Experience the astronomical highlights of Chile, known as an astronomer's mecca, during this 8-day adventure. Visit some of the world's most technologically advanced observatories and stargaze beneath some of the clearest skies on earth. Begin your tour exploring the coastal capital of Chile's Coquimbo region, La Serena. Visit the Archaeological Museum, which will introduce you to destinations you'll later see in person. The next stop is the lush, wine-growing area of the Elqui Valley, home to the Gemini Observatory. Tour one of the largest observatories in the southern hemisphere, La Silla, before making your way north to the Atacama Desert. Here you'll explore the Valley of the Moon and see the famous El Tatio Geysers. Visit your final observatory, ALMA, before making your way home.
Watch the sunset from the giant sand dunes in the Valley of the Moon
Explore the salt flats of Atacama Desert
View the stars from some of the clearest skies on earth
Tour some of the world's most technologically advanced space observatories
Arrive in La Serena and transfer from the airport to your hotel downtown. After settling in, meet your guide for a city tour, that includes visiting the Historic Center, La Recova and Archaeological Museum.
Early this morning, transfer from your hotel in La Serena to Gemini Observatory. Gemini Observatory consists of a 27-foot telescope, with a sister observatory located in Hawaii. The twin telescopes are some of the most advanced optical telescopes available and between the two of them, can provide near-complete coverage of the whole northern and southern skies.
After the visit, drive back to Valle del Elqui, where you'll have lunch at a local restaurant. Your guide will show you around the main square, where you can find a handmade craft fair. Visit a local “Pisquera” to learn about the process of making different pisco products and visit the village of Monte Grande, home to a museum dedicated to the life and work of Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral. Transfer to your hotel and settle in for the evening.
Early in the morning, transfer to astronomical observatory, La Silla. La Silla has three telescopes and is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. After your tour, enjoy a box lunch en route while transferring to your hotel in La Serena.
This morning check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport. After a short scenic flight, arrive in Calama and be driven to San Pedro de Atacama, in the middle of the desert. The afternoon is at your leisure to relax or explore San Pedro on your own.
Explore on your own this morning or join the optional archaeological tour for an additional fee.
In the late afternoon, visit the giant dunes and polychromatic rock formations of the Valley of the Moon. Located 13km/8 miles west of San Pedro in the Salt Mountain Range, the valley has beautifully strange lunar landscapes and is considered one of the driest places on the planet. Explore Valle de la Luna in time to witness a spectacular sunset and enjoy a cheese and wine cocktail. You will surely feel the immensity of the desert stretching out all around you.
The very early wake-up call from the hotel is well worth it when you arrive at the amazing Tatio Geysers and see them in action. From almost 900 meters below the earth, boiling steam bursts up to 40 meters over the surface of these spectacular geysers. A scrumptious breakfast is served upon arrival before you walk through the geothermal fields with the geysers erupting nearby. As you drive back, there is a magnificent view of the Tocopurri and Sairecabur volcanoes. Arrive back in town in time to have lunch and the afternoon is free to rest after the early start, high altitude, and low temperature you faced in the morning.
This evening you have the option of joining an Astronomic Dinner for an additional cost.
Today, you will visit the ALMA Observatory. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) took over a decade to build and is a collection of 66 different radio telescopes, designed to spot some of the furthest and most ancient galaxies. After the tour, which usually lasts around 4 hours, transfer back to San Pedro de Atacama for free time.
Day 8: Fly Santiago and Home
After breakfast check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport. Board your flight to Santiago where you can catch your connecting flight home.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!