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Chilean Eclipse & Northern Highlights

Tour Code: CHL07

A 15-day tour to discover three fascinating regions of Chile and witnessing a total solar eclipse .

15 days from £5195(inc flights) Land Only Price: £4195 SRS: £825


Chile is a land of great beauty, a land of extremes where deserts meet oceans and snow-capped volcanoes touch deep blue skies. This tour starts by exploring Santiago and surrounding valleys including La Campana National Park and the historic port of Valpariso. The second part of the tour is based in the North of Chile, close to the border with Peru. Here the Las Vicuñas National Park gives us chance of seeing high-altitude wildlife, including the Vicuñas for which the reserve is named.    
The final segment of the tour takes us to the town of La Serena, our base for the eclipse. A pre-eclipse lecture will help set the scene for and help you to gain the most from the event before we head inland to our selected viewing point for the eclipse. Before returning to Santiago a boat trip to Isla Damas will give opportunities to see marine mammals and seabirds.   
  • Explore historic Valpariso
  • Visit Maipo Valley vineyards
  • Pre-eclipse lecture
  • Witness a total Solar Eclipse from the Andes
  • Las Vicuñas National Park
  • Enjoy geysers & thermal pools, saltpans & flamingoes
  • Pelagic excursion on the Pacific in search of seabirds

Food

Breakfasts are included throughout in addition to six lunches.

Accommodation

Comfortable hotels with private facilities.

Outline Itinerary Download

1 Depart the UK

2 Santiago

3 La Campana National Park

4 Valpariso

5 Fly Arica

6 Arica

7 Las Vicuñas National Reserve

8 San Pedro de Atacama

9 Salt Flats

10 El Tatio Geysers

11 La Serena + Eclipse briefing

12 Eclipse Day

13 Isla Damas

14 Depart Chile

15 Arrive UK

Chile’s unusual geography, encompassing a huge span of latitudes and range of altitudes, gives the country a diverse variety of flora and fauna. This tour provides the opportunity to see some of its special wildlife whilst enjoying the landscapes and culture of this fascinating country and witnessing a total Solar Eclipse.

Beginning in the capital, Santiago, we will enjoy the comforts of the city and use it as a base to explore the wider area. La Campana is a small but very interesting national park to the north-west of Santiago. Designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1984, the park is home to one of the last forests of the Chilean Wine Palm and a number of endemic plant species. During his voyage around South America in the 1830s, Charles Darwin visited the area and climbed La Campana peak. Set in a natural amphitheatre with rows of colourful and historic buildings, the port city of Valpariso is one of Chile’s most scenic cities.

From Arica, a coastal town close to the Peruvian border, we will see a good range of sea and shorebirds such as boobies, cormorants and the beautiful Inca Tern. The leisurely drive from Arica will take us through a succession of vegetation zones, the landscape initially sparsely vegetated apart from scattered cacti but becoming progressively more verdant as we increase in altitude. Andean Condor, Torrent Duck and Giant Hummingbird are just a few of the spectacular birds likely to be encountered during this picturesque ascent. In Las Vicuñas National Park, in scenes that seem to epitomise the high Andes, we should also find domestic herds of Alpaca and Llama on the mountain slopes together with smaller parties of wild Vicuña, Guanaco and Viscacha.

From Arica we fly south to Calama and transfer to the desert town of San Pedro de Atacama for three nights. Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, San Pedro is the base for excursions to see some of South America’s iconic scenes such as the El Tatio geyser field, the rock formations of the Valle de la Luna and beautifully symmetrical volcanic cones. Returning to Calama we take a short flight to La Serena, our base for the eclipse. A lecture will prepare you for all to see during the eclipse the following day.

On the day of the eclipse we will drive along the cactus-covered hillsides of the Elqui Valley, where crops of papaya, figs, chirimoya (custard fruit), apricots and peaches grow. We will visit a distillery where the local grapes create the ‘Pisco’ – Chile’s famous grape brandy – for which the valley is particularly famous. Following lunch in the Cochigua wine valley we will make our way to the eclipse site in plenty of time to settle in and prepare ourselves before the start of the eclipse, as the excitement builds. Seating and refreshments will be available.

As the Sun drops towards the north-western horizon, the final rays of the Sun will cut through the valley of the moon producing a ‘diamond ring’ shape and then, at 5.38pm, the eclipse will become total. For two-and-a-half minutes the most extraordinary sight will greet you: against a deep blue sky, the Sun will be surrounded by pearly wisps of the corona – the Sun’s outer atmosphere – and around the disk, pink flares may be visible. The brighter stars and planets will become visible. A total eclipse is truly one of the most awe-inspiring sights in nature. As we journey back to our hotel in La Serena our thoughts will be filled with the otherworldly vision that we have just witnessed.   

A short drive north along the Pacific Coast will bring us to the harbour of Caleta Los Choros, from where we will take a boat trip to a group of islands called Gaviota, Choros and Damas, which lie just off the coast. The boat will stop at Isla Damas with its beaches of white sand and semi-desert landscape. The seas around the islands are rich with seabirds and marine mammals. As the tour draws to a close we’ll fly back to the capital for an evening and overnight before boarding our flight home the following day.

Payachata volcanic group at Lauca National Park, ChilePlaza de las Armas square in Santiago, ChileToconao Village, Atacama, ChileValle de la Luna - San pedro de atacamaVicunas and alpacas Las Vicunas National Reserve, ChileSolar EclipseDamas Island near La Serena, ChileLa Serena and Coquimbo, ChilePlaza de las Armas square in Santiago, ChileSolar EclipseValparaiso, ChileWinery in Santiago, ChileEl Tatio Atacama region, ChileFlamingos at Atacama Desert Salar, ChileGeysers, Atacama desert, ChileMoon Valley, Atacama Desert, Chile

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DeparturesAvailableCost

Fri 21st June 2019 - Fri 5th July 2019

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£5195

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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £4195 More info

Room sharing options: Male sharing is available More info

Visiting: Chile

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David Phillips
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