San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama is a small town situated in an oasis located in the high plateau of the second region. Formerly home to the Atacameños, its population is just over 2.500 inhabitants and it is possible to observe in this area some of the highest peaks of the Andes Mountain Range.

Today, its importance lies in the number of tourists from different parts of the world, attracted by its archeological history, which lead San Pedro de Atacama to be considered the archeological capital of Chile. The extension of its landscapes and its blue skies are spectacularly clear almost all year.

Given this, its natural weather conditions and being a privileged place to observe the stars, several astronomical activities linked to tourism are being developed. Some companies put in practice this kind of tourism. The tours begin with a geographical explanation of the skies and its constellations, continuing with the observation of the stars, the moon and its craters, and Saturn and its rings.

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Calama

Calama

Calama is located at 2250 meters above sea level. It has 150.000 inhabitants and is situated 215 kms. northeast of Antofagasta and 1568 kms. of Santiago. Its importance lies in being the nearest city to the Chuquicamata mine. It is the largest oasis in the mountain range area, proof of which can be seen in the surrounding plantations.

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Antofagasta

Antofagasta

Antofagasta is considered the fifth largest city in Chile. It is the capital of the Second Region. The "Pearl of the Far North" is located at 1361 kms. north of Santiago and has a population of around 255.000 inhabitants. This city is characterized for having grown as a long, narrow strip along the coast upto the hills of the Cordillera de la Costa Mountain Range. Its main activity is its bustling commercial life (Monday-Friday from 09:00am to 1:30pm and from 4:00pm to 9:00pm). Shipments of copper extracted from the largest worldwide open pit mines, such as Chuquicamata and La Escondida are loaded in this city.

 

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Vicuña

Vicuña

Vicuña is located in the chest of the valley, this village is found 62 kms. east of La Serena, on the International Route 41. It has been constituted as a unifying center of a number of picturesque villages scattered along this magnetic valley, including Rivadavia and Peralillo, among others.

This main city and capital of the valley was founded in 1821 by Colonel Joaquín Vicuña Larraín by supreme decree of Don Bernardo O'Higgins. It has a population of 23.807 inhabitants and its economy is based primarily on agro-industrial activities and tourism.

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San Isidro

San Isidro

San Isidro is located 3 kms. northwest of Vicuña. Its church is the big attraction. It has strokes of colonial brickwork in its interior. The Fiesta of San Isidro, which is held in May, in honor of the patron of agriculture, has great religious importance.

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Peralillo

Peralillo

Peralillo is located 5 kms. from Vicuña. It is one of the smallest in the valley and has only 978 inhabitants according to the latest census in 2002. Despite its small size, it is one of the most important localities in the Elqui Valley, maintaining a very characteristic structure around its main street,and where we can highlight its old adobe church.

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Montegrande

Montegrande

Montegrande is located 98 kms. from La Serena and 31 kms. from Vicuña, within the Rio Claro Valley, southeast of the capital of the Elqui Valley.

Among its main attractions are the tomb of the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, as well as her House-School where the 1945 Nobel Prize winner practiced her profession of teaching. Both have been declared national monuments, making it obligatory for tourists to visit. These words from her last testament are inscribed on her tombstone:

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Pisco Elqui

Pisco Elqui

A few kilometers further up the valley of Rio Claro, we can find this village of 500 inhabitants, Pisco Elqui. It is characterized fot its production of pisco. For most tourists, visiting the pisco factory is a must.

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Cochiguaz

Cochiguaz

From Pisco Elqui, following a narrow winding path of gravel to the southeast, you reach the town of Cochiguaz. It is known for its UFO legends, but it is also known for its various centers of alternative therapies, which offer tourists healing through meditation, yoga, reiki, among other alternatives.

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La Serena

La Serena

La Serena is the capital of the Fourth Region. This city of churches is recognized as the second city of tourism, following Viña del Mar and the second oldest in the country after being founded in 1541 and rebuilt in 1549 by Francisco de Aguirre. This beautiful city is located 480 kms. north of Santiago and it has a population of about 180.000 inhabitants. La Serena has become the place for an ideal escape for those who love tranquility and relaxation.

La Serena has had a boom in recent years due to the exports of fruit, pisco production in the interior valleys, mining, increasing tourism and a variety of offers related to the industry and, why not mention, the installation of major astronomical observatories.

There are several alternatives for sightseeing, starting off with a tour of its 12 beaches, highlighting the lighthouse ” El Faro”, monument for which this area is named after, Cuatros Esquinas, Canto del Agua and Peñuelas among others, a nice walk downtown starting a journey from the Avenue Francisco de Aguirre with its trees and marble sculptures, its many churches, such as, San Francisco and The Cathedral, both national monuments, continuing with its marvelous Archaeological Museum and finishing off at the prestigious Recova, municipal market from the colonial era, standing out for having the best arts and crafts fair in the city. Here, we can appreciate craftsmanship in stone, figures in combarbalita stone, semiprecious jewelry in lapislazuli, ceramics with Diaguita motifs and articles of alpaca wool.

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Coquimbo

Coquimbo

Coquimbo is a town ll kms from La Serena. Its population is 188 thousand inhabitants and it is the main port of the region. Unlike the city of churches, in Coquimbo the fishing industry, distilleries, tanneries and construction stand out. In recent years, tourism has also had an increase, without skeptically looking at its neighbor La Serena.

Its people are more humble and hardworking, but everyone works together in the development of the city - a port city where its streets and attractive promenades give way to enchantment for tourists visiting throughout the year in unsuspected numbers. At the port, they offer boat rides for visitors and, in recent years, more and more luxury cruises such as the Discovery World and the Crystal Serenity are reaching this port.

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Andacollo

Andacollo

Andacollo is located 57 kms. southeast of La Serena, embedded between 2 hills, reaching 1100 meters above sea level. To get to this small town is not very difficult. It is only 50 minutes by car from the capital of the region. On our way, we can find many streams and picturesque villages.

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Combarbala

Combarbala

Combarbalá is a small town located in the Limarí Province at the Coquimbo Region with a population about 13.483 inhabitants. Their economic activity is agriculture, exploitation of goats, stone crafts combarbalita and now finally to the tourist industry driven by the Cruz del Sur Astronomical Center, located on the outside of town.

Originally inhabited by people as prehispanic culture Diaguitas, Combarbalá enjoy attractions such as petroglyphs on the "Rincón de las Chilcas", the Petrified Forest just 5 miles from the town and the San Francisco de Borja Church, which dates from 1754 and is one of its symbols and historical monuments of the town. Has a semiarid climate, with humidity not exceeding 50% and has a high clear skies, ideal for astronomical tourism development, but even with the opening of an observatory designed for this activity was opened in early 2009.

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