Jerry and Maureen Pearo, Russ and Mary Horsch, and Damon and Becky Farber packed their bags this past February and headed south, to Santiago, Chile for an incredible Chile and Easter Island travel experience. Their custom trip included stops at the La Vega and Mercado Central (two of Chile’s most famous markets), Chiloe island, the Cochamo Valley, vineyards in Valparaiso and Easter Island.
They allotted a little over three weeks to travel, giving them the opportunity to experience many different aspects of Chile. Really, their trip seems like a dream vacation; rustic lodges paired with wine tastings and sight seeing in Easter Island, I’m drooling!
Thank you Jerry and Maureen for sending us all of these breathtaking photos of your custom Chile and Easter Island travel adventure!
Pearo’s Chile and Easter Island Travel Itinerary
Day 1: Santiago
Upon your early morning arrival to the Santiago airport you will be met by a Knowmad Adventures representative. From the airport you will go to the hotel to pickup the Farbers, estimated pickup time is 12:00 p.m.
You will begin in the downtown center and the iconic Plaza de Armas. You’ll learn a bit of Chilean history and discuss how the Spanish colonial past continues to influence Chilean cuisine today. Next, you’ll visit both of Santiago’s most famous markets: La Vega & the Mercado Central. Your guide will lead you in a food narrative through both markets, stopping at various points to taste typical Chilean fare such as sopaipilla and empanadas and traditional drinks such as “cola de mono” (a creamy drink served around the holidays) or “terremoto”(made with pineapple ice cream and artisan wine). And, of course, don’t forget dessert: artisan ice cream or a spread of cakes/pastries with coffee or tea.
- Snacks, no meals – Plaza El Bosque San Sebastian
Day 2: Santiago
Enjoy a full day to explore the city of Santiago independently.
- B – Plaza El Bosque San Sebastian
Day 3: Santiago – Puerto Montt – Chiloe
You will be picked up at your hotel (please be ready and waiting in lobby with bags at 5:45 a.m.) and transferred to the Santiago airport in accordance with your onward flight to Puerto Montt. Upon arrival in Puerto Montt, you will be met by your Chiloe specialist guide and head for approximately a half hour by ferry over the channel and to the island of Chiloé where you’ll be welcomed with locally harvested oysters. Continuing on you’ll stop at a lovely local family’s home and small farm for a traditional Chilote meal. From there we’ll head to the small fishing village of Dalcahue where the coast is lined with the traditional fishing boats that are still fundamental to the islands life and culture. Visit the traditional markets known for woven goods of local lambswool before we head to the town of Castro. Here you’ll check in to a boutique hotel built in the palafito style – perched on stilts over the ebbing tide.
- B, L – Palafito 1326 (featured in our ‘Hidden Gems’ category in our Best Places to Visit in South America blog post)
Day 4: Chiloe
After enjoying breakfast overlooking a tidal cove home to hundreds of black-necked swans, you’ll make a short drive to the small town of Chonchi. Roam the sleepy village streets lined with traditional wood shingle homes and visit the UNESCO World Heritage church. This over-a-hundred year old church made without nails and in the style of an inverted boat is an architectural masterpiece that will have you asking about the interesting fusion of Jesuit and Animist faiths on the island.
From here you take a leisurely bike ride through the enchanting Chilote countryside. Rolling through small towns and villages you’ll have the opportunity to meet locals and see how life continues for many on Chiloe as it has for centuries – don’t be surprised when you pass an ox- drawn cart. We’ll stop for a lunch of delicious empanadas and milcaos before continuing by bike or by van on to the mystical national forest and the dramatic pacific coastline. Enjoy dinner and the evening on your own after returning to Castro.
- B, L – Palafito 1326
Day 5: Chiloe – Puerto Varas
Departing in the morning you will visit the sunken forest of Chepu on the island’s west coast. The origins of many of the island culture’s myths and legends derive from this mystical forest. Next head to the northern reaches of the island to a sheltered cove where you will motor aboard a small fishing boat spotting Humboldt and Magellanic penguins, as well as watching for otters, seals and myriad bird species. After a fresh-catch seafood lunch and visit in the town of Ancud, ferry back to the mainland and make the approximately hour and a half drive to the town of Puerto Varas for the evening.
- B, L – Hotel Puelche
Day 6: Puerto Varas
Enjoy a leisurely day exploring Puerto Varas. This lovely town nestled along the shores of Lake Llanquihue enjoys views to the idyllic Osorno Volcano and is a popular vacation destination for Chileans from the north. You will notice a significant German influence in the area owed to a large 19th century migration. There are no scheduled excursions during this day and you are encouraged to explore at your leisure. We encourage you to visit the colonial museum, wander the lakes shoreline, and sample kuchen pastries during your explorations.
- B – Hotel Puelche)
Day 7: Puerto Varas – Cochamo
Today we’ll depart (please be ready and waiting with bags in lobby by 10 a.m.) from Puerto Varas and once-again travel back in time as we head into Patagonian wilderness. We’ll stop in Perez Rosales National Park, Chile’s second largest, and visit the volcanically-formed, turquoise Petrohue falls at the foot of the Osorno Volcano before entering the Reloncavi fjord and continuing on to the charming Campo Aventura Riverside Cottage where you’ll enjoy a tasty dinner in their cozy, candle- lit restaurant.
- B, D – Campo Aventura Riverside Cottage
Day 8: Cochamo Valley
After a hearty breakfast the gaucho horsemen and your guide will have your horses saddled and ready. Sit back and relax as these amazing horses take you winding through lush temperate rainforest home to old-growth alerce trees, turquoise rivers and endless beauty. For those not keen on riding, enjoy hiking along the over 400 year-old trail once used by Butch Cassidy that eventually crosses the entire Andes range linking Chile and Argentina.
After a riverside trail lunch and an approximately 4-hour ride through the forest, the trail enters an open valley revealing enormous granite walls, waterfalls and natural amphitheaters. Nestled amongst them is a remote mountain cabin, your home for the next two nights. Along with your guide, local homesteaders from the neighboring cabin Tatiana and Horacio will be your hosts. Besides cooking delicious, locally grown meals they will give you an intimate window into the remote lifestyle of Patagonian horsemen and women.
The Mountain Cabin has two shared beds and can accommodate up to 8 guests at a time with two shared bathrooms. Hot water is available for showering by way of a wood-burning stove. There is no electricity.
- B, L, D – Campo Aventura Mountain Cabin
Day 9: Cochamo Valley
Enjoy the unmatched serenity and captivating beauty that is Valle Cochamo. With massive granite domes the valley is often compared to Yosemite. Thrill-seekers won’t want to miss the summit of spectacular Arco Iris peak, zooming down the natural waterslide is often a trip favorite, and enjoying the valley while spotting Andean condors from the cabin’s terrace perch should not be missed. Enjoy a Patagonian asado (barbeque) over an open pit fire in the evening and relax by candlelight. (B, L, D – Campo Aventura Mountain Cabin)
Day 10: Cochamo Valley – Cochamo
Enjoy one-last breakfast cooked over a wood-fueled stove and say good-bye to Tatiana and Horacio before riding or hiking through the verdant, moss-covered temperate rainforest. Relax, unwind, or cast a line in the river back at the Riverside Cottage before a rousing farewell dinner.
- B, L, D – Campo Aventura Mountain Cabin
Day 11: Puerto Montt – Santiago – San Antonio Valley
You will be taken back to Puerto Montt in accordance with your onward flight to Santiago. Upon arrival in Santiago you will be met by a Knowmad representative and transferred about an hour west into wine country, where you will check in to an incredibly charming boutique winery bed and breakfast. Time dependent, included in your stay is a guide tour of the Matetic Vineyard. You will also enjoy a superb dinner in their world-class restaurant.
Day 12: Casablanca Valley Wine and Bike – Valparaiso
Today you will enjoy an incredible day of vineyard biking. Please be ready and waiting in hotel lobby with bags at 9:00 a.m.) Chile’s move toward cool-climate viticulture began 25 years ago when innovative winemakers dared to suggest planting in the pre-coastal Casablanca region. The valley is now world-famous for its technology and commitment to terroir, producing some of Chile’s best white wines and cool-climate reds. The valley’s cool coastal breeze makes the climate ideal for growing Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Pinot Noir—and also for comfortable cycling. Begin your ride with exclusive access to the 420 hectare (1,000 acre) property at Veramonte where you can lose yourself in the tranquillity of the vineyard. Next, you’ll pedal through beautiful countryside to Loma Larga Vineyards, acclaimed for its cool-climate reds such as Syrah and Pinot Noir. Here, enjoy a tour, tasting, and picnic lunch before returning to Santiago. Level of difficulty: Easy/Moderate.
Following your day you will continue by van a short way to the eclectic and charming seaside city of Valparaiso where you will stay in a boutique hotel nestled high in a charming hill neighborhood.
- B, L – Hotel Acontraluz
Day 13: Coastal Towns
You will be picked up by your guide at your hotel at 9:00 a.m. Enjoy the day on a guided exploration of the towns and landscapes of the coastal region north of Valparaiso. Chile’s breathtaking coastline offers spectacular views of crashing waves, dramatic landscapes, and smooth white sand beaches. Elegant homes and hotels are nestled into the hills, and a number of excellent restaurants serve some of the best seafood around. This full day includes a walk through native Chilean palm forests at La Campana National Park, lunch in the quaint town of Maitencillo, and a leisurely afternoon in the charming seaside village of Zapallar.
- B, L – Hotel Acontraluz
Day 14: Valparaiso
Your guide will pick you up at your hotel at 10:00 a.m. for a guided visit of Valparaiso. Valparaíso is a must see for any visitor to Chile. A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the first Chilean cities founded by the Spanish, Valparaíso was the most important Pacific South American sea port for centuries until the inauguration of the Panama Canal. In its Golden Age, the city was a thriving hub of high society, culture, and European influence. Today, those historic elements are mixed with quirky, bohemian cafes, artists’ workshops, and street art to create a city full of character and with surprises at every turn.
You will explore the historic downtown sector, and then century-old hillside ascensores (elevators) will transport you up into the city’s steep hills, where a labyrinthine maze of streets reveals brightly colored buildings, hidden cafes and elegant restaurants, and spectacular views of the harbor below. Your tour also includes a stop in the resort city of Viña del Mar, known as “the garden city” for its lush gardens and palm-lined boulevards.
- B, L – Hotel Acontraluz
Day 15: Valparaiso – Santiago
Enjoy the day independently exploring and enjoying Valparaiso. You will be picked up in early afternoon and transferred to your accommodations in Santiago. You will be picked up (please be ready and waiting in hotel lobby with bags) at 2:00 p.m. and taken to Santiago.
- B – Plaza El Bosque San Sebastian
Day 16: Santiago – Easter Island
You will be picked up at your hotel (please be ready and waiting in lobby with bags at 6:30 a.m.) with your onward flight to Easter Island. Upon arrival you will be met at Mataveri Airport and taken to your selected accommodation on the Island.
Time dependent, in the afternoon we will have a half day excursion visiting the archeological complex of Ahu Akupu which has just one moai statue, and the caves of Ana Kakenga. Your guide will confirm pickup times with you for subsequent Easter Island tours.
Confirmed flight: LA 841 departing Santiago 9:15 a.m. arriving Easter Island 12:55 p.m.
- B – Hotel Taura’a
Day 17: Easter Island
Today we will enjoy a full day excursion visiting the southeastern and northeast part of the island including: temples of Vaihu, Akahanga, Tongariki, Te Pito Kura, the quarry of Rano Raraku and Anakena beach. Both Ahu Vaihu, with its eight fallen moai and Ahu Akahanga, where 12 moais lay facedown, are unrestored temples worth exploring. Ahu Akahanga is said to be the burial site of the islands first ruler, Hotu Matu’a.
The Ahu Tongariki is noted to be the largest monolithic monument in all of Eastern Polynesia. This amazing platform holds 15 of some of the largest statues on the island. With the surrounding sea cliffs and beautiful ocean background Tongariki is truly one of the most incredible sites on the island. The Ahu Te Pito Kura is the site of the largest Moai to ever stand upright on top of a platform.
Today this statue is in a toppled state as were all of the statues on top of platforms at one time in the past. This statue whose name is Paro has been measured at 9.6 meters and its weight is estimated at 82 tons. This is also the site of the famous “navel”; here we will learn about its mana.
The quarry of Rano Raraku could very well be one of the most amazing sites in the world. The volcano of Rano Raraku is also known as the statue factory. It was from the volcanic stone of Rano Raraku that 95% of all of the statues on the island were carved. There has been counted some 397 Moai at Rano Raraku. Some were completely finished and left waiting on the slopes of the volcano for their transportation while others are in various stages of completion still connected to the mother rock of the volcano. You will have the opportunity to hike to the top of the volcano and see the beautiful crater with its fresh water lake.
Our last top of the day is at Anakena beach. Anakena is the larger of only 2 white sand beaches that are found on the island. It is also the legendary landing spot of the first king, Hotu Matu’a, and noted to be the center of the royal clan territory called the Miru. At Anakena you will not only have the opportunity to swim but also to visit more restored Ahu. The Ahu Ature Huke with its single Moai is noted to be the very first Moai on the island to be re-erected on top of its Ahu. This was done not by archeologists but by the islanders themselves in ord
- B, L – Hotel Taura’a
Day 18: Easter Island
Enjoy the morning at your leisure. In the afternoon we will embark on a half day excursion visiting the Ahu Vinapu which is known best not so much for the amazing statue that once stood on its platform but instead for the platform itself. It is the perfect stonework of the Ahu Vinapu that has been compared to the stone walls of Peru.
We will also visit the Puna Pau quarry, a small secondary volcano, which served as the main source of the volcanic stone Red Scoria. This stone was used for making the Pukao or topknot. These topknots were found placed on top of heads of some of the largest statue on the island. At Puna Pau you will see some 20 abandoned topknots, which today are covered with canoe petroglyphs. Our final visit of the day is Ana Te Pahu cave, one of literally hundreds of lava tube caves on the island. The cave entrance here is quite large and steps have been made to enable visitors to walk down into the cave.
Here you will see the ancient islander’s tradition of using part of this cave as protection for their gardens as well as a great source of fresh water.
- B – Hotel Gomero
Day 19: Easter Island
Today you will have the option to visit one of Easter Island’s many attractions on a half-day guided excursion such as the handicraft market, where you will find genuine hand-made souvenirs of the island. You can also visit the Catholic Church, the only one in the island; or, the Archaeological Museum, also known as Padre Sebastian Englert museum, which is the name of the bishop who dedicated his life to the study and conservation of the Rapa Nui Heritage. The Ana Kai Tangata cave paintings located just a few minutes south from Hanga Roa are also a very interesting archeological destination. This curious name most likely means “Man Eating Cave”, but the exact meaning is still a mystery.
For the more adventuresome, we can organize a fishing trip with a local fisherman or scuba diving in some of the world’s most pristine waters (additional cost involved for these activities).
- B – Hotel Gomero
Day 20: Easter Island – Santiago
You will be picked up at your hotel and taken to the airport for your flight back to Santiago, where you will be met and taken into the city.
- B – Plaza Bosque
Day 21: Santiago – Onward Home
Enjoy the day to relax or visit more of Santiago’s sites independently. You will be picked up at your hotel at 6:30 p.m. (please have bags packed and be waiting in lobby) and taken to the airport for your evening departures.