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Atacama + Easter Island + Valparaiso


CRE12S
12 NIGHTS
FROM £2,195
International flights quoted separately
Combine a visit to Chile with remote Easter Island in the Pacific, where you can marvel at nearly 900 ancient gigantic Moai statues. Also explore Santiago & the spectacular Atacama Desert with its shimmering salt flats, geysers & moon landscapes. Complete your holiday relaxing at the histopric port city of Valparaiso. English speaking guides, all transfers & specified sighseeing included.
Easter Island Photo Moai Statues Chile Atacama Santiago Valparaiso
• 
Santiago
• 
Atacama Desert
• 
Salt Flats
• 
Moon Valley
• 
El Tatio Geysers
• 
Easter Island
• 
Moai Statues
• 
Rapa Nui National Park
• 
Bird Man Cult
• 
Valparaiso
• 
Santiago
• 
Atacama Desert
• 
Salt Flats
• 
Moon Valley
• 
El Tatio Geysers
• 
Easter Island
• 
Moai Statues
• 
Rapa Nui National Park
• 
Bird Man Cult
• 
Valparaiso
Day 1
You will be met at Santiago Airport and transferred into the capital of Santiago de Chile. This sophisticated and cosmopolitan city is situated in a valley, surrounded by the snow-capped Andes Mountains and the beautiful Chilean Coastal Range.
 
On arrival enjoy a shared tour of this modern city. We start in the downtown area of this relatively compact city, where modern buildings have transformed the landscape, and visit Santa Lucia Hill where the city of Santiago was founded in 1541.
 
We continue to the Plaza de Armas in the heart of the old colonial city and bustling Ahumada Boulevard with its many shops, street performers and vendors. Here you will be able to see some beautiful neo-classical buildings – including the 18th century Cathedral of Santiago and the early 19th century Royal Court Palace, which now houses the National History Museum. Also enjoy outside views of the Municipal Offices, the Post Office and the current Presidential Palace, La Moneda. Time permitting you will have the opportunity to taste a ‘Pisco Sour’, see local handcrafts and walk through some of the more traditional streets of the city, before being dropped off at your hotel.
 
Note: Most museums are closed on Mondays.
Day 2
Transfer to Santiago Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Calama Airport and transferred 1.5-hours through the Domekyo and Salt Mountains to San Pedro in the vast Atacama Desert.
 
Extending for over 600 miles (1,000 km), this enormous plateau of salt lakes, sand, larva and stony terrain is situated between two high mountain ranges - the Andes to the east and the Chilean Coastal Range to the west. As a result, the Atacama receives virtually no rain whatsoever - making it the driest and oldest desert in the world, with landscapes that will take your breath away.
 
After checking into your hotel, in the afternoon head out on a shared excursion to the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountains) to view the dramatic lunar landscapes of Moon Valley situated in the National Flamingo Reserve. Here you can see natural mineral sculptures formed by wind erosion, including ‘The Three Mary’s. We also visit Death Valley, favoured by sand boarders, with its amazing sculptured salt formations. Our day ends with a magical sunset at Kari Viewpoint, one of the highest points of the Salt Mountains.
Day 3
Today enjoy a full day shared tour to the crystalline Atacama Salt Flats, the largest in Chile and one of the largest in the world. The lake under these salt flats has one of the largest lithium reserves in the world, with small lagoons having formed where holes have broken through the crusted salt.
 
A highlight is our visit to Chaxa Lagoon in Los Flamencos National Reserve, with its vast flocks of pink flamingos. You will see 3 different species here - Chilean, Andean & James’s - as well as other birds such as the puna plover and red-gartered coot that nest and feed on these mineral-rich waters. Most activity occurs around sunrise, with a pinkish hue rising over the horizon. As the air warms up, this dissipates as huge flocks of these birds take flight over the lake.
 
We then travel further into the Altiplano to view the amazingly blue lagoons of Meñique and Miscanti located at over 14,000 ft (4,300 m) at the foot of their impressive volcanoes that were formed when the Andes Mountains rose from the sea. Afterwards we drive to the small village of Socaire for an included traditional lunch at a rustic restaurant.
 
In the afternoon we visit the picturesque village of Toconao, with its main square and classical Atacamenian bell tower - built in 1750 from cactus wood, mud and straw. We also visit the church of San Lucas, before returning to San Pedro.
Day 4
Depart before dawn this morning for a shared excursion to the El Tatio Geysers, the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world. Situated at over 14,000 ft (4,300 m) above sea level, the geysers in this geothermal field have steam fumaroles that can easily reach over 33 ft (10 m).
 
Arrive at sunrise when each geyser is surrounded by a column of steam that condenses in the cold air, against a backdrop of the imposing Andes with its multiple colours and varied fauna, including the vicuña - an American camelid with an elegant walk and adapted to live in extreme weather conditions. Enjoy a guided walk before these steam plumes disappear as the air warms up. If you take your swimming costume, you can have a refreshing dip in these hot geyser waters.
 
After breakfast at the geysers, take in spectacular views of the Torcopuri y Sairecabur Volcanoes as we return to San Pedro. On the way back we make a short stop in the Putana Wetlands, where you can see different species of birds against the backdrop of the Colorado Volcano, and at the small village of Machuca with its original Altiplanic architecture in St. James Church.
Day 5
This morning participate in a shared tour to one of the most important archeological sites of the region.
 
Pukará de Quitor is a pre-Colombian 17th century stone fortress that was the site of the Battle of Quitor in 1540 - one of the first clashes between the indigenous people and the invading Spanish conquistadors. We continue to the well-preserved ancient village of Tulor, probably the first settlement of the Atacama salt flats, to learn more about the local culture. We also visit the Church of San Pedro, before returning to our hotel.
 
Afterwards transfer 1.5-hours to Calama Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Santiago Airport and transferred into the capital of Santiago de Chile.
 
Check into your hotel in this sophisticated and cosmopolitan city, situated in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes Mountains and the beautiful Chilean Coastal Range.
Day 6
Transfer to Santiago Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Easter Island Airport - known locally as Rapa Nui - situated in the southern Pacific Ocean some 2,300 miles (3,700 km) west of the Chilean mainland.
 
Easter Island is famous for its nearly 900 gigantic stone Moai (carved human statues with oversized heads, often resting on a massive rock altar called Ahu), carved between the 10th and 16th century. Much of the island is now protected and Rapa Nui National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
Check into your hotel in this far-flung volcanic island at the southeastern point of the Polynesian Triangle, and one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world.
 
Note: A national park fee of $80 per person is payable at Easter Island airport on arrival.
Day 7
Today enjoy a full day shared excursion exploring the history of the Rapa Nui people.
 
From the capital of Hanga Roa, we travel 1-hour to the east of the island, where Hotu Matu´a - the first king - disembarked and founded this amazing megalithic culture. Over the next 700 years, these Polynesian navigators went on to produce the gigantic Moai (statues) for which Easter Island is so famous.
 
Our first stops are at Ahu Vaihu and Ahu Akahanga – the Platform of the King – as it is believed that the grave of Hotu Matu’a is in a nearby cave. There are four separate Ahu (platforms) here with 12 Moai of various sizes and eight magnificent Pukao (topknots). Petroglyphs run along the front of the main Ahu and one Moai can be found behind it.
 
Continuing our trip we visit Rano Raraku Volcano, one of the most interesting archaeological sites on Rapa Nui. Here you can find 397 Moai situated in a quarry inside an extinct volcano, with a freshwater crater lake. Some of the statues are still encrusted in the rock of the quarry, others are in the process of getting their backs completed, and some are in a staging area waiting to be moved to their destination. Here we will see the largest Moai ever carved – Te Tokanga (or El Gigante) measuring a staggering 66 ft (22 m) and weighing over 220 tons. We stop here for an included picnic lunch.
 
In the afternoon we visit the visually stunning Ahu Tongariki, where 15 Moai that had been destroyed and washed inland following a tsunami in 1960 have been restored. This is the largest reconstructed site on the island and the largest temple in all of Polynesia.
 
We continue to Ahu Te Pito Kura, which only has one Moai but it is the largest erected on any Ahu at over 30 ft (10 m) and weighing over 85 tons. The topknot alone is worthy of praise, weighing 11.5 tons. Here we also find a sacred spherical stone, said to have been brought by Hotu Matu’a from his home island of Hiva.
 
Finally we finish our day relaxing on stunning Anakena Beach, with its row of Moai which have their backs turned to the sea.
 
Note: The order of your day excursions may be changed. Wear good walking shoes and pack both sunscreen and rain gear.
Day 8
This morning join a half day shared excursion to Tangata Manu Ceremonial Village.
 
We visit the Ana Kai Tangata Cave, where on one of its walls you will see stylised paintings of the Manutara, a sea swallow whose arrival in spring would initiate the annual Tangata Manu Bird Man competition of physical dexterity and strength - with competitors vying to obtain the first precious egg.
 
Our tour continues to Vinapu, an archaeological site where you can see enormous basalt slabs similar to those used by the Inca people of Peru and Rano Kau, one of the three main volcanos that define the triangular shape of Rapa Nui. This volcano erupted over 2.5 million years ago and has a height of 310 m and a huge 1.6 km crater, with a fresh water lake with small islands of reeds. Today grapes, bananas and totora (a reed used for building houses and boats) are grown in the lush crater.
 
Our final stop is Orongo Ceremonial Village, a wonderful vantage point from which you can see the curvature of the earth and an unending vista of empty ocean. 47 houses were restored here in 1974, as the originals had collapsed or been torn down by treasure hunters. A series of trails have been set out on the site. At the end of a 1 km interpretive trail we find Mata Ngarau - the place where the Bird Man ceremony was performed. The Bird Man was appointed as the spiritual and political leader for a period of one year. Numerous boulders are carved with ancient petroglyphs that represent this sacred character, shown with a shrunken human body and a large beak.
 
After returning to your lodge, the afternoon is at leisure.
 
Note: The order of your day excursions may be changed. Wear good walking shoes and pack both sunscreen and rain gear.
Day 9
Today enjoy a half day shared excursion to the Seven Moai.
 
Ahu Akivi is a famous altar with seven magnificent moai that were restored in 1960 by Dr William Mulloy. These are one of the few platforms on the island where the Moai face the ocean and legend tells us they represent the seven explorers sent by King Hotu Matu’a before his epic colonisation voyage from Polynesia. They are believed to date back to around 1460.
 
We continue to Puna Pau, one of the 70 secondary volcanic cones found on the island, which has a distinctive red colour because of its rich iron deposits. This red scoria was easily carved by the Rapa Nui people, who used it to make Pukao (topknots) that crowned the heads of some moai and funeral casts.
 
Finally we visit Ahu Huri a Urenga, one of the last altars to be restored. With only a single statue, it is oriented such that the sun rises directly on the face of the moai at the summer and winter solstice, marking not only the beginning of the season, but also the time of different ‘taboos’ regulating fishing and other activities. Astronomically it is facing east, lined up with two neighbouring hills and two smaller Ahu nearby.
 
Afternoon is at leisure to relax at your lodge or explore independently.
 
Note: The order of your day excursions may be changed. Wear good walking shoes and pack both sunscreen and rain gear.
Day 10
Transfer to Easter Island Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Santiago Airport and transferred 2-hours to the historic seaport of Valparaiso on the Pacific Coast - a UNESCO World Heritage site and the second largest city in Chile.
 
Prior to the opening of the Panama Canal, this was the most important Pacific seaport on the crucial trade route that linked the American west coast with Europe, via the Strait of Magellan. Its many stairways and old funicular elevators that lead up the 44 hills on which the city is built are a real feature. Check into your hotel in this lively and chaotic city, with its quirky and eclectic architecture.
Days 11 To 12
At leisure to relax and explore the port city of Valparaiso.
Day 13
Transfer 2-hours to Santiago Airport for your flight home.

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