Chasing the Sun, Moon and Stars in South America

June 29-July 6, 2019

Marvel at the beauty and magnificence of a total solar eclipse. Join fellow Times Journeys travelers and the New York Times science expert George Johnson on an eight-day journey to experience this once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse in the foothills of the Sierras in Argentina. Immerse yourself in the world of the cosmos by traveling to northern Chile’s Elqui Valley, home to many of the world’s best telescopes.

The eclipse of July 2, 2019, will be visible only in Argentina and Chile, making it a rare celestial event. You’ll see it from a great vantage point without the crowds. After the eclipse, follow the stars to the Elqui Valley in Chile for some intergalactic sightseeing and visit one of the world’s most famous complexes of astronomical telescopes and instruments at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory.

The Elqui Valley’s high altitude, remote location and dry climate allows unparalleled viewing of galaxies, stars and planets. With insights from one of The Times’s top science writers, go deep into the universe and put our small planet into perspective.

travel deeper:

guide expert

George Johnson
George Johnson has been writing about science for The New York Times for more than 25 years. He is a two-time winner of the AAAS Science Journalism Award and the author of nine books.


Welcome to South America
Arrive in Santiago and transfer to your hotel. Santiago is at once a modern capital and a traditional city, located in Chile’s Central Valley and flanked by the main chain of the Andes on the east and the Chilean Coastal Range on the west. Later, set out with your Times Journeys expert to the Santiago Planetarium for a private visit. Then get to know your fellow Times Journeys travelers at a welcome dinner.

Argentina Bound
Take a short flight to Córdoba, Argentina, the country’s second-most important city after Buenos Aires. Tour this colonial city, including a visit to the Astronomical Observatory of Córdoba. Originally founded in 1871 as the Argentine National Observatory, the facility was the first to map out the sky of the Southern Hemisphere. Then drive about 2.5 hours to the mountain village of Yacanto.

Córdoba Countryside
Start your morning with a talk by your Times Journeys expert. Then set out for the picturesque mountainside villages of the Traslasierra Valley. These small towns were founded over a century ago by British immigrants who came to develop the railway system. The region remained relatively isolated until recently and now reveals its rustic charm to those ready to explore. Discover local culinary treats like goat cheese, honey and trout. Savor wine at an organic winery and conclude your day visiting local artisans and their shops, including a silversmith. Have a traditional dinner at a local restaurant.

Eclipse Day
This morning, gather with your Times Journeys expert for a talk on how to watch a solar eclipse. Then, the moment you have been waiting for finally arrives: the total eclipse of the sun. The eclipse viewing will take place on the golf course of your hotel, away from many of the crowds that will be coming to view the eclipse. The wide-open spaces will allow for unobstructed views, weather permitting, of course. (If the weather does not cooperate, transportation will be provided to an alternate location.)

The eclipse will begin in late afternoon, allowing a rare evening view of the end of the eclipse. Hot beverages will be provided: It does get cold during totality and it will be wintertime. Then celebrate this special day with dinner at the hotel and a discussion on what you have experienced.

Santiago At Will
Fly back to Santiago. After checking into your hotel and getting a quick bite to eat, discover Santiago on a guided tour. You will learn more about this city known around the world for its universities, architecture and vibrant neighborhoods. From the presidential residence, La Moneda Palace, to the sweeping view of the Andes atop Cerro Santa Lucia, which juts up in the middle of the city, to the artistic neighborhood of Bellavista, home of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, discover Santiago.

El Elqui Valley
Take a short flight to the coastal city of La Serena. Founded in 1544, La Serena is Chile’s second-oldest city and has beautiful architecture, including Cathedral of La Serena and El Faro, the lighthouse. Then it is onto the El Elqui Valley. Located at the southern end of the Atacama Desert, this region is considered to be one of the best areas in the world for stargazing. In 2015, scientists at the International Astronomical Union meeting declared the area the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary. Travel to the town of Vicuña in the heart of El Elqui Valley. After dinner at a local restaurant, embark on a private evening visit to the Mamalluca astronomical observatory, where you can gaze through the telescopes and see stars and galaxies beyond your wildest imaginations.

Depart to the National Science Foundation’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, a complex of astronomical telescopes and instruments that is part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. The complex started development in the 1960s, when scientists realized that observations from the Northern Hemisphere gave them only half the picture, and that the Chilean mountains offered unparalleled viewing. Then, visit a local pisco distillery for lunch followed by a pisco tasting. Pisco, a national drink, is a spirit made from fermented grape juice. In the evening, gather one last time with your fellow Times Journeys travelers for a farewell dinner. Complete your amazing experience with an evening visit to the Pangue astronomical observatory for some more stargazing.

Homeward Bound
Check out of your hotel and transfer to La Serena airport for your flight back to Santiago and home.

trip details

Hotel Yocanto
With classic English style and character, the hotel is surrounded by gardens and looks out on the mountains in Traslasierras.

Atton El Bosque
This modern hotel in the heart of Santiago’s financial district is close to the city’s best restaurants and shopping.

Terral Hotel and Spa
This hotel offers modern and spacious rooms in an excellent location.

this trip

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