june 28-july 8| 2019
Elqui Valley, Chile
Extension Program: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Developed in conjunction with the National Peace Corps Association and Next Step Travel, this itinerary will allow travelers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a total solar eclipse in the amazing skies of Chile. With special access and lectures for our NPCA group, this trip provides the unmatched experience of this astronomical wonder as well as an in depth understanding the unique cultures of the area and people who live there.
Astronomical Wonder On July 2, 2019, the new moon’s umbra will pass directly overhead for eclipse chasers, and in a moment of extreme rarity for the clearest skies in the Western hemisphere, the disc of the moon will cover the sun’s face for the sight of a lifetime.
Otherworldly Landscapes Explore the landscapes around the regal Andes Mountains, watching the sun set and walking amongst the stars. Fantastic hiking opportunities in both the daytime as well as evening are available at all experience levels.
Leading Experts Feed your curiosity with private keynote presentations, lectures, and active, family-friendly activities.
Most accommodations along the path of totality have been sold out for months, but we have secured otherworldly options for you on this RPCV-led tour! Prices are based on double occupancy. If you wish to have a private room to yourself, a single supplement will be available. As a solo traveler, if you prefer, we can also pair you with another traveler (two twin beds, requiring no single supplement, based on availability).
This trip is accessible for most travelers. That being said, please note that the trip can involve the following: somewhat long days, a good amount of walking (including stairs, varied elevations, and uneven surfaces), and high elevations. If you have any medical conditions or other concerns, there will be opportunity for you to make us aware of them, and then we can determine if the trip is appropriate for you.
- Accommodations as described in the itinerary
- All activities, sightseeing, and entry fees listed in the itinerary.
- Accommodations as described in the itinerary.
- All meals listed in the itinerary.
- Transportation by private, air-conditioned motor coach as appropriate.
- Bottled water during all excursions.
- Comprehensive cultural information and reading materials.
- The services of an exceptional, bilingual local guide as described in the itinerary.
- The services of an Insider Expeditions tour manager.
- All gratuities for participants and staff to cover drivers, wait staff at group meals, guides, and tour directors.
- Comprehensive tour operator liability insurance.
- International flights and flights to and from Santiago International Airport.
- Expenses of a purely personal nature (including cab fares, laundry and other personal items, room service charges, passport application fees).
- Transportation of luggage in excess of weight allowance.
- Travel insurance (we strongly advise that each participant arrange for their own travel insurance).
- Food and beverage other than that specified in the itinerary.
- Medical expenses.
- Costs associated with trip interruption or modification due to weather, travel conditions, political/civil disputes, medical emergencies or other causes beyond our control.
Trip Price - $3,999 (single supplement: $1,600)
Extension Price - $3,999 (single supplement: $1,600)
This trip is coordinated by RPCV Mary Bruce of tour operator Insider Expeditions.
Final payment is due 90 days before departure. Reservation fee will be credited towards full ticket.
Day One, Friday, June 28—U.S. Departures
Depart from your home city for Santiago International Airport (SCL).
Day Two, Saturday, June 29—Arrive in Santiago
Arrive in the morning in Santiago, Chile’s capital. Meet our bilingual guides, some of the best in the country, who will take you to our downtown hotel to freshen up from the journey south. In the afternoon, enjoy a custom, behind-the-scenes tour of Santiago’s most important historic and architectural highlights including the Plaza de Armas and inspiring cathedral, the excellent pre-Columbian art museum, and the bustling city-market. Finish with a panoramic sunset view atop San Cristobal Hill. In the evening, continue to a welcome reception and dinner at a local restaurant in the bohemian Barrio Bellavista district before returning to our hotel for the night.
Day Three, Sunday, June 30—La Serena
Today we will fly into the beach town of La Serena and journey to our hotel by the beach! After getting settled in, the evening is free to explore the town. The Elqui Valley boasts the highest concentration of astronomical observatories in the Southern Hemisphere and tonight, we’ll visit Collowara Observatory where we will hear from experts on the stars and upcoming eclipse, then gaze into the heavens using their Smith Cassigrein main telescope as well as any of the Newton and Dobsonian telescopes at the facility.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day Four, Monday, July 1—Pisco Elqui (and Pisco Sours)
Explore the Elqui Valley and learn about the process of making the famous Chilean liquor, pisco, before tasting delicious examples of the product at one of the oldest pisquerias in Chile. We’ll visit the truly far-out town of Pisco Elqui, long a haven for mystics, gurus, and stargazers. We will move through the valley, stopping at small towns like Montegrande, the birthplace of famed Nobel-winning Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral, who often evoked the star-scape and the heavens in her poetry. Enjoy more lectures and stargazing tonight!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch,
Day Five, Tuesday, July 2—Total Eclipse of the Sun
With the clearest skies in the Southern Hemisphere, the Elqui Valley is the perfect vantage point for viewing the 2019 solar eclipse. In the morning we take our posts directly in the path of totality at the amazing Alfa Aldea Planetarium. Perform an equipment check, and partake in a day of active, family-friendly activities, together with lectures on this rare celestial event. In the afternoon, while snacking on goat cheese and local olives and some of Chile’s best wines, we take in two minutes and 15 seconds of a truly awe-inspiring, knee-weakening, breath-taking wonder. In the evening we will enjoy a delicious meal of local delicacies and delight in the experience we’ve just shared.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Farewell Dinner
Day Six, Wednesday, July 3—Farewell, Chile!
On our final morning as a group, we’ll stop by the city Vicuña to visit a local market and celebrate at a festival that is organized by locals just for this eclipse week. Say adios to friends old and new as we fly back to Santiago, and on towards home or further to the famed Atacama region for those on the extension.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day Seven, Thursday, July 4—U.S. Arrivals
Arrive in U.S. and connecting flights home.
San Pedro de Atacama Extension Program
Day Six, Wednesday, July 3—Santiago
After arriving back in Santiago, we’ll settle in at our downtown hotel. The evening is free to explore this bustling capital city and presents the perfect opportunity to immerse in the city life with expert recommendations from our amazing guides.
Day Seven, Thursday, July 4—Arrive in San Pedro de Atacama
After breakfast, we fly to the astounding San Pedro de Atacama and settle into our fantastic accommodations at the Cumbres San Pedro. We’ll celebrate the 4th of July holiday with a Chilean asado—a traditional barbeque feast! In a fitting extension to our celestial journey, we will take an afternoon trek through the Valle de la Luna, so named due to its moonlike dunes, craters and otherworldly landscapes. It truly feels like you have arrived to another planet. At sunset, we will summit the largest sand dune we can find to take in the purple and orange hues reflecting off the rocks. Enjoy an evening walk before dinner and a briefing on life in the Atacama at a fantastic local restaurant. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day Eight, Friday, July 5—The Atacama Salt Flats, Lakes, Lagoons, and Flamingos
Our first full day of explorations in this geologically wondrous region will include a get-your-hands-salty tour of the Gran Salar de Atacama—the Atacama Salt Flats—as well as the beautiful and impressive lagoons of the Altiplano. Here we will have the chance to witness a wide and exotic variety of bird species, including three types of flamingos who feed in the crystal waters. Our naturalist guides will explain why the diversity of the landscape, as well as the species who live here, are like nowhere else on the planet. After returning to our hotel, our most adventurous travelers are welcome to enjoy an optional sunset hike! Tonight, we will try to get to bed early for our early rise the following morning.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day Nine, Saturday, July 6—El Tatio Geysers and Puritama Hot Springs
Leaving before sunrise, travel towards the high Andean plains to reach one of the most important geothermal fields in the world, the El Tatio Geysers. At over 14,000 feet above sea level, behold the beauty of the Andes while surrounded by shooting spurts of water and vapor. Enjoy talks and walks of this geological wonder. Returning in the late afternoon, enjoy a visit and dip in the beautiful Puritama Hot Springs which have delighted visitors from around the world. These natural grottos are said to have purifying and healing waters, perfect after our long day of exploring. Tonight will also feature a special stargazing walk and talk in the desert for those who wish to linger under the stars during our final evening in this breathtaking and unique region of the world.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day Ten, Sunday, July 7—Hasta Luego!
On our final morning together, explore the region’s origins, visiting amazingly preserved archaeological wonders. Explore one of northern Chile’s oldest archaeological wonders, the over 3,000-year-old Village of Tulor, learning from one of the curators of the site. Next, tour the indigenous Pukara de Quitor, or Quitor Fortress. Now a national monument, it was built by Atacama settlers more than 700 years ago to defend themselves from neighboring factions. Enjoy a delicious farewell feast with friends old and new before making our way back to Santiago International Airport and destinations homeward.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day Eleven, Monday, July 8—Arrive U.S.
Arrive in U.S. in the morning and connect to onward, final destinations.
Cancellation by Traveler
The $250 trip deposit is non-refundable.
50% non-refundable 120 days or more prior to departure
100% non-refundable 89 days or less prior to departure
If a traveler leaves the trip for any reason after it has commenced, we are not obligated to make any refunds for unused services. If a travelers fails to join a tour, join it after departure, or leave it prior to its completion, no refund will be made.
Cancellation by Trip Operator - Insider Expeditions (IE)
IE may cancel a trip at any time prior to departure if, due to terrorism, natural disasters, political instability or other external events, it is not viable for us to operate the planned itinerary. If IE cancels the trip, traveler can transfer amounts paid to an alternate departure date or alternatively receive a full refund. In circumstances where the cancellation is due to external events outside our reasonable control, refunds will be less any unrecoverable costs. We are not responsible for any incidental expenses that you may have incurred as a result of your booking including but not limited to visas, vaccinations, travel insurance excess or non-refundable flights.
This particular tour has been designed with specific Chilean individuals and events in mind, whose schedules and availabilities may change without notice. While we do our best to adhere to the itinerary, traveling to Chile requires flexibility, and changes to specific interactions and other activities may occur. In addition, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and changes to timetables and transport routes, which can happen with little notice. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time. Each day we will update you on the program and keep you informed throughout the trip.