Chile Astronomy Tour
Join Sky & Telescope in Chile, the "astronomy capital of the world"! From March 27th to April 4th, 2014, we'll visit world-class observatories, see breathtaking landscapes, and observe in crystal-clear night skies.
We’ll start the adventure in Chile’s capital and largest city, Santiago. In addition to a tour of this thriving economic and cultural metropolis, we’ll visit the University of Chile’s astronomy department to talk to the scientists and see some of their historic telescopes.
Next, we’ll fly north to the beautiful coastal city of La Serena. Besides tours of La Serena and its neighboring city Coquimbo, we’ll spend an evening at Observatory Collowara, where Chilean amateur astronomers will show us the glorious deep-sky wonders of the Southern Hemisphere through their telescopes. If you’ve never seen the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, and deep-sky spectacles such as the Tarantula Nebula and globular cluster 47 Tucanae, you’re in for a real treat!
The following day we’ll drive to the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, home to more than a dozen professional telescopes, including the 4-meter Blanco Telescope, which has been a workhorse of professional research since the 1970s. That night, we’ll visit the Observatory El Pangue, where expert amateurs will give us views though their telescopes, including a 25-inch Dobsonian and a 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain.
Then we’ll take yet another flight north, to the city of Calama in the Atacama Desert. We will then be transported by bus to the quaint tourist town of San Pedro de Atacama. San Pedro will be our home for the next several days as we visit spectacular desert scenery, including the Valley of the Moon, the Valley of Mars, and Rainbow Valley. We’ll see an active geothermal area and you’ll have the option to swim in mineral spring waters.
The trip will wind up with a flight back to Santiago, where everyone can stay a few extra days on their own, or fly back to their home countries.
See below for a detailed itinerary, and for more information, contact Spears Travel
|Chile Itinerary at a Glance|
|1||Santiago||Hotel Fundador (★★★★)||Transfer|
|2||Santiago||Hotel Fundador (★★★★)||City tour|
|3||Santiago/La Serena||Hotel Francisco de Aguirre (★★★★)||Walking Tour; night visit to Observatory Collowara|
|4||La Serena/Vicuña||Hotel Vicuña (★★★)||Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory; night visit to Observatory El Pangue|
|5||Vicuña||Hotel Vicuña (★★★)||Elqui Valley, Observatory Cerro Mamalluca|
|6||Vicuña/San Pedro de Atacama||Hotel Casa Don Tomas (★★★★)||Free day in San Pedro; night observations in Ayllu de Solor|
|7||San Pedro de Atacama||Hotel Casa Don Tomas (★★★★)||Andes; hot springs of El Tatio; Valleys of the Moon and Mars|
|8||San Pedro de Atacama||Hotel Casa Don Tomas (★★★★)||Domeyko Mountains, Rainbow Valley, petroglyphs|
|9||San Pedro de Atacama||-||Transfer|
Detailed Tour Itinerary
March 27: We will meet at the SCL Santiago Airport, where private vehicles will bring you to Hotel Fundador, a four-star hotel located in the heart of Santiago.
In the afternoon, we'll tour Santiago, Chile's capital and one of the safest and most modern cities in Latin America. We'll visit Santiago’s civic center, which displays Chile’s historical, architectural, and cultural heritage. We'll also see distinguished museums, buildings, ancient churches, squares, and parks, including the metropolitan cathedral, the Precolumbian Art Museum, the Plaza de Armas, the Palacio de la Moneda, the Stock Exchange, the Court House, the Forest Park, the ENTEL Tower, the Casa Colorada Museum, and the Club Hipico (Riding Club).
In the evening, we'll visit the Collowara Observatory, located on the summit of Cerro Churqui, 37 miles (59 km) southeast of La Serena. Inaugurated on June 25, 2004, the observatory is a scientific, tourism and education center. The 14-inch Cassegrain-Schmidt telescope and three observation decks offer plenty of opportunity to appreciate the night sky.
In the afternoon, we'll travel to Vicuña, eating a box lunch aboard the bus. We'll also have a snack at a local restaurant as we arrive before we settle in at the three-star Hotel Vicuña.
In the evening, we'll transfer to El Pangue Observatory for a night excursion. The observatory takes its name from the surrounding area, Hacienda El Pangue. The observatory's several telescopes include a 25-inch Newtonian, 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain, and a 12-inch Orion Sky Quest.
In the evening, we'll visit the nearby Cerro Mamalluca Observatory to do some observing with the observatory's 12-inch telescope.
April 1: Today we'll fly to the Calama airport on our way to San Pedro de Atacama. Travel includes a transfers between the hotels and the airport. Once we arrive, we'll settle in at the four-star Hotel Casa Don Tomas before heading out for the city.
San Pedro de Atacama is considered the archaeological capital of the country due to its privileged geographical surroundings. The city is located 6,600 feet above sea level and is the center of the Atacama culture. The Padre Le Peige museum downtown exhibits about 4,000 rakes, innumerable mummies, weapons and pottery from the Atacama Indians. At night, we'll observe in Ayllu de Solor.
On our return we'll travel through the imposing Andes mountain range, observing plants and animals in their pristine, natural habitat against an incomparable volcanic backdrop. We'll visit Machuca, a small village with an antique church located near El Tatio, then we'll make an excursion to the Valley of the Moon and the Valley of Mars: salt mountain ranges formed by successive foldings from the bottom of an ancient lake. An easy trek will take us to the top of a great dune, where we'll be able to appreciate the sunset and the changes of colors on the mountains.
April 4: On our final day, we'll transfer from San Pedro de Atacama to Calama Airport before making the connection in Santiago for our international flights back home.
Customer Reviews from 2011 Chile Tour
"The drivers were excellent. I felt that Sky & Telescope's reputation caused the observatories' guides to give us a much better tour than I suspect ordinary members of the public get."
"The professional observatory visits were wonderful."
"The trip was excellent."
"For novice amateurs like me who do most of our stargazing through Sky & Telescope magazine, it was quite an epiphany."
Tour Price Per Person (without air to Santiago):
Double – $4,650.00
Single – $5,400.00
Book Now! Download the Booking Form (PDF)
Items included in basic tour land price:
- Arrival and departure transfers in a private coach with local guide
- Private coach and guide for touring days
- Local English-speaking guide
- Meals as mentioned in the itinerary. The hotel stays will include American Breakfast Buffet.
- Entrance fees to museums and national reserves as mentioned in the itinerary
- Cocktails and beverages as mentioned in the itinerary
- Mineral water
- Transfers and excursions as mentioned in the itinerary
- Accomodations (depends on providers' availability at time of booking; if not available, a similar hotel will be booked)
Items NOT included in basic tour land price:
- International airfare to and from Santiago
- Passport fees
- Visa fees
- Travel insurance (highly recommended)
- Airport transfers if not arriving or departing with group
- Beverages unless otherwise noted
- Room outside of normal check-in/check-out times
- Optional excursions or pre and post trips
- Tips and gratuities
- Personal expenses and anything not listed in the included list