Our Visit to the Largest Japanese Garden in South America

Headshot of Maggie Peyton.
Maggie Peyton
April 6, 2023
Moss covered rocks frame a bubbling stream

One of the most well-known sights to see in the city of La Serena is the Japanese garden that lies a 30 minute walk from the ocean. It is the biggest Japanese garden in all of South America and is truly a sight to see. Upon mentioning that we were going to visit La Serena everyone was recommending that we spend some time there. After visiting, I definitely understand why they were singing its praises. With tickets to enter coming in at about $1.25, there’s no reason not to give it a look if you’re near La Serena.

Rock gardens configured into ripple designs can be found near the entrance. Huge stones serve as the centers and the wave designs circle around. Different types of trees lined the paths. Their health and beauty made the experience all the more enjoyable. The sun shining down on us only highlighted the radiance of nature that lies there within the garden’s walls.

In a special greenhouse towards the back of the garden there is a greenhouse that provides protection for at least 30 bonsai trees. We had so much fun looking at each of their intricate twisting designs and reading about all the things that makes these trees special.

There were ducks and swans and other birds that I have never seen before entering the garden. About halfway through our visit we found a cordoned off section where a swan and their babies were sunning. There seemed to be multiple species of everything; some of the swans were white while others were black, a few had distinct physical features, and some were smaller than others in a way that didn’t seem related to age. I saw mallards and mother ducks, and all of the animals were active and seemed happy. The animals that I was most surprised and excited to see were the turtles in the pond - there were so many!

The paths near the “end” of the garden were built to give you specific views of the tiny waterfalls that decorate that side of the space. Pebbles and water and small ledges make for tons of small cascadas, and the orientation of the paths and plants creates views that are truly beautiful. Rocks that line the waterways make for great photo spots, and bridges that cross the water add more dimension to the incredible landscape.

One part of this over-the-water path has a small fountain sculpture inside where people have tossed coins. Further along this is a ledge that creates a small waterfall to feed the big pond. This space is used by the various garden birds as a spot for relaxing and preening their feathers. 

We spent a good few hours perusing the garden and soaking in its ambiance. There was so much greenery and life. It was a pleasant reprieve from classes and Santiago. This visit was the main event of our first day in the area and we had a really wonderful time. It served as the perfect start to our calming albeit not very restful trip.

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Headshot of Maggie Peyton.

Maggie Peyton

My name is Maggie and I'm from Chicago, Illinois (one of the best cities in the States in my completely unbiased opinion). I'm left-handed, could watch Encanto every day, and I am a huge fan of the singer-songwriter Mitski. I study Public Policy at the University of Illinois in Chicago and am excited to learn more about Santiago. I hope to find a community away from the one I have at home and make Santiago my own.

2022 Fall, 2023 Spring
Home University:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Public Policy
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