La Serena – Worth the Visit


Love Chile’s Valentina Ostovary shares her experiences after visiting La Serena and the surrounding areas.

I recently went to La Serena, just for a short trip to see some of Chile before I have to return to my own country again. It turned out to be one of the best trips I ever made, because the City and the area of Coquimbo are so silent and peaceful in the contrast to Santiago where I usually live.

I got there with the bus, about 6 hours, but overnight that’s not really a problem. It’s very silent in the bus and “TurBus” has in my opinion very comfortable Semi-Cama (Half-Bed) seats. I arrived there, got to a very cute hostel “El Arbol” close to the bus station and directly in front of one of the few sights in La Serena, the Jardin Japones. Breakfast included, not too expensive and two helpful and friendly employees.

The city itself isn’t the most exciting thing, more the offered tours from EcoTurismo around the Coquimbo region. I decided to take two of these tours, the one through the “Elqui Valley” and another one to “Isla Damas”. Only one thing is still open from which I wish I could’ve done it, but the unfortunate weather during my trip prevented me from seeing the stars from the observatory.

However, the beach in La Serena is definitely worth a visit as well. My travel acquaintance found something there, every child always dreamed of. A treasure box! Small and valuable filled with flowers, a mirror and a letter from a loving mother to “mother sea”. We spent a whole day on the beach then, just taking pictures of the beautiful landscape, enjoying the sand between our toes and collecting shells.

On the second day then, I got to take the tour through the Elqui Valley. A little bit expensive I have to say, it was about CL$25,000, but in return for the high charges I got picked up directly at the hostel and could enjoy a whole day-trip (food included) with a very charismatic and smart tour guide. There was the dam, storing the water of the Elqui river, a cute Feria Artesenal in Vicuña city, a tour through a Pisco Distillery and the very, very small Gabriella Mistral Museum – but not to forget the breath-taking landscape of the Andes. This trip really amazed me and I got to take the most beautiful pictures. I’d recommend it strongly to everybody who wants to visit La Serena and surrounds.

The “Elqui Valley” day followed a day of doing nothing, just walking a little around the city and enjoying the silence. For somebody coming from a huge city, silence is the most valuable thing in the world – I liked that day very much, but I didn’t travel to La Serena to do nothing, so I joined a trip to Isla Damas on the next day, also from EcoTurismo.

As usual, I got picked up from the hostel and took a seat in the bus. The trip started and the tour guide from this day pointed out that there would be a longer bus ride, before we finally get into a boat and see the glorious area of Isla Damas. This trip, as well was very expensive, about CL$35,000, but absolutely worth it.

We drove through the desert and really had a lot of luck this day, we saw many wild-living animals, which are usually rarely to see. Vicuñas (Lama-like animals), wild foxes, bunnies etc, just in the desert. Once we got on the boat, the variety of the wildlife was unstoppable. Several birds, the Humboldt Penguins, sea lions and even a group of dolphins. Just driving around on a small boat, admiring mother nature’s creations – I couldn’t have imagined it better!

When we got to actually step on the Island, Isla Damas, I was amazed by the overwhelming beauty. Nothing was more important than watching your own steps, because flora and fauna are very precious and irreplaceable in this vulnerable place. On the way back me and my travel-acquaintance got to do something very important – restore the mother’s treasure box to the sea. It didn’t belong to us, but to the sea. It’s now nearly indescribable how astonishing this trip was for me, but if I ever have the chance to, I will do it again!

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