Chile’s Home of Pisco – Pisco Elqui and the Elqui Valley

From La Serena, on the 10th of April I travelled 100km west to Pisco Elqui in the Elqui Valley. The Elqui Valley has a desert climate with steep mountain sides and is watered by the Elqui River. The Elqui Valley is famous in Chile for producing Pisco, a type of brandy and the key ingredient in the cocktail Pisco Sour. Pisco, like many topics in South America, is subject to dispute with both Chile and Peru claiming rights to it. In fact, in 1936 the town’s name was changed from La Union to Pisco Elqui to reinforce Chile’s rights.

Pisco Elqui and the Elqui Valley

A German shepherd posing in front of my accommodation’s swimming pool with mountains in the background Continue reading

The Chile Adventure Begins – La Serena and Coquimbo

Following the Salar de Uyuni tour, in early April I crossed the Bolivian border and took a bus down to San Pedro de Atacama. Chilean border procedures are conducted in San Pedro, not at the isolated border itself.

Chile’s quarantine regulations reminded me of Australia’s with no fresh fruit, vegetables, meat or plant products allowed in. After immigration formalities, incoming passenger bags were lined up for a quarantine dog to enter and sniff. On this occasion the dog didn’t find anything suspicious although it did pick out a bag planted later by the customs officer.

Desert town San Pedro de Atacama is a major backpacker destination and outdoor activity base. After seeing many amazing landscapes on the Salar de Uyuni tour, I wanted a change of scenery and travelled onto La Serena via Calama. On the overnight Calama-La Serena bus I slept my best in four days as previous nights were spent at sleep-disrupting high altitude (~4,000 metres).

Founded in 1544 La Serena is Chile’s second oldest city (after Santiago). The existing buildings are however newer as the original city was destroyed by a 1730 earthquake.

Chile is noticeably wealthier, tidier and more organised than Bolivia. Chile also has some of Bolivia’s former coastline, won in a 19th century war between the two nations. The lack of coastline is controversial in Bolivia and subject to dispute. After being landlocked for two months, I was ready for seafood!

One evening I visited Jack Fish, a Peruvian inspired ceviche and sushi restaurant with fellow hostel guest and Pearl Jam fan Natalia. The restaurant owner was also a rock music fan, naming different menu combinations after bands and that night playing music from Touring Band 2000.

La Serena and Coquimbo, Chile

Rocking on with pisco sours and ceviche at Jack Fish, La Serena Continue reading