Chile Eclipse: Elqui Valley

11 days
from
£3,699
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Trip code: 
AAQ
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

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.

Highlights

  • Witness a total solar eclipse at Chile's beautiful Elqui Valley
  • The colourful Pacific Coast city of Valparaiso
  • Sunset over the Valley of the Moon in the Atacama Desert
  • Excursions to Atacama salt flats and El Tatio geysers

Key information

  • 10 nights hotels, all en suite.
  • Travel by internal flights, bus/minibus and boat
  • Some long distances covered
  • Easter Island extension available

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner
  • Internal flights
  • All accommodation
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Santiago
to
Santiago
  • Day 1

    Start Santiago

    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

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 2

    Full day excursion to the vineyards of the Maipo Valley

    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

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Full Day excursion to the enigmatic port city of Valparaiso

    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

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Fly to Calama; to San Pedro de Atacama

    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

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Visit to ALMA Observatory; explore Atacama Salt Flat

    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 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

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Excursion to El Tatio geysers; optional night-time astronomy tour.

    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

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Fly to La Serena

    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

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Eclipse Day!

    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

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 9

    Boat trip around the Isla Damas

    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

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 10

    Return to Santiago

    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

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    End Santiago

    The trip ends after breakfast. Those on the group flights will be taken to the airport in time for their flight home.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Post-trip Extensions

Easter Island (5 days / 4 nights)

Code: XAE

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 4,000km from the coast of Chile, is an island that still holds a very special magic and mystery. The Europeans discovered 'Rapa Nui', as the locals call it, on Easter Sunday and to this day it is simply referred to as Easter Island. But this island holds an intrigue far greater than one might imagine. So far from everything and everyone, isolated by the largest ocean in the world, it demonstrates a rich history, art, language and interestingly once even suffered a civil war ‐ all upon an island not 25 km across.

This 5 day extension will enable you to explore this triangular shaped island, with extinct volcanic cones in each of its three corners. Amidst an atmosphere of friendly Polynesian hospitality, the entire island is today an open‐air museum with approximately 900 Moai (statues), the tallest of which is 21m high. There is also the Orongo Village and many traditional cave dwellings open to view.

Please call for details (flight prices will be quoted separately to the price of the extension). Click here for the full webpage and access to the trip notes for this extension.

Essential Info

Visas

Chile

British, most European and most other nationalities, including Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders, do not require visas. All other nationalities should contact the nearest Chilean Embassy if in doubt. Citizens of Australia pay a fee on first entry into Chile by air (cash US Dollars only, no credit cards or cheques) $95 - valid for only 90 days). There is no fee for other nationalities at the time of writing. The one-time charge is valid for the life of your passport so keep the stub stapled in.

Vaccinations

Chile

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

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.

Weather

Since Chile is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are the reverse of those in Europe.  June and July is the coolest time of year to visit central and northern Chile. The average temperature in Santiago at this time of year is 10°C with a maximum temperature of about 15°C. San Pedro de Atacama is slighly warmer with a maximum temperature of about 20°C. The chance of rain is higher at this time of year but for the most part it is reasonable to expect dry weather on this itinerary.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is a one‐off departure to coincide with the total solar eclipse of July 2019. You will be accompanied by a local leader rather than a qualified astronomer. This is a busy itinerary that also visits the highlights of central and northern Chile. We travel by private bus/minibus and take three internal flights to allow you to experience as much as possible of this beautiful region in a short space of time. You should be aware that there are some long travelling days on this trip. If you wish to visit the ALMA observatory on day 5 of the itinerary, you must register directly with the observatory – please see the ‘Optional Excursions’ section of the trip notes for further details.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels and B&Bs

You will spend 10 nights in hotels or locally owned B&B’s. All rooms are en suite and average a 3 star rating.

Single accommodation (available on request).

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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