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Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • Local English-speaking guides in Chile, plus knowledgeable English-speaking guides on Easter Island
  • Good standard hotel accommodation on a twin share basis
  • Internal flights between Santiago and Calama (the Atacama) and Santiago and Easter Island
  • All domestic aiport transfers
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • Single, timed, group airport transfers for international flights on arrival and departure
  • All other transfers as per the itinerary
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • All breakfasts and 10 lunches included
  • Sightseeing and activities as specified
  • Entry fees to national parks
  • The option of joining one of our pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds
  • A free Mountain Kingdoms Water-to-Go bottle or a free Mountain Kingdoms fleece

Easter Island & the Atacama Desert

Walking & Trekking

Chile | Walking & Trekking

Easter Island & the Atacama Desert
Moderate

Suitable for anyone who enjoys hill walking.

Find out more...

Grade: Moderate ? Moderate
Duration:  17 days from the UK  
Walks on: 8 days

Flight inclusive from £6,145,
Land only from £5,150

Book now or call 01453 844400

A thorough exploration of Easter Island on foot combined with some of the best walking trails of the Atacama Desert.

Highlights

  • Walk some of the best salt flats and geyser trails of the Atacama
  • Tour of an observatory and gaze at some of the clearest night skies in the world
  • Make a thorough walking tour of Easter Island to see the mystical Moai and other historic and scenic sights
  • Hear the history and debate the legends with knowledgeable English-speaking guides
  • Enjoy Chile’s laid back capital of Santiago
  • Stay in charming, well-located hotels

Reviews          

This was a wonderful trip full of amazing experiences from the salt flats and steaming geysers of the Atacama to the iconic statues (moai) of Easter Island. Our special interest in wildlife and especially birds was well catered for with four species of camelid and three species of flamingo in the Atacama along with sightings of vizcachas near the Tatio geysers and Fabian's lizard which is only...
Mr H, East Sussex

The two locations are very different, but have in common that they both have a haunting atmosphere and neither is very crowded. Where Mountain Kingdoms really score is by offering longer than the standard 3 day trip to Easter Island and, although it is a small island, there are plenty of good walks and fascinating archaeological sites to explore. The walking was not strenuous and there was a lot...
Mr Johns, UK

A superb combination/contrast in this two centre trip, really well paced and giving time to explore both places well.
Mr B, London

Well organised and good itineraries. In each destination there were days when we did not see other tourists.
Mr & Mrs S, Northumberland

I remember reading Thor Hyerdahls book Aku Aku when I was about 14 years old. I thought it was the best book I’d ever read and it left an indelible impression on me. Later I saw a re-run of Thor Hyerdahls Kon Tiki film and I promised myself that one day I would visit Easter Island. It did not disappoint, it is a stunningly beautiful island and the mystery still remains.
Managing Director, Steve Berry

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This thrilling adventure gives you the chance to explore two incredible regions - the lagoons, salt lakes and canyons of the Atacama Desert and the enigmatic landscapes and Moai statues of Easter Island.

The Atacama Desert, and within it the oasis town of San Pedro, is one of the driest places on earth. The Atacama landscape is characterized by high altitude desert, volcanoes, salt lakes, lagoons, hot springs, strange rock formations and sand dunes. Famous natural landmarks include Licancabur Volcano, Valle de la Luna, the Tatio Geysers and the Atacama Salt Flat. Atacama also has a lot of indigenous culture and pre-Colombian archaeological relics which have been perfectly preserved by the dryness and minerals.

During your visit to the desert you will encounter some fantastic desert trekking, exploring beautiful canyons and altiplano with far reaching views of snow-capped volcanoes. You will also learn about the surprising variety of flora and fauna that is found in this region together with an insight into the culture of its ancient inhabitants, through the amazing rock art. The brilliant clear sky makes Atacama a famous place for star gazing and the desert contains many international astronomical observatories. The low moisture content and lack of light pollution makes it one of the best places in the world to view the night skies.

After a week in the Atacama, you then fly, via Santiago, to Easter Island where you have six full days to experience all that this unique destination has to offer. Whereas, most visitors to Easter Island only stay for a couple of days - just enough to photograph the main Moai sites - you will have almost six full days to undertake a really in-depth exploration of the island. Starting with a walking tour of the attractive harbourside town of Hanga Roa, you then head deep into the island, visiting many extraordinary Moai sites as well as the quarry where the statues were originally carved. You will also enjoy walks to lava-tube caves, volcanoes and an abandoned crater-rim village as well as a good long hike along the island’s rugged northern coastline. Throughout, you will be accompanied by an expert guide who will give you a real insight into the fascinating history and geology of the island as well as the intriguing mysteries of the giant Moai heads and the Rapa Nui people. Along with your guided walks and excursions you‘ll also have free time to relax at your attractive waterfront hotel or try out some of the locally available activities such as horse riding, cycling or scuba diving.

Finally you fly back to Santiago with time to reflect on your thrilling adventure discovering two of the world’s most beautiful and remarkable places.


At a glance

Grade: Moderate
Moderate

Duration:  17 days from the UK  
Walks on: 8 days

Max. Altitude: 4,300m/14,108ft, Salar de Quisquiro, Day 7

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 5 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Santiago

Accommodation types: Hotels

Meal arrangements: Bed and Breakfast in Santiago. While on the Atacama trek breakfasts and lunches are included. On Easter Island all breakfasts are included and all picnic lunches for day walks are provided. There are very many excellent restaurants in Hanga Roa where you can enjoy your evening meal.

Itinerary overview
Day Activity
1-2
Fly to Santiago. Afternoon city tour.
3
Fly to Calama. Drive to San Pedro. Walk in Kari Canyon.
4
Trek the Rainbow Valley and Yerbas Buenas. Evening visit to an observatory.
5
Walk around Menique and Miscanti lagoons. Visit Atacama Salt Flats.
6
Visit the Taito Geysers and walk in the Guatin Valley.
7-8
Walk in the Salar de Quisquiro salt flats. Fly to Santiago.
9
Fly to Easter Island. Walking tour of Hanga Roa town.
10
Visit several key Moai sites and Anakena beach.
11
Walk from Ana Kai Tangata to Rano Kau crater and continue to Orongo village. Afternoon at leisure.
12
Visit Ahu Akivi and walk to Terevaka volcano.
13
Visit Tongariki. Walk to Poike volcano.
14
Walk from Ahu Tepeu along the northern coastline and on to Anakena beach for a barbecue.
15
Fly to Santiago. Transfer to hotel. Rest of day free.
16-17
Fly to London.
Leader: Local Leader, Easter Island
Local Leader, Easter Island

There are a number of English speaking guides on the island, including Hugo and Christian. Both have a great interest in the Island's history and love sharing their wealth of knowledge with fellow trekkers. 

Leader: Local Leader, Atacama Desert
Local Leader, Atacama Desert

In mainland Chile, we use expert, English-speaking local guides who have an intimate knowledge of the area and an infectious passion for nature. They are very hard-working, attentive and helpful.


Easter Island & the Atacama Desert Itinerary

  1. Day 1 - Depart London.

    Fly overnight from London to Santiago.

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  2. Day 2 - Arrive Santiago. Group transfer to hotel. Afternoon city tour.

    Today you arrive in Santiago, 520m/1,706ft, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel for a rest and freshen up. You will then have a briefing from your guide. In the afternoon there will be a city tour which begins with you being picked-up from the hotel and taken downtown to Mercado Central. This well-renowned market, popular with locals and tourists alike, supplies many Santiago homes and businesses with fresh fish all year round. Next to the market is Plaza de Armas, Santiago’s main square and kilometre zero, the point from which all distances in the country are measured. Famous architecture in the square includes the Metropolitan cathedral and the central post office, originally built as a house for Spanish conqueror Pedro de Valdivia. Close by stands the Justice Tribunal, in a neo-classical building housing the Supreme Court and ex-Congress.

    From here you walk towards the Alameda, the main street of the city centre, via the busy pedestrian walkway Paseo Ahumada. This walkway is famous for its crowds, shops, and diversity of people. Once you reach the Alameda you walk a couple of blocks west to the Presidential palace, La Moneda. The palace, a model of 18th century colonial architecture, is one of Santiago’s most recognisable landmarks and a symbol of Chile’s political past and its famously turbulent history.

    Next you climb Cerro Santa Lucía, where Santiago was founded in 1541 by Pedro Valdivia. From the top of the hill there is a great 360° panoramic view of Santiago. Your tour finishes by visiting the bohemian Lastarria neighbourhood, lined with cafés, restaurants, small theatres, bookstores and boutique shops. Afterwards you will be driven to your hotel.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Torre Mayor, Santiago
  3. Day 3 - Fly to Calama - 2 hours. Drive to San Pedro, 2,400m/7,874ft. Kari Canyon walk - 2 hours.

    Upon arrival at Calama Airport, 2,299m/7,543ft, you are driven straight to San Pedro de Atacama, past the impressive rock formations of the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountains). Once in San Pedro you check into your hotel, where you can have a short rest before it's time for the first excursion in the vast desert ripples of Kari Canyon. You will drive 20 minutes to a viewpoint where you can look out over the majestic Cordillera de la Sal and the huge sand dunes leading to Kari Canyon. From here you will begin your moderate hike (3.5km, approx 2 hours) initially along a rocky plateau before dropping down a small rocky climb onto the magnificent sand dunes which you then walk along before descending into the Kari canyon. The canyon set at 2,550 m altitude, is an old dried riverbed with beautiful rock formations, grottos and caverns.

    At the bottom you meet you vehicle and after a short drive you will arrive at a lookout point where you will witness one of the world's most beautiful sunsets over Moon Valley, intensified by the warm colours of the sand dunes stretching out to the horizon.

    Overnight iconOvernight: La Casa De Don Tomás Or Similar, San Pedro
  4. Day 4 - Trek the Rainbow Valley and Yerbas Buenas. Evening visit to observatory.

    Today you will trek into one of the canyons and valleys of the desert. Following a short transfer you will start by crossing rocky, scrubby ground on a wide jeep track very rarely actually used by vehicles. After climbing a small hill the effort is rewarded by the fantastic view down into Rainbow Valley. This is aptly named due to its spectacular rocks and cliffs eroded into spiky shapes and in all shades and colours, including beautiful greens, purples, browns and blues. A place to linger and enjoy the marvels of nature. From here you transfer a short way past the village of Yerbas Buenas, 3,000m/9,840ft, and on to the site of the rock art. Here you will visit the site of some pre-Columbian ruins featuring over a thousand ancient stone carvings from the ancient "atacameño" people. They have been created over the time period from the first caravaners to the Incas. Your guide will be able to help interpret the meanings of the messages and drawings, which include local animals such as llamas and flamingos

    Returning to San Pedro you will have time to relax and have dinner before being taken on a guided astronomical tour at one of the local observatories to view the stars and planets through one of the impressive telescopes. The tour starts with an introduction to the night sky by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide and you will then have the chance to gaze at the incredibly clear skies found here in the desert.

    Walk distance: 12 km. Max altitude 3,100m/10,170ft. Min altitude 2,400m/7,874ft.

    Overnight iconOvernight: La Casa De Don Tomás Or Similar, San Pedro
  5. Day 5 - Walk around Menique and Miscanti lagoons - 1-2 hours. Visit Atacama Salt Flats.

    A drive of around 2 hours brings you to the lagoons of Miscanti and Meniques considered to be one of the undisputed highlights of the region. From the parking spot you are greeted by a spectacular mountainous landscape with high snowy peaks of over 5,000m surrounding the lagoons.

    These lagoons are home to a variety of local fauna and are full of turquoise which creates a truly incredible landscape, creating an unforgettable memory of the region. The mountains are reflected in the still waters as you walk down to the Miscanti lagoon. This is a protected area where the rare horned coot nests and you are only allowed to walk on the pathways. As you walk on to Miñiques you might see herds of Vicunas grazing on the clumps of yellow grass growing here, a particular favourite of these protected animals.

    You will continue in the vehicle to Laguna Chaxa, a national reservation in the middle of the Atacama Salt Flat, home to beautiful Chilean, Andean and the rare James flamingos. There are also many other wading birds e.g. avocets and plovers feeding here in these salt lakes. The salt flat measures 100km x 50km and the ground is in shades of grey/brown/white due to the salt crystals which have formed into twisted shapes. The salt grass growing here is the only plant which can exist in such a harsh environment. Walking from the information centre you can marvel at this unique landscape and beautiful bird life.

    On the return drive you may, if time, stop at Socaire, a small village with an interesting 200 year old church.

    Overnight iconOvernight: La Casa De Don Tomás Or Similar, San Pedro
  6. Day 6 - Visit the Tatio Geysers. Walk in the Guatin Valley.

    Today starts with a drive of around 2 hours to visit the celebrated Tatio Gesyers. These are some of the highest geysers in the world and it is the third-largest geyser site on Earth, with over 80 active geysers. By arriving just after the vast sunrise crowds have dispersed the gesyers can be appreciated in sunlight at a more relaxed pace. It is also a more pleasant temperature, as situated at an altitude of 4,300 m it is a very chilly experience before sunrise! The geothermic field is truly incredible, from almost 900 meters below the earth, boiling steam bursts up to 40 meters above the surface of the earth. In this area it is typical to find wild vicuñas, an endangered Andean camelid that are highly protected in Chile and were rescued from the verge of extinction thirty years ago.

    Having explored the geyser area you then return to your vehicle and drive, via San Pedro, to the beautiful Guatin Valley. Here you will discover a great variety of distinctive desert flora and a landscape of rock, sand and rivers. Your walk here begins beside a forest of giant cacti called Cardon, which abound in the area, before reaching the point where the Puritama and Purifica rivers merge to form the Vilama River. As one of the rivers comprises warm thermal waters and the other cold snow melt from the mountains, they combine to create a unique source of life that supports the delicate ecosystem of the valley. You continue walking through the valley along a rocky trail by small waterfalls, observing the unusual and interesting vegetation on the way which is endemic to the region. At the end of your walk you will have captivating views of the valley.

    Overnight iconOvernight: La Casa De Don Tomás Or Similar, San Pedro
  7. Day 7 - Walk at Salar de Quisquiro salt flats.

    In the morning you depart from your hotel and drive towards the Salar de Quisquiro. On the journey you will pass by the fertile plains fed by the Quepiaco River where the contrasting landscape of mountains and lush vegetation generates the ideal habitat for a great variety of birdlife.

    Your first stop will be at the striking rock formation called the 'Monks of Pacana'. Over the years, these giant vertical stones have been eroded and carved by the elements to supposedly resemble the silhouette of monks.

    Already acclimatised to the altitude you will soon arrive at the high mountain salt flat of Salar de Quisquiro, situated at 4,300m above sea level and very close to the border with Argentina and Bolivia. This stunning region has a rich biosystem that shelters numerous varieties of flora and fauna that make it an incredible place to walk, explore and take photographs. You will enjoy lunch and a hike on the salt flats before returning to San Pedro de Atacama and your final evening in this remarkable part of Chile.

    Overnight iconOvernight: La Casa De Don Tomás Or Similar, San Pedro
  8. Day 8 - Free morning. Fly to Santiago.

    The morning is free to relax or explore the village, visit its cafes, handicraft shops and church. You can try a local restaurant for your lunch before the transfer to the airport and the flight back to Santiago.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Torre Mayor, Santiago
  9. Day 9 - Fly to Easter Island. Museum visit and guided walking tour of Hanga Roa town including Ahu Tahai.

    A short transfer to Santiago airport for the 5 hour 10 minute flight to Easter Island. Taking off there are good views of the Andes and their foothills stretching out to the coast. Excitement builds as you approach the island which you overfly and then turn back to drop slowly on one of the longest runways in the world. It was built and the length increased by the Americans to act as an emergency landing site for the space shuttle. Already you will notice a relaxed laid back atmosphere as you walk through the large low airport building. Drive the short distance to hotel O’Tai for your first briefing and welcome lunch.

    In the afternoon you will drive to the museum for a guided tour followed by a walking tour of the town including the cemetery, church, the ceremonial complex of Ahu Tahai and other places of interest. The town of Hanga Roa really feels like a south sea island. It is very green with lots of tropical plants, flowers, palm trees and wide roads with low buildings. There are shops, cafes, restaurants, the harbour where you will find the dive centres, and the catholic church which sits at the top of the town. Anchored off the harbour are usually a few yachts whose owners must have sailed across the Pacific to get there! The town contains many fine wooden carvings and it is interesting to note that the bird man symbol is incorporated into many of the figures (you will hear more about the bird man culture on your 3rd day on Easter Island).

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel O'Tai, Easter Island
  10. Day 10 - A full day tour to include Tahai Ahu, Vaihu, Rano Raraku quarry, Pito Kura and Anakena beach.

    After your first of many great breakfasts at the hotel your minibus will pick you up and drive the short distance to Aku Tahai where you will see your first proper Moai and begin to hear something of their history and some of the theories. Firstly, it is thought that they were erected in a form of ancestor worship and having been brought from the quarries all the way over to their final resting place they were then erected on the stone platforms called ahus. The main construction probably started around 1,100 or 1,200 AD and building probably continued into the 1600’s when it is thought that warfare broke out between the various tribes. Probably the various tribes knocked each others statues over. It is thought that the statues were built on their ahus facing inland and facing the villages that they were supposed to protect. The Rapa Nui people felt that the power of their ancestors resided in these statues and therefore protected their individual villages.

    In any event at Aku Tahai the fallen statues have been re-erected, by the American archaeologist William Mulloy between 1968 and 1970, and you will see that one has been given eyes. Apparently many of the statues did indeed have eyes and this was not known for a long time. 18 sets of eyes were found and others have been identified in museums around the world. The eyes were designed just to sit in the eye sockets. They were made of coral and the centre made of the same red stone as the statues hats. You now drive on to Vaihu which is about 10km from Hangaroa and is a classic example of an ahu where all the statues have been knocked over and have been left as they were. Here you can see some of the hats that have rolled off the fallen statues and lie scattered around. Here you can see that the hats are made from a completely different stone, reddish in colour, and much lighter than the statues themselves. It was therefore easier for them to put the hats on top of the erected statues, although quite how they did this is still debated.

    Next you are going to move on to one of the highlights of the Island is the main quarry where the statues were carved. This is called Rano Raraku. When conflict finally broke out on the island the carving of the statues was abandoned and the quarry at Rano Raraku is an extraordinary place. Here there are dozens of finished statues already on their way towards their resting places but left abandoned. There are also dozens and dozens of statues in various stages of carving in the rock face itself. The quarry is located in the south east end of the island and it is from here that there are a whole series of “roads” that criss cross the island, and which must have been used to transport the statues to their ahus.

    There are something like 400 moai in various stages of development. It is all a very strange sight, particularly because most of the statues that had started their journeys have sunk deep into the ground so that only the heads are left visible. You might wonder how the statues were carved when there was no metal on the island and the answer to this apparently is that chisels and hammers were made from a much harder obsidan rock found elsewhere on the island. The much softer volcanic tuff rock that the statues are made of were therefore carved with the flints made from shards of obsidan.

    Some of the largest statues on the island are here at Rano Raraku there is in fact the largest moai on the island at the highest part of the walking route around the quarry. It is 21m long and the head alone is 7m. It Is estimated to weigh more than 200 tons. There will be plenty of time to hear lots of the amazing stories from the guide and wander around the site and look at the ranger station at the foot of the quarry. You will have a picnic lunch at Rano Raraku.

    From Rano Raraku you now move on to Pito Kura. This site has the largest Moai ever transported from Rana Raraku and erected on a platform. The Moai is almost 10m tall and now lies face down with its top knot next to it. On this site there is another mystery. There is a very large round stone almost like an egg which is magnetised. Place a compass near it and the needle goes crazy. The legend is that the first king of the island Hotu Matua brought it with him from Polynesia. Apparently there are other magnetised stones in other parts of the island.

    Lastly, you proceed to Anakena beach which is some 18km from Hanga Roa. This is Easter Island’s main beach and is an absolutely idyllic place fringed with palm trees and a very nice place to hang out at the end of a fascinating day. Snack lunch.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel O'Tai, Easter Island
  11. Day 11 - Trek to Rano Kau crater, 384m/1,260ft, and continue to Orongo village. Afternoon free.

    It is a short drive to Ana Kaitangata. This literally means “man eating cave” and certainly there are legends about cannibalism on the island. The roof of the cave has some very interesting paintings. Unfortunately the cave may be closed due to a collapse, but your guide will tell you some good local stories before you set off on your walk.

    You will now start the walk up to the crater of Rano Kau and following that the village of Orongo. The path you are following is called Arao Te Ao (the path of power). This starts at the top of the cliff above the cave and leads you through eucalyptus trees and past the National Park office (CONAF). Here they are doing lots of useful work on re-forestation. After about 45minutes you come to the end of the eucalyptus trees and looking back can see the runway. You now walk up slowly through lush vegetation to the view point of Mirador Rano Kao. It takes between an hour and an hour and a half to reach the view point. Looking down into the crater it is almost circular and the circumference of the crater is some 1,650m. At the bottom of the crater is a lake/swamp where rainwater collects and vegetation grows and floats on the water. The original settlers apparently planted oranges, apples, taro, yam, sweet potato, and wild grapes on the banks of the crater. In fact the grapes may have come with the first Catholic priests. There are also medicinal plants grown at the bottom. The height at the top of the rim is some 384m/1,260ft above sea level.

    Having admired the incredible view you then walk along the rim of the crater to visit Orongo village. This occupies a precarious position on the top of the crater rim with 300m cliffs plunging down into the Pacific on one side and the steep slope dropping into the crater on the other. It is thought that Orongo was never occupied as a permanent place of residence but rather was used only for ceremonies. Eventually a cult emerged here in the late 17th century called Tangata Manu (bird man) which worshiped the Make-Make God. This new religion, which superseded the old ancestor worship, was based on the bird man competition. Each year the chiefs of the island either took part themselves or sent their best warriors to take part in the bird man competition. If you now look out to sea you will see the 3 islands of Motu Kao-Kao, Motu Iti and Motu Nui. The latter is the largest island and it was here that the Easter Island seagull appeared every year to lay its eggs. The object of the competition was to descend the dangerous cliffs and swim to the island and wait there until the first eggs had been laid. An egg then had to be carried while the contestant swam back, climbed the cliff and delivered the first unbroken egg to the king, who was waiting at the village of Orongo.

    There are 53 houses which were largely reconstructed in 1974 by the archaeologist William Malloy and a group of islanders. Because of its location there were no Moai here. However it was from here that in 1868 the crew of the English ship Topaze took the famous Moai called Hoa Hakananai’a which is currently on display in the British Museum in London. It is in fact 2.5m high and unlike most of the Moai was carved out of basalt. On its back are carved figures representing the bird man and its rituals. In fact in many places on the island there are bird man figures carved onto the rocks. Your guide may well show you some of these as you explore Easter Island. Look out for the birthing stone which is very interesting in the village.

    After this you visit the very interesting Orongo visitor centre and have a picnic lunch on the edge of the crater. You will then return by car from the visitor centre to the hotel. Afternoon free to “do your own thing” and perhaps explore a bit more of the town of Hanga Roa.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel O'Tai, Easter Island
  12. Day 12 - Drive to Vaitea. Walk to Terevaka, 511m/1,676ft. Descend to Ahu Akivi. Return to town. Lunch and afternoon at leisure.

    Today you will drive to Vaitea, formerly a settlement of the English sheep company Williamson Balfour who operated their business, growing sheep and sending the hides to the Chilean continent, on Rapa Nui.

    You will start your walk up to the summit of the extinct volcano of Maunga Terevaka from here. You first walk through a forested area until you come out into the wide open slopes leading to the summit of Maunga Terevaka. On the way you visit the actual crater of the volcano and a Hibiscus cave. Having reached the summit of Terevaka, you are now standing on the highest point of the island at 511m/1,676ft, and from here you have a full 360 degree view of the island. It is very interesting to be able to see the other two main volcanoes situated on the western and eastern points of the island's triangle and in addition to appreciate about 75 secondary volcanic cones that cover the island.

    The Ahu of Akivi is unusual because it is one of the few platforms which were build inland with its statues looking out to the west towards the setting sun. The statues and platform were restored by American archaeologist William Molloy and the Chilean Gonzalo Figueroa between 1960 and 1961. The statues are of a very similar style and it is thought that they may have been carved around the same time. Your guide may tell you the fantastic and amazing oral tradition of the priest Haumaka who lived on an island named Hiva, somewhere in French Polinesia, supposedly related to the Marquesas. He had a dream that because of the situation at Hiva it might be necessary to send embarcations to another island. He convinced his king to send 7 explorers in a boat laden with provisions to find Rapa Nui and prepare it for him and his people. Having found the island they planted crops and trees and then returned to Hiva in order to bring Hotu Matua together with his sister Avareipua with their people to their new home. The oral tradition tells us that the 7 Moais at Akivi represent the 7 explorers who first landed on Rapa Nui.

    Returning to town lunch will be provided in a local restaurant. The afternoon is free time.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel O'Tai, Easter Island
  13. Day 13 - Visit Tongariki. Trek to Poike.

    Fewer people visit this end of the island but the walk is very interesting. There are some fascinating sites and even more amazing legends.

    First though you take the bus to visit Tongariki. This is the largest and most impressive Ahu on the island with 15 standing statues. Each Moai is very different and it is thought that they represented specific individual ancestors. The restoration work carried out between 1993 and 1996 was based on drawings made by the famous British archaeologist, Katherine Routledge who spent 17 months on the island in 1914. She and her husband commissioned the building of a special sailing boat and then sailed all the way to Easter Island from the UK. Incidentally it is well worth reading of her adventures in her book “The Mystery of Easter Island”.

    It is a short drive from Tongariki turning right onto a rough road to reach a single house from where you start the trek to Poike the oldest volcano on the island at 10 million years old. Poike was the territory of the Long Ear people and legend has it that this was where they were all killed in a battle with the Short Ears. Apparently they had built a ditch across the “neck” of the island, filled it with wood and set fire to it. However, the Short Ears crossed at the other end unseen by the Long Ears, climbed Poike and fell upon the warriors below who they then threw into the burning ditch, all except one man who was allowed to live.

    It is quite hard work walking to the top of the volcano through long grasses and takes about an hour and a half to reach the summit at a height of 410m/1,345ft. Here there is a crater choked with trees and on the rim an aerial and a solar panel. From the summit you now descend to 2 further volcanic cones Maungu Teatea, and Maungu Parehe. Just below the summit of Poike is a Moai which is said to be one of the oldest on the island, thought perhaps to date from 800 AD. There are carvings on the rocks of the first volcanic cone, including a large head whose open mouth was used to collect rainwater. Just below the 3rd volcanic cone is the edge of some very precipitous cliffs. Thor Hyerdahl explored some of the caves in the cliffs by abseiling down. Here there is another very old head next to a substantial Ahu. These smaller volcanic cones are made from a white coloured rock which was used to make the only female Moai. There are thoughts that there may have been 10 female Moai as there were 10 queens in the early part of their history. One is in the museum, one is buried (for protection against the elements) and one is at Vinapu.

    You will now cross a pass between the 2 smaller volcanic cones and return to the bus by walking along an old 4 x 4 track.

    Poike was the territory of the Long Ear people and legend has it that this was where they were all killed in a battle with the Short Ears. Apparently they had built a ditch across the “neck” of the island, filled it with wood and set fire to it. However, the Short Ears crossed at the other end unseen by the Long Ears, climbed Poike and fell upon the warriors below who they then threw into the burning ditch, all except one man who was allowed to live.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel O'Tai, Easter Island
  14. Day 14 - Trek the northern coast line to Anakena beach.

    All the day walks that you have done to this point will have been good preparation for the long hike along the northern coastline. This can be 6 -7 hours or 7 - 8 hours depending on how many things you stop to look at! Don’t forget to take plenty of drinking water as it can be a long hot day and there is no water to be had on the way.

    The minibus will take you out to Ahu Tepeeu. It is located 8km from Hangaroa and was at some point a large village. There has been no restoration and very few visitors make the effort to go but it is a good place to learn something of the agricultural way of life of the original inhabitants. For instance there are several manavais – stone circles in which crops were grown to protect them from the elements. You will also see the remains of some elliptical houseboat dwellings. Original village houses were built in the shape of upturned boats, and in many of the places you visit along the coast you will see the clear stone foundations of these houses. The foundation stones are set in the ground with drilled holes. Branches were then inserted into the holes, bent over, and laced together and thatched. Your trek starts from Ahu Tepeu and after 20 minutes you come to an unnamed Ahu where there is a burial chamber and more circular agricultural enclosures. Occasionally you will see lying on the ground shards of obsidian that they used as cutting tools. Look out for hollowed stones – used for collecting water. Ten minutes beyond here there is a conical border marker called a Pipi Horeko. Often it was forbidden to cross such a border and the ancestors spirits (or Aku Aku) might kill somebody for such a transgression. Beyond here there is another Ahu which shows a burial tomb inside. After about an hour from the start of the trek you come to some large rocks and small caves, from here you can see the main town in the distance. Your guide may show you the round stone towers that people built to watch the stars. There is a small tunnel hole at the bottom of the towers that you could crawl though and then lie on your back to watch the stars through the top of the tower.

    You will see in parts of the walk areas where there are many caves and throughout the day you will come across ancient Ahu all with fallen Moai. Some of them are built right on the edge of cliffs and the foundation stones are very reminiscent indeed of Inca workmanship. In some places you will walk up what must have been the roads that bought the Moai to the villages. Today you will see lots of ‘wild horses’. They are owned by locals but roam free. There are lots of hawks on the island and other interesting bird life.

    After about 2 hours you come to a boat house next to an Ahu, next to a cave, next to a stream (dry). 10 minutes later you arrive at a cairn on a big pile of rocks where the path is well defined. After 3 hours from the start you come to a solitary eucalyptus tree by the path. Descend from here a steep long slope to a flattish area with some fantastic boat houses (4 or 5 of them), an Ahu with fallen statues, a chicken house in the shape of a big boat and a huge burial chamber that is perfectly built with a separate entrance.

    Half an hour on from here there is a cave with petroglyphs, Hanga Omohi. By now you are turning the corner of the coastline and after another 15 minutes you come to 3 or 4 Ahu like burial tombs and another Tupa tower for looking at stars. After about 6 – 7 hours you come to a lone palm tree and soon after that there is a track to follow with views of Anakena beach in the distance. This is your final destination point and a wonderful place to end your walk.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel O'Tai, Easter Island
  15. Day 15 - Fly to Santiago. Time at leisure.

    With great sadness and with perhaps the forlorn hope that you might return one day it is time to leave the island. With so much information and so many theories that you have absorbed you will undoubtably want to read more on the subject in years to come. When you get back to the UK you might wonder if it all really did happen or whether it was a dream.

    You now transfer for the 5 hour flight back to Santiago. Rest of the day free to do as you please.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Hotel Torre Mayor, Santiago
  16. Day 16 - Fly to London.
    easter island and atacama desert tongariki skb.

    After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to London.

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  17. Day 17 - Arrive London.

    Today you will arrive back in the UK.

Map

Map Key

  • AirportAirport
  • General point of interestPoint of interest
  • Mountain RangeMountain Peak
  • TrekDay walk in this area
  • FlightsFlights
  • Internal TransfersInternal Transfers
  • Trek routeTrek

2020

Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Tue 7 Apr - Thu 23 Apr 2020 Available£5150 Book£6170 Book
Tue 6 Oct - Thu 22 Oct 2020 Available£5150 Book£6145 Book

2021

Dates Availability Land Only Flight Inclusive from
Tue 6 Apr - Thu 22 Apr 2021 AvailableContact usContact us

Hold your place

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Optional supplements
  • Single room supplement
    From £795
Insurance
  • Cover starts from £134
No Surcharge Guarantee

No surcharges will be applied to your holiday after you book. Prices on this website are updated regularly. The Flight Inclusive holiday price, or Land Only holiday price, will be confirmed to you at the time you make your booking. There will be no surcharges after your booking has been confirmed.

Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

What’s included

  • Local English-speaking guides in Chile, plus knowledgeable English-speaking guides on Easter Island
  • Good standard hotel accommodation on a twin share basis
  • Internal flights between Santiago and Calama (the Atacama) and Santiago and Easter Island
  • All domestic aiport transfers
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • Single, timed, group airport transfers for international flights on arrival and departure
  • All other transfers as per the itinerary
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • All breakfasts and 10 lunches included
  • Sightseeing and activities as specified
  • Entry fees to national parks
  • The option of joining one of our pre-trip meets in the Cotswolds
  • A free Mountain Kingdoms Water-to-Go bottle or a free Mountain Kingdoms fleece

What’s not included

  • Overseas airport departure taxes
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Locally paid bar bills and laundry
  • Some meals (please see meal plan within the itinerary text)
  • Optional activities
  • Tips


Review your holiday

Reviews

Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 5 reviews)

Moai and geysers          

This was a wonderful trip full of amazing experiences from the salt flats and steaming geysers of the Atacama to the iconic statues (moai) of Easter Island. Our special interest in wildlife and especially birds was well catered for with four species of camelid and three species of flamingo in the Atacama along with sightings of vizcachas near the Tatio geysers and Fabian's lizard which is only found on the Atacma salt flats. Our guide was also very knowledgeable about the plants we encountered on our walks and pointed out many different medicinal plants including Riga Riga which is sometimes used in the delicious pisco sour drink which we enjoyed sampling at Happy Hour every evening! Easter Island was all we expected and much more. The walks were exceptional and we visited many incredible places without seeing any other tourists. Equipped with head torches our guide even took us down some of the island's many lava tubes where we spotted endemic ferns and wild guavas growing. We can't recommend this trip too highly and would love to return to explore more of this fascinating region.

Two magical worlds to explore          

The two locations are very different, but have in common that they both have a haunting atmosphere and neither is very crowded. Where Mountain Kingdoms really score is by offering longer than the standard 3 day trip to Easter Island and, although it is a small island, there are plenty of good walks and fascinating archaeological sites to explore. The walking was not strenuous and there was a lot of spare time, so it was good that the rooms in both the main hotels had a lovely environment and opened onto small, almost private terraces for reading or drinking. There is inevitably a lot of flying involved but it is worth it to see places most people in Britain never get to.

Well-paced          

A superb combination/contrast in this two centre trip, really well-paced and giving time to explore both places well.

Off-the-beaten-path          

Well-organised and good itineraries. In each destination there were days when we did not see other tourists.

Mysterious          

I remember reading Thor Hyerdahls book Aku Aku when I was about 14 years old. I thought it was the best book I'd ever read and it left an indelible impression on me. Later I saw a re-run of Thor Hyerdahls Kon Tiki film and I promised myself that one day I would visit Easter Island. It did not disappoint, it is a stunningly beautiful island and the mystery still remains.


Extend your holiday

Valparaiso & Wineries Extension

Valparaiso & Wineries Extension
  • Enjoy a guided tour of Santiago
  • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage city of Valparaiso and explore its historic, winding streets
  • Sample a selection of fine wines in two renowned wineries in the Casablanca region
  • Stay in good quality hotels in the heart of the action

More Details

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage city of Valparaiso and take a guided tour of the historic old quarter and nieghbouring Vina del Mar. Then travel to the nearby wine producing region in the Casablanca Valley to visit two wineries and enjoy a taste of the renowned local vino. Please contact us for more details.


Torres del Paine & Punta Arenas Extension

Torres del Paine & Punta Arenas Extension
  • Spend six days amidst the stunning landscapes of Torres del Paine National Park
  • Stay in the attractive EcoCamp accommodation
  • Enjoy walks to take in some of the most iconic views of the park
  • Take a guided tour of the sights and museum at Punta Arenas

More Details

Extend your time in Chile with a six day extension to walk amidst the stunning landscapes of the Torres del Paine National Park. Flying south from Santiago to Patigonia you enjoy a choice of walks and activities to take in some of the most iconic views of the park whilst staying at the excellent EcoCamp accommodation in the very heart of the park. This extension also includes a guided tour of the sights and museum at Punta Arenas. Please contact us for more details.


Chilean Lake District & Chiloe Island

Chilean Lake District & Chiloe Island
  • Enjoy walks amidst the glorious scenery of the Chilean Lake District
  • Take a ferry to Chiloe Grand Island to get up close to a penguin colony
  • Walk the Tepual Trail at Chiloe Nationa Park
  • Visit some of the cultural sights of the region before returning to Santiago
  • Stay in good quality hotels throughout

More Details

On this seven day extension you enjoy several walks amidst the glorious scenery of the Chilean Lake District including Vincente Perez Rosales NP and Alerce Andino NP. You also take a ferry to Chiloe Grand Island to get up close to a penguin colony and visit some of the cultural sights of the region before returning to Santiago. Please contact us for more details.


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