View a total solar eclipse in Chile and explore the stunning Atacama Desert
Witnessing a total solar eclipse, one of nature’s most spectacular astronomical phenomena, is a truly memorable experience. As the moon’s shadow passes over the Earth’s surface, you are plunged into an eerie darkness. At totality, as the last of the sun’s light disappears, it is difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the epic scale of the event. For most, this is a once in a life time opportunity and one that can only be enriched by being viewed in a beautiful location. On 2 July 2019 a total solar eclipse will draw a path through the sky over central Chile. The best place to view this event is at the vineyard-filled slopes of the Elqui Valley.
All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner are included. All areas offer good quality local and international meals. Beef is very popular in Chile, especially steak, and the majority of dishes tend to be quite meaty. There is also delicious, freshly-caught fish and seafood in the areas closer to the coast. Service can be slow in restaurants so do not expect European standards. Vegetarian food is available in many of the restaurants but options may be limited. Please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests.
Those on group flights will leave London today for an overnight flight to Chile.
The group flight arrives at Santiago International Airport and we transfer to our hotel approximately 40 minutes away. Those not flying with the group will meet us at the hotel. *Hotel Providencia or similar*
After breakfast we leave the city behind and venture into the beautiful wine region of the Maipo Valley. While here we will have the opportunity to explore two of Chile’s most prestigious vineyards. Undurraga Winery, located in the heart of the valley, was one of the pioneers of winegrowing in Chile. The vineyard’s first vinestock came from France and Germany, with varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot now cultivated. Doña Javiera is a family business further along the valley and was declared a Historic Monument of Chile in 1974. We will have a tour of its 18th century cellar and learn some of the vineyard’s history. The tour ends with a tasting of fine wines while enjoying panoramic views of the area. *Hotel Providencia or similar*
The historic World Heritage city of Valparaíso, or Valpo for short, is Chile’s oldest port and home to the country’s National Congress since democracy was re-established in 1989. The Pacific coast is just a short 1.5 hour drive from Santiago and today’s excursion will give us an interesting insight into Chilean culture. The city’s many hills are covered in a glorious sprawl of multi-coloured houses covering every nook and cranny, creating a spectacular panorama which can be enjoyed from a number of vantage points. Strolling through the streets of Valparaíso is a fascinating experience which enables us to soak up the quirky and bohemian atmosphere, different to anywhere else in Chile. We’ll visit the UNESCO recognised historic city centre, in addition to the parliamentary building, and the War of the Pacific memorial. Due to the steep terrain in some parts of the city, it is home to numerous funicular lifts that transport residents up and down the hillsides to avoid climbing through the narrow streets. Many of these lifts have fallen into disrepair and sit suspended in time, hidden amid the labyrinth. However there is a drive to restore as many as possible and we’ll be able to use one of the most iconic functioning lifts on our way to a viewpoint. In the afternoon we will return to our hotel in Santiago. *Hotel Providencia or similar*
In the morning we fly to Calama near the Atacama Desert where we transfer to our simple hotel in the town of San Pedro de Atacama. Once we have checked in, the leader will offer a short orientation tour of the town for anyone who wants to join. At dusk we transfer to the Valley of the Moon. This bizarre lunar landscape is set ablaze with colour at sunset, the strange rock formations framed by the Lincancabur Volcano. We'll stay until the sun goes down to enjoy the array of colours before returning to San Pedro. *Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar*
This morning we have the option of visiting the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). Located at 5000m in the driest non-polar desert in the world, ALMA is the largest astronomical project in existence and is expected to provide insight on star birth during the early universe. *IMPORTANT: As group bookings are not accepted, each person must register directly at * www.almaobservatory.org/en/visits/public-visits *">http://www.almaobservatory.org/en/visits/public-visits">www.almaobservat... for the morning of June 29th 2019. As demand for this tour can be high and places are limited, we strongly recommend that you register on the ALMA website as soon as this Exodus departure is guaranteed (the status of the departure can be checked on the ‘Dates & Prices’ tab of this tour).* For anyone that does not wish to visit the ALMA observatory, this morning is free to relax or explore the town of San Pedro de Atacama. This afternoon we head to the Atacama Salt Flat. A salt lake of huge proportions (3000 sq km/1,158 sq miles), its surface is covered by a thick layer of snow-white salt crystals as far as the eye can see, caused by the evaporation of the lake’s water. The world’s largest lithium deposits are found here, but the salt pan is also home to several flamingo species, including the Andean, Chilean and James flamingo, who feed on the micro-organisms found in the saline lagoons. We then transfer back to San Pedro de Atacama in the evening. *Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar*
In order to experience the El Tatio Geysers we’ll have to get up very early to reach the geyser field (located over 4300m/14,108ft above sea level) in time for sunrise! The fountains shoot up to 10m/33ft high, occur when the morning sun melts the nightly ice caps that form over the hot springs. The sun’s first rays reflect an array of colours as they mix with boiling jets coming from the geysers to create eye-catching contrasts of steam and light. At around midday we’ll head back to San Pedro for some free time. There is an optional astronomy tour tonight that can be paid for locally (depends upon availability - doesn't operate on full moon days). *Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar*
Today we fly to La Serena, our base for the next three nights. Depending on flight schedules, our free time on this day will either mostly be in San Pedro de Atacama or La Serena. *Hotel Cristóbal Colón or similar*
We begin our day with an introduction to the Elqui Valley; a narrow strip of land winding westward towards the coast. Surrounded by cactus-covered hillsides, this fertile valley thrives with crops such as papaya, figs and grapes. The latter is used for ‘Pisco’, Chile’s famous grape brandy, for which this valley is famous for. We stop at a distillery where we learn about the production process of Pisco (and enjoy a drink or two). In the small town of Vicuña, we will visit the Bauer Tower (the old city hall), the church, and the main square before continuing on to the Cochigua wine valley to enjoy lunch. In the afternoon we transfer to our site not far from Vicuña to witness the total solar eclipse, one of the most spectacular celestial events visible from Earth. Experiencing this phenomenon is a truly memorable and epic experience and one that can only be enriched by being viewed in a beautiful location such as the Elqui Valley. Although totality only lasts for a couple of minutes, it actually takes over an hour for the moon to pass completely between the Earth and the Sun. During our time at the site we will also enjoy local produce such pisco sours, empanadas and homemade bread. *Hotel Cristóbal Colón or similar*
Heading north from La Serena, we take a coastal drive through dramatic, arid landscapes before reaching the fishing village of Caleta Los Choros. From here we board a small boat which takes us to the Humboldt Penguin Nature Reserve islands of Gaviota, Choros and Damas. Cruising by the first two of these islands (where tourists are not allowed to land), we’ll see countless sea lions and many types of sea birds on the shore, including cormorants and penguins. We’ll land at Isla Damas and if possuble stop for a picnic lunch near the white sandy beach before taking a stroll around this beautiful island. If you climb the hill, make sure to be on the lookout for whales in the bay. Even if you aren’t rewarded with a sighting, you’re almost sure to get a close-up view of the nature reserve’s friendly dolphins during the boat trip to or from the island – one of the highlights of the tour. *Hotel Cristóbal Colón or similar*
A short transfer takes us back to La Serena Airport where we fly back to Santiago (flight times can vary) and have the remainder of the day free to enjoy our final evening in Chile. *Hotel Providencia or similar*
The trip ends after breakfast. Those on the group flights will be taken to the airport in time for their flight home.
Arrive back into London.
* All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner * Internal flights * All accommodation * Tour leader throughout * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
Exodus is an award-winning company built on adventures. It started life on 4 February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments. They continue to discover countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles - exploring this amazing planet we all live on.
At Exodus, they know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, they always remember that they are only guests. So they ensure they travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise their impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved. This is a philosophy they take around the world, helping you reach some incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across 90 countries – choose from walking, cycling, culture, wildlife and even polar adventures in guided groups or self-guided, tailor-made for you or a ready-made itinerary in Peru or India, Costa Rica or Italy – the choices are endless. They also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as possible, making it simple for you to experience a very different holiday.
All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure with their combined experiences spanning 171 different countries and in their former lives, some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus – all guaranteed to give you the very best adventure possible. Extensive planning, research, fact-finding and training are just some of the ways this expertise comes through in your adventure.
Exodus recognises their obligation to operate their tours in a responsible and sustainable fashion to address the environmental, economic and social impact tourism can have. They are committed to the well-being of the communities that host you and the natural environment that you are there to experience. Key points in their philosophy include small groups which have less impact on local communities and environments, putting money directly into the communities visited by using locally owned and run accommodation and eating locally produced food, ensuring local staff and operators receive a fair rate for their services, encouraging their own staff to take an active interest in responsible and sustainable tourism and train them accordingly, endeavour to ensure that their practices help in the environmental conservation of the areas visited and provide their clients with advice and guidelines on how to respect the social, cultural and religious beliefs of local communities.
You can contact Exodus directly by: