Hotel in north Chile takes astro-tourism to a whole new level
Hidden away in an Andean valley under Chile’s famous clear skies, Elqui Domos offers a comfortable stargazing experience that’s out of this world.
Monday, September 24, 2012
The domes at Elqui Domos offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to take in the world’s clearest skies as you drift off to sleep. Photo courtesy of Elqui Domos / Facebook.
Across the globe, hotels that cater to amateur astronomers are hard to come by, and ones that are built specifically for stargazing are almost unheard of. That is what makes Elqui Domos so special.
Not only does this tent and cabin lodge have access to the world famous clear skies of Elqui Valley in northern Chile’s Coquimbo region, every aspect of the hotel is designed with astronomy in mind.
Around since 2005, Elqui Domos was dreamt up by a couple local to the Elqui Valley.
“My wife and I have always loved looking at the stars, and we thought about how wonderful it would be if we could observe them in bed at night,” owner Esteban Zaráte told This is Chile. “We teamed up with architect Nicolás Fones and Elqui Domos was born.”
The tented portion of the “astro lodge” is comprised of several unique “geodesic domes,” tailor made for the hotel and for stargazing.
Resting upon stilted platforms, the domes have two levels. The ground floor provides a living area and bathroom, while the top floor has a retractable hatch allowing guests to view Elqui Valley’s breathtaking skies from the comfort of their own beds.
“Astro-tourism has really been growing in Chile over the last fifteen years, but we were the first to design a hotel around the concept,” Zaráte explained. “Northern Chile has the perfect ingredients for astronomy. Not only are we in the rich skies of the Southern Hemisphere, we have low humidity, and also a lot of help from the local municipality.”
The skies in the region are protected by the Office for the Protection of Stars, which ensures that no development occurs in the area that would introduce high levels of light pollution. In return, Elqui Domos offers free astronomy tours to local children who normally have no access to telescopes.
This year, Elqui Domos went under refurbishment and a series of cabins were added, again specifically designed to cater to stargazers but with a higher level of luxury than the domes.
As well as the personal telescopes available in every room, the lodge also has two onsite observatories with eight inch and nine and a quarter inch telescopes to take you deep into space. The observatory also plays host to lectures on astronomy and the history of Latin America’s indigenous astronomers from local experts.
For many, the highlight of the trip is nighttime horse trekking, while in the day treks, wine tasting, massages, yoga, and spending time poolside are all options.
Chile is well known for being the astronomy capital of the world, and if you’re out here for a spot of stargazing, why not do it in style.
Visit the Elqui Domos website here. Domes can sleep four, cabins three, and prices start at US$120 per couple per night.