- See Santiago's colonial buildings and historic landmarks with a personal guide
- Marvel at the vast Atacama Desert on a private sunrise balloon ride
- Fly to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and uncover the secrets of its moai structures
- Stay in a series of modern and sustainable 5-star destination hotels
|Arrive in Santiago, Afternoon City Tour
|Fly to San Pedro de Atacama, Desert Tour
|San Pedro de Atacama
|Explore the Atacama Desert: Optional Activities
|San Pedro de Atacama
|Atacama Hot-Air Balloon Ride, Fly to Santiago
|Fly to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Optional Activities
|Rano Kau & Orongo Tour
|Sunrise Rapa Nui Tour, Fly to Santiago & Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Santiago, Afternoon City Tour
Welcome to Chile! While this long, narrow nation is globally famous for the unspoiled Patagonia region that occupies its south, there are other natural (and human-made) wonders here. This brisk itinerary focuses on some Chilean highlights that will take you a bit off the tourist trail in the north and far off into the Pacific. However, the adventure begins with some metropolitan fun in the capital of Santiago.
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 private tour. Meet your personal guide and head out on a three-hour jaunt 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 La Moneda, Chile's opulent presidential palace. To end the day, hike (or ride a gondola) up Cerro San Cristóbal, a 984-foot (300 m) hill that offers exceptional panoramic views.
Day 2: Fly to San Pedro de Atacama, Desert Tour
Meet your driver early and 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 Domeyko Cordillera, where flaming red mountains create the base of 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.
You can rest later because as soon as you drop off your bags, you'll meet your driver/guide for a private, 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 3: Explore the Atacama Desert: Optional ActivitiesAfter breakfast, coordinate with the hotel to create the ideal private Atacama Desert tour. From the salt flat basin near the hotel, 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 4: Atacama Hot-Air Balloon Ride, Fly to Santiago
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Rise and shine! It's another early start as you head outside of town before dawn to a launch site for this morning's private 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 5: Fly to Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Optional Activities
Leave mainland Chile this morning 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 6: Rano Kau & Orongo Tour
Eat a hearty breakfast because afterward, you're off on a full-day private 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 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.