Between the sea and the sky in Coquimbo, Chile
Some regions of Chile tick all the boxes needed to witness this phenomenon at its very best. Perfect weather conditions at this time of year, low levels of light pollution and plenty of observatories. Perfect conditions according to the experts! All the more reason to get off the beaten track, head for the heights and get that little bit closer to the sky.
From Santiago de Chile, you have the choice of several locations for your eclipse-seeking experience. The first is at Coquimbo on the Pacific coast, 460 km north-west of the capital. There the celestial show promises to be breath-taking: the total eclipse will happen at the end of the day between the land and sea. Set up your telescope and enjoy two minutes and 38 seconds of total eclipse.
Make the most of your stay in the region and visit the Pingüinos de Humboldt National Reserve, a sanctuary for whales, penguins, dolphins, sea lions, pelicans and other protected species. The display of particularly well-protected marine fauna and flora is absolutely stunning.
Pingüinos de Humboldt National Reserve
+56 2 2663 0000
On top of the world in Chile's Elqui Valley
You can also see the eclipse on the coast at La Serena or at the La Silla observatory 150 km north-east. Another option is to travel in land from La Serena to the Elqui Valley which boasts perfect viewing points. Near to the town of Vicuña, you will find the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory where its powerful telescopes are already gearing up for the eclipse. You watch the captivating spectacle in amazement, overwhelmed by the majesty of the cosmos. When you come back down to earth, set off and explore the precipitous Elqui Valley, occupied since time immemorial by the Molle people. Vicuña, the town where Gabriela Mistral, poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, was born offers typical local cuisine and a great choice of pretty restaurants.
Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory
+56 51 220 5200
In the heart of the Atacama Desert
Further north, in the heart of the magnificent Atacama Desert, the driest on earth, the town of Ovalie is also one of the hot spots for scientists and stargazers. From here, you can visit the European Southern Observatory (ESO). At 2,400 metres above sea level, the solar eclipse will plunge the rocks of the Atacama into a half-light gently tinged with the last orange streaks of the sun. It is a spectacle you will never forget.
European Southern Observatory (ESO), Chile
Bella Vista for one of the most beautiful views of the solar eclipse
The other main country set to enjoy the eclipse on 2 July 2019 is, without question, Argentina. The eclipse continues its path over the Andes Cordillera and it is in this region that you will find one of the best-placed towns. Bella Vista, to the north of San Juan, sits right on the trajectory of the eclipse. Close to the Chilean border, perched 1,900 metres above sea level, it enjoys a dry and sunny climate and low levels of light pollution. For exactly two minutes and 30 seconds, the place will be plunged into almost total darkness. We recommend that you find a spot out of town to experience the spectacle at its very best.
You will no doubt feel the same sense of humility when faced with the power of nature in the Ischigualasto Provincial Park or Valley of the Moon. In fact, the barren, mineral landscape you see today used to be covered in lush vegetation and home to numerous species of dinosaurs. But that was 225 million years ago! There are still remains today and geological formations, such as wonderful natural sculptures with improbable and fantastic shapes. You do not need a guide to get there, but do be aware of the fluctuations in temperature: once the overpowering heat of the day has subsided, extremely cold nights fall quickly and might startle you.
Ischigualasto Provincial Park
J5449 Villa San Agustín
San Juan Province
+54 264 457-0879
A glimpse of magic in Buenos Aires
If you cannot get over to the San Juan region but happen to be in Buenos Aires on 2 July, you can still see something of the eclipse. Its path over South America in fact ends to the south of the Argentinian capital. Admittedly, it will only be a partial eclipse there, but the wonderment will be just the same. If you do not want to miss the next eclipse, make a note of the date right now. On 14 December 2020, a total eclipse of the sun will cross Chile and Argentina once again. Put it in your diary!