Important Facts

Safe Access to Telescopes and Control Building

VLT Platform and Control Building

  • Use the pathways or paved areas while walking on the platform. Avoid walking on the gravel as much as possible.
  • Do not walk over the VLTI tunnel area.
  • On the platform, restricted areas are marked with a yellow painted line. It is prohibited to enter these areas.
  • In the Telescopes, restricted areas must be respected due hazards inside (nitrogen, laser, etc.).
  • Night access to the platform is restricted—use only a small flashlight and never shine it at or towards the telescopes.
  • Vehicles must be off of the platform at least one hour before sunset.
  • Respect the posted speed limit.
  • Never enter the telescopes without the approval of the TIO after sunset.
  • The Telescope enclosures as a whole are restricted areas and no one has access to the labs or instruments (except inst. team). Restricted areas inside the enclosures are well marked. Nitrogen lines and dewars are pressurized. You must exercise caution and common sense while inside the enclosures, labs and around instruments.

ESO Vehicles

  • Please do not use a car from another group or department! If for exceptional reasons this is really necessary, you must always get the confirmation from the Chief Operations Engineer or the Shift Coordinator beforehand.
  • ESO vehicles are not authorized to leave Paranal without prior coordination with Logistics, Department Heads and/or Director’s office.
  • ESO pick-up trucks cannot leave Paranal without authorization from the Department Heads and/or Director and must be coordinated with the Safety Office upon departure, communicating approximate time of return.
  • Each Department has an assigned fleet of vehicles and you must coordinate with your host Department if you need a vehicle on-site. This applies to ESO staff visiting Paranal. If you come from Garching for a mission, make sure to check in advance with Parlogs whether you can get a car assigned to you or your group during the stay.
  • A Chilean driver's license is mandatory for Chilean staff to drive on-site and must be presented to the safety office for driving permission. For non-Chilean staff, please check the requirements in section No. 3 of the "Driving Procedure — La Silla Paranal Observatory". Visitors are not authorized to drive ESO vehicles unless a written authorization has been obtained from the Head of the Department responsible for the vehicle.
  • Keys should not be removed from vehicles.
  • The load area of any of the trucks cannot be used for passenger transport.
  • ESO vehicles will not be provided for personal purposes.
  • If you drive after sunset, use only parking lights.
  • Park backing up in all areas on Paranal.
  • Always test the vehicle brakes prior to going down the mountain.      
  • Follow posted speed limits, use safety belts, do not park close to fire hydrants, adapt your eyes to night vision, and be aware of strong winds on the mountain (when opening doors, etc.).
  • Violation of traffic rules will result, as a minimum, in the removal of driving privileges on site.
  • Vehicles must be off of the platform one hour before sunset.
  • You must report any incidents or accidents resulting in damage to ESO personnel or property to the SAFETY office.
  • All individuals that drive on Paranal must read and understand the "Driving Procedure — La Silla Paranal Observatory" (PO-PRO-ESO-20100-0003).

Star Track Walkway

  • Star Track, the walkway from the Residencia to the Control Building, can be used only during daylight hours.
  • When using the walkway: carry a radio and a small flashlight, inform the guards, your contact and/or a co-worker when you leave, probable return time and when you arrive.
  • Walking on the side of the road is only permitted during daytime.


Guest Facilities and Recreation

Alcoholic Beverages

  • Consumption of alcoholic beverages is limited and for use during specifically sanctioned situations and/or events.
  • Please contact the Logistics office with any questions or concerns.

Swimming Pool

  • There is no lifeguard on duty at the pool.
  • Test the depth of the water before diving in.
  • No beverages are allowed in the pool.
  • We recommend that you do not swim alone.
  • Wearing a swimming suit is mandatory in the pool.
  • Change clothes in your room or the restrooms. The area around the pool is a public area and not a changing room.
  • Take a shower before and after use.
  • Don’t run in the pool area.
  • Infants and young children must always be under adult supervision in the pool area.
  • Use common sense and follow normal swimming rules.


  • Paranal basecamp is located at 2,466 meters above sea level. This may cause problems to appear that would not appear under normal circumstances.
  • Do not use the sauna if you have a history of heart disease, diabetes, high or low blood pressure, circulatory or respiratory problems, seizures, epilepsy, pregnancy, those who are using any medication or under the influence of alcohol.
  • Maximum time in sauna is 15 minutes. If you feel light headed, breathless, etc., immediately leave the sauna.
  • An emergency alarm has been installed inside the sauna for your safety.
  • Do not exercise in the sauna. You should wait five minutes after exercising before entering the sauna.
  • You should take a warm shower before entering and a cool shower after leaving the sauna.
  • Children under five years are not allowed in the sauna. Children between the ages of 6 and 14 must be accompanied by an adult in the sauna at all times.
  • Since it is used by men and women, swimwear must be worn in the sauna. Wear shower sandals.
  • Please sit on a towel while using the sauna.
  • Be aware of cuts on your body that might make you especially vulnerable to bacteria.
  • Use the sauna accompanied by another person. Use common sense while in the sauna.


  • The Gymnasium building is located outside and across the street from the Residencia.
  • Please make sure you are using the correct equipment and shoes for your activity.
  • For your own safety, it is highly recommend that you check with your personal physician before engaging in any strenuous physical activity and exercise while on Paranal.
  • Mini-football and tennis games are regularly scheduled. Please sign-up on the boards outside the casino and/or contact Logistics for further information.
  • Exercise equipment is located in the Gymnasium. Please follow the instructions posted in the area. Make sure to wipe down the equipment with the disinfectant gel located in the weight room for this purpose.
  • As always, please use common sense while exercising and monitor your vital signs.
  • It is important to drink plenty of water to replace liquids lost by perspiration.
  • If you are not using your personal music/earphones – please do not put the radio on at full volume.


  • Rooms in the Residencia have network connections, providing internet connectivity.
  • Network access to La Silla Paranal Observatory requires devices to be properly registered in order to gain the correct privileges and access rights.
  • It is forbidden to install software on the guest systems by the users.
  • WIFI access is available in the Residencia lobby, Meeting room and Control Room. Account and passwords are conveniently posted in each area.
  • It is explicitly forbidden to change the configuration of the guest systems.
  • It is absolutely prohibited to convert or disconnect any network connections in the offices/guest systems.
  • Please contact the IT offices (ext. 5959) should you have difficulties with computer or network facilities during your stay on Paranal.


  • A small non-scientific Library is located on -3 in the Residencia.
  • Please contact the Logistics office to obtain the key to the room and for checking out any materials.

Social Game Room

  • The Social, Pool and Game Room is available for your enjoyment. The Room is located on level -1, at the top of the stairway closest to the casino. Please contact the Logistics office for directions.
  • The Room also has a TV set up with satellite service for public use.

Cinema/TV Room

  • The Cinema/TV Room is located on level -4 (close to the pool).
  • Movies are programmed and announced on the board by the dining room.

Laundry Service

  • Paranal has a laundry service that takes care of personal and work clothes. The laundry service is limited to items worn on Paranal.
  • You will find a form in your room, which should be filled in with information regarding the clothes to be washed.
  • Laundry will be collected Tuesday and Friday a.m. and returned on the following Friday or Tuesday p.m. If one of these is a holiday, the laundry is collected the day before.
  • Dry-cleaning services are not provided.


Paranal Arrivals and Departures


  • There are three delivery points from Paranal: Antofagasta (ANF) and Santiago (SCL) and La Serena (LSC).
  • In case you need to make private reservations (vehicle rental, hotel, buses, tours, etc.), the Logistics office can help orientate you and provide you with information. However, reservations must be made personally and/or through a travel agency.
  • In compliance with Chilean regulations, ID or passport numbers of passengers on ESO transportation must be shown to the Police control located on the way to Antofagasta. 
  • Please provide this information to your ESO contact person and/or the Logistics office, if you have not previously done so. Visiting Astronomers-this is done by Garching when your trip is organized.
  • Important: You must inform the Logistics office ( of any travel to/from Paranal. The Logistics office arranges airport pickups and transportation to/from Paranal, as well as room accommodations in Paranal and/or the guesthouse in Santiago.

Check out

  • Check out is at 13:00 at the Logistics offices, in order to make room available for next guest.
  • Payment of private expenditures (phone bill, medicines, etc.) can be made in Ch$ or Euro Credit Card. We currently cannot handle debit cards.

I.D. Card

  • Swipe the card at the gate to register your exit.
  • Please return ID card to the Security Guard. 


Important information for your health and safety

General Health Recommendations

  • The average humidity on Paranal can be as low as 10%. Please drink plenty of bottled water or juice. We recommend that you drink bottled water during your stay.
  • Make sure food is light and fresh. Limit intake as excess can cause bloating & digestive problems.
  • Always use UVA_UVB (400 nm) protection sunglasses.
  • Let the Paramedic know if you suffer from any respiratory, cardiac, digestive, etc.  diseases.
  • If during your time on Paranal you experience any of the following, please inform the Paramedic immediately: acute headache, dizziness, nausea, breathing problems, ringing or blocking of ears, chest pains, acute muscular pains, seeing “stars”.

Paranal Health Information

  • The Base Camp is located at an altitude of 2,456 mts. The telescopes are at 2,635 mts.
  • Paranal is located 130 kilometers south of Antofagasta, approximately 2.5 hours from emergency medical services in Antofagasta—any medication should be brought with you.
  • We have a small paramedic clinic on-site equipped for work related accidents and emergency situations with doctors from the Chilean Safety Association of Antofagasta providing coordination and communication.
  • At your service is a fully equipped ambulance for transfers to a medical center, if an emergency so warrants; monitors and basic implements to stabilize and maintain the patient until they arrive at a medical center; telephone and radio communications and a coordinated emergency system; a Safety Officer and Paramedical Coverage 24 hours a day - 7 days a week.


  • Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is mandatory in telescopes and other areas.
  • Hard hats, safety shoes, jackets and lenses can be obtained from the Safety office. Safety will provide a form for you to receive this equipment. Temporary visitors must return the equipment to the Logistics office upon leaving Paranal.
  • Due to Paranal´s isolated location, off-site walks are not recommended.
  • The only authorized exit from the site is the entrance gate.
  • Only certified employees are permitted to use cranes or lifting equipment. Visitors must obtain previous authorization from the corresponding Department Head and the Safety Office before using said equipment.

Safety Zones

  • The following are the designated meeting places in cases of emergency. They are located in key areas throughout Paranal.
    • Camp Parking Lot
    • Stairs between MMB and containers
    • Control Building Parking lot
    • Platform between UT3 & UT4
    • Residencia – east side exits

Handling of Hazardous Materials

  • Hazardous material is defined as any element or solid, liquid or gaseous component that under normal or special conditions involves a risk to personnel’s health or to the integrity of equipment and facilities.
  • Please request of copy of the ESO-PRO-ESO-10000-3394 Hazardous Material Handling for information regarding the safety regulations for the storage, transport and loading of frequently used hazardous materials in Paranal facilities.