- See Santiago's colonial buildings in the Plaza de Armas
- Head to the coast for wine tastings and tours of Valparaíso
- Explore the volcanoes and geological marvels of the Atacama Desert
- Fly to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and uncover the secrets of the moai
- Stay in 5-star luxury hotels with eco-friendly credentials
|Arrive in Santiago, Afternoon City Tour
|Day Trip to Veramonte Winery, Valparaíso & Viña del Mar
|Fly to Calama, Transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, Altiplano Tour
|San Pedro de Atacama
|Atacama Desert Activities: Volcanic Cones to Salt Flats
|San Pedro de Atacama
|Atacama Desert Activities: Sunrise Geysers & Horseback Adventures
|San Pedro de Atacama
|Atacama Hot-Air Balloon Ride, Fly to Santiago
|Fly to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Optional Activities
|Half-Day Horseback Riding Tour
|Rano Kau & Orongo Tour
|Sunrise Rapa Nui Tour, Fly to Santiago, Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Afternoon City Tour
Welcome to Chile! This narrow sliver of a country boasts some of the most diverse regions in South America. Not too many nations can say they have both arid altiplano deserts and Polynesian islands—both of which enjoy rich Indigenous history. This grand tour kicks off in the capital of Santiago. Though it may look like a modern Andean metropolis, it also enjoys centuries of fascinating history.
Upon arrival, transfer by private driver to your hotel from the airport. Don't forget, this is, first and foremost, a luxury tour, which is evident immediately upon your arrival at the W Santiago. Another jewel in the crown of the W's line of fashionable 5-star hotels, the Santiago addition features chic rooms with jaw-dropping city views. You can also kick back at the rooftop pool and enjoy elevated Mediterranean and Chilean cuisine at two different restaurants. If you like, book a session at Bliss Spa, which offers signature treatments like Himalayan salt-stone massages and warm wax foot wraps.
After settling in, you'll discover Santiago's historic highlights on a tour. Meet your personal guide and head out on a three-hour tour around the city. It begins in the historic center and the Plaza de Armas, Santiago's main square. It's home to the Palacio de la Real Audiencia (Palace of the Royal Court) and the Catedral Metropolitana, an impressive neoclassical building dating to 1753. Also nearby is the Palacio de la Moneda, Chile's opulent presidential palace. To cap the day, hike (or ride a gondola) up Cerro San Cristóbal, a 984-foot (300 m) hill that offers exceptional panoramic views.
Day 2: Day Trip to Veramonte Winery, Valparaíso & Viña del Mar
In the morning, meet your driver for the transfer an hour west of Santiago to the Casablanca Valley. This fertile region near the Pacific coast is ideal for grape growing, as the sea breezes come in from offshore and provide the perfect weather conditions for the fruit to thrive. While here, you'll stop at Veramonte, one of the region's first wineries. During a tour of this organic operation, you'll stroll the vineyards and see the winemaking facility. Then, visit the tasting room to sample a few of their finest wines.
Afterward, continue to the coast and the historic port city of Valparaíso. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its colorful hillside neighborhoods, winding stairways, and abundance of street art. It's a well-preserved snapshot of a time when electric trolleys coasted through downtown in front of Art Nouveau buildings. On a tour, you'll visit famous landmarks, such as Plaza de la Victoria and the Naval Academy, and ride a funicular elevator up into the hills to enjoy panoramic vistas of the Pacific. A real highlight is the former home of Chile's Nobel Prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda.
Later, you'll drive a short way to the adjacent town of Viña del Mar, which couldn't be more different in style than its neighbor. Whereas Valparaíso is a retro artistic haven, Viña is a modern seaside hotspot with sleek shopping centers and upscale restaurants. You'll pass some interesting heritage buildings on your way to the golden sands of Playa Reñaca, a popular beach destination for tourists and locals. Here, you can grab a bite to eat at a seaside restaurant before returning to Santiago.
Day 3: Fly to Calama, Transfer to San Pedro de Atacama, Altiplano Tour
After an early breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport for the two-hour flight to Calama, located in the far north of Chile. Upon arrival, another driver will meet you for the 1.5-hour drive to the desert outpost of San Pedro de Atacama, the base for adventures into the famous Atacama Desert. This arid, high-altitude region abounds with seemingly endless salt flats, painted hills that change color with the light, towering Andean peaks, and the volcanic Cordillera Domeyko, where flaming red mountains create the base of El Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley).
Upon arrival, you'll check into the Explora Atacama. This luxurious 5-star hotel is one of the swankiest lodging options in town. Its chic, modern design blends seamlessly into the surrounding desert plateau—an experience heightened by the hotel's shimmering infinity pool. Once here, you can unwind with a spa session or soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi. And no need to worry about your carbon footprint—the Explora was designed for energy efficiency and environmental conservation.
There's no time to rest yet because as soon as you drop off your bags, you'll meet your driver/guide for a half-day tour of Atacama's scenic altiplano (high plateau). Arranged by the hotel, this desert voyage will take you to a few highlights, which might include the otherworldly rock formations of Moon Valley and the vast Cuenca de Salar salt flats. Upon returning to the hotel, you can head to Explora's private observatory and marvel at the cosmos through its advanced optics telescope.
Day 4: Atacama Desert Activities: Volcanic Cones to Salt FlatsWake up early this morning and coordinate with the hotel to create the ideal Atacama Desert tour. From the salt flat basin near the Explora Atacama, you'll set off on a full-day adventure to different altitude zones, each with a set of unique geographic and cultural characteristics. You can choose to explore by vehicle, on a bicycle, on a trek, or a combination of the three. The trip will take you around Atacama's famous landscapes, from its volcanic cones and alkali lakes to its salt flats and painted mountain ranges. At the end of the day, you'll return to your hotel.
Day 5: Atacama Desert Activities: Sunrise Geysers & Horseback Adventures
The day is yours to enjoy another curated desert activity. For a truly memorable adventure, hop in the saddle for a full-day horseback ride around the salt flats and nature reserves just outside San Pedro de Atacama. This area also abounds with archaeological sites and ancient ruins, including those left by pre-Columbian cultures such as the Atacameño people.
Or, if you like, you can head out early to watch the sunrise over the famous Tatio Geysers. This is the best time to visit, as the contrast between the cold outside temperatures and the boiling water of the geothermal field beneath the earth's surface causes the pillars of steam here to rise as high as 32 feet (10 m). Also, at an altitude of 14,173 feet (4,320 m), these geysers are the highest in the world. So take your time and snap plenty of photos.
Day 6: Atacama Hot-Air Balloon Ride, Fly to Santiago
Rise and shine! It's another early start as you head outside of town before dawn to a launch site for this morning's thrilling hot-air balloon ride. At this hour, the weather conditions are ideal for navigating the skies above the desert—not to mention the dazzling views you'll witness as the first rays of dawn light up the desert.
Upon arrival at the site, you'll have a coffee or tea, hop in the basket, and prepare for takeoff. As the balloon ascends and the morning sun rises over the horizon, all of the Atacama altiplano, salt flats, and mountains will be laid out below you. From this vantage point, you can take unrivaled photos of this uniquely beautiful corner of the world.
After returning to terra firma, say goodbye to the Atacama Desert and transfer back to Calama for the flight to Santiago. At the terminal, a driver will take you back to the W Hotel. Perhaps reward yourself for all those outdoor adventures with a sundowner cocktail at the hotel's swank rooftop bar.
Day 7: Fly to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Optional Activities
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
You're leaving mainland Chile today on a grand adventure in the South Pacific. Transfer to the airport in Santiago and catch a five-hour flight to Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. One of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, this volcanic wonderland is most famous for its nearly 900 monumental statues called moai. These were created by native inhabitants during the 13th to 16th centuries and range in height from 13-33 feet (4-10 m).
You'll see the awesome moai soon enough; for now, transfer from the airport to the Explora Rapa Nui. Located on the island's south side, this prestigious 5-star hotel is renowned for its exceptional service, luxurious accommodations, and top-tier amenities. These include an on-site spa and a gourmet restaurant sourcing local ingredients and celebrating native cuisine—with a fusion flare. And like the other locations in the Explora suite of hotels, Rapa Nui is dedicated to conservation and energy efficiency.
After the long flight, you'll have the rest of the day free to relax and enjoy the hotel amenities, like the outdoor pool and Jacuzzi. Or perhaps visit the main town of Hanga Roa. Located on the southwest side of the island, it's a great place to experience Rapa Nui culture via its craft markets and museums. If you can't wait to see the moai, there are some ahu (ceremonial platforms) just outside of town where you can witness these rock monoliths. If you do have the energy for an adventure, the hotel can arrange guided bike rides, hikes, and snorkeling/scuba excursions.
Day 8: Half-Day Horseback Riding Tour
This morning, you'll head out on a memorable tour of Rapa Nui. What sets this half-day adventure apart from other tours is that you'll be exploring the island's highlights on horseback. It starts when you meet your guide and horse at the stables. From there, you'll set off on the ride, which will take you to the stunning interior of the island, known for its rugged volcanic terrain and rolling hills.
Depending on the route, you'll ride up to the top of the Maunga Terevaka, the highest peak of Rapa Nui (1,676 ft/ 511 m). There, you'll be treated to panoramic views of the island and coast below. Throughout the trip, your guide will also point out fascinating and lesser-visited archaeological sites, like the "Cave of the Virgins" at the Poike extinct volcano on the northeast coast.
Day 9: Rano Kau & Orongo Tour
Eat a hearty breakfast because afterward, you're off on a full-day tour to Orongo. Located on the island's southern tip at the caldera of the Rano Kau volcano, this area is filled with archaeological sites. The structures here date back to Rapa Nui's "Late Period," which began in the 16th century, and include well-preserved stone houses and petroglyphs.
During this time, Orongo was a ceremonial village and a center for the "Birdman" cult (known as the Tangata Manu). The society's most famous cultural/religious festival was a competition dedicated to the Birdman, a deity represented by the sooty tern (manutara) bird. The competition involved clansmen swimming to the nearby islet of Motu Nui, where the sooty terns nested. The first contestant to return to the main island with a tern's egg was declared the Birdman and honored by their clan. The cult focused on fertility and the concept of rebirth.
You'll hear these stories and more as you hike around Orongo. Your guide will also point out the many areas on the island where that abound with engraved stones, rock paintings, and sculptures depicting a deity with a man's body and a bird's beak. Another highlight of the tour is a visit to the nearby Vinapu archaeological site, which is characterized by large basalt slab towers.