Chile & Easter Island… a dream come true
I recently fulfilled a lifetime dream of visiting Chile and Easter Island with six of my travelling friends. Cox & Kings put together a tailor-made itinerary for us with a local tour guide to accompany us throughout. Although we paid a little extra for him, for us, it was money well spent. Miguel was a gem and smoothed the way, making it completely stress free.
Being a long, thin country and wanting to get from north to south, we had several flights – in fact, from lift-off back to landing in London, we had 11 flights in total! The climate and landscape is extremely variable from one end of the country to the other: we discovered the desert in the north, the Lake District in the south and the southernmost region of Patagonia, where Torres del Paine National Park is found. In addition, Easter Island is a four-hour flight west from Santiago, the capital, across the Pacific.
The Atacama desert in the north has to be seen to be believed. The salt flats and the rocky terrain shaped by wind and sand are quite remarkable. The Andes provided an imposing backdrop – in particular the spectacular Licancabur volcano – and made for very dramatic landscapes.
The Lake District, with its lakes, rivers and waterfalls, is beautiful. So much of it reminded me of the Canadian Rockies. Our boat trip on the lake with the mountains surrounding us was fantastic and a sight I will never forget.
We then flew south to Patagonia where the landscape changed dramatically as we drove from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine. We saw huasos (Chilean cowboys) herding their sheep and cattle on horseback over sparsely populated expanses. Coming into the national park, the sight of mountains, ice fields and glaciers left us completely speechless!
Glacier in Patagonia
I have not mentioned Santiago as I am not a fan of big cities, so this was not a highlight for me. However, we did spend a little time there and there’s some wonderful architecture hidden amongst the modern skyscrapers. Returning to Santiago for the night, our next flight was to Easter Island. I had not realised it was so far from the mainland – two time zones in fact! To me, it seemed as though it was a tiny dot in the middle of the never-ending Pacific.
Here, a childhood dream of mine came true. We visited Ahu Tongariki, the largest platform with 15 moai statues standing tall. All my life I had seen pictures in the National Geographic magazine and on television and yet here I was, aged 77, standing looking at them. It was truly amazing.
The moai statues on Easter Island
It was a wonderful journey and one could spend so much longer discovering even more treasures, but this trip satisfied my long-time curiosity. I was not disappointed. Although it varied a lot, we were very fortunate to have beautiful weather throughout: from the dry heat in Atacama, cold and very windy conditions in Patagonia to the hot and humid weather on Easter Island. Due to the pound being weak during our trip, I did find the country expensive, but even so, the hotels were very good and all the arrangements that Cox & Kings made for us were excellent – I would highly recommend them.
Thank you to everyone who made this journey such a success.
Cox & Kings offers both tailor-made and group tours throughout Chile. Find out more here.