CHILE and Easter Island ( Rapanui )
This is one of the countries of South America where the Police can be trusted. Good thing to know if you run into trouble. Santiago City has a good underground rail system which can take you to all the main tourist things you wish to see. The surrounding area of Santiago and north of here is very dry and desert like. South is more beautiful and inviting. Chileans, I think, speak the fastest Spanish in the world. The fact that one of my Mexican friends finds them hard to understand is testament enough for me. Chile boasts the Largest Swimming Pool in the world. La Serena is worth a visit and from here you can do a night trip to view the stars from an observatory.
San Pedro de Atacama is a delightful village up in the Andes and from here you can go to a thermal region and see the sun come up while floating in a hot pool. Nice but boy do you freeze when you get out. There are tours to small villages that consist of about 5 homes and a church and then there is the salt lakes you can take a quick dip. These ones are cold and a half minute in there is about all you can stand but there’s no chance of drowning because of the salt concentration.
Ingrids Travel Tips for Chile
1) If you fly into Santiago try to also book a shuttle which will take you right to your accommodation. You will be given a number via email and this can be taken to a kiosk before exiting the baggage pick-up area. Its great and you don’t have to deal with taxi drivers who will likely cost you twice the price and means you don’t have to try working out the buses into the city.
2) Airline of Chile is LAN CHILE and I like them, but they are notorious for overbooking flights, so always get there early to check in. If you miss out they do compensate you quite generously but do take a long time to pay up. They finally paid me 6 months later and then a month after that decided they made a mistake and took money off me, needless to say the email they got was not nice.
3) Buses are going frequently to all destinations and are cheap and a comfortable enough way to travel through-out the country.
4) Go to an observatory. Take your camera as you can photograph Saturn and its rings through the telescope.
5) From La Serena you can see a huge cross on a hill. Catch the bus and see the amazing view from the inside of it, including one of the soccer stadiums that hosted world cup games.
6) Bus is more or less the way to get to San Pedro de Atacama. Lots of accommodation in this little town and normally no need to book ahead.
7) From here you can do an early morning visit high up in the mountains to see the sun come up and swim in the hot pools.
8) Don’t forget to try sandboarding. Yes they have huge sand hills at San Pedro, and for my first time trying it, it was such fun. Also got to the salt lake for a swim. This is more a photo opportunity as the water is so cold. No chance of drowning here.
This, to me, is a magical place. This island is a dot in the ocean literally. There is one small beach to go swimming, but it has very beautiful white sand. The Moia Statues look inland except on one hill where they look out to sea. There are many different places to see them on the island. The main street is always a buzz with people and the local young men ride their horses into town to go to the local bar. There are horses everywhere and dogs. I had one follow me from the wharf to my hotel, approx. 2km. Then it trotted off to follow someone else. The fruit and veges they grow here are very big in size. Not sure how they do it, but these can be seen down the main street every morning where the locals go to sell them.
There is an old volcano to go and look down into. There is a reasonably good road up to it and from there pretty much all of the island can be seen. You also get a good view of the airport which is served by LAN Chile. Other airlines fly in like Thompson Fly from England on chartered flights.
There aren’t really any tips to give about this island as it is so small and friendly and not crowded but do hire a car or jeep and take your time doing the whole island. I was there 3 days which to me was a good amount of time. This is not an island where anything happens at a fast pace. And who cares anyway.
Remember to get to the airport early to get checked in. As I said, LAN unfortunately has the reputation of over booking their flights. I got caught, but it did mean they put me in a nice hotel and I got to have another day on the island. (This meant I actually had 4 days) This is a great island to totally relax and chill out.
Below is a very interesting website I hope you will visit. The link has been sent to me by a researcher Cate Newton. Many thanks Cate. She became interested in Easter Island after she was assigned a research project in the field. From that research, she ended up publishing a great article which you can find here;