The total solar eclipse taking place on December 14, 2020, gives travelers an opportunity to turn two dream trips into one: Since the path of totality—the area in which the moon completely blocks the sun—will pass over Chile and Argentina, you can chase an eclipse and explore the staggering mountains, glaciers, and lakes of the Patagonian landscape at the same time. What’s more, the Geminid meteor shower will peak on December 13 and 14, so plan to look up the night before too—it’ll be summer in South America, so it’s likely that the skies will be clear.
Much like the eclipse that many saw over the United States in 2017, this one will take place in the middle of the day—around 1 p.m.—and directly overhead. The phenomenon’s 56-mile-wide path will cross northern Patagonia, slicing through Chile’s Villarrica National Park and Argentina’s lake district. With the right itinerary, you can glamp on an estancia, sail on a catamaran, take a ride on the southernmost railway in the world, or visit more of the 17 national parks on Chile’s Route of Parks before and after the event. Here are stellar trips to book from six companies that’ll help you make the most of it.
(All prices based on double occupancy.)
GeoEx’s “Solar Eclipse Argentina and Patagonia Icons”
GeoEx has managed to secure space on a private Argentinian ranch in the Neuquén Province, the area expected to have the longest duration of totality. Here, the 18 guests on its “Solar Eclipse Argentina and Patagonia Icons” trip will glamp in luxury tents and learn more about the event and about the skies from Dr. Ed Krupp, acclaimed astronomer and director of the Griffith Observatory since 1974. Dr. Krupp has a particular interest in archaeastronomy and will also talk about the cultural aspects of an eclipse, including folklore.
The 12-day itinerary, which begins on December 6, 2020, includes visits to Torres del Paine to take in the park’s famous peaks, glaciers, and lakes; the enormous Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares National Park; and a drive along the scenic 65-mile Route of Seven Lakes in Argentina.
Book now: From $18,450 per person, geoex.com
Intrepid’s Argentina eclipse 2020 trip
Dr. John Mason MBE, an applied physicist and principal lecturer in astronomy at the United Kingdom’s South Downs Planetarium, will once again be joining Intrepid tours for this eclipse. Known for his engaging and inspirational presentations, Dr. Mason accompanied Intrepid groups to northern Chile for the July 2019 eclipse and has been leading overseas expeditions to observe eclipses, meteor showers, and aurora for more than 30 years.
After a few days in Buenos Aires, guests on this eight-day itinerary, which begins on December 9, 2020, will head to Bariloche in Argentina’s lake district for catamaran rides on Nahuel Huapi Lake, side trips to the green waters of Frias Lake and Los Cántaros lake, and a drive along the Route of Seven Lakes. On eclipse day, guests will enoy a pre-event lecture from Dr. Mason then watch the moon pass in front of the sun from a private viewing site in Piedra del Aguila, which is in the eclipse’s central path. There’s a lot of interest in these kinds of sky-watching adventures, so this trip will be larger than most Intrepid adventures, accommodating up to 50 people. Get ready to make friends!
Book now: From $2,755, intrepidtravel.com
Solar eclipse photography safari
Natural World Safaris is offering a four-day, photography-focused trip to view the eclipse in Chile. The trip is best done as an add-on to Natural World Safaris’ small-group Puma Photography Safari with Diego Araya (from $7,770), which includes six nights in the geodesic domes of EcoCamp Patagonia in Torres del Paine National Park and plenty of time to seek out and snap shots of pumas, guanacos, rheas, Andean foxes, Andean condors, and more.
Whether or not they join the puma adventure, shutterbugs on the eclipse safari will stay in a glamping camp in Temuco in the Araucanïa region of Chile. There, they can visit the nearby Huife Hot Springs and opt for excursions offered by the glamping camp, such as hiking in Herquehue National Park, climbing the 9,380-foot Villarrica Volcano, white-water rafting the Trancura river, visiting waterfalls of Ojos del Caburgua, or relaxing in the Termas Geometricas thermal baths in the town of Coñaripe. For the eclipse itself, guests will travel to a spot near Villarrica and Pucón right in the middle of the path of totality.
Book now: From $2,959, naturalworldsafaris.com
Patagonia solar eclipse tour with Wild Frontiers
True to Wild Frontiers form, this 14-day itinerary is more adventurous than other eclipse trips you’ll come across. The journey culminates with a picnic lunch during the main celestial event, which guests will watch from a spot in the central path of the eclipse just outside the village of Junín, Argentina.
But in the days before the eclipse, the group (no larger than nine guests) will travel to Esquel, near the Chilean border, to ride the steam train La Trochita—the southernmost railway in the world. Then, crossing into Chile, they’ll raft the Futaleufu River, one of the top rafting rivers in the world; hike in Parque Pumalín (part of the Tompkins Conservation land donation); and drive the Carretera Austral road through Chile’s rugged Aysen region. They’ll spend the last two days before the eclipse in Argentina’s lake district, kayaking Nahuel Huapi lake and driving the Seven Lakes Route.
Book now: From $8,698 per person, wildfrontierstravel.com
Outpost Colico total solar eclipse pop-up
Santiago-based travel company Upscape will once again be organizing an Outpost pop-up, much like the one it arranged for the July 2019 eclipse in Elqui, Chile. The fully outfitted camp—complete with hot showers and expansive tents with hotel-quality linens—will be right under the line of totality near Colico, Chile, but the exact location will be revealed only to those who book a tent.
Colico is a popular vacation spot for Chileans, and from December 12 through December 16, guests will have access to the many activities in the area, including a nine-hole golf course, horseback rides, biking and hiking trails, and water sports such as SUPing. On the day of the eclipse, guests will join a local eclipse party in the town polo field where indigenous Mapuche groups will prepare a traditional Chilean barbecue and showcase their music.
Book now: From $3, 495, upscapetravel.com
Eclipse Traveler’s three trips
Because it’s a company focused entirely on travel for astronomical events, you know Eclipse Traveler’s trips for the 2020 eclipse will be excellent. Working with astronomers and local experts, the company focuses on finding the best place to view the eclipse, even if that means hiking into the wild, sailing on small ships in polar regions rather than big cruise liners, or skiing or dogsledding in snowy regions.
For this event, the company is offering three trips. The eight-day “Chile Solar Eclipse” tour (from $4,595) will kick off in Santiago and make a stop in the historic port city of Valparaíso, before heading into the path of totality. Guests will spend a few days exploring Villarrica National Park, where they’ll later view the eclipse. At the viewing spot, the duration of totality is expected to be an incredible two minutes and 11 seconds.
Guests on the “2020 Chile & Easter Island Solar Eclipse” (from $7,685) will follow a similar path as those on the above itinerary—and experience the eclipse in the same spot—but will also visit the ceremonial grounds and archaeological sites of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) on this 14-day trip. The final few days will be spent visiting the high plateaus, salt flats, and geysers of San Pedro de Atacama.
The 12-day “2020 Brazil & Argentina Solar Eclipse” trip (from $7,995) will explore the beaches and culture of Rio de Janiero and visit Iguazu Falls in Brazil, before traveling to Barlioche to view the eclipse. The trip ends with a few days in Buenos Aires.
Book now: eclipsetraveler.com