Day 1 / June 30, 2019: Arrive Santiago
Day 2 / July 1, 2019: Santiago city tour - Flight to La Serena [B,L,D]
After breakfast, enjoy a half-day city tour in Santiago.
First, we’ll travel west toward the soaring Andes, past the Cerro San Cristóbal, an outpost of the mountains which towers over the city with a great white statue of the Virgin Mary crowning its summit. We will ride the cable car, located at the Pedro de Valdivia Norte entrance to reach the summit.
After lunch, we will continue with a visit to the presidential palace, named “La Moneda” because the splendid building once housed the national mint. Many other sights in the historic centre are clustered around the always-bustling Plaza de Armas: the impressive cathedral; the beautiful old post office; the Palacio de la Real Audiencia, now home to the National History Museum; and the Casa Colorada, once the Spanish governor’s residence.
After the tour, we will drive to Santiago Airport for our short flight to La Serena. Our guide and driver will meet us at the airport and transfer to our hotel. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in La Serena.
Day 3 / July 2, 2019: ****ECLIPSE DAY**** [B,L,D]
|Start of partial eclipse (C1) :||19:23:51.9|
|Start of total eclipse (C2) :||20:38:48.9|
|Maximum eclipse :||20:40:06.1|
|End of total eclipse (C3) :||20:41:22.9|
|End of partial eclipse (C4) :||21:46:54.6|
The return drive to La Serena is in the late evening. After the celebration cocktails, late dinner and overnight at our hotel in La Serena.
Day 4 / July 3, 2019 : La Serena [B,L,D]
Enjoy a full-day excursion to Elqui Valley. The Elqui Valley is a narrow, fertile strip of land winding eastward from the coast. Surrounded by the cactus-covered hillsides, this river-watered valley thrives with papaya, figs, chirimoya (custard fruit), apricots, peaches, and especially grapes. From these last is created the ‘Pisco’ – Chile’s famous grape brandy – for which the valley is particularly famous, and during a leisurely stopover at a distillery you’ll learn about the production process and enjoy a taste or two. In the small town of Vicuña, birthplace of Nobel Prize-winner Gabriela Mistral, you will visit the Bauer Tower (the old city hall), the church, and the main square, before continuing to the Cochigua wine valley, where you will lunch in a typical restaurant. In the afternoon, you will visit Gabriela Mistral’s tomb in the village of Montegrande, as well as the old school building, now transformed into a museum, where she spent her childhood.
After the tour, return to our hotel. Dinner and overnight in La Serena.
Day 5 / July 4, 2019: La Serena [B,D]
Early departure from hotel heading north. Our drive takes us through a semi-desert area populated with cactuses and from where the sector’s typical cloud banks or “camanchaca” can be observed. This unique dense fog that moves inland from the sea is formed when cold air associated with ocean currents originating in the Antarctic hits the warmer air of the mountain range. We drive for some 120 kilometers (74 miles) until reaching Caleta (Cove) Punta de Choros, where we board a small motor boat that takes us to Isla Damas, one of the three islands of the Pinguino de Humboldt National Reserve. It is the habitat for colonies of bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, seagulls and a wide variety of pelicans. Return to inland for lunch.
***Above tour is subject to weather conditions. If weather does not permit, we will do the following tour. ****
• LA SILLA OBSERVATORY
The observatory is 156 kilometers north of La Serena at an altitude of 2440 meters above sea level, it belongs to the Southern European Observatory which is financed by 8 European countries. It has 15 telescopes and a radio telescope.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 6/ July 5, 2019: Flight to Santiago [B]
Transfer to La Serena Airport. After a short flight, arrive Santiago and transfer to our hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure or you can join an optional Santa Rita Vinery tour in Maipo Valley.
OPTIONAL TOUR: Maipo Valley Wine Tour: Santa Rita
After breakfast, depart from Santiago, sit back and relax during the scenic drive to Santa Rita Winery. Boasting a dramatic backdrop of the Andes Mountains, the sculpted gardens and verdant splendor of the winery prove a spectacular sight. Greet your knowledgeable guide and begin your tour of the sprawling vineyards, learning about the 19th century origin of the vineyard as you wander. Explore the fermentation cellars and bottling plant to enrich your knowledge of traditional production methods, and then stand before the historical structure of Bodega 1 for a glimpse of typical colonial construction. Venture to the legendary landmark of Don Paula Restaurant, an establishment declared a national monument due to its colorful past. Hear about the 120 battle weary rebel soldiers who sought refuge in the restaurant, and how the courageous owner accommodated the revolutionaries. Sample the three varieties of the signature 120 wine, dedicated to this historical legend. Spend your remaining time at Santa Rita strolling the gorgeous gardens or observing the intriguing artifacts in the on-site Andean Museum.
Next, return to our bus to begin the short journey to Concho y Toro, stopping at a local restaurant on the way for refreshments (own expense.) Admire the winery’s picturesque position, enveloped by the Andean foothills, as you begin your tour of the Pirque Vineyards. Learn about cultivation and harvest methods are you walk amid sprawling vines, then descend into the atmospheric depths of the Cellar of the Devil to hear tales of the winery’s eccentric former owner. Educate your palate by sampling a sublime selection of wines in the elegant bar, trying signature wines such as Casillero del Diablo. Before returning to our hotel, purchase special souvenirs from the wine shop then relax during the smooth journey back to Santiago.
Day 7 / July 6, 2019: Departure from Santiago [B]
After breakfast (starts 6.30AM), check out. End of our services.