Buffet breakfast daily (B), 1 lunch (L); Local Host service in each city; sightseeing with a Local Guide and transportation as outlined in the day-by-day itinerary (except intra-vacation flights, which are additional; inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE).
Day #1 Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Welcome to South America’s capital of glamour—Rio de Janeiro! Your Local Host will be available with suggested activities during your free time. Tonight, you may opt to join an outing to a fun churrascaria for a feast of barbecued meats marinated and roasted over charcoal in true Brazilian style, followed by a Samba show, where the sheer vitality of this country explodes in a colorful extravaganza.
Day #2 Rio de Janeiro. An included city TOUR takes you to bustling downtown Rio, where modern office towers stand next to relics of the Portuguese colonial past. View the Sambodromo and the Cathedral before visiting 300-foot-high SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN. Ascend by cable car to its summit, where you can savor spectacular vistas of the city and beaches. The afternoon and evening are at leisure. (B)
Day #3 Rio de Janeiro. Enjoy a full day at leisure. Your Local Host will suggest an optional Jeep tour to the rainforest in the middle of the city, Tijuca National Park and its bird sanctuary. This afternoon you may elect to discover historic Petropolis, a mountain resort and site of the former summer palace of Emperor Dom Pedro II. (B)
Day #4 Rio–Iguassu Falls. Fly to IGUASSU FALLS at the crossroads of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. This masterpiece of nature encompasses 275 separate falls and spans almost two miles. The afternoon is dedicated to enjoying the spectacle of this 2-mile-wide torrential downpour. With some cataracts as high as 250 feet, it’s nothing short of hypnotic. The clouds of spray, the incessant roar, and the surrounding luxuriant tropical growth make this an unforgettable natural wonder. (B)
Day #5 Iguassu Falls. This morning, take the Ecological Jungle TRAIN and tour the Argentine side of IGUASSU FALLS with numerous walkways that wind under the crashing water. (B)
Day #6 Iguassu Falls–Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fly to Buenos Aires, proud capital of the vast country that occupies most of the southern part of the continent. After arriving at your central hotel you will have time to become acquainted with the “Paris of South America” and its wide boulevards and outdoor cafés. Enjoy an evening at leisure. (B)
Day #7 Buenos Aires. Included SIGHTSEEING this morning starts in the colorful La Boca district, site of the city’s first port. Take a short walking tour of this unique neighborhood, then on to San Telmo, famous for its late-colonial buildings and a popular gathering spot for artists. At the Plaza de Mayo, see La Casa Rosada (the President’s Pink House) and the Metropolitan Cathedral, which houses San Martin’s Mausoleum. Drive past the ornate Colon Opera House before reaching the CEMETERY of the Recoleta, burial site of Eva Peron. Spend the afternoon at leisure. This evening, perhaps savor the city’s atmosphere on an optional dinner at a local restaurant followed by a performance of Latin America’s most sensuous dance—the Tango! (B)
Day #8 Buenos Aires. Today is at leisure. Your Local Host will suggest an optional excursion to the Pampas. Experience Argentine country life as you visit an estancia (ranch). Get acquainted with the lifestyle of the gauchos and enjoy a barbecue lunch and the warm hospitality of your hosts before returning to the city. (B)
Day #9 Buenos Aires–Santiago, Chile. Depart this morning on a scenic flight over the Andes before arriving in Santiago, Chile’s capital. This country is more than 10-times longer than wide, with 2,650 miles of beautiful Pacific coastline. (B)
Day #10 Santiago. Located in the center of the country and perched between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, Santiago has evolved as the country’s political, commercial, and cultural capital. Step back into the 16th century on your guided TOUR as your Local Guide traces the city’s history and heritage. Start at La Moneda, the official Government Palace, and nearby San Cristobal Hill with its landmark statue of the Virgin Mary. Your tour ends at the Plaza de Armas, the main square, with a visit to the 18th-century CATHEDRAL. This evening, consider the optional Chilean Folkloric Dinner Show. (B)
Day #11 Santiago. The day is free for independent activities. You may want to take advantage of an optional excursion to the beautiful coastal region west of Santiago. Drive through the undulating hills of Chile’s wine country to the historic port of Valparaiso, and continue along the coast to nearby Viña del Mar. This chic seaside resort with palm tree-lined avenues and lovely villas truly deserves the sobriquet “Pearl of the Pacific.” (B)
Day #12 Santiago–Easter Island. Fly from Santiago to Easter Island today. The island is considered the largest open-air museum, boasting over 400 moais, ruins, and temples. (B)
Day #13 Easter Island. Your first stop will be AHU VAIHU, where eight large moais lie in ruins. You continue on to AHU AKAHANGA, which is also known as the platform of the king. According to legends, this is the site where the bones of the first king of Easter Island (Hotu Matu'a) were buried. Your trip continues on to one of the most attractive places on Easter Island, RANO RARAKU, the volcano where 95% of all moai were carved. Today you can find 394 statues remaining in various stages of completion. There will be a hike to the top of the volcano to not only reveal many statues but also to admire a spectacular view on Rano Raraku’s gorgeous freshwater lake. To some observers the quarry looks like a graveyard of giants’ stone. It seemed as if production of moai was abruptly abandoned, leaving a frozen snapshot of time so we can look closely at how exactly the moai were carved out of the volcanic rocks. Next, visit the beautifully restored AHU TONGARIKI. This magnificent platform is the largest on the island with its 15 moai. Continue your trip along the north coast and pass through La Perousse Bay to stop at AHU TE PITO KURA, the site of the largest moai ever transported and erected onto an Ahu. Last stop is the beach of Anakena, where King Hotu Matua first landed on Rapa Nui. Anakena is one of two beaches on an island surrounded by a rough, black rock coastline. (B,L)
Day #14 Easter Island. This morning, visit the volcano RANO KAU, the second oldest on the island. Its caldera contains one of the island’s freshwater lakes. Next, continue to the nearby ceremonial village of ORONGO, best known for the birdman cult celebrated here. Within the village, 47 houses have been restored and the remains of an ancient Ahu can also be seen. From here you’ll have a magnificent view of the three small islands: Motu Nui, Motu Iti, and Motu Kao Kao. In AHU VINAPU you will see two major Ahu where moai once stood. The fallen remains of the broken moai can now be seen lying on the ground. The figures here are slightly different from the others. While most do not have legs, this site contains moai with short legs. The last stop this morning is ANA KAI TAGATA, a beautiful cave with wall paintings on the rock with paint made from mineral pigments found on the island. The paintings depict the Manutara bird. The arrival of this bird in spring would initiate the Tangata Manu competition (birdman competition). This afternoon, visit AHU AKIVI with seven restored moais, built in the middle of the island. According to an old legend, the seven moai statues on this Ahu represent the seven scouts sent to Rapa Nui (Easter Island’s local name) by King Hotu Matu’a. Continue on to the ANA TE PAHU CAVE, one of the biggest caves on the island, which was created by lava tubes. Finally, visit the topknot-quarry PUNA PAU with its red scoria stone, where all the Pukaos that were placed on top of the moais were made. (B)
Day #15 Easter Island. Transfer to the airport for your return flight. (B)