Blanco Travel

With effect from Semester 2018A, ITSO may no longer be able to fully reimburse the costs of Australian observer travel to the Blanco telescope, due to limited funding in 2017/18.


As soon as you are informed of your observing time allocation, please consult the Cerro Tololo Visitor Guide. It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator on each proposal to coordinate their travel and accommodation arrangements directly with the facility they will be visiting. ITSO cannot make any such arrangements on the observer's behalf.

The following policies apply to the reimbursement of observer travel expenses:

  1. The observer must be affiliated with an Australian university or research organisation.
  2. The AAO will pay the costs for one qualified observer per scheduled program. Observers who wish to bring a student along with them for the experience are welcome to do so, but in that case the AAO will not pay for any costs incurred by the student.
  3. The AAO will reimburse the cost of lowest available economy-class airfares from the observer's home city in Australia to La Serena, hotel/motel expenses in Sydney, Santiago, or La Serena; meals and incidentals; transport to/from airports in Australia and Chile; room, board, and transport costs at Cerro Tololo; and reasonable expenses associated with this travel (e.g. Chilean visa reciprocity fee). As available funding to support all observer travel in 2018 is very limited, reimbursement may need to be limited to airfares only.
  4. To be eligible for reimbursement, the observer must provide fare quotes for approval by the International Telescopes Support Office (itso -@- prior to purchasing their tickets. The AAO reserves the right not to reimburse the full cost of items it considers unreasonable, or not associated with observing travel.
  5. The AAO will reimburse the observer's institution on receipt of an invoice addressed to the International Telescopes Support Office, together with copies of receipts for all costs being claimed. The GST component of costs incurred within Australia may be claimed (no GST is payable on costs incurred in Chile, or on international airfares); however an institution may not claim an additional 10% GST component on top of the total GST-inclusive costs. Reimbursement of will also be contingent upon confirmation that the CTIO observer report form has been completed.

Indicative costs are:

  • Room at Cerro Tololo: CLP 33,850 (~AU$70) per day, plus CLP 15,040 (~AU$30) per meal.
  • Transport to and from Cerro Tololo: CLP 54,150 (~AU$110) return.
  • Taxi from/to La Serena airport: CLP 5,000 (~AU$10) one way.
  • CTIO Motel in La Serena (no board): CLP 43,660 (~AU$90) per day.
  • For those who want to stay overnight in Santiago, Las Campanas Observatory recommends the El Vergel hotel in the Providencia district (~US$70 for a single and ~US$80 for a double). Transportation from and to the airport costs ~US$60. There are Holiday Inn and Hilton hotels right at the airport that charge ~US$200 per night.


We strongly recommend observers purchase the local part of the trip in conjunction with the international part. If some delay occurs (and they often do!), LATAM/Qantas should take care of rearranging flights, overnight hotel in Santiago, etc. You will be expected to pay costs before departure from La Serena. Payment can be made in cash or by credit card.

Reciprocity fee: Citizens of Australia are required to pay a "reciprocity fee" on arrival at Santiago airport prior to passport control. This fee is at least US$117 for Australians, can be paid by credit card, and is valid for 90 days.

WARNING! If you travel to Chile on LATAM via Auckland, you may be required to obtain a transit visa for New Zealand, even if you are not planning to leave the departure gate area. Australian citizens and permanent residents do not require a transit visa, nor do citizens of countries for which a visa waiver applies. Please check visa requirements before departure, or else you may not be allowed to board the flight in Sydney and you risk missing your observing run altogether. You can avoid this transit visa requirement by taking direct flights between Sydney and Santiago on Qantas, or between Melbourne and Santiago on LATAM, but these do not operate every day.