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An Archaeological Study Tour
Northern Chile & Easter Island
with an optional five-day Patagonia extension

November 2 – 16, 2014
15 days
Led by Dr. Jo Anne Van Tilburg, University of California
& Professor Calogero M. Santoro, Universidad de Tarapaca, Chile

Our tour begins with a study of the Inca culture in northern Chile, where the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places in the world, is responsible for the preservation of great archaeological treasures such as the immense areas of geoglyphs and the famous Atacama mummies, which predate Egyptian mummies by several thousand years. Our journey brings us to the charming Victorian port of Iquique and through a fantastic moonscape to the pink and blue adobe village of San Pedro de Atacama, where we will explore pre-Inca fortresses, colonial churches and an excellent museum. We will visit the museums and colonial sites in Santiago.

We travel on to Easter Island, known locally as Rapa Nui, an isolated speck in the vast blue Pacific Ocean. As modern travelers, we can only marvel at the incredible maritime achievement of the island’s founding Polynesian settlers. Exploring Rano Raraku, the volcanic crater that was the beating heart of the ancient culture, we ponder the mystery of the complex network of quarries and the enigmatic standing statues that still dot the grass-covered slopes. Tracing the ancient roads over which statues were transported to nearly every corner of the island, we will confront the fallen giants where they rest today on massive stone ceremonial platforms. At Ahu Tongariki, the largest megalithic site in Polynesia, we will marvel at 15 re-erected giants. While speculation abounds as to why, after attaining such heights, ancient Rapanui civilization collapsed, we will be introduced to the charm and warmth of modern island society. We will meet with talented young artisans and artists, swim and picnic on pink-sand beaches, and attend an energetic performance of ceremonial dances, all in the shadow of the mysterious statues.

Sunday, Monday, November 2 & 3: IQUIQUI: Depart from Miami midday Sunday, on LanChile Airlines and arrive into Santiago on Monday to connect to our flight to Iquique. Our hotel is situated on Iquique’s seacoast not far from the main square. This evening we will gather for dinner and an opening lecture with Professor Santoro. Hotel errado Suites
Meals: Dinner

Tuesday, November 4: IQUIQUE: We will spend the morning at Chile’s most spectacular geoglyphs in an area known as Pintado. Here more than 500 geoglyphs of llamas, felines, humans and geometric figures are distributed among dozens of panels. Each curve in the road brings an awesome new vista as we drive through the seemingly endless Atacama Desert. We will stop at Humberstone, an abandoned mining town on our return. This afternoon we will visit the Regional Museum and explore this picturesque town of 19th-century mansions and elegant public buildings.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Wednesday, November 5: SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA: Our drive to the oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama will bring us to Calama in time for lunch. We stop to view the Valley of the Moon, so called for its colorful rock formations of gypsum, clay and salt. Our two-night stay at the Casa Atacama will give us time to explore the town and to listen to local musicians at one of the small cafés.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Thursday, November 6: SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA: Visits today include a morning visit to the Petroglyphs of Yebas Buenas where panals of animals and human figures have been carved into rocks over 4000 years ago. After visiting Rainbow Valley renowned for its colorful rocks, we return to San Pedro de Atacama. Tiring continues after lunch to Tulor, a 2,800-year-old town site, the fortress of Quitor, where the local Indians made their last stand against Pedro de Valdivia.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Friday, November 7: SANTIAGO: This morning we will visit the Archaeological Museum’s excellent archaeological collection. The surrounding desert has provided an outstanding collection of mummies, clothes and artifacts predating those of Egypt. Before leaving the desert north and flying to Santiago, we visit the village of Chiu Chiu to see the oldest church in Chile, which dates to 1611. Hotel Marina Las Condes.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Saturday, November 8: SANTIAGO:
This morning we will visit the Easter Island collection at the Natural History Museum, and the Pre-Columbian Museum, which also houses an exceptional collection of traditional hats from every region of Chile. We then tour the colonial sites of Santiago, including the red-washed San Francisco Church. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Sunday, November 9: EASTER ISLAND: A morning flight brings us to Easter Island. The next seven nights will be at the charming family-operated O’tai Hotel. Dr. Van Tilburg and her project codirector, native Rapanui artist Cristián Arevalo Pakarati, will meet us and share our welcome drinks on the hotel terrace, followed by lunch. For the next week we will encounter Rapa Nui and its people through the unique perspectives of these two experts, who have joined their respective expertise in science and art to complete the world’s first comprehensive archaeological survey and study of the moai (monolithic statues).
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Monday, November 10: EASTER ISLAND: Touring begins at the small fishing port and the colorful historic cemetery, then continues to the restored ceremonial sites of Tahai, Vai Uri and Ko Te Riku. These three ahu (altars/platforms) support massive moai dramatically silhouetted against the ocean. The Tahai Ceremonial Center is a major location within the ancient, high-ranked Western Political District. This site will also provide an opportunity to study a statue “in transport,” a habitation cave and a hare paenga, the stone foundation of a typical boat-shaped Rapa Nui house. After lunch, we will explore the village of Hanga Roa, learning from Cristián about the lives and interests of the islanders. We will visit the parish church, with its interesting wood carvings and historic burial ground, and two artisans’ markets.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Tuesday, November 11: EASTER ISLAND: Our full day of touring takes us across the island to Rano Raraku, the volcanic cone from which 95% of the known moai were quarried. This amazing site is studded with half-finished and partially carved moai, as well as some that appear to be emerging from the living rock. We will explore the exterior slopes, quarries and statue-transport roads in detail before enjoying a picnic lunch in a shaded eucalyptus grove. We then venture into the interior of the crater, with its totora-fringed lake and standing statues. This vast site, which has been mapped by Dr. Van Tilburg and her team and is the site of their current excavations, is a challenging environment but a wonderful place to speculate on the nature of the people who carved these monolithic statues and how they transported them to every corner of the island. We then proceed to nearby Ahu Tongariki. This is the counterpart in the Eastern Political District of the Tahai Ceremonial Center in the Western District. It also possesses a statue "in transport” to the ahu, a field of fascinating petroglyphs and 15 magnificent moai have been recently restored upright on the platform, which was destroyed in 1960 by a tsunami.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Wednesday, November 12: EASTER ISLAND: Our destination today is Anakena, legendary landing site of the ancient founding father, Hotu Matu’a, and his settlement party. En route we stop at Ahu Vaihu, an impressive, unrestored site where numerous large moai lie face down, their red scoria “topknots,” or crowns, scattered around them. We continue via Ahu Akahanga and its adjacent village, passing by Ahu Hanga Te Tenga, where we see the largest moai transported to an ahu in this sector of the island. We then visit Ahu Te Pito Kura, where we find the enormous statue Paro, counterpart to that of Hanga Te Tenga and the last to be toppled from its ahu (in about 1840). We touch the stone thought to be “the navel of the earth.” Our barbecue lunch will be under the palms at Anakena Beach, with time to swim and study the restored Ahu Naunau, where the first intact red stone and white coral eye was found in the late 1970s. We will stop at Vaitea, the headquarters of the sheepherding firm that controlled Rapa Nui throughout most of the historic period.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Thursday, November 13: EASTER ISLAND: Our touring begins with a drive to Vinapu, where the perfectly fitted stone walls of Ahu Tahiri have been compared to those of the Inca. En route we pass Maunga Orito, where volcanic-glass (obsidian) shards were collected for the manufacture of deadly spear points, and stop at Ahu Huri A Urenga to see a re-erected moai distinctive for its four hands. We also visit the island's fine museum. After lunch, we visit the small volcanic crater called Puna Pau, the quarry from which the red stone headdresses worn by some moai were carved. At Ahu Akivi we see seven re-erected moai representing the statistically average statue transported to every part of the island. We explore the cave Ana Tepau and and visit Ahu Tepeu, site of the largest hare paenga on the island associated in legend with the enigmatic “script” rongorongo.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Friday, November 14: EASTER ISLAND: On our final day we ascend the massive flank of Rano Kau, one of the island’s three formative, dormant volcanoes. The restored ceremonial village of Orongo sits dramatically between the crater lake and sea cliffs. The earliest date for a small ahu on this site is 1400 CE. A complex of beautifully carved petroglyphs of “birdmen” and the head/face of the creator-god Makemake overlook three offshore islets. The priests involved in the yearly ritual selection of the ruling “birdman” came to live in this village for a required period of time, and children's initiation rites were held here until 1867. Nearby is the “cannibal” cave of Ana Kai Tangata, its ceiling intricately painted with the faded remnants of soaring birds. After a picnic lunch, our vans will be available to transport guests either back to Rano Raraku, to the beach for quiet contemplation or Tahai to catch the last sunset of our trip. In the evening our hosts at the O’tai have prepared a typical umu (earth oven) farewell feast for us. The preparation of this meal begins early in the morning and involves wrapping the food in banana leaves to be steamed in a stone-lined pit for the entire day. Dinner will be followed by a traditionally energetic Rapa Nui dance performance.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Saturday, Sunday, November 15 & 16: This morning we depart the island of Rapa Nui, with our wonderful memories of this magical place. We connect in Santiago, arriving into Miami early Sunday morning.

Optional Patagonia Extension

Saturday, November 15: Our flight from Easter Island arrives into Santiago this evening. We will transfer by hotel shuttle to our airport hotel. Holiday Inn Hotel
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Sunday, November 16: PUENTA ARENAS: Transfer back to the airport for our early morning flight to Puenta Arenas. We will be met by our local guide and, after lunch, drive to Otway Sound to visit the Magellan Penguin Colony of about 10,000 penguins. The late afternoon is the best time to view these two-foot-tall charmers as both adults and baby penguins come out of their burrows to preen. Hotel Cabo de Hornos
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Monday, November 17: PUERTO NATALES
: After a morning at leisure to explore this frontier town, we will drive north several hours through beech forests and past cattle ranches to Puerto Natales, set between Cerro Dorotea and Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). Our hotel is well located in the town center. Hotel Costa Australis.
Meals: Breakfast & dinner

Tuesday, November 18: PUERTO NATALES: Our full day will be spent sailing through the Última Esperanza fiords into Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. Along the way we will see a colony of sea lions, cormorants, many species of birds and the Balmaceda glacier. At the Serrano glacier we disembark to walk to the glacier’s edge to see the calving lake. We will have lunch in the park before returning to Puerto Natales.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch

Wednesday, November 19: PUERTO NATALES: Our last day will be spent visiting Torres del Paine National Park. We will drive through the southern section of the park viewing the Paine Massif and Grey Glacier, one of the largest in the area and part of the southern Patagonian ice field, the largest water reserve in the world. There will be time to walk along the huge lake formed by the glacier.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Thusday, Friday, November 20 & 21: We depart early this morning for the airport and board our flight to Santiago, connecting to our flights to Miami and arriving early Friday morning.
Meals: Breakfast


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Easter Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patagonia