Famous for its pisco production, Chile’s Elqui Valley is one of the country’s most enchanting and peculiar places. Carpeted in the fluorescent green of grape vines, the valley stands in stark contrast to the arid hills to either side. Pisco isn’t the only thing produced here either; custard apples, avocados, papayas and oranges are also cultivated in the area. Several of the valley’s pisco distilleries are open for tours and tastings.
If Elqui Valley is known for its agriculture, it’s just as well known for its astrotourism. Due to the valley’s unique location — sandwiched between the Andean foothills and the Atacama Desert — the night sky here is incredibly clear and ideal for stargazing. The valley already houses some of the world’s biggest research telescopes, and it’s estimated that by 2020 Chile will house 70 percent of the world’s astronomical infrastructure. The valley also boasts several observatories built for the more casual stargazer, including the popular Observatorio Cerro Mamalluca. The small city of Vicuña, located within the valley, is famously the birthplace of poet Gabriela Mistral.
Vicuña in the Elqui Valley is located 39 miles (62 kilometers) east of La Serena.