Points of Interest

  • Tololo Observatory
  • Elqui Valley
Moderate activity


Be sure to read the Special Notes further down this page for important requirements and restriction.

What you will visit:

Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO)

Funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory is the sixth-largest observatory in the southern hemisphere. On an isolated peak in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, a huge white dome houses the principal instrument, the four-meter (158-inch) Victor M. Blanco Telescope, named after the famed Puerto Rican astronomer. Additional domes and outbuildings contain a fascinating array of telescopes, reflectors and cameras where teams of astronomers and researchers devote their lives to skies dominated by the Southern Cross and the stars surrounding the South Celestial Pole. Tours include an informative talk about the nature of the universe.

What you will see along the way:

Set off on a two-hour drive from the pier into the scenic Elqui Valley. Traverse a rugged landscape, passing papaya orchards and green vineyards into the Atacama Desert. As you travel the private road through the foothills of the Andes Mountains, marvel at the tree-sized cacti. Ascend to the 6,000-foot-level of Mount Tololo and the observatory. Afterwards, continue back to the enchanting Elqui Valley, a semi-arid paradise believed to possess a rare mystic-magnetic energy. Return along the Pan-American Highway through La Serena to the port city of Coquimbo.

Light refreshments are served during your day.

Special Notes:

Transportation is not air-conditioned.
The drive to the Tololo Observatory is approximately 2 hours each way.
Tour space is extremely limited due to the unique nature of your observatory tour.