From the colossal moai statues of Easter Island to the candy-hued buildings of seaside Valparaíso, from vine-covered hills to lava-sculpted deserts—Chile exhilarates the senses with a carousel of fascinating experiences. Discover the vibrant cultures of Santiago and Valparaíso, delve into the intriguing lost culture of the early Rapa Nui people, and encounter artisans in the villages of northern Chile. Then navigate the salt flats and dunes, rock canyons and lava caves, geysers and hot springs of the Atacama Desert.
Land in Santiago and take a private transfer to your hotel in the restaurant-filled El Golf district. This afternoon, set out on a private tour of the capital city. Explore centuries of history—and take in views of the surrounding Andes—while exploring the bustling main plaza, the ornate cathedral, the presidential palace, and other sites. Walk along the pedestrian streets of the historic center and continue to a leafy manicured park, the art museum district, or to an urban green space with sweeping views.
Join a private guide on a day trip along the Chilean coast. Begin in seaside Valparaíso, the “jewel of the Pacific,” and discover its colorful old quarter, a World Heritage site. This afternoon, head to the lush hills of the flourishing Casablanca Valley wine region. Meander among its picturesque vineyards, sampling local vintages along the way. Return to Santiago this evening.
Fly to Easter Island, a World Heritage site famous for its colossal moai—the mysterious legacy of a long-lost culture. During your stay on the island, you’ll have your choice of excursions from our hotel. The activities outlined here are a sample of what’s possible. Join an excursion to a quarry, where you can see statues that were never erected at Ahu Hang Tetenga; then walk in the footsteps of the ancient Rapa Nui people along the path they took to transport the stone behemoths. Explore Rano Raraku National Park, and walk inside the volcanic crater where almost all of the moai stone originated. Return to the hotel for dinner and an evening at leisure.
Set off on a morning excursion to Mahatua Ovahe, where 15 restored moai stand sentinel with their backs to the ocean. Begin with a stop at Ahu Tongariki, a platform overlooking stunning moai and ancient stone petroglyphs. As you trace the coast, enjoy sparkling views of the cobalt South Pacific. Encounter villagers fishing; stroll along pristine beaches; and explore the island’s archaeological sites, including a notorious stone known to make compasses malfunction due to its high iron content. Back at the lodge this afternoon, explore your surroundings as you choose, whether by sea or land.
Continue your island explorations with your choice of lodge activities. Join an excursion to Ahu Akivi, the only spot on the island where the moai are inland, facing the sea, and continue on to the Ahu Te Peu platform. From here, hike along steep cliffs with jaw-dropping ocean views. Step into a tube-shaped lava cave at Ana Kakenga, and see the unique moai at Hanga Roa—the only statue with white coral eyes still in place.
Set off on a final morning walk to soak up the wonders of Easter Island, then transfer to the airport. Fly to Santiago and spend the evening relaxing at the airport hotel.
A morning flight brings you to Calama in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Take a scenic drive to San Pedro de Atacama, an oasis village. Check into Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, and set out on your choice of guided excursions over the next three days. Visit the salt flats of the Atacama, and meet a local artisan family in the charming village of Toconao to discover their unique handiwork. Linger to watch flamingos gather on the vast, shimmering salt flats as the sun sets over the Andes.
Join a guide for a morning amid the surreal, wind-sculpted landscapes of Moon Valley. Explore its dunes, deep canyons, and lunar-like rock formations. Return to the lodge for lunch, then take a van or hike along a river gorge to natural hot springs, where you can bathe in one of the driest places on Earth. Or opt to explore the highland lagoons or go on a nature or birding walk to learn about the rich local flora and fauna.
Go on an excursion to the El Tatio geysers, a high-altitude geothermal field where huge steam columns billow some 20 feet in the air. On the way back, watch for native wildlife including vicuñas, foxes, vizcachas, and the Andean ostrich. Pay a visit to the unusual alpine village of Machuca, where roofs are made of cactus and straw. Or, discover the desert on an Atacameñan horse or mountain bike, following a local guide to the salt-encrusted Cejar Lagoon.
Transfer to the airport and fly to Santiago to connect with your international flight home.
This trip has an activity rating of light/moderate and suits a range of interests and abilities. Travelers should be physically fit and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods and navigating uneven or slippery terrain. Excursions include city walking tours, visits to archaeological sites, and a range of hikes over rugged trails. There are options for more physical activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and biking. San Pedro de Atacama is at an altitude of 8,000 feet. Some excursions Tierra Atacama involve long drives.
Throughout the expedition, you’ll stay in high-end accommodations selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character, including Tierra Atacama, a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World collection.
Top private guides will accompany you throughout the trip, and local experts will meet with you along the way as described in the itinerary.
Our accommodations are selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character. Below are several of the accommodations featured on this expedition.
Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa – Atacama Desert, Chile
Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, is a boutique hotel situated on the edge of the village of San Pedro de Atacama in the high Altiplano of the Atacama Desert. Designed by Chilean architects, the lodge combines modern architecture with traditional materials to create a stunning property that complements the otherworldly landscape. Each room features a private terrace and views of the Licancabur volcano. Amenities include a swimming pool set amid beautiful gardens, a spa, a fine restaurant, a library, and a bar.
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. These trips are designed to fit into your schedule. You choose your desired departure date, and we’ll make all the arrangements.
rices are per person based on double occupancy and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. Single traveler prices are available upon request. Internal flights are $1,500 per person. Surcharges may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.
This expedition is available year-round.