General

What to do and see in COQUIMBO – Chile

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LA SERENA


Located at 472 km. north of Santiago.

A city inserted in a surrounding of a notable landscape with beaches of warm waters, beautiful green areas and has a variety of sports and recreation equipment. The city has an outstanding: church, , museums and antique architectural building and national monuments.

Siting in any terrace in the city gives a panoramic view of what the city has to offer. The unique architectural characteristics give the city it s character with distinguishes it form other cities in the north.



The central zone is characterized by a variety of cultural attractions. Its architecture, based in the Quiteñia Colonuila, in addition to many houses of the last century and churches dating to the XVI century.

La Serena, capital of the region that was founded in 1544 by Don Juan Bohon, was burned by the aboriginal and reconstructed thereafter in 1549 by Don Francisco de Aguirre. In 1949-1952, an urban renovation process, called ” La Serena Plan”, took place in order to give it its own architectural style.

COQUIMBO


Located at 13 km. south of La Serena.

An important port a fountain of legends of pirates. An excellent resort with interesting historical constructions and places and a variety of espacimiento sites.

A shipping port for many industries. La Rada is one of the best in the country. The city is a fountain of legends and hidden treasures due to the assaults by pirates and corsarios in the last century. Its constructions hang out of the hills. It has a good climate, excellent beaches, restaurants, night clubs and discos which makes it a city a lively city.



Coquimbo was found on the 5th of May of 1867.

OVALLE


Located at 88 km. south of La Serena.

It is the provincial capital and an important center of agricultural products of the province which holds the major exporting industries of agricultural products. A rich land fore mining, pisco production and grapes and lemons. It has interesting historical buildings and places and has a river that ids apt for swimming.

The provincial capital of Limari which was founded on the 22nd of April 1830. The church of San Vicente Ferrer, Plaza de Armas and the Alameda and the Agricultural fair, which provides the productions of the zone four times a week, stand out among its attractive architecture and museums that are filed with pieces of the Molle and Diaguitas cultures .

ILLAPEL


Located at 60 km. north-east of Los Vilos.

A painteresque city in the middle of a green zone. Its main attractions are the colonial buildings of the XVIII century.

A provincial capital, an active city situated in plane surrounded by hills and the river Illapel. It had it golden days en the last century because of the exports coming from mines, cattle raising and agriculture through the port of Los Vilos. One can find stones with indigenous inscriptions such as petroglyphs, and tacit stones in many places such as: Cuz Cuz and the Carmaco ravine.

The city of Illapel was founded in 1774 and recognized for its rich traditions and well-marked archeological surroundings.

Gastronomy

Among the typical plates of this region we can identify Beans , Las Pancutras ( soup of meat, vegetables and fine cut dough) and oven or fried Empanadas. La Cazuela de Ave, Pavo or Cerdo ( chicken, turkey or pork soup) are very traditional and also the Chilean salad ( tomatoes and onions), Las Humitas (ground corn wrapped in its own leaves), and Pastel de Choclo ( Corn Pie).

The drinks are El Chacoli which is prepared with toasted flour and orange juice, the Chicha de Uva (Grape Cider), El Pihuelo ( toasted flour with red wine) and El Aguardiente de Doñihue.

Folclore

COMBARBALA

Located at 137 km. north of Los Vilos.

It is located in an arid plane that extends till the mountain of The Andes. The river Combarbala, which originates from the Andes and pours into the Cogoto Basin, passes at one side of the city.

A mining village, unique in the country, dedicated to the exploitation and elaboration of different objects made of the Combarbalita Stone, a mineral similar to Marble. It is the unique place in Chile full of mines. The stone has various tones ranging form Yellow beige to green gray. The villagers elaborate ornaments in shaped of a church, chandeliers, miniature, water fountains, etc.

SALAMANCA

Located at 32 km. south-east of Illapel.

It was founded in 1884 on a slope at the foot of the hills. It is a city surrounded by fertile landscapes which offer a beautiful resort and interesting religious constructions.

It is the last nucleus of the urban valley through which the river Choapa passes. Its design is regular with a beautiful plaza in the center. There is an indigenous cemetery at its outskirts. It is famous for its traditions and legends of witchcraft which still exists till now. But it expresses its real personality during the Holly week when traditional festivities take place ( Rodeo).

One can also visit Los Caserios de Hiquuerillo and the church of La Rosa Mistica. Panguecillo and Quelen Bajo have a sanctuary covered by a bulrush ceiling.

ALGARROBITO

It is located at 11 km. east of La Serena.

A painteresque village known for its artisan and Manjar Blanco and Dried fruits in different combinations and forms. It is a favorite place for villagers’ meetings and reunions of the weekends where you can taste Chilean sweets.

In the village distinguished by its country houses surrounded by dry-stone wall and old olive trees in the streets. There is a beautiful church with a bell surround by a balcony. In the plaza, there is an old bower made of Oregon pine imported from the USA. Following the route towards the interior, we would find the localities of Altovalsol, Las Rojas, Placilla, Pelicana and Marquesa.

Famous for it Virgin del Rosario de Andacollo festival and religious celebrations in which the Chinese dance is one of the celebration’s features.

Mountain range

COCHIGUAS

Located at 50 km. south-east of Vicuna.

A valley located in the interior of Monte Grande, internationally known to be a center of meditation. It is considered as a magnetic pole near the north pole and guides the needles of the compass. ” Has positive energy properties for humans”. It also has tourist services like cabins and camping facilities all around this area.

The valley gradually gets higher along 18 km. passing through different predios till it reaches the Colorado which is also considered as a center of meditation, relaxation and natural life. It also has a camp.

This place is visited by travelers of many countries. The valley is surrounded by high and arid hills and with life channels called “Aguadas”, whose liquid is used by wineries that extend till the banks of the river Cochiguas which also serves for irrigation. The houses of the predios, very painteresque, are made of sun-dried adobes and dry-stone walls.

PUNITAQUI

Located at 25 km. south of Ovalle.

A mining village surrounded by old mines of Copper and is now important because of its present production of Mercury. It is an interesting place to visit which is near a mine called Delirio where Mercury is extracted.

Located in the ravine near the sharp-peaked hill of Punitaqui of 1,215 m. height. Towards the east, the hills of El Altar and La Laja are located where there were important mines of copper. The village was founded because of the Gold mines but later rich mines of Mercury were discovered.

On the side of the village there is the estuary Punitaqui of the river Limari.

Adventure tourism

PINGÜINO DE HUMBOLT NATIONAL RESERVATION

Location and Access: at 120 km. north of La Serena. It can be reached in two hours using the Panamericana Highway with a distance of 75 km till reaching a deviation through the village of Los Choros. From there, you take a 45 km newly renovated route. However, for those who dare and posses adequate boats, the sea could be another access alternative by sailing an 80 km distance form the Port of Coquimbo which would take you 4 hours.

Heading towards the fertile valleys of Coquimbo, you can find numerous villages where you can practice Off Road Trekking while contemplating the varieties of Flora and native fauna of the area which forms unique and interesting Ecological Systems forming Protected Wild Areas that exist in this zone. Among these areas, the Penguin de Humbolt national Reserve draws the attention of many visitors. It is constituted by three islands: Chañaral, Chorso and Damas. The most important species is the Penguin of Humbolt, however, one would also notice the existence of colonies of Sea wolves, Chungungos, Magellan penguins, Yacas and Dolphins “Bottle nose” which are accustomed to the company of visitors. Moreover, you would observe bird species like eaglet, borrowing owl, liles, guanay, cormorant, pikeman, pelican, turkey buzzard, oyster catcher, south American seagull, yunco ducks, among others. In these islands, It is occasionally possible to sight.

Thermal baths

SOCOS


It is located at 38 km. south-west of Ovalle.

A spa resort of Bromide-saturated waters. It has a comfortable hotel together with an estuary and green spots and shades. There is also a separate camping area equipped with a swimming pool.

There is a restaurant and a spa swimming pool surrounded by old trees and interesting archeological pieces. Its terraces are a good place to have a nice meal.

I Socos one can taste fruit drinks extracted from apples mixed with spa water.

Beaches

IN LA SERENA
La Avenida del Mar is located in the urban sector of La Serena which extends for 6 km. including the area from The light house till the limits of the Coquimbo Community. The beaches are: LOS FUERTES, LA BARCA, MANSA, BLANCA, CUATRO ESQUINAS, LA MARINA, EL PESCADOR, EL CORSARIO, LA SIRENA, LAS GAVIOTAS and CANTO DEL AGUA. In all of these beaches, you can practice swimming, sport fishing, and water sports.

IN COQUIMBO
Coquimbo is the port and vacation activity center of the region. It is distinguished by it 57 km of attractive beaches and famous legends of pirates and corsairs.

Its resorts are:
PEÑUELAS, has a casino, a hippodrome club and tennis courts. Its beaches are covered with fine sand and soft slops.

LA HERRADURA, has horseshoe-shaped beaches extending for 2 km of soft slops and warm and soft tide.

TOTORALILLO, has pleasant beaches with a small peninsula and rocky landscape. It is characterized by its clear and transparent waters. It is specially apt for fishing and underwater fishing due to the variety of fish and seafood it offers.

LAS TACAS, located south of Coquimbo. A small bay with greet white sands. It is apt for shore fishing. The annual average temperature oscillate between the 15 and 18º C.

LAGUNILLAS, A favorite place for both shore and boat fishing. It provides an abundant variety of species such as Meager and Sole. No apt for swimming.

MORRILLOS, posses 6 km of extended beaches of pale yellow sands and water temperate of 16º C.

TONGOY, has a privileged micro-climate. The average temperature is 18º C with little seasonal variations. The Playa Grande beach, 14 km, and Playa Socos, 4 km, are some of its remarkable beaches both of which have soft slopes, fine sands and warm waters.

PLAYA BLANCA, a small bay approximately extending to 500 Mts. It is located at 45 km south-west of Coquimbo between Guanaqueros and Tongoy.

PUERTO VELERO, has a 4 km of beaches. Located 47 km south of Coquimbo. You can visit an old woods of native species called Valle de los Pimientos.

GUANAQUEROS, has 17 km. of extended breaches of soft slops, fine sands and warm waters. You can practice water sports, shore fishing, sear swimming, sun bathing and interesting walks towards the small fishing ports to watch the fishing activities or even to buy fresh fish and seafood.

LOS VILOS, offers many attractions such as rocky shores and islands where one could appreciate the marine fauna. Some of these islands are the Isla de Huevos (Eggs Island) and Isla de los Lobos (Sea wolves Island). One of its preferred lagoons is Conchalí that has sweet water and abundant quantities of mackerel and ducks.

The average temperature in the summer is 19º C and the water registers an 18º C temperature. Strong winds occasionally blows. Of its beaches, we can distinguish the Playa Principal, Playa Chungo and Playa Amarilla.

PICHIDANGUI, has a privileged outstanding bay with 7 km. extension and has fine white sands and calm sea. Apt for notice sports and sea and sun bathing. The temperature average is 19ºC in the summer and the water registers a 19º C temperature. There are occasional winds. Of its nearby beaches we can distinguish Playa Totoralillo, Quebrada and Cueva del Negro and Playa Cascabeles.

Astronomical observatories

THE TOLOLO HILL ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY

It is located at 87 km. west of La Serena.

A scientific world class Center known for its lenses of big diameter. The first that came into operation in the south hemisphere.

The access road is beautiful. The Center is located at 2200 m. above sea level.

Equipped with highly advanced auxiliary elements plus 7 Seven telescopes. Its main lens is considered the second of its kind in operation in the world and the first in the south hemisphere. It has a diameter of 4 meters which makes it the biggest reflector in the south hemisphere. The length of the telescope is 14 meters and the cupola is 38 meters high and form part of the building that is built in the rocks. Its construction and development was achieved thanks to the “Aura”, an Association of Universities for Astronomical investigations, which is also supported by the national Foundation of Sciences of the University of Chile.

Visits: restricted. One must reserve a place with a month’s anticipation by calling the following telephone number (51) 225-415. The place can be visited only on Saturdays. The visitor must arrange transportation.

Access: Its access road permits easy access passing by the snowy hill peaks. The road is unpaved.

LA SILLA ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY

It is located at 150 km. north of La Serena.

A modern observatory located beneath the most clear skies in the world and privileged with advanced technology. It is located at a height of 2440 m. above sea level.

The La Silla observatory is equipped with thirteen telescopes of great magnitude. It main telescope is a reflector type with a diameter of 3.6 meters. It belongs to the European Group for Astronomical Observation. Its importance is considered to be the ability to carry out studies through the most clear skies in the world. The building is 18 meters high and 30 meters of diameter. The weight of the cupola is 400 tons and its main telescope weighs 250 tons.

Visits: Restricted. One must reserve with anticipation by calling the following phone number in Santiago (2) 228-5006 . Visits are only on Saturdays. The visitor must arrange transportation.

LA CAMPANA ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY

It is located at 154 km. north of La Serena.

A modern observatory located beneath the most clear skies in the world. It is located at a height of 2440 m. above sea level.

La Campana has a wide capacity to observe the universe obtaining highly clear photographs. It has 4 telescopes. It is equipped with auxiliary elements. Its main telescope measures 2.5 meters in diameter. North American observatories who with the participation of the University of Chile, are in charge of the place and the investigations.

Visits: restricted. One must reserve with anticipation by calling the following phone number (51) 224-680. Visits are only on Saturdays. The visitor must arrange transportation

PISCO ELQUI

It is located at 38 km. south-east of Vicuña.

A production center for Pisco. A zone known for its famous industries and excellent wines. In this area the Cochiguas and Claro rivers unite forming the Elqui river.

There are two pisco factories, a good restaurant and artisan shops.

The artisan shops are located on a hill overlooking the valley. It has a small plaza and a big church with a high tower.

Los Nichos Estate: produces the 3 R distilled pisco.

La Placetas Estate: produces 3 Cruces distilled pisco.

Rosario de Miraflores Estate: produces Peralta and Iglesia piscos which are produced in an artesian way.

It has tourist services and facilities like small hotels with restaurants and swimming pools and camping areas.

Religious places

ANDACOLLO

Located at 50 km. south-east of Coquimbo.

A small village surrounded by desert hills. Its main activities is the small mining industry.

The city has great religious traditions and has distinguished temples and festivals of the Virgen del Rosario.

It has cone-shaped houses at the end of a ravine. The village is surrounded by big tarts of mine debris. It was founded in 1891. Its is rich in Gold and Copper mines.

It is distinguished for its Vigen del Rosario festival which is celebrated as the “Fiesta Chica” which takes place on the 1st Sunday of October and the “Fiesta Grande” which takes place on the 26th of December. Both are characterized by their dancing or “Cofradás”.

SOTAQUÍ

Located at 11 km. east of Ovalle.

A small village yet important for its fishing production and religious festivals. To reach it you can leave from Ovalle, cross the Rio Grande river and then enter the valley of Sotaquí where there are high palm trees and big and vestigial Estates.

This old locality is dated to the time of the Spaniard Conquest when in 1551 Don Pedro Cisternas claimed it as his own. Afterwards, in 1774, it became known as such. A historical information indicates that The Liberating Division form Argentina led by Don Patricio Ceballos, son of this land, camped in the zone on the 10th of February of 1817. The next day, Don Patricio was able to win t he Battle of Socos against Manuel Santa Maria, a Spaniard who was escaping with his troops from La Serena.

In 1882, a railway line was constructed to unite the zone with the south of Chile. In 1943, an earthquake shocked the city totally destroying it.

Historic places and monuments

THE HOUSE WHERE GABRIELA MISTRAL WAS BORN IN VICUÑA, declared as a National Monument in 1969.

It is located in the city of Vicuña at only 25 km east of La Serena. A birth place of the poet Nobel price for literature (1945). The house posses furniture, photographs, domestic objects and prizes and objects as souvenirs of her life and works.

THE RURAL-HOUSE OF MONTE GRANDE, declared as a National Monument in 1979.

It is located in Monte Grande, a village formed on the sides of a long street which is typical of towns and village of the inland of the country.

Here one finds the School-House and Post Office where Gabriela Mistral lived part of her infancy. She was raised and taught by her sister, teacher and Head of the Post Office. The house is small in size and has a patio with play toys that overlooks the Elqui river. Today is a well-conserved museum.

THE MAUSOLEUM OF GABRIELA MISTRAL, declared as a Nation Monument in 1961.

It is located in Monte Grande over a rocky promontory providing a wide vision of the valley. There is located the Tomb of Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957). Her tombstone is carved with her testament. Beside the grave, there is a monolith and a bust of the poet.

VALLE DEL ENCANTO, declared as a National Monument in 1973.

It is located at 19 km. west of Ovalle.

A 5 km zone located in a ravine that has Petroglyphs, Pictographs and Tacit Stones, all of which are indicators of a culture that occupied the sector 2000 years ago. It was a zone of hunters and shepherds.

The Petroglyphs represent faces with ornaments and crests on the head; either ovoid or semi-circular with geometric decorations. The main decorative element is the human figure en motion; a carving technique used on stone.

The Pictographs are of red color represented in curved and wavy lines in a geometric form.

Tacit Stone or Mortars Mortems: are represented in three varieties with a diameter depth of 10 to 15 cm and of 4 to 8 cm.

THE CATHEDRAL OF LA SERENA: This church was declaredas a National Monument in 1981.

It is located in the Plaza de Armas, at the north-east corner and Cordovez Street.

The first Temple of La Serena Foundation (1544) is situated there. In 1844 and after a lot of damages, the present church was constructed by the French architect Juan Herbage. The structure is of limestone walls carved with square masonry and lime mortar. The columns are of wood covered with stucco work mixed with mortar and limestone. The ceiling has a barrel vault shape constructed with broads.The floor is made of white and black marble squares organized like a chess. The armature of the ceiling is made of wood; and the roof covered with galvanized iron.

GONZALES VIDELA HOUSE, declared as a national Monument in 1981.

It was built in 1890 as a house of the ex-president Gabriel Gonzalez V. The house forms part of the architectural heritage of the city. At present, it is a Regional Museum and an Art Gallery.

Visiting Hours: Tuesday-Saturday from 9:00 – 13:00 / 16:00 – 19:00 hr.

Sunday from 10:00 – 13:00 hr.

THE ANDACOLLO CHURCH, declared as a National Monument in 1981.

It is located in the Plaza de Andacollo.

Founded in 1893. It has an Italian Neo-classical style with 5 interior naves and a crowned cross. It is made of Oregon Pine with walls filled with Adobes covered with panels of Galvanized-iron. It has a capacity of 10000 people.

There are two main processions with dancing groups to salute the Virgin del Rosario during t he year. One in October and the other in December.

THE GUAYACÁN CHURCH, declared as a National Monument in 1977.

It is located in Guayacán, La Herradura Bay.

It belonged to the Urmeneta family and is situated in the village of Guayacán in the XIX century. It has an entirely metallic structure erected in 1889 by a Belgium Company. Until the end of the XIX century, this church was the urban Center of the village which depended on the Copper Casting factory belonging to the Urmeneta Errázuriz family. Now, the factory does not exist and the church had converted into a Chapel constituting a heritage of the metallic architecture in Chile.

SAN ANTONIO DE BARRAZA CHURCH, declared as a National Monument in 1977.<

It is located in San Antonio de Barraza at 3 km. north of Del Cruce with the Ovalle highway.

This church was founded in 1680 and constructed between 1962 and 1700 on the lands of Captain Antonio de Barraza. Its structure is made of Adobe walls of 1 mt. thick and with cement stones and wood structure of the of the tower, floor and roof. The roof covering is made of Galvanized-iron instead of tiles.

Its interior is modest, a pulpit and an altarpiece of wood.

THE PETRIFIED WOODS OF PICHASCA AND THE RESERVOIRS OF DINOSAURS BONES, declared as a National Monument in 1969.

It is located at 56 km. north-east of Ovalle.

An important archeological and paleontological zone where fossils and plants rests are found petrified. It was an ancient living place of the Inca civilization. A natural Monument located north-east of a hill that rises on the north side of the Hurtado river.

A beautiful village with a church built with Adobe, painted in blue and has a tower on the side. One can visit the Petrified Woods which a has an important Paleontological value, Dinosaurs fossils and rocky eaves or Stone houses occupied by man 10000 years ago, all of which were declared as a National Monument. The park has an area size 128 hectares and a vegetation that covers the Hurtado river sides. Ann interesting thing to visit are the Rocky Eaves, also called ” Stone House” which offers an example of a pre-historic refuge for man. There also other anthropological manifestations around Pichasca.

Fray Jorje national park

It is located at 45 km. west of Ovalle.

It was declared a national Park in 1941 and on 1977 as a Biospheric World Reserve. It has interpretive paths, a Center for Environmental Information and a camping and picnic area. The best time to visit is spring time.

A wild area protected by 9959 hectares. A hydrophilic wood, only found in the south zone of Chile, is conserved thanks to a high and dense rains in that zone.

Visiting days: Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. In the summer from Thursday to Sunday.

Lakes and lagoons

THE RECOLETA RESERVOIR

It is located at 25 km. north-east of Ovalle.

A reservoir with a capacity of 100 million m3 and with abundant vegetation and beautiful panoramic sites. It was rehabilitated as a center for water sports and fishing area due to its good weather and regular wind. It was inaugurated in 1934. There is a small plaza and boat harbor, yacht club and organized camping.

Bordering the reservoir towards the south, there is access and free areas for camping and for picnic. A drowned wood of old Willow tress are found beside the reservoir at the drain of the Hurtado rive. In the north entry, there is the Algarrobo village that offers a beautiful site of the river of the valley and the ravine of the river.

THE LA PALOMA RESERVOIR

It is located at 27 km. south-ease of Ovalle.

The biggest irrigation reservoir of the country. The road of the Riviera is a good place for camping and is excellent for the fishing sport. One can observe the artificial water falls which is formed when its eight gates are open.

The second biggest in South America with a capacity of 780 million m3 contained in a superficies of 3000 hectares. Terminated in 1965 and in 1974 all the gates were filled thus the matrix net of canals were also terminated. All its Riviera are planted with forest species.

It gets divided in the valley when it pours in the Rio Grande and a sand pit full of reposing birds.

THE LA LAGUNA RESERVOIR

It is located at 183 km. east of La Serena.

A reservoir with a capacity of 40 million m3 that provides an exceptional landscape.

With an extension of approximately 5 km and a height of 3350 m.s.n.m, it constitutes the reserve for the Elqui valley.

THE COGOTÍ RESERVOIR

It is located at 19 km. north of Combarbala.

An irrigation reservoir with forested sides and good conditions for camping. The populated surrounding areas present a lot of curious and interesting places to visit.

The beach of the Cogoti river are apt for swimming and good for camping. The reservoir’s capacity is 150 million m3. The access is through a wide cultivated valley where the village of San Marcos is located which provides a painteresque view of two-floor houses. Another nearby place is the village of La Ligua which is famous for its figs and dried peaches.

Towards the Andes, we can observe a big area of leveled land filled with mineral with surprising colors. It is an above ground open Silver mine called las Mostazas.

From the Coloradas, a small combination of houses scatter on colored land which gives you a splendid view of the Cogoti Reservoir.

Islands

ISLAND OF DAMAS, PINGÜINO DE HUMBOLT

It is located at 120 kms. north of La Serena

An island of great beauty and belongs to the Pingüino de Humbolt national Reserve. It has tortoise shell beaches of transparent waters and apt for swimming. It can reached by boat from the Caleta de Punta de choros ( 5400 Mts. above sea level).

Reaching the Island by boat and during the traversing which lasts approximately 20 minutes, one can observe colonies of dolphins that are accustomed to accompanying the boats in a remarkable and notable beauty. Arriving to the Island, one can see the penguin of Hombolt, scientifically named Spheniscus Humboldti, whose habitat reaches Peru. It is also known as the penguin of the north.

The climate is warm and cloudy in the morning and clear in the afternoon, with intense sun light in the summer. The annual average temperature is 18ºC and the annul rain average is 30mm. Camping is available with previous authorization from the national Forest Corporation (CONAF). With a total superficies of 60.3 hectares, this island forms part of the Penguin de Humbolt National Reserve which also includes the Islands of Choros and Chañaral. The latter is located in the Atacama region but still under the supervision of CONAF of the Coquimbo region. The main importance of this Island is in its fauna, while its popularity is considered to be a destination of tourists who reach the island and camp due to the reason that the other islands cannot be visited.



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