This post is in partnership with Elki Magic. We received complimentary bike rentals for our Chilean pisco tour in Valle del Elqui exchange for our honest review, but all opinions are our own!
Valle del Elqui (or Elqui Valley) is often skipped over by travelers getting on to Valparaiso or heading north to San Pedro de Atacama, but for those who have the time, it is one of the coolest spots in Chile. Chilean pisco production dominates local industry, and you’ll spend your time in Valle del Elqui relaxing among its dry-yet-fruitful hills. You can stay in the Elqui Domos if you’re feeling fancy, or find a spot to camp if you’re not. And when you’re ready to get out for a bit, you can rent a bike and ride through tiny towns and vineyards, making cocktail and beer stops along the way. Really, can you imagine a better bike ride than that?
My best friends came to visit me in Chile, and a Chilean pisco tour of Valle del Elqui seemed like a pretty perfect day trip. Are you looking for fun things to do in Valle del Elqui besides stargazing? Here’s how to explore the region by bike with Elki Magic.
Elki Magic is a French-Chilean owned tour company based in Vicuña, Chile. As a small family operation, Elki Magic is super flexible – let them know what you’re looking to do, and they’ll help you plan out a trip! They specialize in bike tours with mountain biking excursions to El Pangue, Alcohuaz, and Pisco Elqui, and road bike rentals for exploring the surrounds. They also offer day tours by car into the valley and to the surrounding lakes.
We opted for an unguided Valle de Elqui bike tour – i.e. a bike rental with a map – so we could travel at our own pace. Adeline walked us through the route in detail, and geared us up with a bicycle, helmet, gloves, pump, a repair kit and lock. “Repair kit,” you ask? There are some particularly prickly cactus spines along the route and flat tires are pretty much guaranteed.
Cost: You can either rent your bike hourly for $1,000 CLP/hour ($1.50/hour) or for a full day at $7,000 CLP ($10.50/day). Guided tours by car start at $15,000 CLP ($23).
Biking Route in Valle del Elqui
While there are several bike routes around Valle del Elqui, we opted for an easy, boozy 17km loop from Vicuña. The route was mostly-flat, and included stops at two pisco distilleries, a brewery, a yoga ashram, and a solar kitchen. Elki Magic will provide you with a lovely little map, but we’ve outlined our favorite stops below.
Stop 1 | ABA Pisqueria
ABA is a family-owned pisqueria, offering guided tours several times a day. Their pisco tours are free, and if you don’t mind the spiel, they’re quite informative, too. You’ll learn about what differentiates pisco from wine, get inside the distilling process, and finish off the tour with a Chilean pisco tasting. Of course, the real highlight of this stop is the bar outside selling craft pisco cocktails for $5,000 CLP ($7.50).
Stop 2 | EcoTruly
EcoTruly is a yoga ashram and eco-village run by a Hari Krishna community. If you happen to pass by at lunchtime, you can join them for a meal at no cost. Later in the day, they’ll serve cheap veggie burger that are supposed to be excellent.
Stop 3 | Guayacan Brewery
The Guayacan Brewery far exceeded our expectations for a nearly middle-of-nowhere brewery. Park your bike outside and head into their open-air beer garden where you can sample 8+ beers on tap. Here, you can order a bottle of craft beer for the very cheap price of $1,500 CLP ($2.25) and a hamburger the size of your face. Realistically, you’ll probably end up ordering two (beers, not hamburgers). Their beer list includes a super delicious stout, some solid ambers, and a couple of less enticing options like Uno, their 1% beer.
Stop 4 | Solar Kitchens
Thanks to the endlessly sunny skies of Valle del Elqui, it is possible to eat a meal cooked entirely by solar power. The reflective panels collect solar energy and cook up meat and other lunch items for hungry bikers passing through. We got to the solar kitchen a bit too late to try it out ourselves, but we’ve heard it’s quite the experience!
Stop 5 | Capel Pisqueria
If you’re intent on trying another type of pisco, Capel is a major Chilean pisco distributor offering tours starting at $4,000 CLP ($6). We’ll be honest. At this point in our bike ride, we were one pisco tour, a pisco cocktail, and two beers in. We’d heard Capel is without too much artisanal charm, so we rode our bikes right past and never looked back.
Traveling to Valle del Elqui?
How to get to Valle del Elqui: Valle del Elqui is east of La Serena, and the major highlights are Vicuña (1 hour) and Pisco Elqui (2 hours). Busses depart La Serena several times a day and cost between $2,000 CLP ($3) – $3,500 CLP ($5).
Day Trip vs. Overnight: There are only a few budget hotels in Vicuña, but we’d highly recommend staying the night. As stargazing is a major attraction and you’ll have made a few stops on your Chilean pisco tour, you’ll thank us.
Valle del Elqui Stargazing: The skies are incredibly clear in Valle del Elqui, making it an excellent spot for stargazers. The best observatories outside of Vicuña are Observatorio Mamalluca, Pangue Observatory, and Collowara Tourism Observatory. You can book a tour or a taxi, and most places will require that you make a reservation. If you want to make a full night of it, you might also book a stay at the Elqui Domos!
Wanna Rent a Bike from Elki Magic?
Phone:+56 9 68 77 2015
Address: San Martin 472, Vicuña, Chile