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Originally famed as the birthplace of South America’s first female Nobel Prize Winner, Gabriela Mistral, the town of Vicuña is now most often utilized for its easy access to the increasingly popular Elquí Valley. Lying about 60km east of La Serena and 500 km from Santiago, Vicuña is a pleasantly small town (population 10,000) with a large town square and a surprising number of activities to occupy your time. There’s an educational museum commemorating Gabriela Mistral, several pisceras nearby open to visitors, and observatories for all levels of astronomical interest. There are also one-room museums (like the Museo Entomológico e Historia Natural, or the Museo El Solar de los Madariago) scattered around the square that you can pop in to briefly if you’re spending the day in town.


Tour guides and visitors to Vicuña alike never fail to mention the remarkably clear skies that cover the entire valley more than 300 days and nights each year. Because of this microclimate, the main source of revenue in these parts is agricultural—fruits and vegetables like avocado, papaya and, most famously, pisco grapes.


The town of Vicuña is generally safe, though as you venture farther from the town square, angry political graffiti helps to steer you away from certain areas. Summers tend to be hot with relatively mild winters, but the strong winds that sweep the valley have lead farmers to put up protective wind barriers, which some visitors feel take away from the beautiful bucolic scenery.


Since the town itself is small, there are only a few hotel and hostel options available, but it’s not too hard to find something to accommodate most price ranges. Restaurants tend to be located around the square, though these tend to be cheap and unremarkable. Try walking along Gabriela Mistral away from the Bauer Tower for better food options.


Other places nearby Vicuña: Tongoy, Illapel, Copiapó, Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar, Alto del Carmen, Chañaral, Hurtado, Vallenar, Ovalle and Coquimbo.

By Lauren Yero
I am a recent liberal arts graduate who travels as a compulsion. I have lived in several regions of the US as well as briefly abroad in England and...
28 Sep 2008

Things to do in Vicuña

Activities Overview: Vicuña

125098Although Vicuña is a very small town, there is a surprising variety of activities to keep travelers busy. The town is littered with little museums, most notably the Museo Gabriela Mistral. It is the ...
Other Activity
Vicuña, Chile

Gabriela Mistral Museum

125099This small museum, a short walk from Vicuña’s Plaza de Armas, is full of educational information (all in Spanish) and memorabilia from the Nobel Prize-winning poet’s life. Displays in the museum ...
Vicuña, Chile

Capel Piscera

125100The largest Pisco producer in Chile, Planta Pisco Capel, offers inexpensive guided tours of its distillery within walking distance from Vicuña. A tour of the distillery gives a behind the scenes, ...
Other Activity
Vicuña, Chile

Mamalluca Observatory Tour

125101The skies above the Elqui Valley are astoundingly clear for more than 300 days each year. This makes the valley one of the top spots on the globe for astronomical observation. The top observatories ...
Other Activity
Vicuña, Chile
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