A solar eclipse is a rare event—not just on Earth, where a total eclipse only occurs in the same location once every century or so, but also in the whole universe. Thanks to the relative size and distances of both the sun and the moon, the fact that we can experience an eclipse at all is a cosmically improbable coincidence. So, if you’re feeling bad for missing a chance to watch 2017’s solar eclipse that spanned across the U.S., I’m here to validate your FOMO.
There won’t be another eclipse in the U.S. until 2024, when the path of totality will swing from Mexico through Texas and all the way up to Nova Scotia. But if you can’t wait that long to appease your eclipse-envy, consider taking a trip to Chile and Argentina this July.
The 2019 Eclipse in South America
On July 2nd, 2019, the total eclipse will begin in the Pacific Ocean and make landfall on the coast of Chile at around 4:39 PM. From there, it will move southeast over the Andes, through Argentina, finishing over the Atlantic Ocean at 5:40 PM local time. Because the capital cities of Santiago and Buenos Aires are not in the path of totality (although you will still be able to see a partial eclipse), you will need to travel outside the metropolitan areas to witness complete darkness. Having witnessed totality myself on a trip to Asheville, North Carolina in 2017, I can vouch that it is absolutely worth doing. These are the best places to go in South America to experience the total solar eclipse in 2019.
La Serena, Chile
In La Serena, you could be among the first to experience the 2019 eclipse right on the beach. This coastal resort town is sure to be one of the most popular spots for eclipse-seekers this year, which is great if you’re looking for a party atmosphere. In addition to enjoying the eclipse and the beach, while in La Serena, you can also take the opportunity to visit the Humboldt Penguin Reserve on nearby islands.
Where to stay: La Serena is a simple no-frills beach town with a lot of affordable accommodations. For a comfortable stay, check out Hostal Boutique Terra Diaguita, a lovely bed and breakfast with a sweet atmosphere in the center of the city.
Elqui Valley, Chile
The total solar eclipse is going to be popular and that means there are going to be crowds and traffic. If you want to get out of the bustle, you can leave the beach and spend your time instead in the Elqui Valley, an international dark sky preserve that is famous for its mountaintop observatories and quaint villages. You can choose to watch from one of the many observatories, like the public Pangue Observatory; or find yourself a nice hiking trail or a quiet spot in a town like Vicuna, where you can also visit a museum dedicated to the famous Chilean poet Gabriela Mistra.
Where to stay: In the Elqui Valley, there are opportunities for camping, or if you’re in a big group, you might even consider a vacation rental. However, for an extra special experience, check out the MI Lodge to go dome-glamping on a sophisticated and modern property in the valley.
San Jose de Jachal, Argentina
In the foothills of the Andes, San Jose de Jachal is located just north of the famous Mendoza wine region and in the path of the 2019 eclipse—it’s also packed with colonial history. While you wait for the eclipse, visit local vineyards or Ischigualasto National Park, aka the Valley of the Moon, famous for its towering rock formations.
Where to stay: In this region, there’s not too much to offer beyond basic motels, but if you plan to visit the Valley of the Moon park, I recommend staying nearby at the simple but well-liked Cerro del Valle Hotel Rustico.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
If you don’t have the time to tour the countryside in search of totality, you can still make a quick trip for the eclipse by flying to Argentina’s capital city. The city is not quite in the path of totality, but it’s really close, so you can easily rent a car and drive south to somewhere like Laguna de Monte, a lake an hour and a half’s drive south of Buenos Aires. The eclipse will start just as the sun begins to set, which means the sun will be low on the horizon and appear larger than life. However, this also means you’ll want to find a viewing spot with a clear horizon or high elevation.
Where to stay: If you attempt to drive back to Buenos Aires, you’re sure to get stuck in major eclipse traffic. Remember, it’s a major city close to the path of totality, so you won’t be the only one taking a day trip for the eclipse. Instead, opt to spend the night in the area you choose to watch the eclipse. For example, if you go to Laguna de Monte, a hotel like Estancia La Bandada also offers opportunities for horseback riding, bird watching, and wine tasting.
The 2019 eclipse will occur mostly at sea, so why not take a cruise to see it? Travel Quest Tours, Eclipse Tours, and Wilderness Travel are just some of the many operators offering eclipse-seekers a chance to witness the phenomenon from the middle of the ocean.
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Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.