Chile & Easter Island

Ahu Tahai, Easter Island
Ahu Tahai, Easter Island
Ahu Tahai - the only Moai that still has eyes, Easter Island
Ahu Tahai - the only Moai that still has eyes, Easter Island
Moai at Rano Raraku, Easter Island
Moai at Rano Raraku, Easter Island
Atacama desert
Atacama desert
Hills of Valparaiso, Chile
Hills of Valparaiso, Chile
Plaza de las Armas square in Santiago, Chile
Plaza de las Armas square in Santiago, Chile
Plaza de las Armas square in Santiago, Chile
Plaza de las Armas square in Santiago, Chile
Peninsular in Arica City, Chile
Peninsular in Arica City, Chile
Moai at Hanga Roa, Easter Island
Moai at Hanga Roa, Easter Island
Moai at Hanga Roa, Easter Island
Moai at Hanga Roa, Easter Island
Lone standing Moai, Easter Island
Lone standing Moai, Easter Island
Anakena Beach, Easter Island
Anakena Beach, Easter Island
Plaza Prat with Opera House in Iquique city in the Atacama desert, Chile
Plaza Prat with Opera House in Iquique city in the Atacama desert, Chile
Humboldt penguins, you may see these on day 5 of our tour!
Humboldt penguins, you may see these on day 5 of our tour!
Authentic Chilean food
Authentic Chilean food
Chilean souvenirs
Chilean souvenirs
Abandoned building in the UNESCO World Heritage ghost town of Humberstone in Chile
Abandoned building in the UNESCO World Heritage ghost town of Humberstone in Chile
Derelict and rusting steam train in Humberstone, Chile
Derelict and rusting steam train in Humberstone, Chile
Church in San Pedro de Atacama
Church in San Pedro de Atacama
Ancient geoglyphs in the Azapa Valley
Ancient geoglyphs in the Azapa Valley

This is an adventure indeed - travelling across the globe with an international expert to see some of the most enigmatic rock art in the world, situated in vast and often remote landscapes. Doing so involves travelling down the coast of northern Chile and into the Atacama desert, before flying over the Pacific to a tiny speck of land - the iconic Easter Island.

We shall be discovering places seldom visited, which our ancestors chose to decorate with huge earth pictures and complex rock art. Some of the sites we see are simply extraordinary - their gigantic scale makes us ask why and for whom such things were created.

  • Discover extraordinary rock art amid lunar-like landscapes
  • Encounter the imposing Moai statues on the iconic Easter Island
  • Enjoy a memorable tour led by an expert on prehistoric rock art
  • Visit fascinating regional museums in a variety of destinations
  • Take full advantage of stunning beaches and vibrant cities

Themes

  • The New World
  • Rock Art
  • Prehistory
  • Cultural Excursion

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • Small Group
  • Low Single Supplement
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

We fly overnight to Santiago, landing in the morning of Day 2.

Day 2

Following our arrival to Santiago, Chile’s capital city since the colonial era, we make a short transfer to our comfortable hotel. This afternoon we have the option to simply relax and recover from our flight, or join a guided walk around Santiago’s many parks, winding streets and eclectic buildings, admiring the fusion of colonial, art deco, and neo-gothic styles. A thoroughly laid-back afternoon.

Day 3

Following breakfast we catch a morning flight to Arica, a seaside port and town in northern Chile, just a few miles south of the Peruvian border. Here we visit the San Miguel Archaeological Museum, home to the famous Chinchorro Mummies, preserved for several millennia by the dry heat of the desert. Modern analysis of the mummies has revealed them to be semi-nomadic people subsisting on the sea. Astonishingly, the oldest body predates the Egyptian mummies by some 3,000 years.

Later we cross the stark oasis of the Azapa Valley to view the spectacular rock art still visible on the stones: a vivid assortment of figures and animals.

Day 4

This morning our journey takes us through the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world according to studies by NASA. Parts of this region have never received even one drop of rain. We stop at Chiza and Tiliviche to see the sprawling human and llama geoglyphs here, thought to have been created as a guide to caravans descending from the mountains to the coast. We also visit the Ariquilda petroglyphs, where ‘backpacking’ figures can be seen.

We finish the day at the excellent Regional Museum in Iquique, where archaeological and anthropological collections feature two Chinchorro Mummies and an illuminating exhibition on the history of saltpeter extraction in northern Chile.

Day 5

Our morning starts with an atmospheric tour of the 'ghost town' of Humberstone, a former saltpeter mining town which was abandoned in 1960, and has since been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. A unique opportunity to peer back through the sands of time.

Later we visit El Gigante de Atacama, the largest prehistoric geoglyph of a human being in the world. This 119-meter high depiction of a deity dates from the first millennium AD, and would have been used as an early astronomical calendar.

To complete the afternoon we enjoy a boat trip into the Pacific from Iquique harbour, with the opportunity to spot pelicans, sea-lions and endangered Humboldt penguins.

Day 6

After breakfast we drive to Cerros Pintados to view geoglyphs scattered for miles along the hillsides. More than 450 figures have been discovered here, with over 60 restored so far; the largest collection of its kind in South America.

Once we have finished observing the numerous geometric shapes and figures here, we continue to San Pedro de Atacama, an oasis village surrounded by spectacular volcanic scenery – one of Chile’s most beloved destinations. Nearby geysers and bizarre rock formations add to the town’s other-worldly atmosphere.

Day 7

We have the morning to relax in San Pedro di Atacama, with the possibility of optional excursions.

Our afternoon is spent amongst the lunar landscapes of the Valle de la Luna, a colorful and textured valley containing unusual wind-carved formations, contorted caverns and dry lakes gleaming with salt.

Day 8

Today we take a thrilling off-road drive to the petroglyphs at Yerbas Buenas, located in Chile’s geographical center. More than 1,000 images are visible here, left by the Altacameno people, thought to date from roughly 10,000 years ago.

An afternoon flight to Santiago takes us out of the desert and back to the buzzing metropolis.

Day 9

We make our way over to Vina del Mar to visit the enthralling Museo de Arqueologico e Historia Francisco Fonck. The museum is an excellent taster of Easter Island archaeology, with its display of original island statues (moais) and ceramics – not to mention an unforgettable exhibit on the process of shrinking heads!

After lunch we embark on an informative walking tour of Valparaiso, a quirky town famed for its maze-like streets, vibrant colonial architecture, and richly artistic heritage. Not for nothing has this lively place been nicknamed the ‘Jewel of the Pacific’.

Day 10

The second section of our holiday begins as we fly across the ocean to enigmatic Easter Island, one of the most isolated locations on the planet.

Our explorations start with a preliminary walk around Hanga Roa, the island’s capital and harbor, as well as its only town. This calm and compact settlement is home to just over 3,000 islanders – approximately 87% of the entire population.

Day 11

Our first full day on Easter Island kicks off with a trip to our first moai at Ahu Tahai, where these monolithic human figures stand – one with its giant coral eyes replaced. Three ceremonial platforms remain on this site, which was restored by the late American archaeologist, Dr William Mulloy. He and his wife are both buried here.

We continue on to the nearby Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert to learn the story behind the moai and their discoverers. Here we see the only female moai to have been discovered, as well as an original moai eye.

Day 12

After breakfast we journey to the quarry at Rano Raraku, where many unfinished moai are still standing in situ. The site was in use until the 18th century, supplying stone for around 97% of the island’s moai over a timeframe of approximately 500 years. The biggest moai in existence lies here incomplete, and measures a staggering 21.6 meters from end to end.

Following this we visit the longest line of standing statues at Tongariki, the largest Ahu on the island, where we find the world’s heaviest erected moai, weighing in at an almost inconceivable 86 tons. Our day concludes with a viewing of the rock carvings at Papa Vaka. Here we see marine petroglyphs carved into the basalt, including a remarkable depiction of a squid.

Day 13

We continue to explore further moai sites around the south coast today. There is Ahu Vaihu, where the moai lie face down with broken necks; Akahanga, an unrestored platform near which the island’s first king is said to be buried; Hanga Tetenga, where tumbled statues rest amidst scattered rocks; Te Pito te Kura, the site of a bizarre magnetic stone as well as the largest moai to be transported from Rano Raraku; and, lastly, but by no means least, the detailed carved figures of Ahu Nau Nau.

Our afternoon is free to relax at Anakena Beach, with its palm-fringed white coral sands.

Day 14

We visit the quarry at Puna Pau this morning, an extinct volcano and source of the huge red cylindrical stone top-knots seen on the heads of many a moai. The rock here is soft and easy to carve, and given its color by a high iron content. A climb to the sides of the crater reward us with wonderful views of Hanga Roa.

Our next stop is the lava cave at Te Pahu, a tunnel thought to have been formed many thousands of years ago, during the last local lava spill. Its name translates to ‘the cave of the drum’, thanks to the vibrations that result from hitting or jumping over its extraordinary lava bark. We also pay a visit to Aku Akivi this afternoon. This celestial observatory was established in the 16th century, and its seven identical statues have been carefully placed to mark both spring and autumn equinoxes.

Day 15

We wake to explore Ana Kaitangata, the name of which translates to the 'cannibal cave'. Situated directly on the seafront, the cave contains beautiful images of sea birds. Though the practice of cannibalism at this site cannot be ruled out, no evidence for it has yet been found…

We continue to Rano Ka, a wide volcano within which lies a crater lake, as well as a fertile landscape nurturing figs and luscious vines. Here we visit the Orongo ceremonial village, perched magnificently on the crater’s edge, beside a sheer 300-meter cliff. Looking out across the water we see the offshore rock, Motu Island, final destination for competitors in the annual Birdman swimming race, the first prize of which was to govern Easter Island for a year.

We transfer to the airport this afternoon for our return flight to Santiago.

Day 16

Our last full day in the capital starts with a visit to the Museo de Arte Precolombino, which houses a world-class collection of Latin American antiquities. Begun by Chilean architect and antiques fanatic Sergio Larraín García-Moreno, many of the artefacts here have been selected specifically for their aesthetic qualities. Highlights include funereal masks and copper figures, as well as a 3,000-year old painted cloth from the prehistoric Chavin civilization.

We transfer to the airport for our afternoon flight home.

Day 17

We arrive home today.

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

We depart from London and fly to Santiago, landing in the morning of Day Two.

Day 2

Following our arrival in Santiago, Chile’s capital city since the colonial era, we make a short transfer to our comfortable hotel and enjoy a welcome lunch. This afternoon, we have the option to simply relax and recover from our flight, or join a guided walking tour around Santiago’s many parks, winding streets and eclectic buildings, admiring the fusion of colonial, art deco, and neo-gothic styles. This is the perfect opportunity to take in the culture and local atmosphere.

Day 3

Following breakfast we catch a morning flight to Arica, a seaside port and town in northern Chile, just a few miles south of the Peruvian border. Here we visit the San Miguel Archaeological Museum, home to the famous Chinchorro Mummies, preserved for several millennia by the dry heat of the desert. Modern analysis of the mummies has revealed them to be semi-nomadic people subsisting primarily on the sea's resources. Astonishingly, the oldest bodies predate the Egyptian mummies by some 3,000 years.

Later we cross the stark oasis of the Azapa Valley to view the spectacular rock art still visible on the hillsides, made with stones: a vivid assortment of figures and animals.

Day 4

This morning, our journey takes us through the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world according to studies by NASA. Parts of this region have never received even one drop of rain. We stop at Chiza and Tiliviche to see the sprawling human and llama geoglyphs here, thought to have been created as a guide to caravans descending from the mountains to the coast. We also visit the Ariquilda petroglyphs, where ‘backpacking’ figures can be seen.

Finally, we travel to our hotel in Iquique, stopping en-route to explore El Gigante del Atacama, the world’s largest prehistoric depiction of a human.

Day 5

We start our day with a boat trip into the Pacific from Iquique harbour, with the opportunity to spot pelicans, sea-lions and endangered Humboldt penguins. Next, we visit the excellent Regional Museum in Iquique, where archaeological collections feature two Chinchorro Mummies and an illuminating exhibition on the history of the saltpetre extraction in northern Chile.

After lunch, there is an atmospheric tour of the ‘ghost town’ of Humberstone, a former saltpetre mining town itinerary that was abandoned in 1960, and has since been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a unique opportunity to peer back through the sands of time.

Day 6

After breakfast, we drive to Cerros Pintados to view geoglyphs scattered for miles along the hillsides. More than 450 figures have been discovered here, with over 60 restored so far; the largest collection of its kind in South America.

Once we have finished observing the numerous geometric shapes and figures here, we visit Quillagua and its small museum before continuing to San Pedro de Atacama, an oasis village surrounded by spectacular volcanic scenery – one of Chile’s most beloved destinations. Nearby geysers and bizarre rock formations add to the town’s otherworldly atmosphere.

Day 7

Our morning is spent among the amazing lunar landscapes of the Valle de la Luna, which is a colourful and textured valley that contains unusual wind-carved formations, contorted caverns and dry lakes that gleam with salt.

The afternoon will be spent relaxing in San Pedro de Atacama, with the possibility of optional excursions. This Chilean village is small and peaceful while being vibrant and full of culture, and is a picturesque place to visit.

Day 8

Today we take a drive out to the petroglyphs at Yerbas Buenas, located within Chile’s geographical centre. More than 1,000 images are visible here, left behind by the Altacameno people, and they depict a variety of animals with a vast amount of llamas, as well as images of other livestock and foxes.

An afternoon flight to Santiago takes us out of the desert and returns us to the buzzing metropolis.

Day 9

We make our way over to Viña del Mar to visit the enthralling Museo de Arqueologia e Historia Francisco Fonck. The museum is an excellent taster of Easter Island archaeology, with its display of an original island statue (moai) and numerous artefacts and art objects – not to mention its exhibits from mainland Chile and an unforgettable exhibit on the process of shrinking heads!

After lunch we embark on an informative walking tour of Valparaiso, a quirky town famed for its maze-like streets, vibrant colonial architecture, and richly artistic heritage. This lively place been nicknamed the ‘Jewel of the Pacific’.

Day 10

The second section of our holiday begins as we fly across the ocean to enigmatic Easter Island, known as being one of the most isolated locations on the planet. Our explorations start with a preliminary walk around Hanga Roa, the island’s capital and harbour, as well as its only town. This calm and compact settlement is home to just over 3,000 inhabitants - approximately 87% of the entire population.

Day 11

Our first full day on Easter Island kicks off with a trip to our first statue-platforms at Ahu Tahai, where these monolithic human figures stand - one with its giant coral eyes replaced. Three ceremonial platforms remain on this site, which was restored by the late American archaeologist, Dr. William Mulloy. We continue on to the nearby Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert to learn the story behind the Moai and their discoverers. Here we see the only female moai to have been discovered, as well as an original moai eye. 

The afternoon is free for us to enjoy at our leisure.

Day 12

After breakfast we journey to the quarry at Rano Raraku, where many unfinished moai are still standing in situ. The site was in use until the 18th century, supplying stone for around 97% of the island’s moai over a timeframe of approximately 500 years. The biggest moai in existence lies here incomplete, and measures a staggering 21.6 metres from end to end.

Following this we visit the longest line of standing statues at Tongariki, the largest Ahu on the island. Our day concludes with a viewing of the rock carvings at Papa Vaka. Here we see marine petroglyphs carved into the basalt, including remarkable depictions of an octopus, a shark, and a giant canoe.

Day 13

We continue to explore further moai sites around the south coast today. There is Ahu Vaihu, where the moai lie face down with broken necks; Akahanga, an unrestored platform near which the island’s first king is said to be buried; Hanga Tetenga, where tumbled statues rest amidst scattered rocks; Te Pito te Kura, the site of a bizarre magnetic stone as well as the largest moai to be transported from Rano Raraku; and, lastly, but by no means least, the detailed carved figures of the royal platform of Ahu Nau Nau.

After a barbeque under coconut palms, our afternoon is free to relax at Anakena Beach, with its white coral sands

Day 14

This morning we head out to the restored moai in the harbour of Hanga Piko, and to Ana Kai Tangata (the name of which translates to the 'cannibal cave'), situated directly on the sea-front. We continue to Rano Kau, a wide volcano within which lies a crater lake, as well as a fertile landscape nurturing figs and luscious vines. Here we visit the Orongo ceremonial village, perched magnificently on the crater’s edge, beside a sheer 300-metre cliff. Looking out across the water we see the offshore islet of Motu Nui, final destination for competitors in the annual Birdman swimming race, the first prize of which was to rule Easter Island for a year. We then descend to the ruined platforms of Vinapu which feature the finest stonework on the island.

After lunch, we conclude our stay on the island by visiting Ahu Huri a Urenga (an inland platform with an astronomical orientation and a single moai with four hands); then the quarry at Puna Pau, an extinct volcano and source of the huge red cylindrical stone top-knots seen on the heads of many moai. The rock here is soft and easy to carve, and given its colour by a high iron content. A climb to the sides of the crater reward us with wonderful views of Hanga Roa.

Our next stop is Aku Akivi, another inland platform whose seven identical statues seem to have been carefully placed to mark both spring and autumn equinoxes. Finally, we walk to the lava cave at Te Pahu, a tunnel formed many thousands of years ago, during the last local lava spill.

Day 15

After a morning spent at leisure, we transfer to the airport where we catch our return flight to Santiago.

Day 16

Our last full day in this exciting capital begins with a visit to the Museo de Arte Precolombino, which houses a world-class collection of Latin American antiquities. Begun by Chilean architect and antiques fanatic Sergio Larraían García-Moreno, it displays many interesting artefacts that have been selected
specifically for their aesthetic qualities. Highlights here include Mapuche funeral carvings and an entire room of beautiful prehistoric textiles. The museum itself is situated within a distinguished building in central Santiago, which was once home to the colonial government’s Royal Customs House.

After poring over its vibrant collections, we make our way to the airport and catch our return flight back to London.

Day 17

We arrive in London today.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels
  8. Flights

Travel Information

Joining the Tour

For full information about how to join the tour, please click here.

Passport & Visa Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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Book now

To book your tour without flights from the US, please call our team on 888 331 3476

2018 Tour Details

Mon 12th November - Wed 28th November

Call for Availability

$10,840

inc.

London based departure

sgl supp: $1,060

CHI18A

Led By:

2019 Tour Details

Wed 23rd January - Fri 8th February

Call for Availability

$10,495

inc.

London based departure

sgl supp: $1,045

CHI19A

Led By: Dr Paul Bahn

Mon 11th November - Wed 27th November

Call for availability

$10,495

inc.

London based departure

sgl supp: $1,045

CHI19D

Led By: Dr Paul Bahn

Guide Lecturer

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