I hadn’t learnt from my previous mistakes of writing down the addresses of hostels before arriving, so once again I was roaming the streets knocking on hostel doors, but most were full. It took me about an hour of searching around and cursing myself under my breath to find a place, by which time I was willing to pay anything to get the bag off my back. You’d have thought after 4 months of travelling I’d have this kind of thing sussed, but I surprise even myself sometimes.
My sole reason for going to La Serena was for stargazing. I was told that Chile was one of the best suited countries for doing it and some of the photos I’d seen were awesome. The tour I booked took place at Mamalluca Observatory in Elqui Valley, where a lot of the observatories are based.
I opted for the tour in English as I wasn’t clued up on my Spanish astronomy vocabulary. This turned out to be a very good choice, as there were only 5 of us including me, whereas the Spanish speaking tour had around 50. We first got to look at a few different stars and gas clouds, as well as see the moon at 200x zoom. The tour guide did a great job of explaining the constellations and stars we were seeing, but it did emphasise how clueless I am about astronomy and how much there is to learn. It had been a full moon the night before, which wasn’t good for getting a clear view of the night sky, but we could still see Jupiter and many signs of the zodiac. It was quite amazing when looking at what appeared to be one star to the naked eye, but through the telescope turned into 6 or more at times. I couldn’t get the same kind of images I’d seen on the internet of the stars, but I did get a very nice shot of the moon by taking a picture with my phone through the telescope.
The next day I had no clue what my next move would be, so I whipped out the map and weighed up my options. After some research, I decided San Pedro de Atacama would be the next destination on my list, but that left me with a day to roam around the city. I strolled on down to the beach and found a cute little lighthouse peering out across the sea, sat down with a huge jug of juice and relaxed the day away.