Valle del Elqui - Elqui Valley
"Agricultural landscape meets Desert Mountains"
The Elqui Valley is a fertile valley that runs into the Andes accessible from La Serena in the Region of Coquimbo. The Valley is known for production of Pisco and as the place with Nobel literature prize winner Gabriella Mistral lived. It is also the location of some of the strongest telescopes in the world and one of the best places to stargaze due to the incredibly clear skies.
Vicuña is the first large town located 60 km from La Serena and Pisco Elqui is 103 km from La Serena.
Up the valley near the top part of the Elqui River is the town of Vicuña. Vicuña is the birthplace of Gabriela Mistral and is worth a stopover to see the Gabriela Mistral museum, a handicraft market and a couple of the older buildings in the plaza. This is also the place where the tours depart in the evenings to go to the Mamalluca Observatory.
The town has an altitude of approximately 700m and is the focal point for agriculture, namely the production of the infamous Pisco alcohol used to make Pisco Sours. Fruit, cereals, wine and other crops are also grown in the region.
The Bauer Tower (pictured), is a symbol of Vicuña. It was constructed in Germany in 1905 in Oregon pine under the orders of the mayor at the time - Adolfo Bauer (who was of German origins). It's original use was for the Municipal Council. Located on the "Plaza de Armas" (central plaza) it is now used as a Tourist Information Centre.
Pisco Elqui, is located 1,247 metres above sea level and is a further 43 km from Vicuña. It is a very picturesque town and a favourite for tourists wanting to really get away from it all. Other than relaxing by the pool there are more Pisco tours, horse riding adventures and city walking tours that can be done. Kick back and enjoy the scenery.