This 10-day itinerary takes you from Chile's capital to two of its most dramatic and secluded destinations. After touring the modern metropolis of Santiago and visiting the colorful seaside towns of Valparaíso & Viña del Mar, change gears and set out towards one of the most remote islands on earth. Spend three days discovering the iconic monoliths and windswept beaches of Easter Island, then return to the mainland to end your trip among the breathtaking landscapes of the Atacama Desert.

Highlights

  • Tour the modern capital of Santiago de Chile
  • Visit the colorful seaside towns of Valparaíso & Viña del Mar
  • Discover the ancient wonders of Easter Island
  • Explore the lunar landscapes of the Atacama Desert

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Santiago de Chile Santiago
Day 2 Santiago de Chile City Tour Santiago
Day 3 Day Trip to Valparaíso & Viña del Mar Santiago
Day 4 Fly to Easter Island Easter Island
Day 5 Orongo Ceremonial Village, Rano Kau Volcano & Akivi Excursion Easter Island
Day 6 Free Day on Easter Island Easter Island
Day 7 Fly to San Pedro de Atacama, Gateway to the Atacama Desert San Pedro de Atacama
Day 8 Moon & Death Valley Excursion San Pedro de Atacama
Day 9 Free Day in San Pedro de Atacama - Optional Tatio Geyster Excursion San Pedro de Atacama
Day 10 Departure Day  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Santiago de Chile

Welcome to Chile!

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city at your leisure. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes, Chile's capital of Santiago is a modern and bustling metropolis with pockets of historic ambiance scattered throughout its historic center. Stroll the cobblestones of Barrio Bellavista, visit the 16th century Plaza de Armas, or hike to the top of Cerro San Cristobal for magnificent views.

For dinner be sure to get out of the hotel and enjoy a culinary adventure in the city. In recent years Santiago has emerged as a global foodie destination. Chilean chefs are reinventing traditional dishes like empanadas, cazuelas (stews), and seafood with ingredients harvested from the northern deserts and southern Patagonian regions. You can find great restaurants and wine bars not only in the Bellavista neighborhood but also in the revitalized historic barrios of Yungay and Italia.

Day 2: Santiago de Chile City Tour

Santiago's historic Plaza de Armas

Today is devoted to discovering Santiago on foot, with a half-day guided tour of the city's iconic sights. Along the way, you'll explore characterful old neighborhoods like Republica and Concha y Toro, learn about the city's origins and modern growth at the La Moneda Government Palace, and tour the grand Plaza de Armas, located in Santiago's historic center. Discover the incredible history within the four corners of this expansive stone plaza, founded back in 1541. Nearby sits the impressive Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church circa 1748, with towering twin bell towers dominating the north side of the plaza. Later on, continue to the eastern parts of the city to admire the modern buildings that have shaped a new and modern Santiago.

Day 3: Day Trip to Valparaíso & Viña del Mar

Discover the bohemian port of Valparaíso

Today, leave the capital on an excursion to central Chile's Pacific Coast and the seaside towns of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. Starting in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Valparaíso, explore this colorful metropolis known as the artistic and bohemian soul of the country. Filled with street art, music, and poetry, Valparaíso is a throwback to the turn of the 20th century, when electric trollies coasted along the waterfront and lurching funicular elevators carried passengers to the highest points in the city. No matter where you go, you can always find sweeping views looking out over the colorful houses to the Pacific Coast and the blanket of blue water running out to the horizon. 

After lunch, you'll continue to Viña del Mar, an upscale coastal resort city teeming with shopping complexes, commercial high-rises, boutiques, and well-manicured gardens. Its beaches and boulevards, surrounded by palm trees and beautiful parks, have earned it the name of Ciudad Jardin (Garden City) and it remains a popular weekend and holiday destination for the people of Santiago.

As your day at the seaside draws to a close, you'll be transferred back to your hotel in Santiago for the evening.

Day 4: Fly to Easter Island

Travel to the remote and mysterious Easter Island

Today you'll travel to the most remote inhabited land in the world: Rapa Nui, or Easter Island as it's commonly known. After breakfast, you'll transfer from your hotel to the airport where you'll catch a flight to the island. The flight time is three hours, so you'll arrive on Rapa Nui with most of the afternoon to spare. After transferring to your hotel and checking in, you can spend the remainder of the day exploring.

There are around 600 stone figures, or moai, on the island, some of which reach over 32 feet (10 m) in height. You’ll find many of them standing on the stone ahu (ceremonial pillars) that dot the island’s green hillsides. They were fashioned out of volcanic rock by the first settlers from Polynesia sometime after they arrived in 800 CE. The figures themselves represented deceased leaders of the five tribes that once inhabited the island and supposedly offered spiritual protection. Around the 16th century, the islanders exceeded their natural resources, and as a result of famine and war they tore down many of the idols, having believed them to have outlasted their usefulness.

By the 19th century Europeans, smallpox, and slavery arrived, wiping out some of the population while more emigrated to Tahiti to work on the plantations. Eventually, the population rebounded and Rapa Nui was annexed to Chile in 1888. Today locals are governed ostensibly under the oversight of a council of indigenous chiefs.

Some recommended activities on the island include:

  • Explore Hanga Roa. This is the main town on Easter Island. There are just over 3,000 residents here, which comprise 87% of the island's inhabitants. Hanga Roa has a small-town coastal vibe and you can find restaurants serving unique food like ceviche, empanadas stuffed with fresh tuna, po'e (a pumpkin and plantain cake), and taro ice cream. 
  • Visit the Museo Antropológico Sebastián Englert. For an intro to island life, come to this anthropological museum and view exhibits celebrating the indigenous patrimony, such as ancient tools, totems, and sculptures.
  • Take a hike outside of town to Ahu Tahai, a ceremonial altar that faces the ocean. You'll find some moai as well as caves nearby, and it also makes a great sunset-viewing spot.
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Day 5: Orongo Ceremonial Village, Rano Kau Volcano & Akivi Excursion

Learn about ancient local customs on today's excursion

Today you'll discover the cultures and traditions of Easter Island with two half-day tours to Orongo and Ahu Akivi.

After breakfast, travel a few minutes to the southwest corner of Rapa Nui and the remains of the village of Orongo. Located on the rim of an inactive volcano called Rano Kau, this area enjoys a special place in the island's history, as it was the principal site of what's known as the "Birdman" era. The cult of the Birdman took root in Rapa Nui in the 16th century, after locals gave up on the moai due to war and famine. 

The cult of the Birdman was also a contest. To appease their deity, called Meke-Meke, islanders would hold an annual competition to see who would be crowned the next chief. The contest involved a group of men swimming to two nearby islands and waiting until terns (seabirds) laid their first eggs of the season. Whoever returned with the first egg became chief for a year, also dubbed the Birdman. Orongo was the ceremonial village in which he was crowned. 

You will not only visit the village and the volcano but also a cave by the sea known as Ana Kai Tangata, where you can view petroglyphs fashioned by the ancient inhabitants of the island. 

The second tour takes you about a mile inland to visit Ahu Akivi. This remarkable site is home to seven moai, and in ancient times it doubled as a celestial observatory. In other words, this is where islanders came to stargaze. An interesting feature is that the seven moai all face sunset during the spring equinox, and their backs are to the sunrise during autumn. While here, you can visit the extinct volcano of Puna Pau, which served as the quarry for the red scoria stone which adorned the island's iconic statues.

Following the tours, you'll be transferred back to your hotel to spend the evening at your leisure.

Day 6: Free Day on Easter Island

Spend a day in paradise at Anakena Beach

Today is a free day to enjoy the island any way you'd like. If you're feeling active, there are opportunities for diving, snorkeling, and surfing. On land, explore the island's beauty by bike, foot, or horseback.

For some relaxation, spend a day at the beach at Anakena. It receives few visitors—especially in the morning since most tours arrive in the afternoon—so ff you're lucky you may enjoy this small bit of paradise all to yourself. 

In addition to its restored monuments, Ahu Ature Huki and Nau Nau, the beach is known for its warm water and pristine white sand—an inviting place to sunbathe and swim year-round. On the outskirts of the beach, there are two restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat. To spend your last day here, relaxing with the spiritual statues nearby, is a special experience.

Day 7: Fly to San Pedro de Atacama, Gateway to the Atacama Desert

This morning, a transfer takes you from your hotel to Easter Island's airport, where you'll catch a flight to Calama. Upon arrival in Calama, you'll be transferred to your hotel in San Pedro de Atacama. Located in the Antofagasta region of the high Chile arid plateau, this small town sits at the edge of the driest desert in the world. Its little adobe houses and cozy restaurants serve as a comfortable base to explore one of Chile’s most spectacular and dramatic landscapes.

Day 8: Moon & Death Valley Excursion

Discover the otherworldly landscapes of Moon and Death Valleys

Today you'll explore this remarkable region with a guided excursion into the nearby Moon and Death Valleys. Venture into the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountain Range) to reach the Valle de la Muerte (Valley of Death), a mountainous and sandy landscape of striking beauty, scattered with natural salt formations that resemble sculptures and works of art. Continue to the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) to admire its sand dunes and distinctive rock formations that have been shaped by thousands of years of wind and salt erosion, creating a remarkable lunar setting. End the tour with a colorful sunset from La Gran Duna (the Great Dune) before returning to San Pedro for the evening

Day 9: Free Day in San Pedro de Atacama - Optional Tatio Geysers Excursion

Sunrise over the Tatio Geysers

Spend today discovering San Pedro de Atacama at your own pace, or join an optional excursion to the magnificent Tatio Geysers. This tour has an early start, as you depart the hotel at 4 am for the 1.5-hour trip to one of the most important geothermal fields in the world. Getting a jump on the day will pay dividends as you're rewarded with the unforgettable sight of a sunrise over the Atacama Desert.

At an altitude of 4,320 meters (14,173 feet), the Tatio Geysers are the highest in the world, and 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 10 meters (30 feet). Along the scenic return drive, you can enjoy beautiful landscapes as well as native plants and wildlife, such as Andean feather grass, the tolares (shrublands), and vicuñas.

Day 10: Departure Day

Enjoy a final sunrise over the Atacama before catching your departing flight

Your Chilean adventure draws to a close today, as you're transferred to the Calama airport to catch your departing flight. ¡Buen viaje!

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