1st time to Chile - early planning - some questions...
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Dec 19, 2012 1:57 PM Last Post By: BostonSails
Dec 10, 2012 10:28 AM
1st time to Chile - early planning - some questions...Hi there,
i plan to go to Chile for the first time and i am in the early planning process, deciding in general, where to go, how long to stay and what to do. My problem: I ´ve got exactly 2 weeks time and i´m going to fly over to Santiago from Germany. So the time-table is going to be very tight and that´s why i have to plan carefully. I´ve been to Patagonia before (in Argentina), so i want to skip that. What i really want is: Easter island and the Atacama desert + Santiago and perhaps (and hopefully) a winery tour for 1 day from Santiago and a day tour to Valparaiso.
After checking flights, this could be my itinerary:
24.03.2013 arrival in Santiago (at around noon).
26.03.2013 flight to the Easter island
27.03.2013 full day Easter island
28.03.2013 flight back to Santiago, spend 1 night there
29.03.2013 flight to Calama and taxi/bus to San Pedro de Atacama, several day tours there
02.04.2013 flight back from Calama to Santiago and stay there until 06.04.2013 for the flight back to Germany
My questions are: Is 1 full day enough for the Easter island ? If 1 day should be the only option, do i have to make reservations for a guided tour or is it easy to just get a bike/horse or even walk to the Moai sites ?
Atacama: Are 3 full days enough to visit the main sites ? Again, do i have to make reservations or can i spontaneously hop on a tour ? As i really like to see one of those vast salt flats, is the sight of the Atacama salt flat as good as the Uyuni in Bolivia ?
Santiago: Can you suggest tour operators, who offer winery tours for just one day from Santiago and/or tours to Valparaiso ?
Thank you very much, Sabine
Dec 10, 2012 3:18 PM
1From San pedro de Atacama, you can do transfer to the Bolivia's side to visit Laguna Verde, laguna Colorada and Salt flats, the landscape is amazing, If you want to visit Uyuni salt flat with more than 12.000 km2, book your tour in Bolivia, include the transfer from San Padro Atacama, will be cheap for you.
Dec 10, 2012 6:16 PM
2Of your destinations Santiago IMO is by far the least interesting and I would spend as little time there as possible. However, don't plan really tight transit times as flights and transport can be delayed.
I spent just 1.5 days (2 nights) on Easter Island because my schedule was rushed and I could easily have spent another couple of days there. Although I saw the main sites in that time I recommend that you cut 1-2 days from Santiago and add that to Easter Island. There are quite a few guided tour companies there but with 2-3 days on the island a bicycle is OK if you wish to save money and don't mind the risk of being rained on. If it's just 1 day book a guided tour.
I had 2 full days in Atacama and had time for the Chaxa Lagoon, salt flats, Tropic of Capricorn photo, Valle de Luna, Valle de Muerte, El Tatio Geysers etc. although, once again, 3 days would have been better and provided a chance to just wander around the township.
With both Easter Island & Atacama I pre-booked my tours from home (Australia) but suspect that you could probably arrange your tours when you arrive. With limited time pre-booking is safer but will cost more.
Dec 12, 2012 6:21 AM
3I personally think that 1 day on Easter Island is pretty short....it's not possible to make your flights so that the trips are more in 3 blocks of time? It would be nice to do, 3 days in Easter Island, 3 days in San Pedro, 4 days in Santiago, allowing for 4 days of travel time. You could arrange tours when you arrive in San Pedro. I rented a vehicle, that was cheaper since we had 4 people. I would perhaps consider arriving in Santiago, spending a few days there, doing overnight bus to La Serena/Coquimbo/Valle de Elqui, then doing overnight bus to Calama. If you've got cash, you can get cama or premium bus seats and you'll sleep through the night. It's a nice way to travel to different places and not lose daytime.
Dec 14, 2012 4:40 AM
4First: Chilean Patagonia is quite different from Argentinian Patagonia.
Second: You should spend more time in Easter Island and less time in Santiago, maybe you can take your flight to Easter the same day you'll arrive. Santiago is quite interesting by now but only if you have time!
Dec 14, 2012 12:12 PM
you live in Germany. So I think, there is no need for doing a winery tour. The wine gardens in Germany and in Italy are far more interesting than these in Chile.
And you can shorten especially your time in Santiago. It is a "normal" big city. All other destinations you choose are more interesting.
Dec 19, 2012 1:55 PM
6You most certainly should spend more than 1 day at Easter Island. I was just there a few weeks ago for 3 full days, and we could have easily spent another day or two. I'd highly recommend at least 3 days.
There are tour companies in Hanga Roa that take you around in a van with 15 other people, which didn't seem appealing to me. I stayed at Mana Nui Inn and they ran private tours only for the guests at the hotel, which on the day of our tour was just my husband and I. So a private tour of the island with a knowledgeable guide = priceless!
Also, if you stay at Mana Nui, Ahu Tahai is literally a minute's walk from the Inn's entrance. That is the best place to watch the sunset because the sun sets right behind the row of 5 moai. But other than that, walking to the moai would take awhile and you would need to at least rent a car for a day. There is also Ranu Kau and Orongo to visit, which is a different sort of experience than just seeing the moai. And the two beaches up north (Anakena and Opake--those might be spelled way wrong) are nice to spend some time at, too.
Dec 19, 2012 1:57 PM
7Oh, and we also did a full-day wine tour of the Aconcagua Valley with Santiago Adventures. We had a very knowledgeable guide and private tours of three wineries, plus a wonderful gourmet lunch on a veranda overlooking the vineyards. I'd highly recommend Santiago Adventures because they really take care of you and ensure that you see the best wineries and have the best possible experience.
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