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Excursions

(LSR103) HALF DAY EXCURSION TO THE INTERAMERICAN OBSERVATORY CERRO TOLOLO
Duration: 6 hours approx.
Available: All year.
Operates: Saturdays only.
Notes: Subject to weather conditions and availability. Advanced registration is compulsory. 
Reservations should be made directly by visitors (Tololo Observatory website).
Description: Located 80 kilometers (47 miles) east of La Serena at an altitude of 2,200 meters (7,260 ft.) the Cerro Tololo Observatory is part of the NOAO (National Optical Astronomical Observatory) operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). Its geographical location, light pollution from nearby cities and the nearby desert have turned it into one of the best places in the world for astronomical observation. More than 100 scientists and students from over 50 institutions visit it each year. For the public, previously booked visits can be made at 9Am or 1PM and consist in a tour of the Observatory’s facilities, and a basic astronomy lecture supported with images of galaxies, supernovas and other universe phenomena. 

(LSR105) FULL DAY EXCURSION TO LA SILLA OBSERVATORY. 
Duration: 9 hours approx.
Available: All year, except the months of July and August. 
Operates: Saturdays only. 
Notes: Subject to weather conditions and availability. Advance booking is strictly necessary. 
Reservations should be made directly by passengers through the observatory's website.
Description: The La Silla Observatory is located  150 kilometers (93 miles) north of La Serena and at an altitude of 2,400 meters (8,050 ft.). La Silla is an ESO (European Southern Observatory) stronghold, financed by eight countries. Its infrastructure includes fourteen domed buildings with the same number of telescopes and one radio telescope, of which there are only four in the world. The visit consists in an astronomy lecture and a guided visit of the installations. The visit to the Observatory lasts approximately 3 hours.

(LSR201) HALF DAY EXCURSION OF LA SERENA AND COQUIMBO
Duration: 3 hours approx.
Available: All year.
Operates: Daily.
S.I.B Operation: Daily. Departure time at 10:00 and 15:00 hrs.
Notes: Museums closed on Mondays and holidays. 
Description: Our tour begins with a visit to the historic center of La Serena, where noticeable efforts have been made to preserve the neo-colonial style of its buildings that include 29 churches, a romantic avenue of reproductions of Italian-style statues and historic mansions dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. Our next stop is at the Archaeological Museum with its collection of the El Molle, Animas and Diaguitas cultures. A visit to the La Recova crafts market comes next followed by a drive down to the El Faro lighthouse, from where we venture on the seafront avenue to Coquimbo, the most important port in the region. We end our tour at the La Herradura summer resort and Guayacan Bay where legend says pirate Francis Drake came ashore in 1578 and led one of the several attacks on La Serena carried out by buccaneers from the 15th to the 17th century.  

(LSR202) EXCURSIÓN MEDIO DÍA OBSERVATORIO TURÍSTICO MAMALLUCA (AMATEUR)
Duration: 5 hours approx.
Available: All year round, except for December 24, 25 y 31 and January 1st.
Private Operator: Daily. 
Regular Operator: Daily. Departure time at 7:30PM (in summer) and 6PM (in winter)  
Notes: Subject to weather conditions. Night tour. 
Description: Located in the heart of the Elqui Valley, 9 kilometers (5 miles) from the town of Vicuña, the Cerro Mamalluca Touristic Observatory offers night tours to enjoy an amazing night gazing at the stars. Its installations include a 12-inch telescope donated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) as well as a planetarium and visitor’s center. The tour includes a lecture, followed by an audiovisual projection of images of the universe, especially stars in the Southern Hemisphere that can later be observed through the telescope.  

(LSR203) HALF DAY TOUR TO THE COLLOWARA TOURISTIC OBSERVATORY (AMATEUR) 
Duration: 5 hours approx.
Available: All year round.
Private Operator: Daily, requires early reservation.
Regular Operator: Daily. Departure time at 7PM (in summer) and 6PM (in winter)  
Notes: Subject to weather conditions. Night tour. 
Description: Departure to the village of Andacollo to climb to the summit of Cerro Churqui, some 1,300 meters (4,265 ft.) above sea level. The Collowara Observatory takes its name from “The Star of Andacollo” and its observation equipment is world class, allowing a view of space in all of its dimensions. The tour includes an introductory lecture, supported by a multimedia presentation on the groups of stars, galaxies and planets that will later be observed in detail. We also have a chance to see the Observatory’s four high-definition telescopes, especially the Cassigrein Smith telescope with a moon-walk menu and capable of taking impressive photographs. End of tour and return to hotel.

(LSR204) TOUR TO ALFA ALDEA PLANETARIUM
Departure time: 18:00 hrs. 
Description: This tour starts out with a drive along the Gabriela Mistral international route to enter the Elqui Valley and reach the city of Vicuña, the gateway to the clearest mystical starry skies of the planet. From here, the route continues on to the Alfa Aldea planetarium, the only touristic natural observatory of the Star Region. Once there, a guide specializing on the basics of astronomy offers an overview of the history of the universe and invites visitors to identify some planets, stars and constellations. During the tour, participants will be spoiled with wine, Pisco Sour (a popular alcoholic beverage), cheese and salami snack and a hot broth to warm up.

(LSR301) FULL DAY EXCURSION TO THE ELQUI VALLEY WITH LUNCH
Duration: 8 hours approx. 
Available: All year.
Operates: Daily.
S.I.B Operation: Daily. Departure time at 09:00
Notes: Museums are closed on Mondays and holidays. Includes lunch
Description: Because of its privileged location, the Elqui Valley is well known for its beautiful scenery and special energy. Both features can be enjoyed by visitors during this expedition that starts in Vicuña, the capital city of the district and birthplace of poet Gabriela Mistral, Nobel Prize winner in Literature. We continue with a tour of a Pisco distillery plant, where besides learning about the production process you will also be able to taste this unique liquor and its many varieties. Later we head to the village of Monte Grande, with only 380 inhabitants, to visit Gabriela Mistral’s tomb and the home-school where she lived as a child, that has been turned into  a museum. Return to hotel. 

(LSR305) FULL DAY PISCO ROUTE WITH LUNCH 
Departure time: 09:00 hrs. 
Description: This excursion heads from La Serena to the Elqui foothills. Some villages are visited on the way, with a longer stop at Paihuano to take photos. Later, the Mistral Pisco distillery will be visited in Pisco Elqui with a VIP tour of the premises, to learn about the Pisco-production process and later enjoy lunch at the restaurant. The second half of the day will be spent visiting Pisco Elqui’s crafts area, the local Plaza de Armas square and church (one of the few buildings in Chile designed by Gustav Eiffel, constructor of the Eiffel Tower in Paris). End of tour and return to La Serena.  
 
(LSR302) FULL DAY EXCURSION TO ISLA DAMAS WITH BOX LUNCH
Duration: 12 hours approx.
Available: All year round.
Operates: Daily.
S.I.B Operation: Daily. Departure time at 08:00 hrs.
Notes: According to weather conditions. Includes box lunch
Description:  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. We return to the continent to enjoy a typical lunch in the Oasis sector and later visit the Los Choros settlement, where we can sample extra virgin olive oil and olives. End of tour and return to La Serena.
Note: On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from March to December no trips are allowed to the island, except for the school winter vacation period, September national holidays and long weekends.

(LSR303) FULL DAY EXCURSION TO ENCHANTED VALLEY AND TABALI VINEYARD WITH LUNCH
Duration: 8 hours approx.
Available: All year round.
Operates: Daily, must be booked in advanced.
S.I.B Operation: Daily. Departure time at 08:30 hrs.
Notes: Includes lunch.
Description: Departure at 8:30AM from the hotel heading south along the coast, going by beaches of the region including La Herradura and Las Tacas. We turn into a rural road that leads to the Valle del Encanto National Monument, an open air museum with remains of the Molle culture and other groups of hunters who lived there around 2,000 B.C. Petroglyphs, pictographs and carvings in rocks in the form of cups that were used to grind grains and prepare paint are highlights of the park. The expedition continues to Viña Tabali for a visit of its wine cellars and to taste some of the wine estate’s varieties such as Reserva Especial, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, among others. End of tour and return to hotel.

(LSR304) FULL DAY EXCURSION TO FRAY JORGE NATIONAL PARK & ENCHANTED VALLEY WITH LUNCH
Duration: 10 hours approx. 
Available: All year.
Notes: Includes lunch
Operates: Daily.
S.I.B Operation: Daily. Departure time at 08:30 hrs.
Description: Departure from hotel driving south of La Serena for some 101 kilometers (62 miles) until reaching the Fray Jorge National Park. This 100 km² park is known for its Valdivian type hygrophilous forest that includes the canelo and olivillo trees as well as ferns - not common to the area as they are mainly found in southern Chile. Our excursion includes a 40-minute walk to admire the arid, semiarid and forest ecosystems of the park.  After enjoying lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll travel along a rural road towards Valle del Encanto. An enormous variety of petroglyphs can be found here, such as masked tiaras, human figures with antennae, solar symbols and pictographs (drawings that involve forms, lines and application of natural paint) illustrating snakes and fishes. End of excursion and return to hotel.  

(LSR306) FULL DAY BIRTHWATCHING EXCURSION
Duration: 9 hours approx.
Available: From September to March 
Operates in private: From Tuesday to Sunday, subject to weather conditions and state of routes to travel.
Others: Light clothing, sunscreen, moisturizing liquid are suggested.
Includes: lunch
Descripción: Upon leaving the hotel, an environmental education tour focused on birdwatching in the coastal wetlands of southern Coquimbo begins. The Estero El Culebrón is visited in Coquimbo; The wetlands Salinas Chicas and Salinas Grandes in Tongoy; The wetland of Pachingo and Puerto Aldea, south of Tongoy. Between Estero de Tongoy and Puerto Aldea, it will be possible to see the osprey, among other species of native and endemic birds. We will also enjoy the gastronomy of Tongoy and the beautiful coastal landscapes of the area.

(LSR307) WHALE WATCHING EXCURSION AT CHAÑARAL DE ACEITUNO
Duration: 10 hours approx.
Available: From November to March 
Operates in private: Daily, subject to weather conditions and state of routes to travel.
Others: Light clothing, sunscreen, moisturizing liquid are suggested.
Includes: Lunch, Entrance to the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve and navigation ticket
Descripción: After leaving the hotel, take the road north to visit the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, sailing around Chañaral Island to identify marine wildlife. If you are lucky, you can find some cetaceans such as dolphins and whales. Returning to the mainland, lunch in a typical food restaurant and the process of olive oil production is also known. After lunch, you can look for terrestrial fauna such as foxes and guanacos and finally, return to La Serena during the afternoon.