid valley
which stretches from the Andes Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
After a visit to see the different vineyards with an explanation of
the complete process of Chilean winemaking, the visit is topped off
by an enjoyable tasting in a natural underground cave. Leaving the
vineyards behind, the tour continues to the picturesque town of Ovalle,
capital of the Limari Province. This city is where leading producers
of fruits and vegetables come from the surrounding rural villages
to market their wares. The day includes a typical lunch in a traditional
Chilean restaurant. Leaving Ovalle the tour continues to the Enchanted
Valley National Monument.
Here petroglyphs, pictographs and characteristic mortars ground into
the rock whisper of days long ago when the Indians of the El Molle
Culture inhabited this valley of gargantuan boulders and murmuring
streams. After a guided walk to enjoy this magic valley which is an
open archaeological site museum of scientific and cultural interest.
The tour returns to La Serena along an inland route in the early evening.
per preson US$