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The Best of South America: Cusco, Machu Picchu, Santiago & Easter Island 11-Night Itinerary

This combined tour of Peru and Chile yields vastly different experiences in these two Pacific Rim nations. In Peru, you’ll discover an invaluable part of humanity’s cultural heritage: Machu Picchu, the best-known archaeological site of the Inca civilization. For most people who travel to South America, a visit to the “Lost City of the Incas” is the much-anticipated high point of their trip. Your journey to Machu Picchu will first take you to colonial city of Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire that remains profoundly rooted in indigenous culture. Traveling on to Chile, you’ll land first in the capital city, Santiago, where you’ll discover a vibrant metropolis bursting with remarkable architecture, excellent shopping, as well as irresistible wining and dining haunts – all nicely wrapped up in the typically civilized and welcoming way of life in Santiago. Leaving the urbanity of the big city behind, you’ll then fly to the mysterious Polynesian island of Rapa Nui (“Easter Island”). A treasure trove of cultural intrigue, folklore & fairytale, outdoor activities and an entirely unique ancient history, a visit to Easter Island is yet another of the all-time highlights of South America. Not only is this volcanic island scenic and beautiful in its own right, but witnessing its legendary Moai statues up close is something to behold. In truth, though, simply taking a walking tour of Easter Island is one of the greatest, most enjoyable and memorable experiences while there. In short, these four exceptional destinations provide countless outstanding experiences – ranging from mountain top hikes to underwater diving – which will remain in your memory forever.

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“Everything about Surtrek was amazing. The hotels, the food, the tours. Everything exceeded our expectations. I cannot recommend Surtrek highly enough!”Serena Tyra

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Arrival to Lima - transfer and accommodations
Day 2: Fly to Cusco - Private car to the Sacred Valley visiting Pisac Market
Day 3: Morning Train through the Cloud Forest, Private Tour of Machu Picchu
Day 4: Huayna Picchu Hike – Train back to Cusco
Day 5: Private Walking Tour of Cusco’s Historic City Center
Day 6: Transfer out to the airport – international flight assistance in Lima – Arrival in Chile, transfers and accommodations
Day 7: Private excursion Santiago Classic City Tour - Concha & Toro Vineyard Tour & Tasting (Group service)
Day 8: Transfer to Santiago airport - Flight to the Easter Island - Multiday Excursions- Horseback riding in archaeological areas
Day 9: Easter Island, Town walking tour + Caves
Day 10: Easter Island, Moai - Rano Raraku excursions
Day 11: Easter Island, Anakena Beach, Rapa Nui Fishing and Orongo Village
Day 12: Transfer to the airport. Flight back to Santiago. International flight
South America Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival to Lima - transfer and accommodations

You will find us waiting for you when your international flight arrives in Lima. Look for the sign with your name and the smile. We will escort you to your hotel, check you in and help you get settled. You will then be able to rinse away the feeling of a long flight and enjoy a good night’s rest!

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Day 2
Fly to Cusco - Private car to the Sacred Valley visiting Pisac Market

You will wake up refreshed and enjoy a complimentary breakfast in your hotel before we escort you back to the airport for your morning flight to Cusco. Watch the windows as the desert coast rises into the snow-capped peaks of the Andes!

You will be waiting for you when touch down at our Andean airport and will bring you to the historic city center of Cusco for a delicious lunch. Then, before you can feel the altitude, you will whisk you into the Sacred Valley.

Just 15 minutes outside of Cusco, you will stop at the vibrant market in the pueblo of Pisac, where locals come from miles around to sell their wares. Upon conclusion of your market visit, we will bring you to your hotel in the heart of the Sacred Valley.

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Breakfast - Lunch
Day 3
Morning Train through the Cloud Forest, Private Tour of Machu Picchu

Prepare for a climactic day! In the morning, you will board the train in Ollantaytambo for our journey to Machu Picchu. Watch the cloud jungle pass by through the large glass windows! After a bus ride to the gates of this wonder of the world, you will then ascend stone steps, through heavy tree cover to finally emerge at the top of the world – Machu Picchu.  The incredible Inca stone construction will be spread below, alternately hidden and revealed by clouds. Your expert guide will give you a private tour of the ancient city.

Lunch will be served on-site at the Sanctuary Lodge whenever you get hungry. Afterwards, feel free to return to the site to continue exploring, or descend to your hotel.

Upon returning for an evening in Aguas Calientes, your guide will give you advice and answer questions about how you might use your following day. Enjoy an excellent dinner on-site at your hotel and fall into bed, lulled to sleep by the sound of the cloud forest around you.

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Breakfast - Lunch
Day 4
Huayna Picchu Hike – Train back to Cusco

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel this morning, and lace up your hiking boots. At the appropriate time this morning, meet with your private guide, return to the front gates of Machu Picchu and explore Machu Picchu for second day.

You have secured hiking permits for you to scale the iconic sugarloaf peak in the background of the classic Machu Picchu postcard photo - Huayna Picchu! Delight in an alternate perspective of Machu Picchu from the top of what is certainly a true feat of engineering.

Descend to Aguas Calientes for lunch and your return train to Ollantaytambo. You will be waiting in the station for you and will bring you to your hotel for an evening at leisure.

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Breakfast - Lunch
Day 5
Private Walking Tour of Cusco’s Historic City Center

This morning you will experience the lay of the land as only true world travellers know how: on foot traversing hidden alleyways, historic plazas, and local treasures. After breakfast on your own, your private guide will proceed to illuminate Cusco’s rich tapestry woven by its inviting cobblestone streets, charming neighbourhoods, and astounding landmarks.

Your first stop of the day will be to the Santo Domingo monastery, perched atop the most sacred of Incan sites, the Qoricancha temple of the sun. Once bathed in 24-karat gold long-since pilfered by Spanish conquistadors, this temple is now an astounding blend of Incan stonemasonry and colonial architecture. You will then climb up to the bohemian neighbourhood of San Blas, known for its whitewashed adobe buildings and quaint blue balconies, home to generations of renowned Cusco artisans, before dropping back down to Plaza de Armas for a stop in at the colonial Cathedral.

Top off your tour with a visit to a local indigenous market brimming with a rainbow of local fruits and traditional remedies, and make sure to pause to marvel at the 12-angled stone nestled in a wall that has withstood the test of time (as well as a couple of earth-shattering earthquakes!). Upon conclusion of your tour your guide will leave you with suggestions as to where you find good restaurants, and you’ll have the remainder of the afternoon to explore the Imperial City at your leisure!

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Breakfast
Day 6
Transfer out to the airport – international flight assistance in Lima – Arrival in Chile, transfers and accommodations

Wake up refreshed and enjoy breakfast in your hotel this morning.  At the proper time, you will be taken to the airport to take your flight back to Lima.  Assistance at the Lima airport for taking your flight to Chile.

When you arrive in Santiago you will find us waiting for you when your international flight arrives. Look for the sign with your name and the smile!  Your private transportation will drive you to your hotel, assist you to check in and help you get settled. 

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Breakfast
Day 7
Private excursion Santiago Classic City Tour - Concha & Toro Vineyard Tour & Tasting (Group service)

Today you will head to the west of Santiago to swiftly see the picturesque “Barrio Concha y Toro”, a typical cobbled street neighborhood that brings visitors back to the early twentieth century. Its characteristic old buildings reflect the elegance of the capital city at the beginning of the last century when many Chileans achieved great wealth as a result of mining. The buildings in so many different architectural styles were designed by the best architects of the time.

As a second attraction you will visit the civic center of the capital of Chile and its most relevant buildings, such as the La Moneda Government Palace and the Main Square or “Plaza de Armas de Santiago”. You will drive pass the beautiful Parque Forestal, which is the main park of the city with around 110 years from its origin and designed at the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Chile. This park is surrounded by several monuments and small neighborhoods, each with a particular lifestyle. Barrio Lastarria is one of the surrounding areas worth visiting near the “Parque Forestal” and therefore you will make a stop to sip on a cup of coffee at one of its numerous coffee shops, just like any “Santiaguino”.

From almost all of Santiago the top of the San Cristobal Hill can be seen, and on its summit, the statue of the Virgin Mary with open arms towards the city. You will climb up or descend the hill in a funicular that dates back to 1925, which has been declared national monument and it is a must see for every visitor. From the top of the San Cristobal Hill visitors can ride one of Santiago ́s icons and attraction. The “Teleferico San Cristobal” is a cable car or tramway inaugurated in 1980 that remained in functions until 2009. Closed and refurbished completely, it reopened to the public in 2017 offering spectacular views of the city. Depending on several conditions in the city such as traffic and other events, the road can be reversed and the cable car might be taken first to then connect with the funicular. In any case, the experience will be just as beautiful. This half day tour will see its end when you are dropped off at your hotel.

In the afternoon, you will start your following tour at the Concha & Toro winery, in the Pirque area. You will begin with, a walk through the winery’s ancient park, whose extraordinary beauty and harmony are an invaluable legacy of Chile’s landscape history. Next, you will admire the Casona’s exterior where the Concha and Toro family used to reside in the summer. You have the opportunity to enjoy a glass of “Terrunyo” Sauvignon Blanc at El Marqués Park. The terrace will provide both a privileged view of our “Antigua’s Terrazas de Pirque” vineyard and also the opportunity to taste a “Casillero del Diablo” Camenere. Among the winery’s main attractions are its ancient cellars, particularly “Casillero del Diablo” (Devil’s Cellar), where you will learn about the famous legend that has made Chilean wine known worldwide. Once inside the winery, you will discover the character and varieties of traditional Chilean grapes and “Marqués de Casa Concha” Merlot.

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Breakfast
Day 8
Transfer to Santiago airport - Flight to the Easter Island - Multiday Excursions- Horseback riding in archaeological areas

At the appropriate time your private guide will drive you to the airport to take your flight to Easter Island. At your arrival to the Island you will be taken to the hotel for check in.

In the afternoon, you can choose one of the available activities, for instance, to go horseback riding to landmarks on the island. This will give you an opportunity to ride through unique landscapes and to areas of archaeological interest, such as Ara or Te Moai (the “route of the moai”), the north coast of Hanga Oteo, the first Ahu, or the heights of Terevaka.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 9
Easter Island, Town walking tour + Caves

This morning, you will walk into Hanga Roa, the island’s only substantial town, where you can orient walking through the town center. Here you will be able to soak up the scenery around the fishing harbor before heading south to Ana Kai Tangata cave. At this impressive black-rock cavern that’s best known for its colorful Manutara bird paintings, you will get your first introduction to the uncanny “Birdman ceremony.”

This afternoon, you can choose to go on a scuba diving excursion, which is a magical experience in Easter Island. Few places in the world have such extraordinary conditions as those of the island, with waters that range in temperature between 64 ̊F and 78 ̊F degrees, visibility up to 196 feet deep, and the opportunity to learn about marine species that cannot be found anywhere else.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 10
Easter Island, Moai - Rano Raraku excursions

You will make an early start and arrive at the famous Ahu Tongariki in time to watch the sunrise – a dramatic photo opportunity where you will find 15 gigantic moai silhouetted against the rising sun. This is the largest and most renowned moai site on all of Easter Island, with its ceremonial platform stretching 650 feet (200 meters) along the seafront. Following that experience, you will pay a visit to the vast Rano Raraku quarry, where the huge moai stones were carved and hundreds still remain, including the largest moai ever made. Then, you will head to the nearby Akahanga Temple, which is the burial site of the island’s founder: King Hotu Matu’a.

After returning to the Hangaroa Eco-village for lunch, you will head out to view some of the 887 gigantic statues, or “moai,” that dot the island. Some of these figures stand as high as 46 feet (14 meters), and weigh over 30 tons. Viewing these enigmatic works of art will likely be the highlight of your travel. Some of the unique sites include the Tahai complex, where you will see the only statue on the island with painted eyes; and the red stone quarry of Puna Pau, where the moai’s “pukao” (headdresses) were sculpted. Afterward, you can decide on to spend the afternoon swimming and snorkeling. You will begin a trek to other heritage sites interest and unique landscapes, always accompanied by guides who are specialists in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) culture. Sites can include sunset at Ahu Tahai, the “route of the caves,” a visit to the village of Orongo, or other sites of interest.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 11
Easter Island, Anakena Beach, Rapa Nui Fishing and Orongo Village

This morning, you are likely to find yourself be amazed by the charm of the paradisiacal Anakena Beach. Along with its white sands, warm turquoise waters, and beautiful palm trees are Moai statues set on two ceremonial platforms: The first called Ahu Ature Huki, and the other Nau-Nau Ahu. Nearby is yet another beach; magically tucked under large clius is the small but wonderful pink- sand Ovahe Beach. This is a perfect place where archaeology, landscape, and recreation all meet, making it a magnificent spot for a picnic.

This afternoon’s boat ride will allow you to experience one of the core activities of Rapa Nui culture: Fishing. This will be a great opportunity to share with local fishermen, and exchange skills and experiences. Once you return, after a renovating shower you will trek to the ceremonial village of Orongo, which is located at the top of the Rano Kau Volcano.

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Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner
Day 12
Transfer to the airport. Flight back to Santiago. International flight

At the appropriate time your guide will drive you to the airport to take your flight back to Santiago and then back home.

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Breakfast

Prices

2019 - Price per person
RoomDouble
12 DaysUS$ 6,120 PP
*Price per person based upon double occupancy.
*PP (per person)
Included in the price:
  • Accommodations in selected hotels
  • All meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Train transportation Vistadome Train
  • All excursions with English Speaking guides
  • Private transportation
Not included in the price:
  • International flights
  • Domestic flights
  • Meals not specified - bottled and alcoholic beverages
  • Tips & personal expenses
  • Travel or medical Insurance
  • Baggage fees and other extras not specified in the itinerary
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