Chile: Easter Island and the Moai
Easter Island/ Rapa Nui is home to the mysterious stone moai, monolithic sculptures and fascinating petroglyphs representing the “birdman” cult of the island’s ancestors.
Arrive in Santiago today where you will be met at the airport and transferred by private car to The Aubrey, your boutique hotel in the city center. A beautiful retreat in the Bellavista neighborhood, located at the foot of the Cerro San Cristóbal Hill. The property is within the Parque Metropolitano, one of the largest urban parks in the world, a short stroll from Pablo Neruda’s beloved house La Chascona.
Settle in and relax on the mission-style patio terraces, providing an outdoor oasis overlooking landscaped gardens with the peaceful sounds of cascading water arches in the background.
This afternoon, meet your guide for a private city tour.* This panoramic tour encompasses the rich history of this old-modern capital, offering a sense of the contrast between an often turbulent past stretching back to the 16th century and the contemporary industrial city with its imposing high-rise buildings. Visit the Plaza de Armas, Santiago’s central square, and the Civic District, home to the Palacio de La Moneda, seat of the Chilean president. Continue on to Santa Lucia Hill, with its stairways leading through ornate fountains and façades to a vista that takes in the city from high above. Your guide will discuss additional sites as time permits.
This evening we suggest dining at your hotel. The Aubrey’s restaurant is managed by Pasta e Vino of Valparaiso, offering their celebrated blend of Italian flavors and Chilean ingredients based around handcrafted pasta (reservation prior to departure recommended).
*The city tour will be moved to the final day if your arrival flight arrives later in the day.
Begin your day with a delicious breakfast at your hotel. After breakfast you will be collected and transferred by private car to the airport in time to meet your flight to Easter Island (Rapa Nui).* Upon arrival, you will be met and privately transferred to Hotel Altiplanico
Set on a property of 1.5 hectares, Altiplanico has a panoramic view of the shoreline on one of the world’s most unique islands. The property is designed in the style of a traditional Easter Island/ Rapa Nui boathouse, with luxurious gardens, a beautiful swimming pool overlooking the sea and large open spaces where one can relax after exploring the island’s mysteries. The deep blue of the Pacific Ocean and the warmth of the Rapa Nui culture, with its music, art, history and architecture will permeate your stay. Rooms are independent units, linked by exterior corridors of stone, sand, or grass and each has a private terrace.
Your guide will recommend a casual stop for lunch today.
This afternoon, enjoy a privately guided visit to Rapa Nui National Park, a World Heritage Site encompassing treasures including Orongo, a stone village and ceremonial center at the southwestern tip of the island. Visit the extinct volcano Rano Kau, taking in an incredible view of the island’s two coastlines, volcanoes and the town of Hanga Roa. You will also see Rano Kau Crater Lake, a freshwater lake over 800 meters in diameter, located within the National Park.
Perched beside the crater is the village of Orongo, with more than 50 carefully researched buildings. Orongo was the ceremonial center of the “birdman” cult, which flourished here until the mid-nineteenth century and provided the inspiration for the island’s famous petroglyphs. Many of these stone carvings represent birdmen, or Tangata Manu.
Visit Vinapu, with its stone platform (ahu) of carefully constructed large slabs. The Ahu Vinapu is a controversial site, with experts citing Incan and pre-Incan influences in the style of stone masonry.
Your excursion ends with a visit to the Ana Kai Tangata cave where you will see paintings with motifs of sea birds and fish.
Return to Hotel Altiplanico where we suggest dining this evening. The restaurant and bar are open each night, offering a simple and elegant menu inspired by Peruvian, Chilean and above all Rapa Nui foods. Island seafood is often featured, including tuna, sierra, kana-kana and lobster. Additional flavors include local fruits and vegetables, such as manioca, taro, purple sweet potatoes, guava and mango, accompanied by good wine or a traditional Easter Island mango sour.
*Flights must be booked separately. Flight duration: 5 hours 40 minutes.
Begin the day with breakfast at your hotel. Meet your guide at 9:00 am for a full day visit to the volcanic crater Rano Raraku and Anakena, a white coral-sand beach, both within Rapa Nui National Park.
En route to Rano Raraku, stop at Ahu Vaihu, an untouched site on Te’e Hanga Bay where the moai lie in ruins. Arriving at Rano Raraku quarry, you will have a chance to explore one of Rapa Nui’s most important cultural sites. Hundreds of moai statues were carved here, with 397 remaining in various stages of completion.
A lovely picnic lunch is included at Rano Raraku today.
Continue on toward Anakena, stopping at Ahu Te Pito and Ahu Tongariki, the island’s largest ahu, which was moved from its original location by a tsunami and has since had its 15 moai restored. Your final stop is the beautiful sandy beach, Anakena, where you will enjoy the warm Pacific waters and view two additional restored sites: Ahu Nau Kura and Ahu Ature Huki.
Return to your hotel in the late afternoon with time to enjoy the property and freshen up before dinner. We will provide you with a list of suggested restaurants for this evening. Transfers by taxi can be arranged through the hotel.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel this morning, after which you will meet your guide for a half-day visit to several additional Rapa Nui sites.
Your first destination today is Ahu Akivi, the only ahu built at some distance from the coast. The seven restored moai here face toward the ruins of what was once a large village.
Continue on to Ana Te Pahu Cave (Cave of the Bananas), with its volcanic galleries located among the island’s scenic banana plantations. You will also see the quarry of Puna Pau, where the puka (hats) of the restored moai were carved, and Ahu Huri A Urenga.
Return to your hotel this afternoon. Lunch and the remainder of today will be on your own.
Enjoy your final breakfast on Rapa Nui this morning and prepare for your return transfer to Santiago. Your driver will collect you in time to meet your departure flight from Easter Island Airport.
Arrive in Santiago, where you will be met and privately transferred to The Aubrey Hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Following breakfast this morning you will be collected from the hotel and privately transferred to the airport in time to meet your departure flight.
This is just the beginning.
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