Chile, Argentina & Easter Island :

South American Eclipse Adventure

December 8–21, 2020

Trip at a Glance

  • December 8-21, 2020  
  • Escorted by BJ & Lauren, owners of RetreaTours
  • Experience the gorgeous Chilean Lake District
  • Explore the charming town of Bariloche and the nearby National Parks
  • Witness 2020’s total solar eclipse visible ONLY from northern Patagonia!
  • Discover the wonders of Easter Island and its iconic Moai statues
  • Limited to just 3 to 6 guests!
  • Early bird all-inclusive price of $4899 (based on double occupancy)

The bullseye marks the area we’ll be witnessing the total eclipse; you can see we’ll be directly within the centerline of totality!

Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Santiago, Chile

Puerto Varas, Chile

Bariloche, Argentina

Itinerary at a Glance

 

December 8   Arrive to Santiago, Chile & stay overnight by the airport (overnight in Santiago)

December 9   Fly to Puerto Montt, Chile (100-minute flight) and continue on to Puerto Varas on Llanquihue Lake, Chile’s second-largest lake, with two volcanoes on the horizon  (overnight in Puerto Varas)

December 10   Explore the lakeside, and an optional trip to the oldest park in Chile, the gorgeous Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales (overnight in Puerto Varas)

December 11   Today we’ll cross over the Chilean Lake District by boat! We’ll sail through 4 lakes and make out way into Argentina (overnight in Bariloche) 

December 12–13   We’ll explore the beautiful lakeside town of Bariloche and Nahuel Huapi National Park(overnights in Bariloche) 

December 14   **ECLIPSE DAY! Today we’ll drive ~3 hours north of Bariloche to the area around Piedra del Aguila to watch the total eclipse from the centerline!!** (overnight in Bariloche) 

December 15  Enjoy a free day in lovely Bariloche or we can revisit the park and explore new spots! (overnight in Bariloche) 

December 16  We’ll drive back to Puerto Montt (~5 hours) for an afternoon flight back to Santiago, Chile. (overnight in Santiago) 

December 17  This morning we fly to Easter Island (~5-hour flight) and settle into our oceanfront hotel! (overnight in Hanga Roa) 

December 18–20  These three days on Easter Island will allow us to share our carefully curated Rapa Nui itinerary with you, showing you these gorgeous sites at the best times of day! (overnights in Hanga Roa) 

December 21  Today we’ll head back to Santiago where the trip ends–or perhaps you want to hop further on to Tahiti! Let’s talk!

Why an Eclipse Trip?

BJ’s lifelong dream had been to witness a total solar eclipse, and we returned to the USA to go “Eclipse Hunting” in August 2017. BJ narrowed down the best place to station ourselves based on historic weather patterns, and we rented a vehicle in Fort Lauderdale and drove up to the Kentucky/Tennessee border. We ended up in Cerulean, Kentucky–a stone’s throw from the Point of Greatest Eclipse in the whole country!

Every other house in this small rural town seemed to be renting out camping space in their front yards, which is how we found ourselves sleeping in our rental SUV awaiting the next day’s big event! Our ‘host family’ had 7+ dogs, 2 pigs, a pony, a deer, 14 chickens, and a stock car, and they made us feel very, very welcome! The next day people from other parts of the country found themselves parked on this property, too, including three teenagers who drove from New York City and an eclipse-chaser from Austin, TX. 

We have been fortunate enough to have lives rich with unforgettable experiences–sunrises at Angkor Wat and Stonehenge, quiet time in the center of the Great Pyramid, beholding the architecture of Petra, Machu Picchu, the Great Wall, and the Taj Mahal. It’s still sage to say, though. that witnessing this total eclipse from a front yard in Kentucky is, hands down, one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. 

We hope to provide you with such an experience as well. If you’ve never seen a total eclipse (not 99.9% totality–we mean 100%!), there’s nothing that can prepare you for it! Although we’re still ultimately at the mercy of the weather, we’ll be in the best possible position on the whole globe to witness this December 2020 eclipse. We think it’ll be a grand adventure (with the added bonus of northern Patagonia’s lakes and Easter Island, to boot!)

About other 2020 Eclipse trips

There are plenty of trips out there to see the eclipse (in the same location we are headed–that is, the BEST location!) However, our trip is limited to 6 guests maximum, and includes an amazing cruise across the Lake District and, let’s not forget, EASTER ISLAND! No other trip we’ve found has Easter Island in the mix!

Just in case you wanted to check out what else was happening and how prices compare, here are some links. Please note in regard to the trips that combine other parts of Patagonia, we are planning a Patagonia-specific trip in January 2022. In our opinion, to get to the eclipse site from the noteworthy sites in central and southern Patagonia would be a huge waste of time!

 

Detailed Daily Itinerary

Welcome to Santiago, Chile! Tonight you’ll sleep very close to the airport and get a good night’s rest in preparation for your flight to Puerto Montt tomorrow morning (only a 100-minute flight, don’t worry!)  Together we’ll drive about 30 minutes from Puerto Montt to lakeside Puerto Varas. Not only do we have the stunning Llanquihue Lake to explore, but there are two volcanoes on the horizon! Calbuco rises to 6,611 feet, and lakeside Osorno Volcano is a beautiful conical volcano standing at 8,701 feet, reminiscent of Mt. Fuji.

On December 10th we’ll explore the lakeside area, and perhaps take a trip into Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales! Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales is a protected area in southern Chile’s Lake District. It’s known for Petrohué Falls, which flow down volcanic rock chutes etched by lava. Nearby are the green waters of Lake Todos los Santos and the snow-capped Osorno Volcano to the west. Tronador Volcano is visible in the far east on the Argentinean border. The park is crossed by trails and is home to pumas and tiny pudú deer.

On the 11th we’ll begin our international adventure–crossing into Argentina by boat! Well, a series of boats and vehicles, but a breathtakingly beautiful adventure nonetheless! You’ll join Lauren on this all-day journey (please see the “About the Cruise from Chile to Argentina” toggle below for more details about this day and optional excursions during the journey. For those that would rather make the drive with BJ, you can save $300 by skipping the cruise). We’ll begin our stay in the lovely lakeside town of San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, where we’ll stay for 5 nights. Nestled on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi and its corresponding national park, Bariloche offers travelers invigorating outdoors activities as well as a pretty Swiss-style town full of chocolate shops and boutiques. 

Total Eclipse

Are you ready for the TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE on December 14th?! This eclipse is ONLY visible in northern Patagonia. We’ll head about 3 hours north of Bariloche to the area around Piedra del Aguila to watch the total eclipse from the centerline. Day trips from Bariloche to see the eclipse are selling for more than $1000 per person–that’s wild! We’ll have the freedom of our own vehicle, so we can position ourselves perfectly to avoid crowds and clouds!

December 15th will be a free day around Bariloche, to wander the quaint town or explore the park more. On the 16th we’ll drive back to Puerto Montt, Chile (~5 hours) and fly back to Santiago for the night. Get a good night’s sleep and get excited, because tomorrow we fly to Easter Island (Rapa Nui)!

Easter Island 

We have carefully crafted what we consider the best possible itinerary to explore Easter Island, taking into account the best light for photos and the easiest way to avoid the crowds & tourist buses. We’ll be renting our own vehicle to show you around; this way we can all decide how long to stay in a spot and when to move on. Over the next three and a half days, we’ll show you what makes this island truly magical. (You might ask, is three and a half days enough time? We promise it is, without feeling rushed, although you can certainly stay on in Easter Island, if you wish!)

Easter Island is one of the most remote places on the planet. Set in the South Pacific (as the most southeastern point of the Polynesian Triangle), it is almost 2,200 miles from mainland Chile and more than 1,200 miles away from the next inhabited island. This island is called Rapa Nui in the native language (and the language is also called Rapa Nui!) and Isla de Pascua in Spanish. This 63 square-mile (163 sq km) island has around 7,500 inhabitants and is considered a special territory of Chile. 

Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen encountered the island on April 5, 1722–you guessed it, Easter Sunday. Of course, by then, this island had long been populated–since the 6th to 8th century, it’s estimated. Our first encounter with the island will be landing on a giant airstrip built by NASA for the U.S. Space Shuttle program as an emergency landing spot!

Chances are that, even if you know nothing else about Easter Island, you recognize its iconic statues, or what some people refer to as “the big heads.” You might be surprised to know they’re not just heads! These statues, called “moai” (MOW-eye), are full length, although the exaggerated heads do make up one-quarter to one-third of the statues’ total heights. The only place you really see the famous “heads” is at the quarry, where hundreds of full-length but unfinished moai were abandoned in a standing position, only to be buried up to their necks over the years. The rest of the moai around the island had been placed carefully on top of ceremonial platforms, only to be knocked over by intertribal warfare—or potentially even earthquakes.

There’s some debate about these moai, but there are widely some accepted ideas. The moai were carved to honor deceased tribal leaders and thought to impart that person’s protective power over the community. They were carved from a central volcanic tuff quarry and moved to a ceremonial platform (ahu) overlooking the respective tribes. A common theory now is that the eye sockets were only carved upon arrival to the ahu and that the protective powers were imparted from the coral eyes implanted in the sockets once the statues were raised.

You may have even seen a moai in a museum abroad; the Louvre and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History house two of these statues, but the most famous and treasured one remains at the British Museum. This fine basalt figure is named “Stolen Friend” in the Rapa Nui language.

We’ll strategically visit these ceremonial ahu platforms around the island, as well as the quarry where the statues were painstakingly carved. There is a small but fascinating museum we’ll visit early our first afternoon to give you a foundation for further exploration of the island. And don’t worry, there will be free time for you to explore the charming town of Hanga Roa. Perhaps you’d like to take a hike up to the highest point on the island, Maunga Terevaka, allowing a 360° view of the island around you! Our hotel faces the sunset over the water, or you can take a short walk along the coast to Ahu Tahai for that postcard sunset silhouette shot! And, of course, there is a lovely beach on the north side of the island to visit if you’re in the mood.

On the 21st we’ll say goodbye to Easter Island and make our way back to Santiago, Chile where the trip ends. However, maybe you want to keep going! You can easily hop to Tahiti from Easter Island, and flights from Tahiti to back Los Angeles are quite reasonable! Or perhaps you want to continue your explorations in South America–we can help!

Let us know if you are interested!

Although we’re not taking official registrations or deposits just yet, you can let us know if you are interested in this journey by filling out the short form linked below. Once Argentina and Chile have made it clear that they will not require tourists to quarantine upon entry, we’ll open up the registration.

Trip Resources

Please click the title of the desired tab to open it.

Price & What is Included

The price for this journey is $4899 USD per person (double occupancy).

We will let you know when we start accepting deposits for this journey. In the meantime, you can still complete the application if you’d like to join us! 

The balance will be due by October 31.

If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $799 USD and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you will be responsible for the single supplement. 

Price Includes:

  • All ground transportation within the journey (except for independent exploration trips on free days)
  • Roundtrip flight from Santiago to Puerto Montt
  • All accommodation
  • All breakfasts, 11 lunches, 7 dinners, and all water and soda at mealtimes
  • All Patagonia National Park entrance fees
  • Cruce Andino lake district cruise ($240)
  • All tips at hotels and restaurants
  • Online photo album after the trip
  • Carbon-offsetting for the entire journey

Price does not include:

  • International airfare (although we will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements!)
  • AIRFARE TO EASTER ISLAND. We will give you more information about this process (the estimated price is ~$700 USD)
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • $80 USD Easter Island ticket
  • 1 lunch (cruise day) and 6 dinners
  • Alcohol and any beverages outside mealtime
  • Tip to any expert local guides; this is optional, but it is suggested and entirely based on how much you appreciated them and their service.
Payments

Please refer to the Price tab for specific information about price & what is included on your journey.

We accept payments via check and credit or debit card (via PayPal). For our guests outside the U.S., please write [email protected] for the best transfer details, to save you from PayPal’s 2.5 to 4.5% currency conversion fee.

  • Paying by Check: Checks can be made out to RetreaTours and sent to 8821 NW 14 Street, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024.
  • Paying by Credit Card, Debit Card, or PayPal balance: You can pay the balance with credit card, debit card, or PayPal balance through the button below. Note that you do not have to pay with your PayPal balance; please click here if you’d like further instruction.

We will email you an invoice (via PayPal) about a week before each due date.

FAQ: Visas, Vaccines, Food, Money & more

 

PASSPORT/VISA

  • What do I need to know about the visa?    

First and foremost, your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip, and you’ll need three empty pages in the Visas section of your passport (make sure they are in the Visa section, not the Amendment or Endorsement section). 

You’ll receive your visa upon arrival in Chile and Argentina at no cost. 

FOOD

  • Can my dietary needs be accommodated?

You’ll tell us your needs before the journey and we will do our very best to work with our restaurants to accommodate!

  • Should I bring snacks?

So glad you asked–yes! Snacks like nuts, protein bars, or other favorites are a nice thing to have on hand. We’ll have a few long(ish) days of travel (on the boat to Argentina, the Eclipse day, the drive back to Puerto Montt, the flight to Easter Island) and it’s never a bad idea to stash a few goodies!

  • Can I drink the water?

This is one of our few trips where you CAN drink the local water. However, you can still choose to bring a filter or purchase bottled water if you choose, as some people may not like the taste. 

HEALTH & VACCINES

  • What vaccines do I need?

No vaccines are required to enter Chile or Argentina. Please do see the links below and talk your options over with your own physician or local travel doctor.

  • What about malaria?

Malaria is not a threat in our destinations, although there may still be mosquitos present, so you may wish to bring your favorite repellant. 

  • Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance is required on this trip; please see the separate “Travel Insurance” toggle on this page.

 

MONEY

  • How much money should I bring?

In addition to any money for souvenirs, there are some meal not included (including 7 dinners and 1 lunch).  On our lake crossing day, there are optional activities like ziplining and horse back riding. Those prices are in the “About our Cruise” toggle below.  Please see the “Pricing and Inclusions” toggle for a full list of costs you will need to cover. 

  • How do I get the local currency?

You can either exchange cash in Chile and Argentina or use a local ATMs upon arrival. Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling in Chile and Argentina so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world.  Please do not get currency in your home country BEFORE the trip itself. 

HOTELS

  • What kind of hotels will we be staying at?

Please see the separate “About our Accommodations” toggle on this page.

  • What kind of an electrical adaptor do I need?

Yes, just be sure to bring along a Universal Travel Adaptor that can go with you anywhere in the world!  If you plan on using your phone as a camera, we also highly recommend bringing a portable battery charger such as this one.

COMMUNICATION

  • How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?

We’ll give you our local Chilean and Argentinian phone numbers before the journey. In addition, they’ll be able to get ahold of you via the internet (email, social media, or your favorite social media platform VoIP of choice, like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, etc). 

  • About the Wifi

You’ll have internet access at all of our hotels, although don’t expect blazing speeds, especially on Easter Island!

About our Accommodations

We’ll be staying in comfortable hotels throughout our entire stay–you can check them out below!

About the Cruise from Chile to Argentina

 

This will be a ~12 to 13-hour journey full of beautiful views, broken up between boat and land, including a border crossing between Chile and Argentina. This outline is taken from the Cruce Andino website:

PUERTO VARAS OFFICE 8:00 Departure by bus from the Puerto Varas Office (Del Salvador 72) to Petrohué, passing by Lake Llanquihue.

PTO. VARAS – SALTOS PETROHUE 09:45 – 10:15 Impressive views of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes dominate the landscape. Entrance to the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park where we’ll visit the Saltos del Petrohué and appreciate the capricious volcanic rock formations, bathed in the emerald green waterfalls.

PETROHUE – PEULLA 10:30 – 12:30 We’ll sail to Peulla, navigating across Lake Todos los Santos. If the weather permits, different and breathtaking views of the Osorno and Puntiagudo volcanoes and Cerro Tronador can be seen.

PEULLA LUNCH 12:30 – 15:00 Arrival to Peulla, an ecological lodge and a paradise for nature lovers. Lunch (additional cost). PLEASE SEE OPTIONAL EXCURSION AND PRICES BELOW. 

PEULLA – PTO. COLD 15:00 – 17:00 We’ll board the following bus destined for Puerto Frías, close to Chilean customs to follow the necessary steps at the border. We’ll cross the Andes Mountains, following the route to Puerto Frías.

PTO. COLD – BLEST 17:00 – 19:00 The trip continues in the following sail across Lake Frías for 20 minutes aboard the Victoria del Sur headed towards Puerto Alegre. Upon arrival to Puerto Alegre we’ll take our third bus to Puerto Blest.

BLEST – PUERTO PAÑUELO 19:00 – 20:00 We’ll begin the final sail across Lake Nahuel Huapi, destined for Puerto Pañuelo.

PTO. SCARF – BARILOCHE 20:00 – 21:00 Upon arrival to Puerto Pañuelo, we’ll take a bus on the final leg of the journey towards Bariloche, a city that attracts visitors in winter and summer thanks to its ski centers, shops, hotels, restaurants and nightlife. Over the past few years, Bariloche has developed a name for itself as a city for top-class breweries.

 

 

 

 

 

Suggested Fitness Requirements

Anything beyond light activity is totally optional on this journey (aka, hikes in northern Patagonia and on Easter Island). As a group, we can also decide what sort of hikes we want to take, even splitting into even smaller groups.

On Easter Island, the one place requiring a bit of an uphill walk is the famous quarry. This is not a strenuous climb or walk, and there is so rush. There are optional stairs to see some of the higher moai but the rest of the path is on a smooth paved path. 

On the day of the eclipse, please expect to be in a car ~6 to 8 hours (the prime viewing spot of 3 hours from Bariloche and we might need to drive around to avoid clouds!)  When we drive from Bariloche back to Puerto Montt, Chile, please expect to be in the car for a total of 5 to 6 hours. 

Travel Insurance

If you are traveling with RetreaTours, we require that each guest carries travel insurance that covers emergency medical treatment and emergency evacuation and repatriation. 

We suggest trip cancellation insurance, as well, as you never know what obstacles life can toss at you leading up to a trip. However, we do not require this coverage, we only suggest it highly. In light of recent global events, you might consider exploring “Cancel For Any Reason” insurances.

In addition, since you will be purchasing your flights to/from Chile and to/from Easter Island (from Santiago, Chile), you may wish to consider coverage for those flights. 

Below you will find some options to look into, if this is a new world to you. However, we ask that you carefully consider your choice in travel insurance. What works for some people may not work for others, particularly if you have any pre-existing conditions. Please do take the time to consider the best policy for your individual needs.

World Nomads provides medical coverage for guests under 70 that includes trip cancellation, as well. You can use the box on this page to get a quote and see coverage.

InsureMyTrip.com is a good place to see and compare many policies at once, and you can refine the options by what coverage you would like.

It may also be a good idea to check with your credit card companies, especially American Express, to see if they offer any medical coverage for travel.

About your Flights

There are two flights included in this trip, but you will be responsible for purchasing your flights to and from Santiago, Chile AND from Santiago to Easter Island and return.

We’ll work with you on these flights that you need to purchase, and we highly recommend purchasing cancellation insurance either from the airlines or an independent insurance provider.

Temperature & Suggested Packing List

The historic low and high temperatures in the areas we’ll be are:

  • Chilean and Argentinian Lake District/Patagonia: 45-70°F (8-21°C)
  • Easter Island: 65-80°F (18-26°C)

We’ll provide a packing list before the journey, but think layers, layers, layers!  Please note that soft-sided luggage will be appreciated on this trip in order to fit into the vehicle more efficiently.

Contact RetreaTours
Please write [email protected] for any questions you may have about this journey.  If you have not received a reply within 48 hours, please do check your spam folder.
About BJ and Lauren of RetreaTours

You’ll be joined on this journey by BJ & Lauren, owners of RetreaTours–and we are so excited to show you the natural beauty of northern Patagonia and the Lake districts, Easter Island, AND witness a total solar eclipse with you!

BJ & Lauren created RetreaTours in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding. In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in January 2013 to reside full-time overseas. Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable, transformative, one-of-a-kind retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours™!)

BJ & Lauren take great pride in the itineraries they plan, as they can personally vouch for every hotel, every restaurant, and every activity that you will experience. They craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart.  Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local professionals in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime. The dynamic duo are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins. From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service.

In addition, as a guest, you receive free travel consulting services (normally a $300 value) should you choose to extend your travels. As one of their most ‘frequent fliers’ put it recently, BJ & Lauren make everything easy for you. Once you arrive in your destination city, your trip is all-inclusive—your meals, transportation, lodging, site fees, donations, and tips are all taken care of.  The research has been done, the itinerary carefully laid out, the reservations made, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. All you have to do is show up and take in all your destination has to show you!  So….let’s get going!

Photo Album

Please click a photo to see an enlarged version; you can use your arrow keys or mouse to navigate within the album.

Photos in this album were taken by BJ or Lauren unless otherwise noted in the caption. 

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October – December