An excellent hike if you don't mind the steep, 2,000m (6,560-ft.) climb is the 6.5km (4-mile) Cumbres de Elqui or Elqui Peaks, departing from Pisco and marked by three statues on the way up; register with the police before setting out. Alternatively, for a more accessible, less challenging hike from Pisco, take Calle Baquedano (just north of the main square on the road to Alcoguaz) and follow the dirt track through the mountains. You are unlikely to pass another soul other than the odd herd of lonely goats, a few wild horses, and a couple of lone huesos. Experiencing the silent grandeur of the mountains with the flourishing valley below is a soulful way to spend a couple of hours. Take plenty of water, as cool mornings soon give way to torrid midday heat. Hotels often offer horseback riding throughout the valleys, and you can try your hand at trout fishing in the rivers. Winds over the artificial lake Puclaro west of Vicuña make it a great area for watersports such as wind or kite surfing; check at your hotel (El Tesoro de Elqui, reviewed later, is best). An entertaining spectator sport is the Chilean-style rodeo, held annually September 19 in the rickety-looking media luna or crescent stadium near Horcón.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.