We Visited The Enchanted Valley For Wine Tasting And Petroglyphs
On our day in Coquimbo, Chile we visited the Enchanted Valley for wine tasting and petroglyphs. We headed towards Ovalle in the province of Limari. Along the way we learned much about this part of Chile.
There were many options for day trips from Coquimbo but we decided to head inland. Our first stop was at the Tabali Winery for wine tasting. From there we moved to the Enchanted Valley (or “Valle del Encanto”) National Historic Monument. As we walked through this fascinating site we saw an interesting variety of petroglyphs and more.
Arriving In Coquimbo in Chile
When we docked in Coquimbo in Chile on our cruise around South America with Oceania Cruises, the fog hung over the hills that surrounded the port. We soon learned that this fog created some unique opportunities in this area. But luckily, the fog lifted quickly and we got a great day for a day trip to the Limari Valley.
From the ship we got a view of some of the local attractions that Coquimbo offered. Perched high on the hills we saw the Cross of the Third Millennium. On another high point, was the Mosque of Coquimbo. We were amused when we spotted the stairs that zigzagged up the hill.
On our bus trip through Coquimbo and into the countryside, we kept our eyes peeled. We were amazed at the colourful street art murals we found on the buildings and walls. The topics were varied and colourful. We recognized local sights. And on a tour for wine tasting and petroglyphs we even found street art reflected this!
We enjoyed the small glimpse we got of Coquimbo before we headed to the Enchanted Valley.
Heading To The Enchanted Valley For Wine Tasting And Petroglyphs
When we left Coquimbo, we travelled along the Pan-American Highway. We first travelled on this highway from the most southerly point on our visit to Ushuaia in Argentina. It was the longest highway in the world as it went all the way to Alaska. Along the coast of Chile as we got higher we saw long stretches of beach and resorts.
The bus turned onto the highway that went inland towards Ovalle in the province of Limari. Off in the distance above the clouds we saw more of the low lying camanchaca (or coastal clouds). While the land was very arid, this fog produced significant moisture in the area. We saw the farms that were sustained by this water.
Along the way we saw signs that farming and processing was done in the area. We passed a large olive oil factory and a pisquera which made the Pisco liquor used in the Pisco Sour drinks we enjoyed on our visit to Casablanca for a horse show. We saw the most interesting domes in the fields and wondered if these were unique AirBnb rentals in this area.
As we drove inland we left the fog behind, the sun came out and the heat set in. The ground turned more desert-like.
We knew we were close to the winery when vineyards appeared in the fields. It was an interesting drive from Coquimbo to the Limari Valley. But we were excited to start our experience in the Enchanted Valley for wine tasting and petroglyphs.
Visiting The Tabali Winery
We got our first wine tasting in Chile when we visited the Casa Del Bosque Winery in Casblanca. So we were excited to try some more great wine.
The bus parked high above the Tabali Winery and we got a great view of the large facility shaded in the valley. After we walked down, we looked around the grounds.
Our guide walked us around the winery production facility. We found it interesting that so much of the process including the aging barrels were kept in this outdoor environment. We saw old French oak barrels and the large stainless steel barrels used to produce Chardonnay.
From the upper level we descended into the cellars. A fascinating large mural covered one wall. It was painted by a famous local artist and showed life at another time. One of the sections of the murals showed the petroglyphs we saw later on this tour.
We moved into the Sala de Barricas for our wine tasting at Tabali Winery.
Wine Tasting At The Tabali Winery
Buried deep in the cellar, the wine tasting room was one of the most interesting we ever visited. We sat down for two wine tastings. A snack plate accompanied the wine and let us try the wines with different flavours.
The conditions in the Limari Valley favoured the production of concentrated wines with high natural acidity. Our first tasting was a 2019 Sauvignon Blanc. We found its citrus taste was tamed by the cheese pairing. By contrast, we found that the 2017 Syrah perked up and became more acidic with the cheese.
After the wine tasting, we headed back upstairs. There was a small store for those that wanted to take some of the wines home. As we wandered around, we also found a private tasting room on this level.
Our guide rounded us up and we headed back up the hill to the bus for our next stop.
Walking Around The Enchanted Valley National Historic Monument
It was a short drive on the Tabali property to the Enchanted Valley National Historic Monument. The area was discovered in 1946 and declared a National Historic Monument of Chile in 1972. This was a protected area because of the petroglyphs and other traces of the Molle indigenous culture which were found here. It was a vast open-air museum.
The bus took us down the hill and we walked for about an hour on the lower levels. It was a much larger site than what we saw with many more petroglyphs. But large groups like ours were not allowed in all areas. The other areas had interesting names like the “Santuary”, the “Extraterrestrial” and “Illumined”. To see these interesting spots we needed to return with a guide.
As we headed into the site, we saw the high altitude vegetation. Cinnamon, myrtle and olive trees grew above the ferns.
Fascinated With The Piedras Tacitas And Petroglyphs
The first spot we came to had about 20 Piedras Tacitas. These were large rocks with groups of deep circular indentations. These pre-Columbian features were thought to be used to grind corn. Or possibly for ceremonies. We sadly missed the area that had holes big enough to hold 2 people!
From here we wandered further into the site. The area contained over 30 petroglyphs. Our guide moved us from one to the next. In some places there were signs or numbers that marked the petroglyphs. They depicted masks, tiaras, sun symbols and snake-like and fish-like shapes deeply engraved in rocks.
There was even a petroglyph that looked like visitors from outer space. Our guide said he and other members of his family had seen extraterrestrial visitors. We wondered if there was something in the air that made everyone high.
With a brief introduction to the treasures at the Enchanted Valley, we headed back to the bus. This was a site that surely needed more time.
A Great Coquimbo Day Trip In The Enchanted Valley For Wine Tasting And Petroglyphs
We had an interesting day trip to the Enchanted Valley for wine tasting and petroglyphs. We had our first discovery of Chilean wine when we visited Casablanca the previous day. The Tabali Winery we visited this day provided another treat for our palate.
The Piedras Tacitas and petroglyphs were fascinating to see when we visited the Enchanted Valley National Historic Monument. But a small group tour would provide a much broader view of the sight.
Our stop in Coquimbo was our last day in Chile. From there we headed to Peru. We had lots of interesting things planned for our stops in Peru. But little did we know that this was our last stop before the pandemic brought us to a halt!
Have you done a Coquimbo day trip to the Enchanted Valley for wine tasting and petroglyphs? Or did you do something else from Coquimbo?
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