AdventureWomen’s “BEST of Chile” adventure vacation in April 2014 was just fantastic! Our journey began just outside Santiago in Chile’s outstanding wine region, the Colchagua Valley. We hiked through vineyards, experienced wine-tastings at top Chilean wineries, and ate outstanding Chilean cuisine. Next stop Chile’s Atacama Desert, an other-worldly moonscape with strange and surreal landscapes, flamingos at a salt lake, ruins from past Indian cultures, and vast open spaces that all turned beautiful shades of pink and purple at sunset! To add to the excitement, we even experienced an 8.6 earthquake while in the desert, and were rockin’ and rollin’ with its movement for longer than expected!
But for everyone, the highlight of the trip was our 4.5 hour flight over the Pacific Ocean to the most remote inhabited island on Earth, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Home to over 600 Moai, the most famous residents of this island, these monolithic, colossal stone sculptures stand as silent bystanders of the past. What a mesmerizing place this is! Our hikes, walks, and explorations of the island’s history were nothing less than fascinating and spectacular, as were our accommodations, food, and camaraderie that we shared. In 33 years, I’ve been to a LOT of places, but this is one of the TOP 10!
I hope you experience how breathtaking a trip this was by enjoying these photos!
Susan L. Eckert
Our first winery and wine tasting on our arrival at Santa Rita winery, one of the best known wineries in the world.
Dinner at Hotel Villa Virginia, a boutique hotel that is part of a non-profit agro-ecological school that trains and supports local school children.
Today’s hike takes us along the Ruta del Carbon.
Another hike with the first snow on the Andes in the background.
Sebastian, our main guide, and Susan, at the highest point of a hike.
At the stunning MontGras winery for a tasting.
Tasting the Savignon Blanc at MontGras winery. Yum!
Hiking through the vineyards at Montes Winery.
In the Atacama Desert with our guide. It is the driest desert in the world, and the Lunar Rover was trained here.
At the Valley of the Moon, sand and stones carved by water.
Sunset in the Atacama Desert. Ann Mailer taking a photo.
Hiking up to the Pukara de Quitor ruins, a fortress built in the 12th century by indigenous people.
Visiting the Tulor Ruins, built over 2800 years ago with circular walls of mud.
Lunch at a local restaurant in San Pedro de Atacama.
Always fun to be watched by the local children!
A Chilean flamingo on Lake Chaxa. The brine shrimp they eat makes them pink.
Ellen Bump and Patti Maguire walking the paths on the salt lake.
The beautiful Hotel Altiplanico San Pedro, our hotel while in the Atacama Desert.
Good bye to the desert! Flying back to Santiago for an overnight, then on to Easter Island!
Arriving at our beautiful hotel on Easter Island, after a long flight and transfer, we are happy to be near the ocean.
The magnificent stone statues, or “moai” on Rapa Nui were carved out of volcanic rock, and their history is still not totally clear.
Walking around the back of Ahu Tongariki, where these 15 moai stand on an “ahu” (ceremonial platform) in all their glory.
Ellen Bump is so excited to be here on Easter Island, at Ahu Tongarki!
Viewing Ahu Tongariki from a distance, you can see that it was built in such a spectacular setting.
Sebastian, our wonderful guide, in front of 15 stupendous moai.
Visiting the quarry of Rano Raraku, where the Rapa Nui people carved the giant moai out of volcanic rock from the mountain.
Hiking though the quarry. Here dozens of moai can still be found in various stages of construction.
Moai heads buried to their shoulders over the centuries.
Our last moai visit during our wonderful 3 days on Rapa Nui.
Descending into Ana Kakenga cave there is a lava tunnel known as the “cave of two windows”.
View of the ocean from a “window” inside Ana Kakenga cave.
AdventureWomen hands on a huge magnetic stone near the ocean.
We ate very well throughout the trip. Shrimp curry – yum!
Ceviche, a true Chilean delicacy.
Last morning on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), a rainbow appeared to say goodbye to us.
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