Self-Drive: El Norte Chico 5d


Venture into a rarely visited region, north of Santiago, the so-called El Norte Chico, the little north. This semi-arid region of fertile river valleys and craggy hills has a Wild West kind of feel. It is home of the Pico Sour, Chile’s national drink, as the grapes used for this beverage are grown here, in the Elqui Valley. But most famously, this region is known to star-gazers, who come here to gaze at the crystal clear sky that appears as though you could just hop onto the Milky Way to walk among the stars…

Day 1


Upon your arrival in the capital city of Santiago, you will pick up your vehicle at the airport or city car rental office. From there your adventure starts as you head north to reach the oasis of Ovalle. This town is known for being lush and green yet surrounded by barren hills. After a short stop, you will then continue on to the Hurtado Valley where you will spend the night at a hacienda style ranch.

Day 2


Take advantage of this day at leisure and explore your surroundings. You can visit several small historical villages, enjoy the beautiful landscape of perfectly cultivated green fields set against the immense Andean slopes and or visit a petrified forest. (B)

Day 3


Today you will cross the Andean foothills to reach the famous Elqui Valley known for its grapes and Pisco liquor. Your stay will be particularly special with an overnight at the Elqui Domos. This “Astro Hotel” offers exclusive dome-shaped rooms with a detachable ceiling perfect for observing the incredibly clear sky of the Elqui Valley. (B)

Day 4


After breakfast take the time to visit the cozy laid-back town of Vicuña; birthplace of the famous poet Gabriela Mistral (first Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature). From there continue on to the colonial town of La Serena located on the shores of the Pacific and home to an important harbor area and the bay of La Herradura, Chile. (B)

Day 5


In the morning you will need to plan your trip back south to the bustling city of Santiago, where you will drop off your rental car and catch your flight out. (B)


Rates in 2018

Self-drive itineraries are highly flexible and can be adjusted to your preferences. The rates below are sample rates for this itinerary with the specific car types and hotels mentioned in the table. However, Hotels are subject to availability as well as your choice. The final rate of this itinerary will reflect the specific options you have chosen in the course of developing your itinerary.

Rates are per person, based on double occupancy. For single or triple rates, different hotels or extra nights, please inquire.


with rental car typerate per person
Europcar cat F2$640
Europcar cat G2$765
Hertz cat G$596
Hertz cat J$575

Although El Norte Chico, the little north lies some considerable distance north of Santiago, this itinerary starts in Santiago, which is well served by international airlines. Pick up your rental car and start driving.
  • 4 nights including breakfast
  • 5 days car rental including unlimited free mileage, local tax, full CDW coverage with a deductible (for details see rental contract)
  • Roadmap and descriptions.
Chile car rental companies charge an additional airport service fee when the vehicle will be picked up from the airport. This service charge is not included in the published rates. This extra fee has to be paid upon returning the car.

Car Types



cat F2 – Jeep Nissan X-Trail 4WD (AT) or similar

cat G2 – Jeep Toyota 4Runner 4WD or similar


cat G – Toyota RAV4 or similar

cat J – Mitsubishi L200 4×2 Katana or similar

Please note that car rental companies only reserve a specific category of cars, not a specific type of car within that category.

Please mention at the time of booking if you need a vehicle with automatic transmission.

Rental cars do not come with a GPS system by default. They can be added on at an additional cost, but the cover is not complete in remote areas.


Driving License

Foreign nationals must have an international driver’s license in order to be able to drive in Chile.

Hacienda Los Andes (Standard Room),

This wonderful grand old hacienda is the perfect place for those who really want to get away from it all. Located in the Hurtado Valley, it is far away from the tourist routes and surrounded by rugged wilderness. The 12.000 acres estate offers a wild environment for hiking, exploring, horseback-riding and star gazing. They offer simple, but comfortable rooms in traditional hacienda style as well as a restaurant on-site.

Elqui Domos (Domo Room),

Elqui Domos, located in the magic Elqui Valley, is the very first “astro-hotel” in Chile and features 11 rooms in total. The 7 domes, surrounded by an ample terrace, offer all facilities for a comfortable stay: living room, full interior bathroom, and heating. The bed is located on the second floor with a detachable ceiling, to be able to observe the sky, one of the clearest on earth, from the comfort of your bed. The 4 Observatory Rooms are wooden cabins, located on the upper part of the land and feature three levels: on the first level there are a living room and a bathroom, on the second a double bed with a window to see the sky, and on the third one a deck offering amazing views of Elqui Valley’s dramatic scenery.

Notes: Special rates apply during national school vacation and long weekends.

Francisco de Aguirre (Standard Room)