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REACH FOR THE STARS IN CHILE

Chile is probably the best place in the World for star-gazing. Whether you are a casual star-gazer, or a professional astronomer, Chile is hard to beat. Astronomy is gaining popularity as more people are interested in the wonders of the sky and the mysteries of the universe. Much of this long country are sparsely populated which reduces light pollution. The dry desert climate in the north creates some of the clearest nights in the world and its location provides an ideal view of the southern sky. In the 1960’s, ESO (European Southern Observatory) built its Observatory La Silla in the outskirts of the famous Atacama Desert. In 2019, La Silla will celebrate 50 years of operation. 2019 will also be the year of a total eclipse in Northern Chile on July 02nd 2019. The Moon will cover the Sun completely in the late afternoon and turn the day into night. La Silla is organizing a ‘2019 Total Solar Eclipse Event’. Tickets sold out immediately. Accommodation almost anywhere in the zone of the eclipse also sold out a while ago. All is not lost however, we can offer a Glamping Experience for a 4-day/ 3-night trip from La Serena to the Elqui Valley (1-4 July). You will stay in the heart of the desert and be able to sip cocktails around a bonfire. A trip will be made to a unique observation point. Visit villages and sample the local cuisine and Pisco beverage. Other activities include sightseeing and bathing in thermal springs.

Even if you are not an astronomy enthusiast, the breath-taking view of the star-filled sky is always worth a visit. Tip: If you are heading to the Atacama, avoid the full-moon, so stars will be more visible. Contact us for more information and star-gazing programs in Chile.

RELATED: 8 Amazing Journeys You Should Take In Chile

5 Natural Wonders You Can See In Chile’s Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert in the north of Chile covers an area of 1,000 kilometres of land between the Pacific coast and the Andes. It is the driest desert in the world other than the Polar regions. Most explore the region by using the little town of San Pedro de Atacama as the base. A visit should be for a least three full days and will include visits to the most of the following natural wonder.

El Tatio

Flickr: Jen Morgan

El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio Geysers is the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world, as well as being one of the highest at 4,350 metres above sea level. There are over eighty active geysers, the highest of which erupts steam to over six metres. The name means oven in the Quechua language. You’ll need to get up early to see this natural wonder, tours depart around six in the morning.

Valley of the Moon

Located very close to the town of San Pedro de Atacama is the Atacama Desert. This bizarre landscape made up from varying colours of stone and sand formations make it look somewhat like the surface of the moon, hence the name. This desert area is one of the driest places on earth. No rain has dropped here in over a hundred years. Interestingly the area was used for testing the Mars rover prototype. Tours here usually arrive in the afternoon allowing for some time to explore before watching the incredible daily sunset.

Puritama Hot Springs

After a day of exploration, the Termas Baños de Puritama is the perfect place to relax. Now owned by the Explora hotel chain, these eight hot pools created from geothermal spring waters from the Atacama Desert canyon and 30 kilometres of so from San Pedro de Atacama.

Atacama Salt Flats

Another one of Chile’s most amazing natural wonders, the Salar de Atacama (salt flats) are the largest Chile at over 3,000 square kilometres. Amazingly as the sunsets and the temperature drops sharply, the salt cracks forming clusters. It is also home to many species of birdlife. It is located within Los Flamencos National Reserve.

Flickr: Naturaleza

Flickr: Naturaleza

Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons

Two more lagoons in Los Flamencos National Reserve are the Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons. There two lagoons were separated by a lava flow. Much wildlife can be seen in the area including Andean and Chilean flamingos, silvery grebe, Andean gulls, Andean foxes, vicuñas, Andean foxes and Darwin’s leaf-eared mouse.

Desert flowers

Arguably one of the best times to visit is during the desert flowering phenomenon that occurs between September and November. Although most of the region receives little to no rainfall, the El Niño causes a band of warm ocean weather along the coast which causes a little precipitation in the southern part of the desert. This germinates the dormant seeds producing a sea of wild flowers.

See our tours to the Atacama Desert here.

RELATED: 8 Amazing Journeys You Should Take In Chile

4 surreal landscapes in Latin America you have to visit

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Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
This has got to be at the top of the list. This vast expanse of salt stretching as far as the eye can see is truly one of Latin America’s most spectacular sights to visit. It changes at different times of the day and seasons of the year. During the wet season the ground mirrors the sky above making for spectacular photo opportunities. Why not take your own adventure to Uyuni.

roraima
Flickr/Fred Schinke

Mount Roraima, Venezuela
Mount Roraima lies on the border of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana and although it is not the highest mountain in Latin America it is certainly one of the most impressive. The 400 metre vertical cliffs that give the mountain its tabletop shape are often shrouded in mist giving the illusion that it’s floating. It’s one of earth’s oldest geological formations dating back 2 billion years.

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Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil
This vast area in north east Brazil is home to rolling sand dunes punctuated with pretty blue and green lagoons. You may be forgiven for thinking it’s just another desert, but it isn’t. Its location next to the Amazon basin means that the area gets huge amounts of rain in the wet season, which collects in pools between the dunes.  Eggs from by birds from the sea mean these pools are home to a variety of marine life.

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Atacama desert, Chile
This is an old favourite of ours. Located in the north of Chile next to the Pacific coast, it is the driest desert in the world. The 41,000 sq miles is home to a number of surreal landscapes including coloured lagoons, ragged red rock formations, lava flows and valleys and white salt flats. During the visit an early trip to the spectacular Tatio Geysers is a must. Start creating your own adventure to the Atacama.

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The desert blooms in Atacama Chile

atacama-flor_credit ESO,P. Pardo

Photo: ESO / P. Pardo

The Flowering Desert phenomenon is a once in a lifetime experience, a unique and surprisingly colourful spectacular. Once in a rare while, the climate changes to produce rains in the desert which then quickly blooms with the emergence of a wide variety of flowers usually between the months of September and November. This natural event transforms the usually arid landscape into a gigantic multicoloured garden. Some 200 species of flowers have been seen bursting from the sand after five times the annual rainfall in just one month. The event is particularly intense in the coastal area of the region, such as Parque Nacional Llanos de Challe national park, near the city of Vallenar south Copiapó, about 800 kilometres north of Santiago. Flowers are everywhere, emerging from the sand, around cacti, even seeming to sprout out of rocks. Often this event occurs during El Niño years which are every six or seven years. Due to its unpredictability few visitors get to see the event. Also in this region one can visit the Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar, (Sugarloaf Island), which is inhabited by a colony of Humboldt penguins, with clear water beaches where you can dive and fish and observe other animals such as guanacos and foxes. See our Chile holiday ideas.

RELATED: 5 Natural Wonders You Can See In Chile’s Atacama Desert

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