“The deserts of northern Chile, whose dry, clear skies and high altitude make for unmatched stargazing…”. This is how the piece in which the New York Times’ travel section talks about Chile begins. The North American publication stresses the astronomical tourism boom developed in the past years in the area due to the presence of observatories such as Cerro Tololo, which has some of the biggest telescopes devoted to research.
However, other attractions of this valley are also highlighted, like the artisanal pisco distilleries and the little towns located in its surroundings. Here we present you some of the sector’s attractions.
Gabriela Mistral Museum: Located in Vicuña, where the Nobel Prize winner poet was born, and whose street is named after her, the museum has a permanent exhibition which tells us about her life through different patrimonial objects and texts. They were retrieved from her houses in Chile and United States while she worked as a consul. Besides the museum, the house in which Mistral was born and raised can be visited as well. The entrance is free starting this 2015 because the museum is part of the Dirección de Bibliotecas, Archivos y Museos (Direction of Libraries, Archives and Museums).
Los Nichos Artisanal Pisquera: This is the oldest active pisquera in Chile, that is, where the Pisco liquor is made. It was established in 1868. It is located in Pisco Elqui locality, Paihuano commune, deep inside the valley, and it is one of the few that still preserves traditional production methods of pisco. These are further explained in the guided tour done for free. There you can walk by the pisquera’s cellars that remain untouched since their foundation, and also buy the artisanal pisco produced there.
It can be an astronomical tourism center or a destination firmly on ground; there is no doubt that Elqui Valley has something to offer us, for any kind of preferences. This is why it is worth taking the New York Time’s advice and visit the place this 2015.
This post is also available in Spanish