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Chile Southern Skies Tour

$2,975.00

SANTIAGO. SAN PEDRO de ATACAMA. ELQUI VALLEY. VALPARAISO.

Over the last few decades, Chile has transformed into a world-leading country in the field of astronomy. Many international collaborations have taken shape and northern Chile is now hosting the majority of the most powerful astronomical ground-based observatories on Earth. A rare set of factors in this arid lunar landscape – very little rainfall, crystal-clear skies, high altitudes of 2410 to 4270m and low-to-zero light pollution – have created an unparalleled stargazing haven. It is no coincidence that the otherworldly Atacama Desert is a major hub for astronomical research and home to a clutch of cutting-edge observatories. Diverse landscapes unfurl over a 4300km stretch: parched dunes, fertile valleys, volcanoes, ancient forests, clear rivers, massive glaciers and fjords.

This 11 day Chile tour is for stargazers and nature-lovers alike.
AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Category:

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Highlights Include:

  • Exploring the lunar landscapes of the Atacama Desert
  • Stargazing at some of the world’s top observatories
  • Visiting the mystical Elqui Valley
  • Wandering the maze-like streets of Valparaiso
  • Sampling delicious Chilean cuisine and fantastic wines
  • Admiring the incredible scenery of the deserts, coast and Andes

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Day 1: Arrival Santiago & Flight to Calama
Upon arrival you will transfer to San Pedro de Atacama. On arrival we transfer to our hotel in San Pedro de Atacama, elevation 2300 m (7,600 ft). This is the high Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth. No significant precipitation has been reported here since the Spanish colonial period. The rest of the day will be at leisure.They say the high quantities of quartz and copper in the region gives their people positive energy, and the good vibes of northern Chile’s number-one tourist draw, San Pedro de Atacama (elevation 2438m), are sky high. The popularity of this adobe pre-cordillera oasis stems from its position in the heart of some of northern Chile’s most spectacular scenery.
Free afternoon.

Meals: -/-/D
Overnight: San Pedro de Atacama

Day 2: San Pedro Tatio Geysers & Valle de la Luna
We leave the hotel super early this morning to see the spectacular geysers of El Tatio, elevation 4400m (14,500 ft), arriving before sunrise. Super-heated water gurgles in the frozen ground and emerges violently as steam in over 100 geysers, boiling pools, and fumaroles. The display is finished by 10:00. We then proceed to the hot spring called Termas de Puritama where we can enjoy a relaxing soak in the warm pools before returning to San Pedro. The return drive to San Pedro takes place around midday. The balance of your day is free to relax or explore.

In the afternoon you will visit to the Valle de la Luna to enjoy the sunset.

Probably the best-known destination around San Pedro is the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) that lies in the salt mountains, to the west of town. This tour into the rugged beauty of the Atacama Desert begins at dusk. With the Licancabur Volcano providing the backdrop, strange salt and rock formations in the middle of the valley’s barren sandy landscape really do look like a moonscape. After a tour past the bizarre natural rock and salt shapes, the excursion ends with a hike up a giant sand dune. From its highest point, a breath-taking view onto the valley and the Licancabur Volcano can be enjoyed. The setting sun bathes the valley in a light that changes with every minute, providing a mesmerizing play of colours. The return drive to San Pedro is after sunset.

Meals: B/-/-
Overnight: San Pedro de Atacama

Day 3: San Pedro – Salt Lake & Lagoons
This morning we explore this otherworldly landscape that surrounds us starting with the Chaxa Lagoon. The ground here is crusted with an inedible salt, and in the morning, a pinkish light comes over the horizon as the sun rises. While the crystalline ground is fascinating it’s the wild flamingos in the area often turn heads. We continue our excursion and marvel over the stark white plains of the Atacama Salt Flats.

We have lunch of local delicacies in the village of Socaire.

This evening we have a tour of SPACE, “San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations”. SPACE is the largest park of telescopes of any public observatory in South America (between 20 and 60cm diameter), correctly aligned to always provide the best possible view.

Meals: B/L/-
Overnight: San Pedro de Atacama

Day 4: San Pedro to La Serena – Elqui Valley
This morning we catch our flight from Calama to La Serena. From here is just over an hour drive to the amazing Elqui Valley. Framed by the ochre, cactus-covered hillsides of its semi-desert surroundings, the green floor of this river-watered valley thrives with papaya, figs, chirimoya (custard fruit), apricots, peaches, and especially grapes. Famous for its futuristic observatories, seekers of cosmic energies, frequent UFO sightings, poet Gabriela Mistral and quaint villages, this is a truly enchanting – and enchanted – area, and one of the must-visit places in Norte Chico.

The most famous product from the Elqui Valley is its grape brandy, pisco, and during a leisurely stopover at a distillery you’ll learn about the production process and enjoy a taste or two.

Meals: B/-/-
Overnight: Elqui Valley

Day 5: Full Day Tour – Elqui Valley
Today we enjoy a full-day exploring the beautiful Elqui Valley including the Gabriela Mistral Museum as well as a Pisco distillery.

This evening we visit the Mamalluca Observatory. Inside the observatory our tour begins with a high-tech audiovisual talk on the history of the universe, and end with the chance to look through the telescope. Guides are multi-lingual and are open to answer questions you may have. If you’re lucky, you might see a dazzling display of stars, planets, galaxies, nebulas and clusters, including Jupiter, Saturn’s rings, the Orion nebula, the Andromeda galaxy and Sirius.

Meals: B/L/-
Overnight: Elqui Valley

Day 6: Free Day – Elqui Valley & Alfa Aldea
Enjoy some down time today in our beautiful surroundings.

This evening we visit the Alfa Aldea. Held in the on-site amphitheater, tours start with a short video exploring the basics of astronomy, then get you up close and personal with the celestial bodies via scientific-grade telescopes. It’s an open-air event – the whole thing takes place under the star-filled sky and small group sizes mean plenty of telescope time for everybody – but it can get frosty so dress warmly!

Meals: B/-/-
Overnight: Elqui Valley

Day 7: Flight to Santiago
Today we transfer to La Serena for our flight to Santiago. On a clear day, Santiago basks in one of the most spectacular settings of any city in the world.

Meals: B/-/D
Overnight: Santiago Hotel

Day 8: Santiago Tour & OAA Observatory
Depending on interest our 1/2 day tour will include some of the the following: the Presidential Palace (La Moneda), the Plaza de Armas, and Cathedral.

The best views of Santiago and the Andes can be enjoyed from the summit of Cerro San Cristóbal, where a large statue of the Virgin Mary overlooks the capital. The hill is part of the Parque Metropolitano – the city’s largest municipal park – where many Santiaguinos spend the weekends participating in sports or enjoying a BBQ. After visiting the Cerro San Cristóbal, the tour continues through Providencia, one of the capital’s exclusive districts, with attractive shops, good restaurants and modern high-rise buildings.

This evening we have our last star-gazing activity at the Observatorio Astronomico Andino (OAA) complete with snacks and an outdoor bar.

Meals: B/-/-
Overnight: Santiago Hotel

Day 9: Santiago to Casablanca Wine Region to Valparaiso
This morning we continue our adventure to the colourful port city of Valparaiso. No trip to Chile is complete without a winery tour and tasting so en-route we visit a well-known winery in the Casablanca Valley. Chile boasts some of the best wines in the world and most of the country’s wine growing regions are located nearby Santiago.

Later this afternoon, we arrive to Valparaiso. Dilapidated, colourful and poetic, Valparaíso is a fabulous mess. Pablo Neruda, who drew much inspiration from this hard-working port town, said it best: ‘Valparaíso, how absurd you are…you haven’t combed your hair, you’ve never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.’
But Neruda wasn’t the only artist to fall for Valparaíso’s unexpected charms. Poets, painters and would-be philosophers have long been drawn to Chile’s most unusual city.

Maze-like streets, chaotic hillsides, and some of the best street art in South America, Valparaiso will certainly not disappoint.
Meals: B/-/-
Overnight: Valparaiso Hotel

Day 10: Valparaiso Walking Tour
With our local guide, we explore the sinuous streets and cerros (hills) of beautiful Valparaiso.

This evening we dine together and reflect on our wonderful adventure.

Meals: B/-/D
Overnight: Valparaiso Hotel

Day 11: Departure Day
Transfer to the airport in Santiago.
Buen viaje and thank you for travelling with Finisterra!

Optional Extensions:
Patagonia – 4nights/5days
Rapa Nui (Easter Island) – 4nights/5days

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SAMPLE HOTELS*:
San Pedro at Casa de Don Tomás Hotel
Pisco Elqui at Elqui Domos
Santiago at Hotel Montecarlo
Valparaíso at Cirilo Armstrong Hotel
*Hotels are subject to change

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Tour Inclusions:

  • 10 nights hotel based on double accommodation
  • 3 domestic flights (Santiago-Calama, Calama-La Serena, La Serena-Santiago)
  • Private transportation
  • Local guides for sightseeing and at observatories
  • All entrances and sightseeing mentioned above are included
  • All meals mentioned above: 10 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 3 Dinners
  • Gratuities for guides & drivers
  • All applicable taxes

Tour Exclusions:

  • International Flights (can be booked by [email protected])
  • Services and entrances not specified above
  • Mandatory Travel Insurance
  • Optional trip cancellation insurance
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Personal items
  • Passport, visa fees
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Dates: UPON REQUEST

DATE: NOV – APR Available upon request

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