In the Elqui Valley, five little known (and unique) places to explore northern Chile
With a soft climate and blue skies almost all year round, the village route in the Elqui Valley is perfect to immerse yourself in the simple things in life. It’s no coincidence that it was considered a “can’t-miss destination” The New York Times in January 2019. To go to the valley, you can land at the airport in La Serena, the first coastal city in Chile.
Famous for its clear skies, the valley is home to 11 observatories. In Pisco Elqui, you can go horseback riding at night and observe the stars through professional telescopes, among other activities. Before, visitors listen to an introduction about open-sky astronomy and do exercises to recognize celestial bodies.
The desert heat is intense and the restaurants Donde Martita and Delicias del Sol take advantage by preparing their dishes on 100% solar-powered stoves and ovens. The lamb casserole and porotos granados (bean stew) are to die for.
Donde Martita: Magallanes 15
Delicias del sol: Chiloé 164
Located 3,600 feet [1,100 m] above sea level, the boutique winery Cavas del Valle is the most septentrional in Chile. In their free tasting sessions, you can try varieties like merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, and malbec, in addition to the local moscatel rosada.
El Cepo Lake is at an altitude of more than 8,850 feet [2,700 m] in the valley of Cochiguaz. It’s a can’t-miss destination on the hiking route, which you can cover on foot or horseback. The trail is simple, but takes at least two days, requiring camping in the mountain.
Camping Río Mágico: Km 11 on the way to Cochiguaz
The house of poet and Literature Nobel laureate Gabriela Mistral is a beautiful museum, where her original manuscripts and several personal objects are on display.
On the same street, you’ll find five artisan ice cream shops that explore unique local flavors, like pisco and copao, the fruit of cactus.