Leaving the severity of the pure desert behind, the ship drops anchor at the bustling port Coquimbo. Drive inland to the Elqui Valley, finding at last a pea-green carpet of fertile soils supporting papayas, olives, pears and custard apples. This is also an important wine-producing region and where muscatel grapes are processed into pisco.
There are visits to traditional villages and a barbecue lunch before you drop in at a winery to learn about the local cultivation Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Pinot Noir grapes and the wine production process.
The alternative excursion will take you into the Limarí Valley, slightly further south, known for its pictographs and petroglyphs from the El Molle culture. The Elqui and Limarí Valleys are rich and fertile valleys running across the coastal mountains, enhancing their importance as agricultural areas. Grapes are grown vineyards for export and for wine. Visit the award-winning Tabalí winery. Continue to a local restaurant for a typical Chilean lunch of empanadas and an asado (a BBQ), before returning to the pier.
Your last night aboard: the chefs prepare a menu with cuisine from each region you have travelled through.