La Serena: Come for the Elqui Valley, Stay for the Boobies and the Shags

La Serena is a town nearish to the coast which is pretty uninteresting (well, nothing you haven’t seen before) but it is a launching pad for tours to interesting areas surrounding it.

La Senena main square

The only photo we took of La Serena because you don’t visit La Serena to see La Serena.

Bag o’ marge. Perfect for the table and the kitchen!

Dona Juanita: Chile’s finest margarine in a bag. Many other strange things come in plastic bags too such as jam, yoghurt, mayonnaise  and olives. I think there may be a jar shortage…


A two hour bus up the Pan American highway is the small town of Chorros, very close to the Isla Damas which is  a protected penguin reserve. Eeeeeee penguins! The boat took us out to the island itself, circled another larger island crowded with birds and then took us out into the ocean to search for dolphins. Didn’t see any dolphins but a whale surfaced and snorted around our boat for a while. 

La Isla Damas
Hay Penguinos!
Sea Lion


Red Legged Cormorant aka Red Legged Shag. (NS. It’s mate)

The ‘shags’ were interesting because they are always in pairs, we didn’t see any single ones. They mate for life and have a permanent residence somewhere in the rocks. As there were hundreds of them some of their homes were just a tiny bump in the cliff they could grab onto.

Peruvian Booby Family (in Chile)

Fun Fact: Boobies have frontwards eyes and extra strong necks so they can dive for fish.

Not the best photo, but proof we saw a whale!
The elusive Sea Otter. Best photo we could get.

The sea otters were tiny! We thought they were babies but the fully sized ones were only the size of a small cat. Urgh cats (you’ll find out about the cat next blog post). They were very shy so we could only get a few dodgy photos from a distance.


The home of pisco (aka pisco sours) according to Chileans…even though Peru has a town called Pisco… Depends on who you ask.

One of the vineyards on the way to Elqui Valley.
Representing at the windy dam.
An Elqui Valley shop
A ye olde grape juice pump for the pisco.

We went to a pisco distillery. As it turns out, pisco is just distilled wine. The red label uses local wood tanks and the fancy black label uses french oak barrels. Underneath the distillery, however, lies pure evil.

Beware he who plays kings with pisco.



The actual story isn’t too far from that really. There is some legend that the boss of the distillery went away and when he came back he partied for several weeks with his friends in this dungeon with music and debauchery. He wrote poems for each of his friends and dedicated a niche in the wall to them full of wine (or pisco?) bottles. Nobody ever returned for their piles of wine/pisco and we are not even sure if there is anything in them. We heard the story mostly in spanish and didn’t really know what was going on down there.

Stopping for snacks

Not sure if this mermerlada was bagged or jarred…should have investigated further.

For reasons as yet unknown to humankind a giant gas bottle was leading a Zumba class in the middle of town.

Next stop: San Pedro de Atacama a desert town high up in the mountains.



5 Comments Add yours

  1. Sue Rogers says:

    penguins, seals…..could be Phillip Island!…except for the otter and the whale ..and the margarine in a bag..and the dancing bottle…..


  2. Kate Ervin says:

    “For reasons as yet unknown to humankind a giant gas bottle was leading a Zumba class in the middle of town.”
    Please tell me there is some kind of photo/video of this!

    P.S. The sea lion made my day 🙂


    1. Sean says:

      I thought I put that in the post. Here you go!
      The sea lion photo is our favourite!


  3. Catherine Dawson says:

    Hi Sean and Athena, Great Pics again My favourite was the little otter Is there lots of cats!!


    1. Sean says:

      Thanks! There arn’t many cats. We think because there are so many packs of stray dogs and they might eat them? You can’t go anywhere without meeting a stray dog, at least they are really friendly but just really smelly. There was one cat that was supreme evil which we talk about in the San Pedro post haha.


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