We left Copiapó at 9:05 a.m. and arrived at the El Golf community outside of La Serena at 2:25 p.m. It was an easy 332 km . (El Golf, Ruta 5 Norte, km 482, fono: 51 215 675). The position of the resort is beautiful but there was nothing for overnight tourists like us.
We went on into La Serena (website: http://www.laserena.cl/). Excursions for Expats, Chile and Neighboring Countries, by Teri McLachlan with Leonie Elphinstone, on page 103, describes La Serena this way:
"Combining the beauty of the coast with a desert setting, this beautiful city is the second oldest in Chile. The lush Valle de Elqui provides agricultural offerings such as grapes, chirimoya and papaya under clear, starry nights."
Our hotel in La Serena was very nice. We stayed at Hotel Costa Real La Serena, Av. Fco. de Aguirre 170 esq Pablo Munoz, fono: 221-010, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, web: www.costareal.cl. We negotiated a rate of US $100 for suite 301 and hung out there during the day. We also had a lovely lunch (US$17) as well as a lovely dinner (US$44) at the hotel's restaurant.
We left the next morning, after our (included) breakfast.