Patagonia, Atacama & Easter Island

This adventure takes in some of the most iconic sights in South America, from the staggering desert, to ice fields, to one of the world's most legendary islands.

Country Information

Chile

Patagonia, Atacama & Easter Island Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

Chile


(Interest Type(s))

Adventure Travel


(Tour Length)

16 Days


Tour Highlights

Starting at: $9,490
  • Discover the staggering beauty of Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses granite peaks, glaciers, lakes and waterfalls
  • Enjoy an unusual half-day guided walking tour of Santiago that includes traveling the city’s subway system where you’ll see murals by some of Chile’s most important contemporary artists
  • Explore the Atacama Desert with its singular wildlife, landscapes – the brown Andes Mountains and volcanoes, the stark white of the salt flats, and the green of the oases
  • Experience Easter Island, its remoteness, stunning geography and rich culture
  • Stay at distinctive explora lodges that offer a wide range of adventures – on foot, horseback, by van or on a boat; each tailored to the interests and abilities of each guest

 

 

Day 1:  Arrive Santiago
Welcome to Chile.  Upon arrival, you are met by your Big Five Chile representative and transferred to your hotel.  Santiago, the capital of Chile, is a focal point of Latin American commerce.  The city is clean and modern and sits in a basin between the Coast Range to the west and the Andes to the east.  World-class ski areas in the central Andes lie only forty-five minutes away, up steep switchbacks which climb over 7500 feet in twenty-six miles.  Numerous vineyards, which surround the capital, hot springs and heritage cities in the Coast Range, all make easy day trips.  At night, visitors may choose from a variety of restaurants serving all types of regional and ethnic cuisines.  W Hotel

Day 2:  Santiago / Punta Arenas / Torres del Paine, Patagonia
Transfer to the airport this morning for your flight to Punta Arenas.  Upon arrival, the explora staff will welcome you and transfer you and other guests in a comfortable van to Hotel Salto Chico.  The trip takes approximately five hours (2 ½ hrs from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales on a 155-mile paved road and 2 ½ hrs from Puerto Natales to Torres del Paine National Park, along a 93-mile dirt road).  The trip includes a snack break.  Patagonia is a vast region at the southernmost tip of South America.  Civilizations with magical rites, sailors and pioneers have contributed to its fame.  It is a mythical place, synonymous with exploration.  Located in the heart of Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park encompasses 598,000 acres.  At 51º07’ south latitude and 73º10’ west longitude, the park is surrounded by the impressive Paine Mountain Range (Cordillera del Paine).  With its granite peaks, glaciers, lakes and waterfalls, and unique flora and fauna, Torres del Paine Park is a breathtakingly spectacular landscape.  It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978.  Strategically set on the shore of Lake Pehoé, explora's Hotel Salto Chico was conceived as an exploration base site.  It features refined comfort for total relaxation and the best gear ideally suited for exploring Patagonia.  The nearby Casa de Baños del Ona features an indoor heated pool, exercise machines, sauna, massage room and open-air Jacuzzis.  At Hotel Salto Chico, you’ll find plenty of hot and cold water, comfortable temperatures in winter and summer, tasty meals both during explorations and at the hotel, privacy and quiet.  The interior has been conceived utilizing traditional lenga and cypress woods, handcrafted slate and copper plus furniture specially designed and made by local artisans.  Most of the personnel are able to communicate in English.  Guides are fluent in both English and Spanish.  You are likely to find someone that will speak with you in German, French or Portuguese.  Remota Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 3-5:  Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia
Enjoy three full days of excursions.  Explorations require the use of a parka and/or water-repellent windbreaker, wide pants (long johns or thermal underwear may be advisable at times), good hiking boots with rubber soles (leather or waterproof fabric), or trekking shoes for easier walks, gloves, caps, sunglasses or ski goggles, lip protector and sun block.  At the hotel each guest may wear whatever is comfortable.  The hotel’s interior has a pleasant temperature ideal for light and informal clothing.  Guests can participate in a wide range of carefully developed explorations.  Each day you can choose five explorations from a total of 25 available activities, which have been selected according to the weather, guests' desires, the duration and difficulty.  On foot, horseback, by van or on a boat, accompanied by our expert bilingual guides, you will be astonished by the nature and environs of Patagonia.  Explorations are led with a maximum of 10 people per guide, and include all the necessary equipment.  Remota Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 6:  Torres del Paine / Punta Arenas / Santiago
The explora staff transfers you to the airport in Punta Arenas for your flight to Santiago.  On arrival, you will be greeted and escorted to your hotel.  W Hotel (B)

Day 7:  Santiago
Enjoy an out of the ordinary half-day guided walking tour of Santiago, including travel by subway.  The subway system in Santiago allows you to get a true feel of the city, and you’ll see murals by some of  Chile’s most important contemporary artists.  Visit La Bolsa Street facing the Stock Exchange building; the La Moneda Presidential Palace, with the Change of the Guard ceremony (every 48 hours) and its art exhibitions in its' Cultural Center.  Take in the old district with its provincial atmosphere; the sophisticated, European style modern districts of Vitacura, Las Condes and Providencia; the Spanish colonial churches, gardens and government palaces off the Plaza de Armas, with the statue of its founder, in 1541, don Pedro de Valdivia, facing the main Cathedral of Santiago.  See the elegant racetrack, university, and gracious estates dating from the 17th century.  Rising above the streets of the capital, savor the panoramic views from the crest of Cristobal Hill, and Santa Lucia, site of Santiago’s founding in 1541, and crowned by the crumbling ruin of the 16th century fort.  You also explore the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, which houses a collection to rival any in the world.  The balance of the day is at leisure.  Santiago is a friendly city for walking, and metro is very efficient.  W Hotel (B)

Day 8:  Santiago / Caleu / Santiago
Depart this morning for La Capilla de Caleu, a small town on the outskirts of Santiago.  This may be the best kept secret in Chile!  About an hour’s drive through small country villages is Caleu Valley, home of a small community of 600 people who still live in the colonial past.  There are no newspapers, malls, public transportation.  And no tourists!  You hike from the mountain village to enter the Natural Sanctuary Cerro El Roble, known for its biodiversity.  It has been declared a world hotspot.  Native flora and birds,  even condors, will be your company as you trek to the summit of Cerro El Roble, at about 7240 feet above sea level.  This is also honey bee country.  From the summit of El Roble, you have the most spectacular view of the Aconcagua Mountain with the Andes range on the east side and the Pacific Ocean on the west.  In 1834, a young 23-year-old Charles Darwin, who lived almost two years in Chile, used to hike the area.  Enjoy lunch under the shade of an oak tree with fruit, wine and good conversation before returning to Santiago, where the remainder of the day is free to pursue your own interests.  W Hotel (B)

Day 9:  Santiago / Atacama Desert
This morning you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Calama.  You are welcomed by the staff of Hotel de Larache on arrival and transferred to their lodge in San Pedro de Atacama, about an hour away.  San Pedro de Atacama is an oasis village fed by two rivers and surrounded by outstanding natural beauty, including the Andes Mountains, volcanoes, salt flats filled with flamingos, high plateau, grassy river beds and salt crusted caves.  It is at an altitude of 7,920 feet.  Hotel de Larache (B,L,D)

Day 10 & 11:  Atacama Desert
The series of explorations allows you to discover the ancient culture of Atacama, the singular wildlife, and the natural landscapes of this vast terrain:  from the brown of the Andean mountains and volcanoes, to the white of the salt flats and the green of the oases.  The first humans arrived in this area over 10,000 years ago, giving rise to what later became a rich culture concentrated in and around oases like the one at San Pedro.  Diverse and unusual forms of wildlife have found ways to develop in the midst of high volcanoes, salt flats, lagoons and ravines.  San Pedro de Atacama is located at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level.  Our explorations, planned to enable your body to gradually become accustomed to the altitude, can take you to heights of between 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) and 4,500 meters (14,763 feet) above sea level and if you wish, even further on our high-mountain climbs.  Explorations are safe and are made up of groups with a maximum of eight people, accompanied by an expert bilingual guide.  All our guides speak excellent Spanish and English and some also speak French and German.  More extensive explorations include open-air picnics.  Every evening, one of our guides will meet with you in the lodge bar to tell you about the explorations planned for the following day and help you with the difficult task of choosing between the seven to 14 different options, all of them exciting.  Hotel de Larache (B,L,D)

Day 12:  Atacama Desert / Santiago
Return to Santiago where you are met and transferred to your hotel.  The remainder of the day is at leisure.  W Hotel (B)

Day 13:  Santiago / Easter Island
Fly this morning by air to Easter Island, home to the fabled giant moais that dot the island.  On arrival, you will be welcome and transferred to your hotel.  The island’s remoteness, stunning geography and rich culture led UNESCO to declare Rapa Nui a World Heritage Site in 1995.  The explora Posada de Mike Rapu lodge was the first in South America to obtain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the United States Green Building Council.  It sits on a hill in the Te Miro One area overlooking the ocean.  All of the 30 rooms have excellent ocean views.  The lodge’s design is intended to have minimal impact on its surroundings.  Posada de Mike Rapu

Day 14-15:  Easter Island
At explora Rapa Nui, you have more than 15 different explorations to choose from.  On foot or by bicycle; for a couple of hours or a full day; gentle or more physically demanding.  The range of explorations enable you to get to know in-depth the culture and geography of Rapa Nui, Easter Island, with its ancestral, megalithic constructions and the special idiosyncrasies of its people.  More extensive explorations include open-air picnics.  The large stone statues, or moai, that dot the island and for which Easter Island is world-famous, were carved from 1100–1680 C.E.  Posada de Mike Rapu

Day 16:  Easter Island / Depart
You will be transferred the air strip to meet your flight.  In certain months a direct flight exists to Lima allowing wonderful combinations with Peru.  Other months, the connection home will be via Santiago.

Land price, per person, double occupancy:  Starting from $9490

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