Galápagos ...

The Trip of a Lifetime



Easter Island • Isla de Pascua • Rapa Nui

No matter what one may call the island, it’s sure to bring mysterious and surreal images to mind. Images of moai, the enormous stone heads/torsos that dot the landscape, oft recalled from childhood explorations through back issues of National Geographic magazines...

Easter Island is a remote dot in the vast South Pacific - at just 7 by 15 miles, with the closest people over 1,000 miles distant, on even smaller Pitcairn Island - Chile and Tahiti are each over 2,200 miles distant, in opposite directions.

Early history of the island is likely to always remain a mystery. The first colonization occurred around 300-400ad, most likely from Polynesia (based on the physical characteristics of the people, their culture, religion, and language).

The population of the island thrived in the early years, reaching a peak of between 10,000-15,000 people. This was more than the small island could bear though. Eventually the ecosystem of the island was stretched to the point of complete deforestation, and a collapse of the society. Bloody civil war broke out between the different clans. The moai were toppled. Society was in ruins. The island’s population plummeted to near 3,000 in just a few years. The first European explorers to see the island (on Easter Sunday, 1722) report standing moai, and forests to be seen in the distant inland valleys. Captain Cook reported seeing neither just 52 years later when his ship called there.

At the society’s peak they accomplished truly amazing things. The moai, and there are nearly 1,000 of them, were carved from the tuff lava of one volcano, Rano Raraku. The red scoria top-knots for the moai were carved from a different volcano. Both parts were then transported tremendous distances to numerous locations scattered around the island, then erected. The Rapa Nui had the only written language, Rongorongo Script, in all of Oceania. Numerous elaborate petroglyphs were carved into the rocks around the island.

The island was ultimately “annexed” by Chile in 1888; Chile’s first, and only, attempt at colonization. This would prove to be another of the many trials the islanders have faced. Between slave raids and disease, the population on the island had dropped to 111 people by the start of the 20th century.

Today the island has both a governor and a mayor. There is also a council of elders who have a fairly strong field of influence. This council has one representative from each Rapa Nui family - 39 in all. There are close to 4,000 people living on the island, with about 2,000 of them being Rapa Nui. The remainder are mostly Chilean. It is estimated that another 1,500 Rapa Nui live in other parts of the world - mostly Tahiti, North America, Europe, and Chile (where many Rapa Nui teens attend school).


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South Georgia


Easter Island


To this day one sees relatively few animals. Seasonally seabirds, including frigates, noddies, terns & petrels, nest on the surrounding motu (small islets). Some land birds, including chimango caracara, common Diuca-Finch & Chilean Partridge, are also in evidence. Snorkeling in the beautiful clear blue bays reveals few fish - the fishermen ply their trade several miles offshore where the currents produce a greater abundance.

But, one comes to Rapa Nui for the moai, the history, the culture and these will absolutely amaze!

Your tour begins and ends in Santiago, Chile. The real soul of the tour however will be the days on Easter Island. As you walk among the nearly 1,000 moai – those standing guard along the coast, or fallen as the result of island warfare, or in the quarry where they were created – our expert Rapanui guide will share not just the history, but also the legends and lore of their remarkable island. Visits will be timed to explore the key sites at the best times to avoid crowds and enjoy the settings at their best.

While on this most remote inhabited island in the world, take the time to also enjoy the night sky, searching for the Southern Cross and other constellations not visible from the northern hemisphere. This is a one-of-a-kind expedition – I don't think you'll find an Easter Island/Rapa Nui/Isla de Pascua tour where you will learn more or get more photo opportunities!

Pair this exciting Easter Island expedition with our Patagonian extension tour for a more complete picture of Chile's varied past and natural wonders.

Flexible departure days and tour duration. Spend a week and we'll give you an adventure of a lifetime!

available year round

Private touring for 1, 2 or more participants.

Day 1 Evening departure from the U.S.
LAN Airlines offers nightly departures to Santiago, Chile, from several U.S.gateways.

Day 2 • Santiago, Chile
On arrival this morning transfer to the centrally located Hotel Plaza San Francisco (your room will be available for early arrival). Remainder of morning at leisure. This afternoon tour around Santiago, visiting the city's most outstanding attractions, including a walking tour downtown visiting the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, Ahumada Boulevard, and the Government Palace; "La Moneda." Then, by vehicle, visit the main avenues of old Santiago, crossing the bohemian neighborhood of Bellavista and drive to San Cristobal Hill, for a magnificent panoramic view of the city and the Andes Mountain Range. The afternoon finishes with a stop at the artisan village of Los Graneros del Alba.

Optional: Add on a day at the coast... Chile's principal port, Valparaiso, retains an old European feel, with an urban landscape made up of picturesque narrow streets lined with colorful houses, and giant ships moored at the wharves. This piece of coastline is one of the world's more beautiful ports. The area was home and inspiration of Pablo Naruda, Chile's Nobel prize winning poet and writer - tour his eclectic hillside home. Late afternoon return to Santiago. Evening Free. Overnight Santiago.

Day 3 • Santiago to Easter Island
Transfer to the Santiago airport for the LAN Airlines flight to Easter Island. The morning flight will have you on Rapa Nui midday. Lei greeting and transfer to the Residencial Aloha Nui upon arrival. This afternoon begin your exploration of the island with a walking orientation tour of Hongo Roa Village and the Tahai archeological site. Overnight Aloha Nui Guest House.

Days 4, 5 & 6 • Easter Island
Over the course of three days your expert local guide will select specific visitor sites for each day to maximize the viewing opportunities, and minimize overlapping with other groups. You will be visiting all of the major sites, including Tahai, Tongariki, Vinapu, Anakena, Orongo, Rano Raraku and Akivi. More than that, you will also visit many off-the-beaten-path sites, including un-restored ahu, ceremonial plazas, secret gardens, house foundations, caves, petroglyphs, and so much more.

A few of the remarkable archeological sites include:

Ahu Akivi is the only inland site; located on a breezy hillside surrounded by grassland, this is the only site where the moai were positioned to face the sea. This is where noted archeologist William Mulloy first re-erected any of the moai.

The Tahai archeological zone, with it’s restored open-air sanctuaries, is located on the western shoreline just outside of town. It is a beautiful place to contemplate the many mysteries of Rapa Nui as the sun sets over the water, behind a row of moai. These are also the only moai to have haunting reproductions of the original coral eyes.

The largest ahu (ceremonial platform and burial chamber) on the island is Ahu Tongariki. This ahu once again supports its 15 standing moai. Back in 1960 this site took a direct hit from a tidal wave which washed the already fallen moai, some weighing as much as 30 tons, several hundred yards inland. Today they have been carefully returned to their restored Ahu.

Anakena is the site where the first islanders are said to have landed. Today this idyllic site is again home to 6 of the most intricately carved standing moai (several still showing "tattoo" carving on their torsos.) Seemingly at odds with the rest of the island, here the rocky coast gives was to a broad white sand beach, turquoise lagoon, and plam trees swaying in the breeze.

Ahu Vinapu features a platform with such finely fitted stonework that many people still point to this as proof of a connection to the Incas of South America.

Rano Raraku is the quarry where nearly all moai originated, and where hundreds of moai may be seen in various states of completion - some hardly more than a carved outline in the mountain, and others completed and ready for transport to their final place of honor. The largest moai ever carved is here, at 71 feet in height. The outer slopes of Rano Raraku are also home to Tukuturi - the kneeling moai.

Puna Pau is the crater comprised of red scoria used to carve the moai "top knots." Many finished top knots adorn the crater slopes.

The ceremonial village of Orongo is set high on a crater rim, with the sea far below to one side, and a crater lake equally distant on the other. This is the site of the famous Birdman Cult, with many elaborate petroglyphs and stone houses found here. This is also the best site to view the neighboring motu.

Optional • Free day on Easter Island
One of the marvels of the island is nearly everyone returns home wishing for "one more day" on the island. Whether they were there 4 or 7 days, it's never quite enough... If you have the time we can add another day of touring, or a free day.

Cars, jeeps, & bikes are available for rent in town depending on your interests and energy. The only way to visit the roughly one-third of the island's coastline without a road is either by hiking or renting horses (the horse trip, with a cowboy/guide is a great way to see it!). Small motor boats can take visitors out to circumnavigate some of the neighboring motu that feature so heavily in island history. You can also stroll the streets of town, visit the artisan's market, go diving, take surf lessons, return to the museum, or just relax and take in being on Rapa Nui!

Day 7 • Easter Island to Santiago – International Departure
A mid-day LAN flight will have you back in Santiago early–evening. This should give you enough of time to connect with international flights back to the U.S. this evening.

Day 8 • Arrival back in the U.S.
Early morning arriving back in the U.S.

Flexible based on tour options. 2016 rate for above noted sample itinerary starts at $1,650 per person, double occupancy

Included in Tour Cost:

  • 1 night accommodations in Santiago, plus 4 nights on Easter Island (shared double accommodations).
  • breakfast daily, plus 2 lunches on Easter Island.
  • non-alcoholic beverages with included meals.
  • international and domestic airport transfers.
  • 3 1/2 days of private touring on the island, plus a half day tour in Santiago.
  • private transportation.
  • Rapa Nui National Park entrance fee.
  • expert English speaking local guides in Santiago and on Easter Island.
  • pre-departure materials, guide book & map.

Not Included:

  • international airfare to and from Chile.
  • internal airfare between Santiago and Easter Island.
  • meals other than those noted.
  • passport, visa, or airport fees.
  • travel insurance.
  • travel inoculations or medications.
  • drinks (except as noted).
  • tips to the local guides.
  • items of a personal nature, including laundry and communications charges.

An expert local English-speaking guide will lead the day tour in Santiago. Our on-island programs are designed by the husband and wife team of Ramon & Josie. One of them will be your private guide as well. Ramon Edmunds is the son of arguably the most influential family on the island and was raised here, with a few years spent abroad attending college in the U.S. Josie Mulloy is half Rapanui, and the granddaughter of William Mulloy, the famed American anthropologist and archeologist known for his work in Polynesia and Easter Island, and the first to re-erect any of the fallen moai. She was raised in the U.S. and moved to Rapa Nui in her 20's. Both are outstanding guides and passionate about the island, from the history to the culture, and love sharing it with visitors.

Accommodations in Santiago are planned for the centrally located 4-star Hotel Plaza San Francisco. Modern in construction, the lovely hotel is furnished is the style of old Chile, including rich woods and plush fabrics throughout.

Accommodations on Rapa Nui are at the small Residencial(guest house) Aloha Nui. The ranch-style former residence of the Edmond family, the Aloha Nui is set in a lush walled garden compound on the main street of Hanga Roa, about a 10 minute stroll from the center of the village. Over the years it has been added on to a couple of times and the original house turned into the Residencial Aloha Nui with 6 guest rooms (all with private bath) plus a spacious sitting room overlooking the garden. Attached to the house by a breezeway is another building housing the palatial dining room, another sitting room, and the kitchen. Breakfasts are a leisurely and extravagant affair, with Maria Reina (Ramon's mother) producing numerous plates of sumptuous treats. Past guests at the Aloha Nui have included presidents and politicos from several countries, American rock stars, the Ecuadorian artist Guayasamin (two of whom’s pieces are personally inscribed to the hosts and hanging in the house), and the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. A bakery, restaurant, and small convenience store are all found just outside front gate.

A $400 deposit per person is adequate to reserve your space on a workshop. Final tour payment will be due 75 days prior to departure. Payments may be made by Personal Check, Money Order, Wire Transfer, Visa or MasterCard.

Any cancellations shall be in writing. A comprehensive International Travel Protection Insurance package is available through GALAPAGOS TRAVEL to all U.S. and Canada residents – you will receive policy information along with your deposit receipt.

For Cancellations received:
Up to 90 days prior to departure, there is a cancellation charge of $200 per person.
75-89 days prior to departure, there is a cancellation charge of the full deposit.
45-74 days prior to departure, there is a cancellation charge of 25% of the land cost per person.
1-44 days prior to departure, on the departure date, or "no show," there is a cancellation charge of 100% of the land cost per person.

If a cancellation occurs 75 days or less prior to departure, and full payment has not yet been received, the full penalty still applies and unpaid monies are due immediately. Refunds cannot be made to passengers who do not complete the tour for any reason whatsoever.

Our California office is happy to assist with international air arrangements from the U.S. Flights to Easter Island are on LAN Airlines, non-stop from Santiago, and often book up well in advance. LAN offers a substantial discount on this route if also traveling internationally from the U.S. with them. Our office can make these bookings for you.

Frequently Asked Questions...

When should I go? Anytime! The climate on Rapa Nui is influenced by the ocean, so on the temperate side. Typical December-March daytime temperatures range from the upper 70’s to low 80’s; although humidity may be high, this is when the island sees the most visitors. Temperatures are cooler during the austral winter of June-September (average daytime temperatures are more typically in the 60's to low 70's). Rain showers are possible year-round.

How do I get there? The island is only serviced by one airline: LAN (formerly LAN Chile). Flights are several times a week from either Santiago, Chile, or Tahiti. Flight time is roughly 5 hours from Santiago.

What are Chile's arrival & departure logistics? As of mid-2014 Chile is waiving the reciprocity entrance fee for U.S. passport holders (Canadians & Australians are still charged a fee). There are no visa requirements for U.S. Citizens, and there is no international departure tax.

Is this a wildlife tour? Definitely not. Our focus is on the history and the culture. That's not to say that the hard-core birder can't rack up a number of new species though either. Over 6 days on Easter Island in January '07 we saw: Chimango Caracara, Common Diuca-Finch, Rock Dove, Great Frigate, Brown Noddy, Gray Noddy, Sooty Tern, Sooty Shearwater, House Sparrow, Chilean Tinamou, Herald Petrel, White-tailed Tropicbird, Grey-headed Bull, & Chilean Partridge.

Is this a luxury or deluxe tour? No - that's not the direction we wanted to go. Again, we're here for the history and the culture. The Aloha Nui is a wonderful B&B, or Latin American style residencial. The family who run it are wonderful, and you will leave at the end of your trip feeling like you have been staying with family. You will come away with a true sense of the island and its people, and a bit of the magic of Rapa Nui. If it's luxury you're after, maybe the Explora Hotel is more to your liking - their new 5-day all-inclusive program stays well outside of town and starts at well over $3,000 per person!

Where should I eat when a meal is not included in the itinerary? There is a wide range of options, from kiosks selling empanadas and sodas and beer, to cafes "downtown," to the seaside French Restaurant that bills itself as the best French Restaurant in the Pacific. Your choices are many, and your guide will be happy to make recommendations to suit your tastes or mood.

What language is spoken on the island? The native language of the island is Rapanui, although Spanish is also very widely spoken. Most islanders working with tourists in some capacity will also speak at least some English. Whatever the language, everyone is universally friendly so you should have no problem communicating. All guiding is in English.

What is there to do on the island if I have a "free day" in my itinerary? Lots - and the best part is, the island is so small it would be hard to get lost! You could easily rent a car or jeep for the day to either revisit a favorite site (or beach), or explore new territory - maybe drive out to Tongariki to watch the sun rise behind the moai! Bikes are also rented in town if you're looking for some exercise with your adventure. Also, the only ways to visit the roughly one-third of the island's coastline without a road is either by hiking or renting horses (the horse trip, with a cowboy/guide is a great way to see it!). You can also stroll the streets of town, visit the artisan's market, go diving, take surf lessons, go to the museum, or just relax and take in being on Rapa Nui! A 25 minute stroll from the Aloha Nui brings you to the best show on the island - the lavish tropical sunsets as seen through the moai at Tahai.

What about money matters? There is no need to change currency before arriving in Chile - the U.S. Dollar is widely accepted - their local currency is the Chilean Peso. At present US$1 = 600+ Chilean Pesos. There are both exchange booths and ATM machines in the Santiago Airport. Major Credit Cards are commonly accepted in most parts of Chile. Traveler’s checks are easily exchanged in Santiago, but may be difficult to exchange outside the city. Rapa Nui now has three ATM machines as well, although it is best to plan on bringing enough cash, and/or traveler’s checks with you to the island.

Tipping is common practice in hotels and restaurants in Chile. A 10% tip is customary in restaurants and cafés, while a dollar or a few pesos is adequate to porters. Guidelines for tipping on Rapa Nui are roughly $10-15 per day, although, as always, all gratuities are discretionary.

What else to you offer in Chile? We're really focused on Easter Island, and all that it has to offer. However, Chile, with its hundreds of miles of coastline, soaring mountains, deserts, lakes and glaciers, has much to offer as well. Working with a local tour company we have multi-day options in either the Northern Deserts around San Pedro de Atacama, or in Chilean Patagonia and the Torres del Paine National Park in the far south.

Are there any good books about the island? Longitude Books (our favorite book store for travel books on any destination) has put together a wonderful reading list for the island - you can check it out at... www.longitudebooks

Patagonia and the Torres del Paine National Park extension
(November through March only)

The jewel of mainland Chile is the great Torres del Paine National Park. Located in Chilean Patagonia, the park is in the transition zone between the Magellanic sub-polar forests and the Patagonian Steppes. Among the amazing geological features of the national park (and UNESCO World Heritage Site) are glaciers, lakes, multiple rivers and valleys, granite spires, and the iconic Torres del Paine massif.

The park is comprised of 4 vegetation zones and home to numerous bird species, including as many as 15 breeding bird of prey species. Of mammals, the most likely to be seen are guanacos, with the occasional fox possible too.

With flights within Chile all using Santiago as a hub this extension can easily be added before or after Easter Island.

6 days total, including 1 night in Punta Arenas, Chile, and 4 nights in Torres del Paine.


Day 1 • Santiago to Punta Arenas, Chile
Morning international arrivals will have plenty of time to connect with our late-morning flight south to Punta Arenas. Flight time is roughly 3˝ hours on a non-stop flight. On arrival you will be met and transferred directly to our centrally located hotel - the Hotel Jose Nogueira. This boutique hotel is in the grandest of the old colonial mansions dating from the late 1800’s. Overnight Punta Arenas. Meals in flight and on your own.

Day 2 • Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine
More of an excursion than a transfer, this morning you will travel overland from Punta Arenas (departing at roughly 9am) for the drive north to Torres Del Paine National Park and the Hotel Las Torres. Along the way the route takes in the beautiful Patagonian scenery. Drivetime is roughly 5 hours, plus stops in local villages and scenic overlooks, plus lunch at the historic Estancia Cerro Negro. Overnight at Hotel Las Torres. This is a wonderful hotel at “the end of the world” where the mountains and glaciers meet the forests. This all-inclusive program includes accommodations, excursions daily, all meals (featuring mostly locally-sourced and organic ingredients) and open bar. [B,L,D]

Day 3, 4 & 5 • Hotel Las Torres Program / Torres del Paine National Park
Daily the Las Torres staff naturalists and adventure guides will lead a variety of half-day and full-day excursions into the national park and surrounding forests. Each participant has the freedom to select the excursions that are of the most interest to them; options range from easy nature walks, more challenging treks, catamaran journeys, and horseback outings. You will have three full days at Las Torres to explore the park, with 4 to 5 outings typically offered each morning and afternoon. While at the hotel/lodge take time to explore the grounds, where everything from passing foxes to myriad birds my be seen. For those in the mood for a bit of pampering the hotel offers a variety of spa services as well. [B,L,D daily].

Day 6 • Torres del Paine - Punta Arenas - Santiago
Today you are transferred back to Punta Arenas, arriving in plenty of time for an early -evening flight to Santiago. [B,L]

Following is a small sampling of the excursions offered:

Laguna Azul: This half-day excursion is the best option for people who would like to see the Torres del Paine without all the walking. We should see many of the plants, animals and birds — flamingos, condors, water birds and predatory birds — the park is known for. Type of Excursion: Vehicle / Time 3-4 hours

Salto Grande, el mirador de los Cuernos: During this excursion, which is half of the Full Paine option, we will see all the features the park is known for, with the exception of its glaciers. Expect stunning views of mountains, lakes and lagoons and to run across a number of plants and animals. Type of Excursion: Vehicle and trekking / Time: 4 hours

Patagon: We visit the places where the indigenous Aónikenk people lived more than 7,000 years ago. We will hike from Lago Sarmiento to a collection of Aónikenk drawings still visible on a rock wall. We are likely to run into many of the types of plants and animals — such as guanacos, rheas and condors that populated the land during the Aónikenk epoch and are still in the park today. Type of excursion: Vehicle and trekking / Time 4-5 hours

Mirador Nordenskjöld: On this three-hour trek we will learn about the plants, mammals and birds living close to the place where the Río Paine enters Lago Nordenskjöld. We will see views of the southern section of Lago Nordenskjöld, as well as Monte Almirante Nieto and the Torres. Type of excursion: Trekking and vehicle / Time: 4 hours

Mirador Grey: We ride the catamaran half-an-hour from Refugio Pudeto to Refugio Pehoe. From there, we walk around Lago Grey to a refugio of the same name. We get a close view of Glaciar Grey, a 26 kilometer-long glacier that is part of one of the largest ice fields in the world. Type of excursion: Vehicle, catamaran (Nov. – March), trekking / Time: 12 hours

Bosques de Lenga: This excursion is designed for people interested in learning about the ecosystem of the Patagonian lenga forests. As we explore old lenga forests in the land surrounding Las Torres, we look for Magellanic woodpeckers, Austral parakeets and flickers as well as the scat of various members of the cat family, including the puma. Type of excursion: Trekking / Time: 3 hours

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