I’ve been hearing about the mystical Valle de Elqui since my first trip to Chile in January 2018, and now almost two years later I can finally say that I’ve been and it’s beautiful. I highly recommend both Pisco the puebla and pisco the brandy-ish spirit, preferably in the same trip if you can make it happen. I volunteer as
The town of Pisco Elqui about two hours outside of town, one or two valleys east of the LSST Observatory depending on how you count. It didn’t take much convincing to get my amigas to roadtrip out there with me one Saturday morning armed with a reggaeton playlist, fresh chirimoya fruit from a side-of-the-road vendor, and a tub of freshly made guacamole (my contribution because you can literally never eat too much guac).
It’s a hippie little place, out in the middle of nowhere. After seeing no signs of people for 30-ish minutes while driving on a windy dirt road away from the main highway (which is a synonym for paved two-lane road in this part of the country), we turned a corner and an entire town magically appeared.
Walking around the town square and exploring some artisan shops was quite enjoyable, but my main takeaway from the morning was that I have a lot of learning to do when it comes to new fruits. After chatting with some vendors about the properties of various crystals, we stopped by a juice vendor and I only recognized about half of the flavors on the list. Remembering exotic fruit names is hard, but lúcuma is one to try, as well as something that kinda looked like a kiwi but definitely wasn’t because I’ve eaten kiwi in Chile.
We then drove a bit outside of town to a camping/recreation area called Luz de Luna, and I was completely amazed to find waterfalls and a steel-blue river in the middle of an otherwise arid-looking valley. You don’t really see the vibrant greenery until you drop down into the valley itself, so it’s a bit of a shock for an uneducated-in-Chilean-topography gringa like me.
This all happened on a Saturday after we stayed up until 3am Friday night playing Settlers of Catan (a nerdy turn-based strategy boardgame) (these are my people), so Sunday climbing plans were vetoed in favor of sleeping in and playing with wooden paddles and a ball on the beach. I’m sure said game has a name but there are a lot of Spanish words swimming around in my brain right now and apparently that’s not one of the ones that stuck.
All in all, a lovely weekend with some lovely (and patient) friends!