Monumental archaeological mysteries, natural phenomena, and urban life are all part of this 11-day Chilean itinerary. From sprawling Santiago to the awe-inspiring Atacama Desert and Easter Island, each moment of your trip will offer opportunities for unforgettable experiences. Travel by air, car, hot air balloon, bike, and horseback for a dynamic adventure through South America and across the South Pacific.

Highlights

  • Feel the pulse of urban life, art, and literature in Santiago
  • Voyage through Atacama's canyons and valleys on horseback 
  • Marvel at the steam of El Tatio's geysers and soak in the Puritama Hot Springs
  • Uncover the mysteries of Easter Island's monoliths and Polynesian culture

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Santiago Santiago
Day 2 Santiago Walking Tour Santiago
Day 3 Fly to San Pedro de Atacama, Horseback Riding San Pedro de Atacama
Day 4 Atacama Desert Geysers & Hot Springs San Pedro de Atacama
Day 5 Atacama Desert Hot Air Balloon, Planetarium Night Sky San Pedro de Atacama
Day 6 Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), Fly to Santiago Santiago
Day 7 Fly to Easter Island, Easter Island Cooking Class Easter Island
Day 8 Easter Island Tongariki Sunrise & Orongo  Easter Island
Day 9 Easter Island Archaeological Sites & Anakena Beach Easter Island
Day 10 Fly to Santiago Santiago
Day 11 Santiago Bike & Wine Tour, Depart Chile  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Santiago

The Andes Mountains are visible from many points in Santiago
Welcome to Chile and one of the largest cities in the Southern Hemisphere! A driver will pick you up at the airport for a private transfer to your Santiago hotel. As you enter Chile's 5.6 million-resident capital, get ready to experience the fast pace of urban life. Take your time to acclimate and rest before heading out to explore a small piece of the sprawling metropolis. 

Centro is the financial hub and the neighborhood to see monumental colonial architecture while walking on paseos (pedestrian-only walkways). For street art and urban photography, there's Barrio Brasil. Feel the beat of nightlife and fine dining in upscale Providencia, or go for a stroll there in Parque Bustamente and Parque de las Esculturas

Day 2: Santiago Walking Tour

See Santiago's artistic side in Barrio Bellavista
A guide leads the way today as you discover some of the metropolis' most important historical sites—from art to architecture and literature—on a private six-hour walking tour. Urban sprawl meets history in the city founded in 1541. The stories behind Plaza de Armas and the La Moneda Presidential Palace will teach you about Santiago's political history. After a morning of walking, you'll then have a break for lunch in bustling Mercado Central, one of Chile's largest markets. Refuel with local dishes such as ceviche, anticucho (grilled meat), or an empanada before the next part of the tour. 

Chile's cultural roots are next on the agenda with a visit to the National Museum of Fine Arts with its collection spanning centuries across South America. In Barrio Bellavista, visit La Chascona, a home owned by Chile's eccentric poet, diplomat, and politician, Pablo Neruda. At the end of your tour, your guide will recommend a local restaurant and the best areas for vibrant nightlife.

Day 3: Fly to San Pedro de Atacama, Horseback Riding

The Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on the planet

Get ready for the adventure level to go up a notch today as you make your way to the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth. A private transfer will take you from your hotel to Santiago Airport for a two-hour flight traveling more than 932 miles (1,500 km) north to Calama, then transfer to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. But you won't rest long before exploring this fascinating region.

There's no better way to see the vistas and dramatic rock formations of the Catarpe Valley than on horseback. After getting ready with a helmet, saddle, and other necessary gear, your guide and riding instructor will lead you through a four-to-five-hour ride. Your tour leader will highlight the features that make this area famous, such as the Devil's Throat canyon or Chulakao Ravine. There will also be plenty of time to take photos and appreciate the landscape. After a full day, you'll have time to rest at your hotel. 

Day 4: Atacama Desert Geysers & Hot Springs

Tatio Geysers at Atacama Desert
The El Tatio geysers erupt day and night

El Tatio, at 14,107 feet (4,300 m) in the Andes Mountains, is one of the highest geothermic fields on the planet. It's also home to the largest geysers in the Southern Hemisphere. It will be an early wake-up today, giving you a full-day tour to explore this diverse area on foot. 

The geysers' steam fumaroles (created when Andes snow melts through cracks in the earth's magma) reach up to 164 feet (50 m)—a site to see and photograph. El Tatio is also an ideal vantage point for views of the mountains and volcanoes. Marvel at local wildlife like vicuñas, culpeos, and even flamingos, acclimated to this high-altitude environment. From the geysers, see the steam wafting from Puritama Hot Springs. With water temperatures hovering around 95°F (35°C) and a soak rich in minerals, you'll rejuvenate after a long day before returning to your hotel.

Day 5: Atacama Desert Hot Air Balloon, Planetarium Night Sky

Atacama Desert Hot Air Balloon Ride
Sail in stillness above the Atacama

Get up before dawn today for an incredible journey by hot air balloon. Conditions are ideal in the early morning to see the sun's pink and gold hues rise over the desert. There will be a pre-flight safety briefing over coffee and tea as your balloon inflates in preparation for the one-hour ride. After taking off, you'll have time for photos and to appreciate the landscape. You and the crew will celebrate the journey with a champagne toast and breakfast. 

After a morning floating above the clouds, you'll have the afternoon free to rest. The stories of the night sky will then unfold as you spend the evening in an observatory 4.3 miles (7 km) from San Pedro de Atacama. Your guide will point out stars and constellations, explaining how the sky changes with hemispheric shifts. Then, you'll use a telescope to take a closer look. With 10 telescope orientations to choose from, you'll see nebula and star clusters from all directions. 

Day 6: Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), Fly to Santiago

Moon Valley is known as one of the least habitable places on the planet
Visitors to Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) describe it as a lunar walk. With a guide leading the way, you'll explore the valley's stone and sand formations in Los Flamencos National Reserve in Cordillera de la Sal, 8 miles (13 km) west of San Pedro de Atacama. Devoid of humidity and wildlife, the valley is considered one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. However, watching a sunset or sunrise over its hills and gorges, there is no doubt about its still beauty. 

In the afternoon, leave the Atacama behind and transfer to Calama Airport. From there, catch your flight south to Santiago Airport, where a private driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel for the evening. 

Day 7: Fly to Easter Island, Easter Island Cooking Class

See Rano Raraku, a volcanic crater on Easter Island
Easter Island (also called Isla de Pascua or Rapa Nui) is a place many travelers dream of visiting. Named for its discovery on Easter Sunday by its first recorded European visitor, and known for its mysterious statues and carvings, its isolation 2,000 miles (3,540 km) west of mainland Chile in the southeastern Pacific Ocean adds to the intrigue. The journey to Easter Island begins with a 5.5-hour flight from Santiago to Hanga Roa—the island's main town. From there, briefly settle into your hotel to rest and get ready for the adventure ahead, today focused on the island's culinary roots.
 
Rapa Nui's cuisine stems from ancient rituals and a culture of living off the land with seafood and root vegetables as the primary ingredients. Get a taste of Polynesian cooking in a class at a local restaurant. Learn how to cook in the earth, prepare dishes—such as mashed taro with sweet potato and fish ceviche—and then enjoy dinner from the fragrant dishes you've created.

Day 8: Easter Island Tongariki Sunrise & Orongo 

Tongariki at sunrise may feel like visiting another planet
Sunrise at Tongariki could be the highlight of your Chile adventure. The ahu (flat mound) is near Rano Raraku quarry on the southeast corner and has some of the largest moai (statues) on the island. 
 
After sunrise, explore more of the island and its culture and rituals by visiting three sites with your guide: Rano Kau volcano is in a lagoon and wetland with particular microfauna and ecosystems. In Orongo, the "Bird Man" was a ceremony led by its king and spiritual leader. Look for this sacred figure with a man's body and a bird's beak in sculptures, engraved stones, and on paintings, to understand its significance on the island. More of Easter Island's culture and history come to life at Vinapu archaeological site, characterized by large basalt slab towers. Some say the area resembles sites in Cusco, Peru.

Day 9: Easter Island Archaeological Sites & Anakena Beach

Relax on the shore of Anakena beach
Hotu Matu is considered the first settler or king of Easter Island. His rule and influence on the island's history are evident at five major archaeological sites: Akahanga, Tongariki, Rano Raraku, Te Pito Kura, and Anakena.
 
Today you'll feel as if you are traveling to another world, learning stories about the Polynesian kingdom settled from 300 to 1200 CE, coinciding with Hawaii's first settlers. After a Polynesian lunch at Rano Raraku, continue along the north coast to Te Pito Kura—known as the "navel of light" or Te Pito O Te Henua, the "navel of the world," because of the magnetism of rocks found there. In Anakena, learn about its moai and archaeological artifacts, including petroglyphs and ancestral houses, and then relax on its white sand beach and take a dip in its crystal-clear waters.

Day 10: Fly to Santiago

Take a cable car up to Cerro San Crisóbal
Cerro San Cristóbal offers a bird's eye view of Santiago
Leave the marvel of Easter Island behind as you get ready to return to the modern era. From Easter Island, catch a flight to Santiago airport and then transfer to your Santiago hotel. After a day of traveling, you may want to rest at your hotel or explore more of the city, catching views from the Cerro San Crisòbal cable car and then spending the evening in the Bellavista neighborhood. 

Day 11: Santiago Bike & Wine Tour, Depart Chile

Explore Chile's wine country by bicycle

On your final morning in Chile, you'll breathe fresh air with a 5-mile (3 km) bike ride through the Maipo Valley wine country south of Santiago—known as the "Bordeaux of South America." Meet your guide at the 19th-century mansion of Las Majadas de Pirque and set out on a scenic 1.5-hour ride. Your guide will point out historic vineyards such as Concha y Toro and explain the history of wine production in the area, spanning more than a century. Learn about the Andes Mountains' unique climate and soil, and be introduced to boutique wineries and the area's famous cabernet sauvignon.

At William Fèvre Chile vineyard—a partner vineyard of William Fèvre wine production in Chablis, France—a local expert will teach you more about mountain-grown wines such as the Espino chardonnay and Chacai cabernet sauvignon with a tasting. Toast the end of your time in Chile here, and then transfer to your hotel to prepare to catch your international flight. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Chilean Culture & Nature: Santiago, Atacama Desert & Easter Island - 11 Days
Map of Chilean Culture & Nature: Santiago, Atacama Desert & Easter Island - 11 Days