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The Wilderness Beyond: Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & the Chilean Fjords 2015

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Pre-trip: Santiago & Easter Island

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.

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.

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
Services of our own resident OAT Trip Leader, who speaks English and the native language
6 small group activities
Services of our own resident OAT Trip Leader, who speaks English and the native language
NEW for 2015: Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
All transfers
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    Depart the U.S. this evening for your overnight flight to Santiago.

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    • Meals included:
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    You’ll arrive in Santiago early on the morning of Day 2. An OAT representative meets you at the airport and arranges for your transfer to your 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 twelve million people, Santiago rests at the confluence of the Mapocho and Maipu rivers, surrounded on all sides by Andean peaks. To be sure, it’s a breathtaking setting for a capital that has witnessed a remarkable history—from settlement by conquistadors in 1541 to the Marxist, military and, finally, democratic governments of the 20th century.

    Meet with your Trip Leader and fellow travelers early this evening. Then get to know each other better as our group gathers for a Welcome Dinner.

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    After breakfast this morning, fly to Easter Island, named by a Dutchman who discovered the island on Easter Sunday, 1722. Located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, the island is a special territory of Chile. Today, the island is home to around 3,000 Rapa Nuians, descended from the Polynesians. Their ancestors were responsible for the moai stone sculptures that grace the landscape. The history of Easter Island is rich and controversial, and its inhabitants have suffered from internal fighting, slave raids and destruction of the ecosystem over the years. In modern times, the population has slowly recovered.

    This afternoon, we’ll set out for one of the most scenic spots on the island, the former ceremonial village of Orongo. At Rano Kao Volcano, we’ll view the freshwater lake that has formed in the crater’s depths, as well as 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 birdman images (half-man, half-bird) in rock. We enjoy an included dinner this evening.

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    After breakfast, we’ll set out to discover the island’s famed moai—giant monoliths whose origin and meaning have sparked great speculation. Nearly 900 of these 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, and then continue to Ahu Tongariki’s impressive collection of 15 restored moai carved from the quarries of nearby Rano Raraku Volcano. We’ll have a boxed lunch before discovering Te Pito Kura, which today lies on the ground but—at 32 feet in length—is considered the largest moai once 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.

    We’ll return to our hotel this evening and enjoy dinner on our own.

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    After a relaxing morning at leisure, we’ll spend the afternoon visiting the seven moai of Ahu Akivi, one of the only inland ahus on the island. This evening we’ll enjoy watching the sunset over the moai at Tahai Beach.

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    After an early breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Santiago. This evening, enjoy time at leisure for one last Chilean dinner on your own. Your Trip Leader will happily recommend restaurants.

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    Rise early this morning for our flight to Buenos Aires. We arrive mid-morning and transfer to our hotel to meet our fellow travelers and begin our The Wilderness Beyond: Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & the Chilean Fjords adventure.