On day 7 of our 2014 South America Cruise we arrived in Coquimbo, Chile. Just like the previous ports in Peru and Chile, Coquimbo is situated within Atacama Desert. This time there is a bit of green around. Today’s tour was to the Enchanted Valley followed by a visit to Tabali Vineyard in the Limari Valley.
COQ-004 PETROGLYPHS AND VINEYARDS IN THE LIMARI VALLEY
We depart from the pier and drive south on the Pan-American Highway, along the coast and past beautiful beaches such as La Herradura, Las Tacas, and Guanaqueros. As we leave the coast behind, we will observe the permanent thick fog known as camanchaca, or coastal clouds, above the hillside, a phenomenon that produces moisture in this area. Then, going inland to the east, we will see crops of “pepino“, here called sweet cucumber – and the raising of cattle.
We will drive towards “Enchantment Valley” traveling on a country road. This valley has great archaeological importance, being considered an open-air museum of scientific and cultural interest. The “El Molle Culture” and other groups of hunters inhabited this valley from circa 2,000 B.C. until A.D. 600. In this area, it is possible to find an incredible and interesting number of petroglyphs depicting masks, heads with antennae, tiaras, sun symbols and snake-like and fish-like shapes deeply engraved in rocks. Also, it is possible to see pictographs of lineal drawings, human beings and other figures in natural paint. We will also have the opportunity of seeing the small cup stones or Piedras Tacitas.
Continue along the Road of Grapes and Vineyards towards Tabalí Vineyard. The offer from Viña Tabalí consists of eight different types of wine, each one with its own special and distinctive characteristics. The main characteristic present in its two lines; Reserve and Special Reserve; is that both were prepared “over a slow fire” as a result of a very moderate climate where the maximum and minimum temperatures are not extreme and where there is scanty rainfall. You will have an informative visit of the winery followed by a wine tasting, along with some snacks and refreshments before returning to the ship.
The ship docked at midday and we then left on our tour at about 1:30. Our guide for today was Judith, an English Lady who has been living in the region for around 15 years, guessing that she used to be a school teacher by the way she taught us about the region. She was by far the best tour guide we had for the entire cruise.
Coquimbo looks like a great town, we passed through it too quickly, but there is obviously a very eclectic mix of people who live there. Really wished we had more time to explore it further, but we had a long drive to get to the Enchanted Valley so no time to spare.
Colquimbo was at one stage a Pirate Haven, one Sir Francis Drake used as a safe haven. According to legend his treasure is buried somewhere around there.