|The courtyard at Hostal Iquisa
San Pedro de Atacama - The small family run Hostal Iquisa is a quiet and relaxing hostel, 10 minutes out of town. Several reviews on hostelworld complain about the distance into town. While it definitely is a 10 minute walk, it really isn't a big deal, and is quite a pleasant walk! However, it is a little dark getting back at night and so maybe not one for solo travellers.
When the weather is warm (i.e most of the time apart from when we got stuck there), the courtyard area was good for chilling out and chatting to other guests.
The hot water was a bit sporadic, but the wifi and breakfast reasonable (both included). We paid around £26 (approx $40) for a double room (with shared bathroom).
|The pool at El Tesoro de Elqui
Pisco Elqui - After our overnight bus to La Serena from San Pedro de Atacama, we decided to head straight into the Elqui Valley and to Pisco Elqui (and come back to La Serena later). We hadn't really looked at accomodation in Pisco Elqui and on arrival, while we saw lots of signs for cabanas (small wooden chalets/cabins) and hotel rooms, everything seemed shut (it was winter after all). We rang on the bell at the main hostel in town and got no answer.
We then found somewhere with cabanas for rent that was open, but the cabana we were shown to didn't seem to have hot water, so we left. We were getting a bit fed up carrying our bags around, so I left James sitting in the sun in the main square to have a further wander round.
I was pleased to find the very lovely El Tesoro de Elqui, which had several free cabanas (it also has a dorm room) and we checked in. The German run hostel served up a generous breakfast and has a lovely pool to relax by on one of the 320 sunny days of the year enjoyed by the Elqui Valley. Our cabana with private bathroom was approximately £34 a night (about $54). While it was very quiet while we were there, you might need to book in advance in the summer.
Vicuña - From Pisco Elqui, we hopped on a bus to the nearby town of Vicuña and headed to Hostal Donde Rita, which we had found from a flyer at El Tesoro de Elqui. We were very pleased with our choice, mostly because of the very warm welcome from Rita - a grandmother like figure who gave us lots of tips about what to see in the small town and made us feel very much at home. The decoration and furnishings of the rooms were a bit dated, but comfortable. We paid about £30 for a double with shared bathroom, including a good breakfast and wifi.
|Our huge room in El Punto, La Serena
La Serena - Hostal El Punto is a pretty safe choice in La Serena. It's in a good location and the breakfast is reasonable. However, the staff weren't particularly friendly or welcoming (e.g. we had to wait for about 15 minutes for them to open the door when we arrived) and you have to pay for towel hire (one of my biggest bug bears).
We lucked out a bit with our room, which for a couple of quid more than a small double, we had a huge room with a seating area and several beds. The wifi didn't work particularly well in the room though, which was a little annoying and we had to walk outside to get to the bathroom (although it would be probably be fine if it hadn't been winter and cold at night). We paid about £21 a night for our huge room.
Valparaíso - The welcome and introduction we got to Valparaiso at Angel Hostel was one of the warmest (and most comprehensive) that we had in the whole of South America. The woman at reception gave us a very useful introduction to the city, talking us through all the things to see and do, over a coffee (which was very welcome as it was very early). The shared area was very small, which although a bit annoying, it meant that you very quickly and easily got talking to other guests. The place is also a little short on bathrooms. However, we really enjoyed staying here; its in a great location and we felt very looked after. We paid approximately £24 for our spacious double room with shared bathroom and breakfast included. Very much recommended.
|The colourful Angel Hostal
Hostal Iquisa, Puripica # 172, Poblacion el carmen, San Pedro de Atacama
El Tesoro de Elqui, Arturo Prat, Pisco Elqui www.tesoro-elqui.cl/eng
Hostal Donde Rita, Condell #443, Vicuña, www.hostaldonderita.cl/
Hostal El Punto, Andres Bello 979, La Serena, www.hostalelpunto.cl/
Angel Hostal, Cumming 160, Valparaiso, http://www.angelhostal.hostel.com/
Where we stayed - Peru
Where we stayed - Bolivia