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Chilean Eclipse & Astronomy Tour

Tour Code: CHL06

A 13-day tour discovering Chile's diverse landscapes. The astronomical focus will include visits to professional observatories, observing the southern skies and witnessing a total solar eclipse.

14 days from £5395(inc flights) Land Only Price: £4395 SRS: £695

Only by witnessing a total eclipse first-hand can one truly appreciate this extraordinary wonder of nature. In Chile the astronomy need not end with the eclipse. Chile’s dark, star-filled skies are without equal and this trip provides the opportunity to enjoy the rich southern skies from the Atacama Desert and see how the professional astronomers operate the largest telescopes in the world.

  • Pre-eclipse lecture
  • Witness a total Solar Eclipse from the Andes
  • Enjoy a spectacular range of scenery
  • Observation evening under desert skies 
  • Visit some of the world’s greatest observatories
  • Geysers, thermal pools and saltpans
  • Wide variety of special birds & mammals including Guanaco & Vicuña in the Andes
  • Pelagic excursion on the Pacific Ocean in search of seabirds

  • Food

    Breakfasts are included throughout in addition to four lunches and one dinner


    Comfortable hotels with private facilities.

    ALMA Radio Telescopes (C Malin/ESO)

    ALMA Radio Telescopes (C Malin/ESO)

    Outline Itinerary Download

    1 Depart the UK

    2 Santiago

    3 San Pedro de Atacama

    4 ALMA and Salt Flats

    5 El Tatio Geysers & Observing

    6 La Serena + Eclipse briefing

    7 Elqui Valley + Total Eclipse

    8 Isla Damas

    9 Fly Antofagasta

    10 Antofagasta

    11 Paranal Observatory

    12 Santiago

    13 Fly home

    14 Arrive UK

    Lying to the west of the great mountain chain of the Andes, Chile runs 4,000km from north to south along the Pacific coast. The great range of latitudes (18°S to 55°S) and altitudes (sea level to over 6,000m) gives rise to many ecological zones and a wide range of flora and fauna. The high, dry deserts of the north rank among the best places on Earth to observe the night sky.   
    Our tour begins in Santiago, Chile’s capital and largest city in a wide valley between the mighty snow-capped Andes and the Chilean Coastal Range. The city centre is home to many fine buildings and monuments from the Colonial period as well a thriving modern commercial and business district.   
    Travelling from city to quiet desert town, the tour will fly north to Calama and transfer to 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: geysers, salt pans, wind-sculpted canyons and volcanoes. Here too, high on the Chajnantor Plateau, astronomers have built ALMA, (the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array), currently the largest radio telescope in the world. During our stay we will have a guided tour of the ALMA facility and spend an evening under the stars at a local observatory.

    Returning to Calama we take a short flight to La Serena, our base for the eclipse. A lecture will prepare you for what we will 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. Seating and refreshments will be available.

    When totality approaches, the landscape will become enveloped in a softer, pastel light and, as shadows sharpen, the scene around you takes on a peculiar quality. 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 has just been witnessed.   

    A short drive north along the Pacific Coast will bring us to the harbour of Caleta Los Choros and the start of a boat trip to a group of islands called Gaviota, Choros and Damas, just off the coast. The boat will stop at Isla Damas with its beaches of white sand and a semi-desert landscape. The seas around the islands are rich with seabirds and marine mammals. After soaking up the sights and sounds of Antofagasta we will drive to one of the most spectacular observatories in the world: the ‘Very Large Telescope’ atop Cerro Paranal. This group of four immense telescopes, each with an 8.2m mirror, can be used in combination to observe a single object with increased resolution. On an adjacent hill, construction has started on the ‘Extremely Large Telescope’. When completed in 2024 this leviathan will have a mirror almost 40m across. As the tour draws to a close we’ll fly back to the capital for an evening and overnight before our international flights home the next day.
    ALMA Radio Telescopes ESO/C MalinEl Tatio Atacama region, ChileFlamingos at Atacama Desert Salar, ChileGeysers, Atacama desert, ChileLa portada - Antofagasta, ChileMoon Valley, Atacama Desert, ChileVLT telescopes at Paranal (Iztok Boncina/ESO)Paranal platform after sunset (H.H.Heyer/ESO)Plaza de las Armas square in Santiago, ChileToconao Village, Atacama, ChileValle de la Luna - San pedro de atacamaValparaiso, ChileVolcanoes Licancabur and Juriques, Moon Valley, Atacama, ChileSolar EclipseDamas Island near La Serena, ChileSolar EclipseWinery in Santiago, Chile

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    Wed 26th June 2019 - Tue 9th July 2019



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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: £4395 More info

    Room sharing options: Both Male & Female sharing is available More info

    Visiting: Chile

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