Travel and Housing Information

(major update April 29 1998)

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Workshop location, hotels, travel, etc

Workshop Location

The meeting will be held at the La Serena Club Resort Hotel, which is right across the street from the beach. The main sessions will be held in a single large conference room. We will have two overhead transparency projectors available, but no slide projectors or other facilities unless speakers specifically request them in advance.

The meeting will proceed at a relaxed pace, allowing ample time for one-on-one discussions. After the main session each day participants will be encouraged to meet in smaller sessions either within the conference room or in the bar or restaurant areas of the two hotels described below.

Hotel Information

Main hotel

The main accommodation for the workshop will be at the Centro Turistico Los Andes, which is located about 300m from the beach and 500m from the meeting location. This is a new hotel with very comfortable rooms, a heated indoor swimming pool, sauna, etc. It is run by an insurance association of which CTIO is a member, and because of this the rooms are available to us at prices substantially below their market value. However, we must reserve a block of rooms well in advance. The choices are:

Standard-size double bed, 1 person. CHP17900 per night (~US$43.)
Standard-size double bed, 2 people. CHP25500 per night (~US$61.)
Two single beds, 1 person. CHP14000 per night (~US$33.)
Two single beds, 2 people. CHP19900 per night (~US$47.)
Share a two single beds room with another workshop participant CHP 9950 per night (~US$24.)
CHP indicates Chilean pesos. The prices include breakfast. Room costs will be payable directly to the hotel.

Please indicate your preference following the directions given below, although you may be shifted to a room of another type depending on availability. Your reservations at this hotel MUST be made by FEB 15. Otherwise you risk finding yourself in the alternate hotel, at a higher room rate.

Alternate hotel

Participants may instead prefer to stay in the La Serena Club Resort Hotel (where the meetings will be held). This bills itself as a 5-star hotel. It has two classes of rooms. The standard rooms are cramped compared to those at the Centro Turistica, but the suites include a sitting room and are nicer than the rooms at the Centro Turistico. The prices at the Club Resort are:

Standard room (1 or 2 people, 2 single beds) US$ 77.
Suite (1 or 2 people, standard size double bed) US$102.
Share standard room with another participant. US$ 38.50

The above are payable directly to the hotel, only in US$ to avoid Chilean tax. The hotel management states that standard rooms will be upgraded to suites subject to availability. The prices include breakfast.

How to make hotel reservations

Please fill out the registration form and email it to us.  We must have this information by FEBRUARY 15. You will be able to adjust your exact arrival and departure dates up until a few weeks before the meeting.


Consult your favorite travel agent. Or if you want to use somebody with lots of experience at getting people to and from La Serena, use the agent that NOAO uses: Valeria McNeill ,Century Travel , 4361 East Broadway, Tucson AZ 85711, Phone 1-800-395-9293 or (520) 795-5030, FAX (520) 795-5030.


The Chilean currency is the peso, with a present exchange rate of about 450 peso per US/$. Pesos can be obtained at the Bank located to your left as you exit from Customs at the International airport. We recommend you exchange sufficient funds to cover incidental expenses you may incur, such as taxi and meals. Hotels accept payment with major credit cards, as do most of the restaurants and shops in La Serena.

Arrival & departure in Chile

Your international flight will undoubtedly arrive in Santiago, the capital of Chile. The Santiago airport has two terminals. You will arrive in the international terminal, and the flight to La Serena will depart from the national terminal. To get to the national terminal walk out the exit, turn left, and follow the covered walkway for about 100m. If you find yourself in the national terminal for a long layover, there is seating both in the restaurant/bar area on the second floor and in the departure lounge.

Note that there are several airport taxes. There is currently a departure tax of about CHP 3500 for the flight to La Serena and CHP 2500 for the return to Santiago (US dollars also accepted). In addition, US citizens currently must pay an entrance fee of US $20 IN US CURRENCY ONLY when entering the country; this is a one-time fee.

La Serena

La Serena is located some 480 kms north of Santiago and is the capital of Chile’s IV region. It is an attractive old-world town and one of the most pleasant cities in Chile, with many colonial-style buildings and pretty gardens. It was first founded in 1544 by Juan Bohon, destroyed by Indians in 1548, and refounded by Francisco de Aguirre in 1549 who rebuilt the city and defended it against the Indians and the privateer, Sir Francis Drake. La Serena has some 120,000 inhabitants and is the second oldest city in Chile.

La Serena is known for its many churches; a walk around town will bring you face to face with adobe-walled churches that have withstood centuries of earthquakes.

Local transportation

The hotels are a long walk from the city center, but taxis are abundant and fairly cheap in La Serena. Plan on paying $3-$5 for a trip across town, and about $7-10 for the trip from the airport to the hotel. You will have to pay in pesos. There are also many buses which offer sometimes very exciting rides, but the taxis are recommended. If in spite of the public transport you still wish to rent a car, companies such as Avis, Budget and Hertz have offices at the La Serena airport (note that an international driving license is strictly required).


Weather & clothing

Late evening and early morning temperatures may be as cool as 10 C (50 F) while midday temperatures may get up to 18 C (64 F). It has been known to rain (but not a lot) in May, especially on the 21 May holiday. We suggest bringing layers of clothing that would include a medium-weight jacket for the evenings, and a sweater for the day. However, it may be quite cold and windy on Cerros Tololo and Pachon, if you go on the tour. The ocean will be too cold for most swimmers.

21 May Holiday

On Thursday, May 21, Chile will celebrate a national holiday commemorating a famous naval battle with Peru (the Chilean ship sank, but heroically). Workshop attendees will celebrate by... working.

Changing money

The exchange rate is currently about 460 Chilean pesos (CHP) per US dollar, but is increasing rapidly at this time. You should change at least a small amount ($20 or so) at the airport in order to cover cab fares and like upon arriving in La Serena. You will also be able to exchange US dollars (in cash) for pesos at the conference, during registration and morning coffee breaks. This will be for quantities of US $20, $50 or $100.

Sites, food, and drink

The organizers wish to assure you that there will be ample opportunity to sample Pisco Sour, the national drink of Chile. The local wines also deserve significant exploration, if not even over-sampling. For lunch and dinner, participants will have the opportunity to explore Chilean cuisine at a variety of restaurants in and around the hotel.

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The Archaeological Museum: Cienfuegos corner of Cordovez. Contains findings that date up to 6,000 years ago including a complete collection of the Diaguita culture which originated in this province. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 9:00 am - 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm. Sundays it opens from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.

La Casa de la Cultura: Los Carrera corner of Cordovez. Was former President Gabriel Gonz< lez Videla’s house, which he donated to La Serena, where he was born.

La Recova: The inside patios of the Recova are full of interesting souvenirs like pottery, weavings, clothing, baskets, wood and stone carvings made by Chilean artists. Please hold on to your wallet or purse carefully in this area of town.

Eiffel Church (14 kms): On the southern slope of the Coquimbo peninsula lies Guayac< n, a mechanized port, which boasts a church designed by Eiffel and shipped to Chile in parts.

Vicuna (60 kms): Located about ten minutes drive beyond the entrance to Tololo, this town has commemorative museum to Gabriela Mistral, one of Chile’s Nobel Literature Prize winners.

Dining out in La Serena

Most restaurants open for lunch hours, then close for the afternoon until they begin serving dinner at 8:30.


sandwiches  pizzas  ice-cream

Prat 490


El Cedro

Arab food

Prat 572


Pastissima pizza creps and fresh fruit juices O’Higgins 633 222725

Domingo Dominguez


Av. Del Mar 5425


La Mia Pizza


Av. Del Mar 2100


Da Cossimo


Av. Del Mar 2200


Don Oscar


Av. Del Mar 2500


Tai Sung


Av. Del Mar 2900


A hint and a tip: It may be advisable to slightly restrict your diet, avoiding uncooked vegetables, shell fish and tap water. The waiter will expect a tip of about 10% of the bill.

Last changed 03/12/03
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