During this unique astronomy tour, observe the 2019 Total Solar Eclipse in La Serena, Chile, home to some of the largest telescopes in the world, and enjoy special access to world-class astronomical observatories, accompanied by a prominent astrophysicist.

Starting at: $11,195 Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) antenna.
 Credit: Carlos Padilla – AUI/NRAO  Expert Michelle Thaller at Atacama Observatory  Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) antenna. Credit: Carlos Padilla – AUI/NRAO  View of a total solar eclipse  Paranal Observatory from afar  Las Campanas Observatory  Volcan Ojos del Salado, Copiapo, Chile  Eclipse viewers with eye protection   Approaching Las Campanas Observatory

Chile Total Solar Eclipse

Viewing the 2019 Total Solar Eclipse in northern Chile

12 days from $11,195

During this unique astronomy tour, observe the 2019 Total Solar Eclipse in La Serena, Chile, home to some of the largest telescopes in the world, and enjoy special access to world-class astronomical observatories, accompanied by a prominent astrophysicist.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Join Smithsonian Journeys in Chile on July 2, 2019, to witness a spectacular Total Solar Eclipse with Dr. Michelle Thaller, astrophysicist and Deputy Director of Science for Communications at NASA! Go behind the scenes to enjoy special access to world-class astronomical observatories, including the Atacama Large Millimeter/ submillimeter Array (ALMA), the world’s most powerful radio telescope; Paranal, home to the Very Large Telescope; and Las Campanas, home to the Magellan Telescopes and the future Giant Magellan Telescope. Plus, enjoy spectacular sky viewing (through Amateur telescopes) during festive stargazing parties.

This unique tour features additional insight into the region's natural history. You'll explore the fascinating Atacama Desert, which features some of the most extraordinary landscapes on the planet—with astonishing evaporated salt lakes, hot springs, and mysterious geological features, as well as animal life. 

Highlights Include: 

  • Astronomical Highlights: Observe the 2019 Total Solar Eclipse at a special viewing site outside La Serena, Chile. Go behind-the-scenes at some of the most advanced and largest observatories in the world with special entry to the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), Paranal Observatory, and Las Campanas Observatory. Explore dazzling night skies with large amateur telescopes in the Atacama Desert.
  • Natural History: Relax in thermal springs in the Atacama Desert. Enjoy the dramatic scenery of the Andean north with its unusual wildlife, including the Andean flamingo, vicuña, and vicacha. Visit the Elqui Valley, an oasis in a very arid landscape.
  • Cultural Traditions: Tour a Pisco distillery, spend a day in Chile’s wine country, and tour Santiago with a visit to the premiere Pre-Columbian Museum of Art. 

2019 Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S.

Depart from your home city on an overnight flight for Santiago, the capital of Chile

Day 2 —Santiago, Chile

Arrive this morning in Santiago and transfer to your five-star hotel located in one of the most exclusive quarters of Santiago. An afternoon city tour, including a tour of the Pre-Columbian Museum, will introduce you to this city at the foot of the Andes. This evening gather for an orientation and welcome dinner. (D)

Day 3 — Santiago / La Serena

Depart this morning for the Casablanca Valley. Situated on the coastal plain between Santiago and Valparaiso, this valley is Chile’s fastest growing wine region. Tour the Kingston Family Vineyard and learn how this winery, founded and owned by five generations of Americans, evolved into one of Chile’s hottest, award-winning boutique wineries. Take an early evening group flight to La Serena, the site of your eclipse viewing, which features some of the largest telescopes in the world. La Serena is a port city and the country's second oldest after Santiago. The city is known for its long beaches, such as El Faro with its landmark Faro Monumental lighthouse, and its colonial and neo-colonial architecture. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — La Serena / Las Campanas Observatory

Today travel by motor coach north of La Serena to Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean Andes. Take a day-long tour of the Magellan Project Site located here. Currently, there are two 6.5-meter Magellan optical telescopes housed on the ridge. These telescopes are operated by a consortium of institutions which include the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Las Campanas will also be home to the future Giant Magellan Telescope, one of the few super giant earth-based telescopes, which promises to revolutionize the view and understanding of the universe. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, along with other members of the GMT Project, have commissioned this telescope, which will begin construction in 2021. Las Campanas Peak has an altitude of over 8,500 feet and is almost completely barren of vegetation due to lack of rainfall. The combination of clear nights, altitude, weather, and vegetation make Las Campanas an ideal site for the Giant Magellan Telescope. Upon arrival at the observatory area, enjoy a picnic lunch then venture farther up the mountain for an exclusive tour inside the installations. Return to the hotel late in the day, then enjoy a group dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — La Serena / Eclipse Viewing Party - Observatory del Pangue

Travel by motor coach from La Serena to the eclipse viewing site in Vicuña, which is directly along the path of totalityGather for your eclipse viewing party at the Alfa Aldea Observatory, with views in all directions of a truly spectacular mountainous landscape. Powerful manned telescopes, as well as smaller scopes, will be set up around the observatory to view the eclipse and into the skies of the Southern Hemisphere. Like-minded participants from other co-sponsoring organizations will be with us at the viewing site adding to the excitement and energy of the event. Afterward, return to the hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — La Serena / Elqui Valley Tour / Antofagasta

Take a guided city tour of La Serena this morning. Then, in the early afternoon, return to the picturesque town of Vicuña, where high-quality grapes for pisco are grown on the valley floor, along with other fruits and vegetables. During a visit to a Pisco distillery, learn about this Chilean liquor and enjoy a Pisco tasting in the cellars of Pisco Elqui.

Have lunch at a local restaurant. Later in the afternoon or early evening, fly to Antofagasta. (B,L)

Day 7 — Antofagasta / Paranal Observatory

Today we’ll drive to the Paranal Observatory, home of the VLT (Very Large Telescope) often described as the world's largest. Located on top of Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, it has 4 telescopes of 8.2 meters in diameter.

The Paranal Mountain was chosen because of its excellent atmospheric conditions and its remote location. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Antofagasta / San Pedro de Atacama

This morning we’ll transfer by motor coach to San Pedro de Atacama for a three-night stay.

This evening, we will have an evening of stargazing of the southern skies through large amateur telescopes under expert leadership. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — San Pedro de Atacama

Visit the high plateau lagoons of Miscanti and Miñiques. Look for vicuñas, South American camelids, viscachas (similar to chinchillas), and other wildlife of the area. Afterwards, relax in the warm mineral waters of the Termas de Puritana hot springs. Enjoy lunch at La Estaka restaurant before returning to the hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 10 — San Pedro de Atacama / Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array

This morning, visit the largest astronomical project in existence, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA as it is commonly known. Teams from North America, East Asia, and Europe merged projects to develop this gigantic array. ALMA is opening a new window on celestial origins, capturing never-before-seen details about the very first stars and galaxies in the Universe, probing the heart of our Milky Way Galaxy, and directly imaging the formation of planets. While at ALMA (located at 9, 514 feet) you will visit the control room, laboratories, an antenna transporter, and possibly antenna under maintenance.

There may be an opportunity (pending additional permits and final confirmation) to visit the antenna installation. This visit will be optional and require participants to travel from the base station laboratories to the Chajnantor Plateau located at 16,000 feet. Participants who wish to make this visit will need to be in excellent health. A medical release form (signed by your physician) will be mandatory. Additional information regarding the status of the antenna installation visit and the medical release form will be included in your pre-tour documents.

In the afternoon, explore the immense Salar de Atacama and Chaxa Lagoon, the entry point to the National Flamingo Reserve. The reserve is home to a variety of birds, including the Andean flamingo, Chilean flamingo, horned coot, silvery grebe, Andean gull and greenish yellow finch. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — San Pedro de Atacama / Santiago / U.S.

This morning is at leisure to enjoy San Pedro de Atacama and the desert. In the afternoon you'll depart on a group flight to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport-Santiago. There, enjoy a festive farewell dinner near the airport prior to transferring to connecting evening flights home. (B,D)

Day 12 — Arrive in the U.S.

Overnight flights arrive in the U.S.

Program note: Chile will be a prime location to experience the Total Solar Eclipse. We will provide an optimal viewing location to experience this phenomenon. Please keep in mind that viewing the eclipse will be weather dependent. Since we have no control over the weather, there is always a chance that we will not be able to view it or only for a short period of time. Also, we will be visiting working observatories located in remote regions of Chile so our schedule will rely on precise timings. Keep in mind that unexpected schedule changes could affect the program. Your Travel Director will keep you fully informed of any changes to planned activities. A sense of humor, flexibility, and patience will be greatly appreciated during this program and especially on eclipse day!

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)