Valle de Elqui

This valley is famous for its pisco, the Nobel prize laureate Gabriela Mistral and its beautiful and clear skies, ideal for astronomical observation.

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Versión en Español Valle del Elqui

90 kilometers east of La Serena, Valle de Elqui is literally another world. The valley takes its name from the river running from the mountains to the sea and fascinates visitors with fruit orchards, vegetable plantations and clear night skies perfect for astronomical observation. The valley enlightens the spirit with alternative medicine, yoga and meditation. It is nationally recognized for centralizing several practices of alternative medicine, yoga and meditation.

There are many who take advantage of the streams and the small villages to find peace, tranquility, while also enjoying a pleasant and constant Mediterranean climate. But there’s more: the valley is home to adventure sports, stargazing, wine and pisco tasting. These spirits are made from the grapes that ripen along the valley’s hillsides.

The area is ideal for cycling, hiking, windsurfing and horseback riding. The valley is located between hills that frame a panoramic view, and the area’s geography offers different possibilities to get to know this place little by little.

Every sense will come alive with guided visits to astronomical observatories at Cerro Pachón and Cerro Tololo. You will have the chance to admire the clearest skies in the southern hemisphere, as well as different production plants that distill pisco from grapes that have been growing in these fertile lands for centuries.

Valle de Elqui’s unique energy seems to emanate from Cerro Cancana. This hill is believed to be the geographic antipode of the Himalayas. Some people in the area say that NASA once measured the hill’s energy, which came to 1,500 electromagnetic mega units, the highest on Earth. Whether this is true or not, several people have started a spiritual life in the valley, leaving the traditional urban living model far behind.

In order to get here you have to take the CH-41 highway to La Serena, turn right when you get to Rivadavia, and take the D-485 highway going up into the valley.
Buses go as far as Pisco Elqui, and can be taken from Coquimbo or La Serena.

Puclaro Dam

21 kilometers east of Vicuña. 760 hectares which have been flooded in order to accumulate irrigation water. It is considered one of the best places in Chile for kitesurfing and windsurfing. Puclaro has a natural ventilator, ensuring strong winds practically all year round.

Vicuña

This is the largest city in the valley, birthplace of poet Gabriela Mistral, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945. There is even a museum in the city commemorating the writer. A visit to the Capel Pisco Plant is also highly recommended, where visitors can see all stages of the pisco production process. A visit to the Mamalluca observatory is something not to be missed.

Mamalluca

9 kilometers from Vicuña, the Mamalluca observatory invites visitors to gaze at the sky, stars, galaxies, planets and satellites with powerful telescopes. Moonless nights are ideal, since stargazing improves the darker it gets.

Montegrande

A town with stately homes and vineyards. Montegrande welcomes visitors with a wide variety of restaurants, meditation centers and handicrafts, including the Zen Art Gallery. The Artesanos de Cochiguaz pisco factory is right next to the town’s square.

Pisco Elqui

It is the valley’s main tourist attraction with the widest variety of lodging and restaurants. This is a small, picturesque town that still showcases architectural heritage in its old manor homes and the Nuestra Señora del Rosario chapel. The oldest distillery in the region, Solar de Pisco Mistral, is just on the outskirts of town. The distillery can only be visited by taking the guided tour. Don’t miss the Solar restaurant.

This post is also available in Spanish