November 17 through December 4, 2008

This was a 2½ week Andante Travels tour, with most of the group from the UK and a few from the US, with a week on Easter Island and the balance in Chile.

The photos here are not edited, though some would benefit from some adjustments; I “hid” a few that were really blurry or duplicated the previous photo.  They’re size-reduced for the web, but I’d be happy to send you individual photos or a DVD or 2 CDs with the full-resolution photos.

My digital camera died three days into the trip.  Fortunately, Margaret Grant had brought hers, and graciously loaned it to me for the duration.  The camera is now on its way to Canon for repairs.  Naturally, after a fruitless search for an “MMC” card in various places, on our way out of the country Margaret spotted one in Duty Free!

The following itinerary is from a final pre-trip Andante email, with a few typos corrected, a couple of comments added in [brackets], and the addition of the “photos” link to the photo galleries for each day.  On a few occasions events were rearranged to avoid other tour groups, but mostly we kept to the schedule, and when I could I tried to photograph a “site name” too.


Chile & Easter Island

Monday 17 November - Thursday 4 December 2008


Day 1: Depart London Heathrow at 17:35 on flight IB3171 and arrive in Madrid at 20:55. Depart Madrid at 23:55 on flight LA705.  [Margaret and I go from Denver to Atlanta, then Atlanta overnight to Santiago.]

Day 2: Arrive in Santiago at 09:40 and drive to our hotel. Optional afternoon walk around Santiago historic city centre. Overnight Hotel Plaza San Francisco, Santiago.  [Our flight arrived about an hour earlier.]

Day 3: [photos] Morning flight to Arica (via Antofagasta); visit the Lluta geoglyphs, also know as the Gigantes de Lluta, the figures include a frog, an eagle, llamas and humans. Afternoon visit to the Azapa geoglyphs scattered along the barren slopes of the Azapa Valley and then onto the Museo Arqueologico San Miguel de Azapa. Overnight Hotel Arica & Resort, Arica.

(NOTE: a geoglyph is a work of rock art made either by moving dark stones to expose the lighter earth beneath, or piling up the dark stones into patterns, or both. All three kinds will be seen).

Day 4: [photos] Travel south via Chiza and Tiliviche to El Gigante de Atacama at Cerro Unita. Continue to Iquique stopping at the ghost town of Humberstone, a remnant of early nitrate mining days abandoned in 1960 and declared a World Heritage Site in 2005. Overnight Hotel Gavina, Iquique.

Day 5: Visit the Regional Museum in Iquique, then take a boat tour around the harbour. Free afternoon in Iquique. Overnight Hotel Gavina, Iquique.

Day 6: [photos] South again to the major geoglyph site of Cerros Pintados, most of them Pre-Colombian, scattered across remote hillside. Continue to San Pedro de Atacama, an oasis village in the heart of spectacular volcanic scenery. Overnight Hotel Altiplanico, San Pedro de Atacama.

Day 7: [photos] Visit the petroglyphs at Taira in the Upper Loa Valley. Afternoon to the lunar landscapes of the Valle de la Luna to explore and watch sunset. Overnight Hotel Altiplanico, San Pedro de Atacama.

(NOTE: a petroglyph is the term for art made by carving, etching, incising, rubbing or pounding the rock surface).   

Day 8: [photos] Visit the Museo Gustavo Le Paige, with the remarkable artefacts found in this rainless region, including mummies (not on public display but we have gained access) and shamanic paraphernalia, collected by the eponymous Belgian priest and archaeologist. Off road to the remote petroglyph site of Yerbas Buenas. Take an early evening flight to Santiago (from Calama) and check into hotel. Overnight Hotel Plaza San Francisco, Santiago.

Day 9: [photos] To Viña del Mar to visit the Museo de Arqueologico e Historia Francisco Fonck, which specialises in Easter Island archaeology and Chilean natural history. Afternoon walk around colonial Valparaiso and stop at vineyard in the Casablanca Valley on return to Santiago for wine tasting. Overnight Hotel Plaza San Francisco, Santiago.

Day 10: Day in Santiago visiting the Museo Nacional de Historia and the Museo de Arte Precolombino. Evening flight to Hanga Roa on Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Overnight Hotel Otai.

Day 11: [photos] Brief visit to see Ahu Tahai where three restored stone platforms support a number of moai (statues) of various shapes and sizes. This is very close to the Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert, which provides the perfect introduction to the island’s culture. Explore Hanga Roa, the capital which retains its small-town charm, including market and church. Overnight Hotel Otai.

Day 12: [photos] Statue quarry at Rano Raraku, known as ‘the nursery’, with many unfinished moai still in situ; the massive platform and tower at Tongariki; return to Hanga Roa via Papa Vaka. Overnight Hotel Otai.

Day 13: [photos] Visit monuments around the south coast: Ahu Vaihu, Akahanga, Hanga Tetanga, Te Pito Kura, Ahu Nau Nau. Afternoon at Anakena Beach. Overnight Hotel Otai.     

Day 14:  [photos] Visit Ahu Vinapu, Ahu Huri a Urenga, Puna Pau, Te Pahu lava tunnels, Te Peu and Ahu Akivi. Overnight Hotel Otai.      

Day 15: [photos] [Pu Hakanini Makoi, with chicken petroglyph and children’s modern artwork.] Ana Kaitangata cannibal cave, Hanga Piko, Rano Kau, Orongo ceremonial village and birdman petroglyphs. Free afternoon. Overnight Hotel Otai.

Day 16: [photos] Free morning before afternoon flight to Santiago. Overnight Hotel Plaza San Francisco, Santiago.

Day 17:[photos] Free morning with another chance to visit some Santiago museums before transfer to the airport via Cerro San Cristobal [a scenic vista over Santiago, reached by a cable car]. Depart Santiago at 20:20 on flight LA704.  [Our flight was scheduled to depart at 22:30, but we actually left about 23:45, for unexplained reasons.]

Day 18:[photo] Arrive in Madrid at 13:25. Depart Madrid at 15:25 on flight IB3172 and arrive at London Heathrow at 16:45.  [Despite arriving in Atlanta an hour late, we made our connection to Denver, though we landed an hour late, due to a weather delay.  The weather in Chile and on Easter Island was definitely not like this “welcome home” photo!]

Chile & Easter Island 2008