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Chile & Argentina: Andes to Patagonia 2014

Trip Extensions

Pre-trip: Santiago & Easter Island, Chile

In the midst of the majestic Andes Mountains, discover Santiago, Chile, a city as vibrant and historic as it is elegant. Then venture more than 2,000 miles west to find Easter Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most isolated—and intriguing—places on Earth. Discover the island’s rich Polynesian heritage that dates back to the fourth century, its dramatic volcanoes and brilliant beaches, and its welcoming Rapa Nui people. And above all, ponder the mystery of the nearly 900 massive monoliths—called moai—perched dramatically on its seaside cliffs.

It's Included:
Roundtrip airfare between Santiago and Easter Island and airfare from Santiago to Buenos Aires
Accommodations for 2 nights in Santiago and 3 nights on Easter Island
8 meals—5 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 2 dinners
6 small group activities
Services of our own resident OAT Trip Leader, who speaks English and the native language
All transfers
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    Depart the U.S. this evening for an overnight flight to Chile.

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    • Meals included:
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    We arrive in Santiago today and transfer to our hotel. This afternoon, we’ll embark on a walking tour through the streets of this historic capital city. Home to a third of Chile's 17 million people, Santiago rests at the confluence of the Mapocho and Maipo rivers, surrounded on all sides by Andean peaks—a breathtaking setting for a capital that has witnessed a remarkable history, from settlement by conquistadors in 1541 to the Marxist, military, and democratic governments of the 20th century.

    This evening, we’ll get to know our Trip Leader and fellow travelers over a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

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    After breakfast this morning, we fly across the southeastern Pacific Ocean to Easter Island, so named by a Dutch sailor who landed on the island on Easter Sunday, 1722. Today, the island—also known as Rapa Nui—is home to around 5,000 people, including 3,000 Rapa Nuians, the Polynesian people whose ancestors were responsible for carving the magnificent moai—giant stone sculptures that grace the island’s tropical landscape. These striking sculptures—and the isolated culture that created them—have earned Rapa Nui a place in the imaginations of people the world over, as well as its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    This afternoon, we'll set out for one of the most scenic spots on the island. At Rano Kao Volcano, we'll view the freshwater lake that has formed in the crater's depths, and explore Orongo's ceremonial center on the crater's edge. This place was one of the principal sites of the birdman cult, which is immortalized by the stone carvings of birdmen into rock.

    From Rano Kao, we’ll return to our hotel, where we'll enjoy dinner together tonight.

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    After breakfast, we’ll set out to discover the island’s famed moai, whose origin and meaning have sparked great speculation over the centuries. Nearly 900 of these monolithic statues have been found on the island, and it is estimated that each one took five or six men one year to carve with hand-held tools.

    We’ll follow the footsteps of an ancient civilization to various ahus—sacred sites where several moai stand. At Ahu Vaihu, we get a chance to view moai in an unrestored state, before we continue to Ahu Tongariki’s impressive collection of 15 restored moai carved from the quarries of nearby Rano Raraku Volcano. After a boxed lunch, we’ll discover Te Pito Kura, which today lies on the ground, but—at 32 feet in length—is considered the largest moai ever erected on an ahu. Finally, we’ll explore pristine Anakena Beach, where the first Polynesian settlers are believed to have landed and where we’ll find six more moai.

    Then, after our full day of exploration, we’ll return to our hotel and enjoy dinner on our own.

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    This morning is free to relax by the seaside or make your own discoveries. In the afternoon, we'll visit Ahu Akivi, one of the only inland ahus on the island, the seven moai of which stand in a line facing the ocean and (during spring and autumn) the sunset. This evening, we'll enjoy watching the sunset ourselves, over the moai at Tahai Beach, bidding a fond farewell to Easter Island before returning to our hotel. Dinner is on our own tonight.

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    • Meals included:
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    After breakfast, we fly back to Santiago and enjoy a final evening of independent exploration and dinner on our own.

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    • Meals included:

    Following breakfast this morning, we fly to Buenos Aires to meet our fellow travelers and set out to explore Chile & Argentina: The Andes to Patagonia.