life on pine

welcome to chile's spiritual desert: the elqui valley

Kate ParrishComment


famous for its spirituality, star-gazing-observatories, seekers of cosmic energies, apparent "UFO sightings", poet gabriela mistral, pisco liquor and so much more – the elqui valley has become a must visit region in central chile. our only previous experience with chile was back in 2014 when we came for the w trek in torres del paine. that part of patagonia is stunning, don't get me wrong, but there is so much more diversity to chile than i ever realized. our trip to this wonderful country started by greeting two of our best friends from the US/canada, who we hadn't seen in almost a year. they planned pretty much everything and did an incredible job.  for 10 days we road tripped through central chile's deserts and coastline, then after the lakes district of the south. after a short flight from santiago to la serena we hopped in the car for a quick 2 hour drive east. 

immediately walking off the plane you could feel and smell the desert – sunny skies, dry warm air, pale colors, cacti everywhere – and yet as we drove closer to the valley, the true oasis of the region started to unfold. the most beautiful collection of mountains, vineyards, flora and desert blended together to form something like i've never seen before. 


"The presence of strong positive magnetic vibrations has made Chile's Elqui Valley region an almost magical place to find restful introspection and absolute calm."  Walter Raymond via NYTimes 

interestingly, the elqui valley happens to be located exactly opposite from that of lhasa, tibet  –  establishing it as one of our planet's primary "electromagnetic centers". they say at this axis, the poles can emit a restorative energy that is beneficial to the spiritual and psychophysical development of humans. some have even begun to call elqui valley the "south american tibet", now home to many yoga, meditation and restorative centers. during the chilean dictatorship in the 70s and 80s, many hippies interested in meditation and eastern religions started flocking here. unfortunately we didn't have enough time to truly dive into the yoga/mediation thing [and would have loved to!]– but i can say that our time here was extremely loving, peaceful and full of laughter. i think the combination of good friends, good vibes and a stunning landscape made this place very, very special. 



the beloved national liquor of chile! and key ingredient in their national drink, the tart and delicious pisco sour. and for more casual occasions – the piscola [aka pisco and coke]. elqui valley is the birthplace and heart of chilean pisco production, dating back to the 16th century when spanish settlers arrived and started fermenting grapes to make this typically light or colorless brandy. the larger debate across the andes with peru, is who started making it first? an answer doesn't seem to be near as both countries continue to fight for bragging rights as the true birthplace of the liquor. we head to peru next and will get a true taste for the battle of pisco. 


i'd never heard of the drink before this trip, and ended up loving the almost margarita-esque taste of a pisco sour. interested in a tour? there are a whole freakin bunch of distilleries in the area, and we ended up visiting one in the town of pisco elqui at destilleria pisco mistral. two of our favorites, horcon quemado and malpaso, were on budget and really great.


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