Southern Chile’s myriad adventures
Unless you’re an astrophysicist who needs to analyze it all, when the December 2020 eclipse is over and the lights come back on, you’re inspired to fully experience some of the best adventure travel earth has to offer! To experience a total eclipse in a country that has the Andes, Torres Del Paine, the world’s most spectacular lakes and endemic temperate rainforests is a once in a lifetime opportunity
Tusker is heading down to a world-class setting, Southern Chile for the December 2020 total solar eclipse. A wide ranging nine day itinerary is planned that should satiate eclipse chasers, hikers, kayakers, bikers and nature lovers.
Astrophysicist Dr. Laurance Doyle leads the eclipse event that occurs on December 14 while Tusker founder Eddie Frank will direct a menu of exciting outdoor activities in several varied Chilean landscapes. Outings on the ocean and lakes as well as in the mountains plus tours in historic cities are part of the Dec. 10 – 19 itinerary. There is an optional five day extension that goes further south to Chile’s majestic Torres Del Paine National Park.
La Serena to Cerro Torro: From sea to the stars
After a day in Chile’s historic and cosmopolitan capital, Santiago, the group flies 240 miles north to La Serena, the nation’s second oldest city (1544). Known for its colonial architecture, its long beaches and cool desert climate many South American tourists pull up their beach chairs in the Southern Hemisphere summer (Jan-March). Tusker’s group has a special interest in all things and will head inland into the Andean foothills.
The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory lies in two hours outside of La Serena and Dr. Doyle has arranged for a day tour of this world class observatory that sits at 7,000 feet. In addition to the powerful 4.0 M and 4.1 M telescopes there is a group of astrophysicists there pouring over data from their nightly observations of galaxies and planets. Dr. Doyle has worked here in the past and will give the group the inside scoop on the Observatory’s most recent findings.
Temuco and the eclipse
From La Serena the group heads south to the university/ resort town of Temuco for two nights staying at the Dreams Araucaria Hotel. This is the land of the Mapuche, the indigenous people whose stamp is still very much on this inland valley, its lakes and the towering Andes to the east. With two major universities and the home of two Nobel laureates, Pablo Neruda and Gabriel Mistral, the city has both beauty and brains. A soak in the thermal springs at Menetue near Pucon where there are four pools and mud baths in addition to hiking and mountain bike trails will get the group refreshed for the eclipse.
Dr. Doyle will set up an eclipse viewing area just outside Temuco on the umbral center line for the Dec. 14 total solar eclipse.
In the shadow of Osorno
The active Osorno volcano towers above Chile’s second largest lake, Llanquihue, and will be the base for the final leg of the itinerary. The town of Puerto Varas sits on the lake and is an adventure travel crossroads with the Lake District’s routes running through its Araucaria forests that are so old they are considered living fossils, its glacial fed lakes and mountains. The Pacific is not far and offers another world class excursion.
Eddie has planned five options over two days including a nine hour bike ride, a kayak trip in a bird-filled lagoon and a boat trip to Chiloe Island to see its two species of penguins and if we’re lucky its blue whales. The outings are all classified as easy, but give the adventurer a sense of Chile’s incredible biodiversity.
For hikers there is a three mile loop hike to see the waterfall in Petrohue National Park. The waterfall has turquoise water, a nice contrast to the dripping rainforest and the white-capped Osorno Volcano in the distance. Trails can be muddy so pack appropriate footwear.
Chiloe is one of the few places in the world with unbridled beauty that has yet to be discovered by global tourism. It’s the fifth largest island in South America and has two national parks on it in addition to UNESCO world heritage architecture. Colorful stilt home rise up out of the water and were once home to 19th century whalers. Chiloe is an easy 45 minute ferry boat ride from the mainland but a retreat into century’s old-Chilean seafaring history.
On to Patagonia
Those opting for the five day Patagonia extension will fly to Puerto Natales on the shores of Ultima Esperanza Sound where a three hour hike to see a condor nest nestled in the granite walls rising above the sound is planned. From Puerto Natales it’s 100 kilometers to one of the world’s most spectacular and remote places, Torres Del Paine National Park.
Several hikes are planned in addition to a catamaran trip to see the Grey Glacier that will maximize the views and photo ops of the Paine Massif, a twisting and crenulated trio of towering spires above Grey Lake. Perhaps the best views will come as we spend a night at Estancia Tercera, a wildeness sheep ranch that has all the creature comforts with a world class view. Torres Del Paine is a world heritage site and a must see for anyone who has ventured to Southern Chile.
Not to be eclipsed
Any total solar eclipse is special, but when it’s umbral center line runs through Chile’s Lake District it doesn’t get any better. To experience a total eclipse in a country that has the Andes, Torres Del Paine, the world’s most spectacular lakes and endemic temperate rainforests is a once in a lifetime opportunity with or without the sun.