Important note about my frequent travel: these are my experiences and observations I share eagerly and enthusiastically. I receive no compensation in cash/kind/discounts, etc. in any way from any business/locations I’ve visited. None of the businesses paid for my travel expenses or offered any free services.
Elqui Valley is our second stop in Chile. We flew from Punta Arenas to La Serena with a lay over in Santiago. We had a bit of “misunderstanding” on our flight to Santiago. We can laugh about it now because our mistake was caught in time. Our flight from Punta Arenas landed about an hour early so I was pleasantly surprised but didn’t think much of it. We got off the plane and headed towards the lounge.
Suddenly, I heard our names announced over the PA system but I couldn’t understand what they said. The announcement was in Spanish and faint but I definitely heard our names. I asked the airport security if they called for us. We were travelling with a telescope and have been pulled aside for extra screening on this trip. It wasn’t the airport security so we went to the LATAM gate we just got out of.
Turns out, we weren’t in Santiago. The plane was making a stop in Puerto Montt before going to Santiago and we weren’t supposed to get off the plane. I’m not used to flights making a stop like this so, out of habit, we got off the plane. Thankfully, someone in the flight crew noticed we weren’t there and paged us to get back on the plane. Thanks to the flight crew we didn’t miss our connecting flight to La Serena.
We landed in La Serena at 6:35 pm and went to pick up our rental car. I had made a reservation for an automatic transmission car in APRIL. We are visiting in August. I received a email confirming our reservation for an automatic car two days before . When we landed in La Serena, Budget car rental representative told us they don’t have any automatic cars. They only have manual cars. I have NEVER driven a manual car in my life.
We used google translate app to communicate because we aren’t fluent in Spanish and they didn’t speak much English. After a lot of back and forth, Budget representatives agreed to cancel our reservation. They also found us an automatic car with another company called West Rent A Car. It ended up costing us more money but we didn’t really have any other option. So, the second part of the trip wasn’t turning out as planned.
By the time we picked up the car from West it was late and I was HUNGRY. Whenever we are in a different country there are two cuisines we have to eat: pizza and Chinese food. Since I was bordering hangry we picked a local pizza place because it was closer. The pizza was good but nothing spectacular. The drive from La Serena to our B&B was about an hour long.
The drive through the mountains is beautiful but since it was night we couldn’t see anything. There are no lights on the road once you get out of La Serena. The reason is they want to preserve the night sky. Too much light can interfere with stargazing. This is one of the best place for star gazing in the world. Driving at night can be challenging, especially after a long day, but it got a lot easier once we found a car to follow at a safe distance. By time we reached Elqui Terra, we were tired and ready to sleep.
I had been researching Atacama desert for 18 months and I thought I’d found the perfect place in Elqui Valley. Elqui Domo is a small boutique lodge with only 11 rooms. Some rooms have a glass roof and other room’s roof opens up. They are usually sold out very fast so I made a reservation a year in advance. They also have an observatory on site. It sounded and looked perfect for an astronomy themed vacation.
As I continued my research, I started to wonder if it was right for us. The observatory is only accessible if you sign up for a tour which costs about $60 per person. You cannot access the telescopes unless you sign up for the tour which lasts about an hour. I asked if it was possible to rent the telescope and they said no. The more I thought about it, the less excited I was about staying at Elqui Domos. It just didn’t feel perfect anymore.
I searched for other options and I came across Elqui Terra, a very cute little B&B in Vicuna. It’s eco friendly, promotes local businesses, and it looked so cute and perfect. Roberto, the owner, was so friendly and helpful when I emailed him. Once I interacted with Roberto, it just felt right. I thought about switching my reservation but I was so keen on Elqui Domos for such a long time. I couldn’t just let that reservation go easily. I was torn about what to do.
In the end, I decided to trust my gut. I cancelled my reservation with Elqui Domos and reserved a room at Elqui Terra. The B&B was spacious, had a pool, lots of hammocks, and all kinds of fruits and veggies growing. There is a small herb garden that guests are free to use. The kitchen is stocked with all the essentials and we cooked dinner a few nights. Their garden/back yard was so well manicured and just perfect. I’m glad I picked Elqui Terra.
I don’t know what it would have been like if I’d kept my reservation at Elqui Domos but I do know that I have absolutely no regrets about staying at Elqui Terra. If I ever go back to Elqui Valley, I know where I’ll be staying.
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