ELQUI VALLEY TOUR
Departure: 09:00 hrs. Until 18:30 hrs
(Minimun 4 paxs)
The tour of this vibrant valley lasts 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 center" 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, cherimoya 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 Vicuña going alongside the banks of the river Elqui that provides irrigation for this fertile valley.
The newly constructed Puclaro dam will eventually hold 200 million cubic meters of water, which will be used to provide water for irrigation. On the mountaintop the white domes of the Tololo 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. Vicuña 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.