Travel to ESO Paranal
Paranal Observatory, 130 km south of Antofagasta in Chile and at an altitude of 2600 metres, is the home of the Very Large Telescope, an array of four 8.2-metre telescopes that can observe together or individually, plus four moveable auxiliary telescopes dedicated to interferometry, making it the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. Paranal also hosts VISTA, working at near-infrared wavelengths and the world’s largest survey telescope.
How to reach ESO Paranal
Arriving by plane
The only way to reach Paranal Observatory from Antofagasta airport is with your own transport.
Paranal is around two hours driving from the airport and the average daily cost of a rented car is about CLP 50 000 (about EUR 70). Car rental firms located at Cerro Moreno Airport include Econorent, Alamo, Budget and Hertz.
To reach Paranal, drive to Antofagasta, following the Costanera road, until you reach the southern exit for Antofagasta, called La Negra. Take this to join the Pan-American Highway. To the south, after around 20 minutes take the exit to the B-70 to the right and then the B-710. Take this road and keep driving for about one hour until you see the sign for ESO on the right. There is an internal map for your reference and also an external one.
Arriving by car
The easiest way to access Paranal by car is via the Pan-American Highway. Around 30 km south of the La Negra exit to Antofagasta you will find the exit for the B-70. Take the B-70 until you reach the B-710. Take the B-710 and keep driving for about an hour until you see the ESO sign at the right side of the road. There is an internal map and external map for your reference.
Accommodation in Paranal
Paranal is located in the middle of the Atacama Desert and does not provide lodging for public visits. It is not possible to stay overnight in Paranal. Accommodation is provided for ESO staff only in La Residencia.
Food at Paranal
It is not possible to obtain food in Paranal. Meals are provided for ESO staff only in La Residencia.
ESO Facilities in Paranal
ESO Hotel at Cerro Paranal, or La Residencia, is located in the middle of the Atacama Desert. It provides accommodation and meals for ESO staff only.
Experience the ESO Headquarters in Garching with ESO's Virtual Tours.
For accommodation and meals you can either go to Taltal — located about 110 kilometres from Paranal to the south or go back to Antofagasta.
For further information on Taltal, please check its official site.
Guided Public Tours
Guided tours for tourists and the general public are offered on every Saturday. Further information on public visits to Paranal is available here.
Health & Safety
Weather and Clothing
Paranal is located on a remote site in the middle of the driest desert in the world. You may be exposed to strong winds and construction/maintenance areas. Please wear appropriate clothing such as pants, walking shoes (no sandals), sunglasses, etc. We recommend a jacket/sweater for the VLT enclosures, which are kept at 5 - 11°C.
The average humidity on Paranal is between 2 - 10%. It is important to drink plenty of bottled water or juice in order to avoid dehydration.
Do not drink water from the faucets.
High Altitude Health Issues
If while staying in Paranal you experience any of the following, please report it to a local staff member immediately: acute headache, dizziness, breathing problems, ringing or blocking of ears, heart pains, acute muscular pains, seeing "stars".
While exposed to sunlight, we recommend the use of UV-rated sunglasses — especially while walking on the telescope platform.