With virtually continuous clear days and little light pollution, northern Chile has spectacular night skies, with constellations, planets and shooting stars easily visible to the naked eye. Many hotels and excursion operator are geared up accordingly, and can provide observation equipment, but for the ultimate view visit one of the renowned observatories – including Mamalluca, Alma, La Silla, Paniri Caur, Collowara or Cerro Tololo. Not all are open at night, but even a trip during the day is fascinating.
Although largely modern now, the city of Antofagasta gives a glimpse of the industrial history of Chile, and is set on the coast, with good beaches and a charming historic centre.
Reasons to visit Observatories and Antofagasta include:
This is a year-round destination, at its warmest in December and January and its coolest in July. To get the best stargazing, try to avoid travelling during the full moon.
Time: GMT -4 hours
There are direct flights from London Heathrow to Santiago, which operate 4 times a week and take 14 hours 40 minutes. The Chilean airline, LATAM, flies via Madrid.
Language: The official language is Spanish. but other local languages are also spoken. English is spoken quite widely.
Visas are not currently required for British passport holders staying for up to 90 days, who are issued with a ‘Tarjeta de Turismo-Tourist Card’ on arrival. You must retain this and present it to immigration on departure.
Generally none is compulsory but we recommend the following: hepatitis A and B, typhoid, diphtheria, meningitis, tetanus, rabies and polio. There is no malaria in Chile. A yellow fever certificate is required if you are coming from an infected area.