Let us update you on what happened before blowing out a wheel north of Huasco. We wanted to explore the Elqui Valley, famous for its Pisco, star gazing, UFO sightings and poet Gabriela Mistral. Anita was still with us and we headed east into the valley following the Rio Elqui upstream into the mountains towards the Argentinian border.
Our first stop was the town of Vicuña where we found Hostal Michel which offered camping in its courtyard. We decided to stay here for a couple of nights as there were things to see and do here.
We went for a short bike ride to nearby Diaguita, home of Guyacán Brewery, a must-visit for a beer lover. The brew master gave us a tour and we tasted all of the beers they produce. Lovely stuff. The brewery was started by four friends from Santiago a few years ago and has grown to produce enough beer that they can supply one of the major supermarket chains in Chile.
Our next stop was Aba Pisquera, one of the oldest Pisco producers in the valley. They were shut down for maintenance but we got the tour and tasting anyway. So, with some beer and Pisco in our system, and no food, we cycled back to Vicuña and our hostel to eat something.
That night we went on a tour to one of the observatories in the area. A van took us into the mountains to Mamalluca Observatory where we received a tour of the night sky and viewed some constellations and planets through the telescope. Saturn was very cool, its rings clearly visible around the planet.
The next day, we headed further up the valley to Pisco Elqui. The valley is fertile, water flows year-round and the conditions are perfect for growing the grapes needed to make the Pisco. The cycling was lovely as the road winds up the valley with vineyards all around stretching up the slopes of the steep mountains. By afternoon we had arrived in the town of Pisco Elqui, found a cabaña and settled in. Pisco Elqui is a beautiful small town and we stayed for two nights.
There are many more photos on the Flickr Page.