STARGZING PARADISE IN THE ELQUI VALLEY
4 days in Vicuña: The quick guide
The Elqui Valley is a magical place. A place where the stars seem closer, where the sky is always blue and where wild flowers and fruits grow undisturbed under the bright southern sun.
People say that in the Elqui Valley there is a strong spiritual energy, maybe due to it being one of the primary electromagnetic centres in the world. You will find tarot readers and crystals at every corner, but whether you believe it or not you will still fall under the spell of its magical beauty.
We arrived planning to stay two nights, extended our stay for other two the moment we walked into Hostal Michel and ended up having the best time in Chile (yet)! The Elqui Valley was all of our South America’s dreams coming true, a mix of adventure and cultural exploration, pisco tasting and star gazing.
The Elqui Valley is a magical place
Where to sleep in Vicuña
Splash out at Terral Hotel & Spa
This beautiful four-star hotel built in 2010 is structured as an old cité, which still preserves the colonial adobe facade and the calm inside the garden. Elegantly and perfectly placed in the heart of Vicuna.
Take it easy at Hostal Michel
Hostal Michel was the best hostel we’ve been to in Chile, and probably the best ever. This family-run hostel is an oasis of peace, with all comforts. It offers rooms and dorms, a wonderful courtyard garden where you can spend chilled afternoons reading and absorbing the rocky landscape around you. Extremely clean and truly comfortable in all aspects.
Where to eat in Vicuña
Lunch at Govindas
If you’ve been struggling to find vegetarian options in Chile, this is your place! Home style indian food served in a cozy environment, right in the heart of Vicuna. The food is truly delicious and the prices very affordable. Only open from Monday to Saturday from 13.00 to 16.00.
For one in a lifetime experience of tasting food cooked directly by the sun itself. This restaurant offers meat and veggie 3 courses menu (6000 chilean pesos) right in the middle of the valley, to be enjoyed on a wooden deck. The food is cooked in special sun ovens from the area. An experience definitely worth trying!
Dinner at Chivato Negro
If dining under the stars in a vintage decorated courtyard sounds wonderful, then head to Chivato Negro, just off the main square. You will find masterfully cooked chilean dishes and also a couple vegetarian options. Must try the ginger pisco sour (apparently the best in town).
Where to have a drink in Vicuña
Beers at Cervecería Guayacán
If you are looking for a chilled and modern vibe, make your way to Cerveceria Guayacan in the Diaguitas neighborhood. This upscale bar is the place to be for the weekend or an energetic weeknight. In-between beers brewed on the grounds next door, you can enjoy a delicious pizza from the varied food menu! There is also a Cerveceria by the same team in the center of Vicuna, steps away from Chivato Negro and Hostal Michel.
Top 5 things to do in Vicuña
Rent a bike and make your way through the Elqui Valley following the the 17km loop from Vicuña. This route will take you through several stops, starting from the ABA pisco distillery where you can learn all about pisco making and taste this precious drink. The next stop is Gyuadana craft beer brewery, for some locally brewed beer tasting. Lunch at Delicias del Sol (see above) for local dishes cooked in the sun. Finish off the loop by visiting an arts and craft center for some local artisanry shopping.
Rent a bike and cycle through the valley downhill from Pisco Elqui for some spectacular views. Bring your bike to the Vicuna bus station and board the bus (with your bike! 2000 chilean pesos) to Pisco Elqui. From there follow the road back to Vicuna, stopping by at the villages on the road. You will visit the famous poetess Gabriella Mistral’s birthplace, enjoy some wine tasting at Cavas del Valle wine farm and enjoy views of the valley you will never forget.
Hike up the smaller peak next to the village, to reach the statue of the Virgin for sunset. When the sun sets over the valley, turn around to look at the mountains behind you, you will find a valley tinted in golds and pinks. An incredible natural show.
Be mesmerized observing the sky through the telescopes at the Mamalluca Observatory. An astronomer will explain about constellations, planets and you will be able to observe the moon and stars through some of the best telescopes in the world. Tours are available in English and Spanish (10.000 chilean pesos for English tour).
Hike 4 hours into the mountains to reach the higher summit, for incredible views over the valley and lower peaks.