This Museum was founded in April of 1943 by it's Director, Mr. Francisco L. Cornely.
Here you'll find archeological remains from the different Indigenous groups who lived in the fourth region area. Some of these groups were Diaguitas and El Molle.
These indigenous groups are well known because of their pottery decorated with drawings of great precision. It's characteristic decoration colors were black, red and white.
This Museum has the most complete Archeological library of Chile.
It also has more than 25.000 archeological pieces which covers all the regional prehistoric cultures.
Here you'll see some of the oldest mommies that have been found in Chile so far.
It's open from Tuesday to Friday from 9am-1pm / 4pm-7pm.
The enter fee is less than a US Dollar.
After a month of cold in the Peru and Bolivian highlands we were really looking forward to the warm sunshine and beaches of La Serena. There are a number of beaches that you can go to close to La Serena and some that are further away. I recommend speaking to the locals to find out which ones are good ones. However, I have spent some time at Totorolillo which was nice. I also went to Tongoy which is a little further away that was more off the beaten track. The beaches along the main part of La Serena are very crowded in summer. Be aware that the sea water in Chile is cold due to the Humboldt current so although it is a very hot day the water can be icy.
The dry region around La Serena has exceptionally clear atmospheric conditions that makes it ideal to observe stars. As such, there are several observatories in the nearby towns, some of which are opened to the public.
You can organise a tour to an observatory in La Serena easily from any travel agency.
I went to Observatory Mamalluca which is located about 1 hour from La Serena.
They pick you up from your hostel in the evening. Once at the observatory, they give you a presentation for you to learn some new starry terms like nebula, clusters, supernova, etc… I wish I could in turn tell you exactly what they are but in fact, I did not quite understand them myself.
Then, we were brought to the large telescope located at the top. There is a round roof and they opened a small gap and aimed the telescope at Venus, the moon or some clusters of stars. Wow, it sure feels like being in one of those science-fiction movies!
Try to time your visit when the moon is a crescent, so there are shadows and light, making it easier to see the craters. On a full moon here, no one works, everyone sleeps.
For the drive back from Coquimbo to La Serena, take the route along the Avenida del Mar. At first, I wondered why everyone was driving so slowly, and nobody seemed to be fed up with one another.
This was because people who took this avenue, take it to enjoy the view of the beach and the crashing waves.
If you are in a hurry, there is the Pan-American highway just a short distance off.
Indeed, the beach was long and lovely, and the apartments along this avenue looked modern and posh.
Elqui Valley is a majestic place. You can visit it with a tour or stay for more days to walk or meet the local people and taste the fine local wine.
I chose the tour as a time-saving option. The guide was a knowledgeable and tender schoolteacher who explained everything to us as if we were his students.. We first stopped in a shady forest near Serena where he gave us a brief summary of what we were about to see and the chance to meet one another. Then he took us to a papaya and chirimoya plantation. We learnt a lot about these plants and tasted them and bought some of the fruit sweet products. We walked on the big dam of the valley, Puclaro Dam, where there were locals selling their hand made products. Then we were brought to Capel Pisco distillery, where after a detailed guided tour in the premises we had the chance to buy some pisco drinks after having tasted...several types of them ! Happier and more smiling we went on to Vicuña for lunch and a short walk around the city. I persuaded Jorge, the guide, to let me visit the museum of Gabriela Mistral, which was off schedule. Finally he took me there himself, where many personal things and works of the great poetess and philanthropist are exhibited as well as her Nobel Prize. Finally we reached Pisco Elqui and enjoyed the views. Going back we stopped at Monte Grande, Mistral's favourite place with a statue of her in the center and her grave located on a beautiful hill.
for more on Gabriela Mistral and Equi Valley click Gabriela Mistral-Vicuña
for more photos click on my travelogue Elqui Valley more info here Elqui Valley *
* tip 6
This long golden beach attracts a lot of swimmers from all over Chile as well as tourists, especially in January and February. It's long and spacious with some up market hotels, too.
The beach can be reached by local bus.You get off on the main road and then you walk for a few meters to step on the sand. Locals told me to get off at Quatro Esquinas. A bit too touristic for me, though...Have in mind that November and March are great months out of the summer peak.
Surrounded by well-restored historic building this square is one more of the typical chilean Chilean squares with tall trees, people lingering and children playing. The Cathedral, The Courthouse, the church of Santo Domingo and the Historical museum of Gabriel Gonzales Videla are all around. Videla is a former President who has been very hostile towards Pablo Neruda. He drove him out of the Senate and into exile.
There are nice shops and restaurants in the region..
Here on the weekends there is one more happy note ! The Municipal Band plays popular traditional and modern music for the people gathered.
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The Japanase Garden is next to the Pedro Valdivia Park and visible from Pablo Muñoz str. You can take the first photo from up the hill. Then you go down to enter the Gardens. It is as beautiful and exotic as any other Japanese garden I have seen..out of Japan - for I haven't been there yet.. Well..maybe not so very Japanese in fact..anyway. It's newly built. It's called "El Corazon". It was a gift from the Japanese to the city.
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Tongoy is 47 klms from La Serena and has the luck of having not one but two beaches on its both sides. Playa Grande and Playa Chica. So part of the city is built on the "Peninsula" and the rest live in Tongo Bajo. They are about 6,500 inhabitants. There is a park on top of the peninsula in honour of the poet who was born there, Victor Domingo Silva. His house is also standing. Nothing is of extraordinary beauty, anyway...
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On the northwest side corner of the city center, next to the Japanese Garden, is Park Pedro de Valdivia. In the park there is a very large open guarded space with a lot of green around it where people come to give their children the sense of liberty. It is used for fiestas and social and cultural events. Many come with their dogs. I happened to be present at a dog's ...contest one day !!!
Children have a lot of fun having so many square meters for their running games, eating their favourite junk food and watching the happenings around. There are even groups of jugglers, clowns and actors giving their performance free for the amusement of the little ones.
I am not a surfer myself but the beach we went to at Totorolillo had pretty good surf. I went body-surfing in it but it was a bit difficult with the crowds of people to get a good run. There is a surf school located at the beach though.
One of the beaches we went to was Totorolillo. It is located a little bit out of La Serena and to get there we had to take a bus from the La Serena Bus Terminal. The bus stopped also at the bus terminal in Coquimbo before continuing on. We got dropped off on the highway and had to walk down to the beach about 2 kms. The beach was worth the hike as it was really gorgeous. A lot of people though! There was fresh seafood for sale nearby and they had a safe area for kids to swim in.
This is a great route to see some of the best sites in the region. A 4x4 is required for some of the way.
The Elqui valley is the first section - head from La Serena towards the airport and carry on for some 20 mins until you enter the valley. Regardless of the clouds on the coast, as soon as you enter the valley the sky is a perfect blue with seldom a cloud in sight. Keep going up the valley, past the Puclaro reservoir to the town of Vicuña. Here head south on dirt road towards the Hurtado Valley.
A 4x4 is required for this road as it winds through some spectacular semi-arid desert scenery. After about 45 mins you get to Hurtado, from here the road is in better condition.
The Hurtado valley is at least as beautiful as the Elqui valley. Just outside the village of Hurtado is Hacienda los Andes, where you can arrange some excellent horse rides off and up into the Andes.
From Hurtado, continue down the fertile valley to the village of Pichasca, where there are the fossilised remains of a prehistoric forest. Back on the road there are two option: a shorter route is to turn off at Samo Alto and take the cross country road (4x4) to Andacollo;or a longer route is to carry on to Limari and the enchanted valley.
Andacollo: The town is dotted with small scale gold mines that have been worked for centuries, and as a result you can't look anywhere without seeing some evidence of a mine. Visiting one of the few remaining "trapiches" is a fascinating experience.
Limari: There are now half a dozen excellent wineries here or close by: Tamaya, Tabali, Ocho Tierras, Viña Familia Farr, Francisco de Aguirre, and Solar are the most recommended. You can visit any of these for a tour and tasting. Just down the road from Limari is el Valle del Encanto, a hidden valley where hundreds of boulders display ancient etchings of humans with head dresses, animals and other objects and symbols.
Return to Coquimbo via the old inland road, Ruta 43. Best local agency to ask for information is Optimundo.
The construction of this dam started in 1997 and now it's a "must see" for the people who goes to the Elqui Valley.
A good stop to walk along the dam and take a few pics. It's really quiet and windy, but nice, I like it.
There's no fee to enter here.
CAPEL is the major Pisco Company in Chile. It was born in 1934.
Alto del Carmen, Artesanos del Cochiguaz and Valle del Limari brands belong to Capel, as well as Pisco Capel, it's emblematic brand.
The Capel Plant, located in Vicuna, offers guided tours in Spanish and English, every 30 minutes. Here you can know more about the Pisco elaboration processes, from the grapes selection till the storing in American Oak barrels.
After the tour you can taste different types of Pisco....cheers! :o)
March - December (Low Season)
Monday to Friday: 09:30 - 12:30
14:30 - 18:00
Saturdays, Sundays and Holydays: 09:30 - 12:30
January - February (High Season)
Monday to Sunday: 09:30 - 18:00
Closed during: January 1st, May 1st, September 20th, November 8th and December 25th.