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See map of Copiapó

 
 
 
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The Norte Chico (Small North) is the country of the clear skies where the Andes mountains merge with the Coastal mountains range, multiplying the uneven landscapes. A dry but fertile ground which comes to life thanks to irrigation and where the morning camanchaca (sea fog) feeds lively forests like the Fray Jorge National Park.

The most important astronomical observatories are placed in the mountains of this region: La Silla and El Tololo. In the middle of this wild geography, in the town Vicuña upon the Elqui river was born Gabriela Mistral, the first woman and the first Latin American to receive the Nobel Price for Literature, in 1945.  
Elqui Valley El Tololo Observatorium Vicuña Fray Jorge National Park
This is a destination related to the mining in the Chañarcillo silver mines in the 18th century.
A place much liked by adrenaline and sport lovers: there are spectacular dunes for off-road and sand-board practice.
In the Andes, the mountains “Nevados de Incahuasi” and “Tres Cruces”, and the volcano “Ojos del Salado” are a challenge for mountaineers, with heights ranging from 6.600 to 6.900 m.a.s.l.. Ojos del Salado is the highest active volcano in the world and the highest mountain in Chile, with permanent glaciers and snow on its top.
Near the mountains is the Tres Cruces National Park, which includes the Maricunga salt lake and the “Santa Rosa” and “Negro Francisco” lakes at 3.500 m.a.s.l., inhabited by various highland bird species including the rose flamingos and varieties of goose and duck. The presence of guanacos and vicuñas enrich the lakes environment.
Following this varied tour, the Copiapó valley shows its agricultural activity and green vineyards, with an active city that offers many tourism services. In this region you may have the pleasure of seeing the “desierto florido” (blossoming desert), a phenomenon that takes place only in very rainy years in the months August, September and October, showing a multicolor carpet of flowers.
 
La Serena has three architectural characteristics: colonial, mining and neo-colonial. The ordering in square house blocks is conserved around the main square. The prosperity brought by the mining peak caused the rising of many churches and houses and then, the so-called Spanish style was imposed for the building of public and private buildings.
It is characterized by the great quantity of services for the tourists, especially in the sector of the “Avenida del Mar” (Avenue of the Sea). This is one of the most visited walks in La Serena. Located 5 minutes of downtown, the Avenue of the Sea whose beaches extend from the Monumental Lighthouse to the beach Song of the Water in the limit of Peñuelas, conforms one of the most attractive walks in the city, which has countless tourist services, as apart hotels, camping, pubs and discos, restaurants, motels, children entertainment facilities and modern department buildings.
The Valle del Elqui (Elqui river valley) is the growth place of the Chilean Poet Gabriela Mistral, the ground for astronomical observatories and the production of the best “Pisco” (typical alcoholic distillate). To go into it let you to appreciate the diverse contrasts of blue skies, pure air, immense vineyards and papaya trees among high arid mountains.
The Valley of the Elqui gives peace, rest, entertainment and an irresistible attraction to know each town of its interior with its churches, vineyards, squares, adobe houses, crafts and the villagers' customs. It is ideal if you want to move away from the noise of the city, since you only listen the blow of the wind among the trees while you walk around. It is also very well-known for its “magnetic vibrations”, what has made many tourists to only visit the valley with the intention of practicing yoga, to relax and to meditate, to take a natural life and to take advantage of the “energy”, almost perceptible, in each one of the daily tasks. Also, their clear skies attract travelers to visit the Tololo and Mamalluca observatories. Other important attractiveness is its warm climate, sun, fertile lands, escarped summits and torrentous rivers. There is no exact route to travel this beautiful valley, therefore, each visitor has the option of choosing the itinerary that interests him/her more.
 
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