Posted on October 28, 2019
By Camila Larrea, Sales Team Pure! Chile
Together with my colleagues of Pure! Chile, I wanted to explore the area north of Santiago. Because it’s easy to postpone these kinds of plans, we decided to just take a weekend trip to the Coquimbo Region and visit the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, Vicuña and Elqui Valley.
On the first day, we took an eight-hour bus trip to La Serena, located 472 km north from Santiago. For tourists who prefer not to travel by bus or have little time to explore Chile, it’s also possible to fly to La Serena from Santiago. Upon arrival in La Serena, we drove further north in a rental car to Punta de Choros, a small fishing village surrounded by beautiful beaches. From this charming place, we took a boat to our first destination: the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve.
The reserve was definitely worth the long trip. Made up of three islands, the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve covers 8.593 km² of beautiful natural diversity, with 59 plant and 68 animal species. Among others, it is possible to spot sea lions, dolphins, marine otters and even whales during some months of the year. There are also plenty of birds in the reserve, including – of course – the famous Humboldt penguin! We explored the three islands of the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve with a small boat sailed by a local fisherman who knows the area very well. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to disembark on the islands because it is protected wildlife territory, but the navigation of approximately two hours is still a beautiful experience.
Afterwards, we continued on the Route of the Stars (Ruta de las Estrellas). Normally, the Route of the Starts takes four or five days and covers the four main zones in the region: La Serena, Vicuña, Andacollo and Cambarbalá. We were following only part of this route and continued to Vicuña, located 63 km from La Serena. This town is the birthplace of Gabriela Mistral – the first woman in Latin America to receive the Nobel Prize, one of the best best places for stargazing in the world and known for its great Chilean pisco. Of course, we took advantage of the opportunity to go stargazing and we were lucky to be able to observe a beautiful Milky Way and other natural wonders in the dark sky.
The next day, we went to the third and last destination of this trip: the famous Elqui Valley (39 km from Vicuña). The route from Elqui Valley to Vicuña is beautiful, with rivers flowing through the Andes Mountains, making this area green and lush. Elqui Valley is one of the most visited places in northern Chile and is considered an energy pole. It was the main location for watching the solar eclipse in June and the area is even associated with UFO phenomena.
Here too, visitors can taste a great Chilean pisco during a pisco tour. Of course, we took this opportunity to learn more about this special drink and selected one of the many places offering this kind of activities. Besides tasting different types of pisco, we learned about the production process, visited a museum and even bought some pisco in the souvenir shop to take with us to Santiago. Unfortunately, the next day we already had to go back home. This short trip surprised us in many ways and we’re hoping to visit again soon!
Would you like to have some more information about this diverse area of Chile, please do not hesitate to contact Camila.