Chile & Easter Island is the next archaeological adventure to feature in our Top Tours of the Past 10 Years series, and we spoke to its expert guide lecturer Dr. Paul Bahn to understand how the itinerary has evolved over the decade.
Top Tours of the Past 10 Years: Chile & Easter Island
3 January 2020
Chile & Easter Island
Led by Dr. Paul Bahn, the world’s leading authority on rock art, this 17-day adventure spends time in both Chile and Easter Island, visiting enchanting sites in both destinations. Discover petroglyphs and geoglyphs amid lunar-like landscapes, traverse the striking Atacama Desert and stand before the enigmatic moai. You will also travel out to the Valle de la Luna, take a tour of the UNESCO-listed atmospheric ‘ghost town’ that is Humberstone and visit a selection of museums that house unique exhibitions.
What was your first experience of leading the tour like?
I was very apprehensive about the first tour because the recce had shown it to be a long. tiring and complex enterprise, albeit a fascinating and enjoyable one. But we had prepared it well, and the first tour went like clockwork. Everyone seemed extremely happy with it.
How has it changed over the decade?
The one major change has been that there are now more restrictions on what one can do and see on Easter Island – in particular, thanks to damage caused by the shooting of the Rapa Nui film in the 1990s, one now has to look at the best petroglyphs through binoculars instead of getting close to them. The boulders are in serious danger of falling into the ocean.
Have the condition of any of the sites changed? If so, does this impact visits?
Also, there are now so many tourists visiting Easter Island that we are no longer allowed to go to parts of the statue quarry.
What has changed about the itinerary over the years and why?
We have improved the Atacama itinerary over the years, changing the rock art sites that are visited to ones that are less strenuous to reach. We have also had to modify which museums we visit, because at least one in Santiago is closed because of earthquake damage, and the one in San Pedro de Atacama no longer exists.
What do you believe has given the tour such longevity?
Easter Island is a place that fascinates everyone, and I know of no other tour like this one that shows people every single archaeological feature on the island to which a group can be taken. And, while most people sign up for Easter Island, many of them also fall in love with the Atacama Desert and its geoglyphs and landscapes.
There's just one chance to join this tour in 2020
If you want to tick the bucket-list destination of Easter Island off your list this year, there's only one chance to do so - in November. Join Dr. Paul Bahn, the world's leading rock art expert, here on a 17-day tour that starts from £8,495pp. Click here to view the full itinerary or to book now.