We had one more tour the next evening, to the Mamalluca Observatory.  It was late at night, after 9:00pm by the time we arrived, so we had good night conditions.  Our group joined another small group and our astronomer had only one telescope.  It was enjoyable, but if you only have one to go to, do the stargazing at San Pedro de Atacama.

We had stayed four nights in La Serena and now our plan was to rent a car and drive to Elqui Valley, northwest of Santiago.  We were down to our last week of travelling and looking to see as much as possible.  Our hotel hooked us up with the rental car company and in soon a car was delivered to our hotel.  The drive out of La Serena was fairly easy.  Once on the main road, it was like driving in the US only on better roads.  The countryside changed from the overcast of La Serena to bright skies, then to beautiful mountains, and green valleys as we were again at the base of the Andes.   What I love about the Andes mountains, is how they seem to just push up from the ground.  There’s nothing gradual about it.  You have flat land (valley) then the base of a huge mountain.  Nothing in between.  On the way to Elqui Valley we were in the heart of wine and pisco country.  Pisco is a brandy made from very sweet grapes.(  We tried it in a Pisco Sour, and it was good, but too sweet for us.)   The sides of the mountains and hills were terraced and covered in golden and green blankets of vegetation.  To our surprise, we passed a large lake fed from a huge dam, I’m sure built to provide water to this dry region.

Elqui Valley is a mystery all its own.  It is a mecca for spiritualists.  For the past 2000 years, Tibet at 30 degrees north and 70 degrees East has been the magnetic center of the Earth.  In the 1960′s, spiritualist, learning of the coming movement of the magnetic center found it at Elqui Valley at 30 degrees South and 70 degrees West.  In 1982 they were proved right as for the first time scientist found the greatest point of the Earth’s energy here in Elqui Valley.  This was of course, why I wanted to go there. 


On the way to Elqui Valley, Dan wanted to stop for lunch at the Solar Kitchen, a restaurant that  cooked all it’s food outside using only solar ovens.  They had several ovens set up outside the restaurant, and two big mirrored disks that heated water.  The waitress took our order and we understood, fish, pollo (chicken) and she said ”Cabrito”.  We weren’t sure what that was and frustrated she finally said “Beef”.  Oh, beef.  We love beef.  We’ll have the beef.  Soon plates of a huge chunk of beef was delivered to our table.  It resembled roast beef, and even tasted like roast beef, but was a little tough.  We were chewing our way through it when we noticed our guide, Marcel, the one who had led us on the penguin tour, came into the restaurant with a tour group.  Later he came by our table and asked what we had ordered.  We said the beef.  With a smile he told us that we actually had young goat.  Oh.  That explained the toughness!!!  From that point forward, we would never forget what Cabrito meant!

solar kitchen 2



Solar kitchen



Back on the road to Elqui Valley.  We had reserved a cabin at a small bed and breakfast type place.  It was really cute.  The kids had their own bed up in the loft.  The property was covered with flowering bushes and on the property, but well away from the road, were chairs set up so you could watch the stars at night.  That first night, Tristan and I went down, laid back in the chairs and watched the stars.  It was so dark as we walked the pathway.  We couldn’t see a thing.  Luckily I had brought my camera so we used the light from it to keep from stumbling into anything.  We were dressed warmly, but after about 45 minutes we got cold.   When we went to leave, we were both dizzy.  I can definitely say we felt the energy in the Valley!










elqui v



elqui 1