Easter Island Anakena Beach

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Easter Island is one of the most remote islands in the entire world which obviously makes travelling to the island both pricey and time-consuming. Easter Island, therefore, remains a bucket list dream for some of the most die-hard travel fanatics!

If you’re weighing up whether a trip to Easter Island is worth the money and time, here’s a super handy guide to let you know exactly what to expect from a trip to Easter Island!

RELATED: If you’re wondering how you can access Easter Island on a “budget”, you can read my tips and tricks here!

Easter Island Tongariki Girl

Travelling to Easter Island

The most popular method of getting to Easter Island is the daily flights from the Chilean capital of Santiago. An alternative would be to catch one of the weekly flight from Tahiti. Both options take around 5 hours and as LATAM is the only airline servicing these routes, there is lack of competition from other airlines so costs can be pricey!

Being one of the most remote islands in the world, Easter Island can suffer from turbulent weather (it’s the first place I’d been where road signs showed the highest points of the island in case of a tsunami – not worrying at all)! With that in mind, make sure that you add some buffer time to your trip – my flight to the Island ended up being delayed by 5 hours and apparently this isn’t uncommon.

A more adventurous option would be to jump on a boat and ride the waves like the original explorers of the island – I’ve heard incredible stories of retirees chartering a boat themselves and making this amazing journey!

If you’re strapped for cash, look into making the trip on the Chilean Navy Aquiles ship. The ship usually makes this trip twice a year from Valparaiso (Chile) and takes 7 days. While the price is lower than that of a flight, you are obliged to return on the same boat which limits your stay on the island to just a few days (this is fine to see everything that the island has to offer, but is somewhat silly when it’s taken you 7 days to get there)! Be sure to look into this option early as navy personnel (plus their families) and Easter Island residents get priority when booking.

Finally, some cruise lines servicing the South Pacific will make a stop at Easter Island. Of course, cruises aren’t the most bank account friendly option, but this would be a great way to see more of the gorgeous Pacific islands!

RELATED: If you’re wondering how you can fit a trip to Easter Island into a longer adventure, read about my 3 month itinerary here!

Wild Horses on Easter Island

Accommodation

If you’re on a budget (like I was!), there are a few “hostels” on the island. I chose to stay at Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana which has the option for you to pitch a tent (the cheapest option), stay in a dorm room (the next cheapest option but be aware that the beds sell out quickly) or a basic private room.

I had no choice but to opt for the basic private room on the basis that I didn’t have camping equipment with me and there was no availability in the dorm rooms. The room was comfortable and definitely one of the cheapest options on the Island.

Of course, with this being a destination favoured by luxury travellers, there are some incredible properties you can stay at if you have the money! I love the look of the Hanga Roa Eco Village and Spa.

Be sure to book your accommodation in advance as options are limited (especially when you are on a budget) and you won’t want to miss out.

Easter Island Ahu Tahai

Social Life

I travelled to Easter Island on my own and quite frankly, if you’re not comfortable in your own company, this is not the location for you as a solo traveller.

When the transfer to Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana arrived at the airport, I quickly realised that I was the only English speaker within the group heading to my hostel and things were going to be very different to mainland Chile. The majority of travellers that I met were from South America and they spoke very little English. I had plans to learn Spanish later on in my trip to South America (Bolivia is the cheapest place to do it) but I really could have done with those lessons before visiting Easter Island!

The owners of the hotel could speak English… when they wanted to. When we all arrived at the hotel, we were sat down and given a full briefing of the Island and the owner gave a great translated version to me. Unfortunately, when asking questions to the hotel staff later on in my trip, I often got the feeling that they couldn’t be bothered to deal with me as my Spanish skills were limited.

There was one South Korean girl in the hotel who couldn’t speak either Spanish or English and I have no idea how she coped!

Thankfully, I met an older American couple in the hostel kitchen who took me under their wing like the daughter they never had for some of my time on the Island. Travelling alone on the island can be expensive, so I was very glad to have people to split the costs of car hire with.

Essentially, don’t expect to waltz into a hostel and meet tonnes of people like you will in the rest of South America (unless you can speak fluent Spanish)! However, if you are looking for somewhere incredible to relax and enjoy some alone time after living in the hustle and bustle of South American hostels, Easter Island is dreamy.

Two Moai At Easter Island Quarry

Getting Around the Island

Easter Island is small, at a mere 163km², it is a fraction of the size of Greater London (1,572 km²). To simplify matters further there’s a large portion of the Island that has no roads and is off limits to tourists unless you are willing to pay $500+ for a guide. My hostel owner mentioned these tours, but I wasn’t able to find anything about them online  – so maybe ask around when you’re on the Island if you think something in that area is worth seeing!

The areas of the Island that you are able to visit un-guided are easy to access. You can drive the main loop road of the Island in no time at all. Even if you stop and see ALL of the sights, you’ll be able to do this in one leisurely day.

The most common method of transportation is car; and unlike most other activities on the island, car rental prices are fairly reasonable, especially when split between a group. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, try a quad bike, and if you’re much fitter than I, hire a bike for a long cycle!

Consider the weather when if you do hire a quad bike or a bike. I visited in the middle of Summer (February), it was very hot, very humid and the UV rays were very strong. While most rental cars do not have air-conditioning, it’s nice to have a break from the sun beating down on you!

The roads are well-maintained and often fairly empty – even during peak seasons. We found that is was easier to bump into a pack of wild horses than a traffic jam (apart from at Anakena Beach which was very popular in the Summer)!

Therefore, even though there is no form of public transportation, getting around the Island is incredibly simple!

Easter Island Rano Kau

Dealing with “Easter Island Time”

One of the greatest things about Easter Island is the incredibly relaxed and chilled out way of life. This can also, of course be one of it’s downfalls.

As well as allowing buffer time for flight delays, maybe add some additional buffer time for activities. I decided that I wanted to try snorkelling while on the Island, I followed the guidance of the hotel owner to go out with a group led by his friend at 4pm that day rather than using the dive centres in town. 5pm rolled around and the boat still hadn’t left the port meaning I missed the traditional dance ceremony that evening….

Moral of the story – relax, take things at a calm pace and try not to cram too much into one day.

Easter Island Pea Bay

Wi-Fi

I had read horror stories online about the lack of Wi-Fi on the Island and had reassured my mum countless times that I would be without Wi-Fi for 5 days and she shouldn’t panic that I had died.

With that in mind, I was actually really impressed at the quality of the Wi-Fi on the Island! Of course, you couldn’t stream Netflix or upload a YouTube video successfully but for general messaging and uploading the occasional Instagram post (if you have the time to spare while it uploads slowly), the Wi-Fi was fine!

The hotel Wi-Fi was definitely better during the day (i.e. while people were out exploring rather than sitting in bed trying to use the Wi-Fi), so try and use it at less popular hours.

Some of the parks in Hanga Roa have free Wi-Fi but log-on success can be temperamental at best. I would have loved to have been able to sit in one of the parks over-looking the sea with the view of a Moai head in the background and face-timed my friends and family who are unlikely to ever visit.

Easter Island Palm Trees

Food

Food on the Island can be expensive but there are definitely ways to get around this.

Many people bring food to Easter Island from the mainland in cooler boxes. I’ve never seen so many cooler-boxes make their way around the baggage turnstile at the airport – there might have been more food than there was actual luggage!

The alternative is to buy food to cook from the local supermarkets on the Island. While this is more expensive than buying the equivalent on the mainland, it will definitely be cheaper than eating out every night!

The cheapest place to grab lunch on the Island is without a doubt “Club Sandwhich” which serves $3 tasty empanadas among other cheaper treats!

If you want to treat yourself, head over to Te Moai Sunset for great food and an incredible view of the sunset at Ahu Tahai (a must see on the Island, even if you don’t stop here for dinner)!

Easter Island Sunset

Activities

It goes without saying that the Moai statues are the main reason that most people visit Easter Island. The iconic statues may be some of the most famous monuments in the world (albeit for the younger generations, this may only be because of the great “you dumb dumb, you give me gum gum” line from Night at the Museum)!

I was concerned that visiting countless statues of heads would get tiresome, but I couldn’t be more wrong. The size, complexity and history of these statues was interesting every. single. time.

RELATED: Rest assured, there’s plenty more to do on the Island, so much so that I’ve written a whole separate blog post which you can read here.

 

Easter Island Aku Akivi

Protecting the Island

Respecting and protecting the Island are two huge concerns of the Rapa Nui people. There are countless signs on the Island asking you to stick to the roads/footpaths as to not cause erosion on parts of the Island unnecessarily.

Further to this, the re-cycling effort on the Island is second to none. After huge issues with rubbish in the past, there are now a multitude of bins that you need to assess and choose the right one for each piece of your rubbish – tourists are also encouraged to take large items they wish to dispose of back to the mainland as to not clog up the Island.

Touching the Moai or climbing on the Ahu (the raised platform that the Moai stand on) is strictly off limits and the penalties for doing so are huge.

While this might sound like a lot of rules and regulations, it’s for the best of the Island. Easter Island is such an incredible place, it would be a real shame for it to be ruined for future generations. Stick to the rules and have a great time.

Given the remoteness of the Island, I had always imagined that tiny planes accessed the Island… Once again, I couldn’t be more wrong. With Dreamliner planes dropping off hundreds of passengers a day (not that you would notice it at the tourist sites!), maintaining the Island is of the upmost importance.

Easter Island Ana Te Pahu

Safety

I think that the safety of a destination is truly summed up when one of the biggest threats you can find in your research is an injury from a falling coconut on Anakena Beach…

Overall Verdict

My time on Easter Island was truly incredible; it is a tropical paradise so far removed from the rest of South America (even the Galapagos Islands which seem over-run by tourists in comparison).

Yes it’s expensive, yes it’s time consuming to reach but boy is it worth it. Quite frankly, I’ve never been anywhere like it.


Danielle1

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Packing for South America
Dressing for South America

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click-through and make a purchase.

If there’s anything that the above two photos proves, it’s that South America is a diverse continent with various landscapes, climates, altitudes and terrains to conquer! Given the variety, packing for an extended period can be very daunting, but do not fear, it’s super easy!

Considering this was my first time packing for a trip longer than 3 months, I think I did pretty damn well! Of course, everyone makes a few errors in their packing (did I actually wear that super pretty dress for Instagram photos? Absolutely not!) so hopefully you can learn from my mistakes!

Top Tips

  1. Take your route into consideration carefully – Before using my packing list as your bible, check out my 3 month itinerary to see what I got up to! If you’re heading to places like Patagonia or doing hikes that require you to bring your own camping equipment, you will of course need to factor this into you packing plans.
  2. The hard and fast rule when it comes to packing for a trip of any length is that you don’t need half as much as you think you do. Make a list of everything that you think you will need, get everything ready to be packed and then re-assess and put half of it away!
  3. Laundry is not an issue in South America. As long as you’re not in the middle of an arduous trek, you will be able to find a launderette on every street corner! What’s better is that all of your laundry will be done for you, dried and neatly folded for just a few dollars.
  4. Make sure that there is some spare space in your bag. While it may be tempting to pack that extra pair of shoes, I can guarantee that you’d rather bring home some souvenirs (no backpacker manages to leave South America without a fake Alpaca wool jumper).
  5. Remember that you can buy items along the way! Unless you have very specific requirements, all toiletries can be purchased as and when you need them. In respect of cheaper items that you only need for a brief period of time, buy them en route and then gift them on to a fellow backpacker – I purchased a woolly hat for my time in the Uyuni Salt Flats but barely wore it, so ended up gifting it to a fellow traveler who was heading to colder climates than me.

Without further ado, here’s everything I packed for 3 months in South America!

Bags

  1. A comfy backpack and daypack – I highly recommend the Osprey Fairview 70 which is a 57L backpack with a detachable 13L daypack. For men, the equivalent is the Osprey Farpoint 70 (both of which are very popular on the backpacking scene – and for good reason)! The best thing about this backpack is that it opens up fully like a suitcase, so you don’t need to stick your arm the entire way into the bag to find the thing you were looking for at the bottom. You’ll be the envy of everyone in the hostel!
  2. Small Cross Body Bag – When travelling in cities, I preferred to use a small cross body bag like this one. When travelling between destinations, it slotted nicely into my day-pack and didn’t take up any extra room!
  3. Packing CubesPacking cubes will become your BEST friend. This was the first time I had used them and now I won’t travel without them!
  4. Bum-Bag – Okay, a bum-bag (or “fanny-pack” for all of the Americans) isn’t the most stylish item you can bring, but it is very handy! I brought mine with safety in mind (i.e. keeping some cash close to me in case of being mugged – which thankfully didn’t happen) but I ended up using it as a place to handily store my camera while hiking!

Clothes – Outerwear

Your choice of outerwear will be fundamental given the range in climates. Get it wrong and you could either be very cold or the complete opposite and end up carrying around a huge coat that never gets worn.

If you really don’t have enough room in your bag to bring outerwear from home, you can find lots of outdoor clothing stores in places like Cusco (your base for starting the Machu Picchu trek) but be aware of inflated prices.

  1. A good quality rain jacket – It can rain a lot in the Andes, so a good quality rain jacket will be your saviour (no matter how ugly it may be). Pick something lightweight that will break the wind to keep you warm but be easy to pack away when not needed.
  2. A warm fleece/hoodie – The comfier and warmer, the better. I tried to pick a fleece that was a bit more stylish so it didn’t feel like I was just wearing ugly hiking gear all the time!
  3. Gloves – Gloves will definitely come in handy on high altitude hikes where temperatures drop (or if you’re clumsy like me, it will save your hands from scratches and cuts if you fall over…).
  4. Multi-use scarf – I purchased a travel infinity scarf  which turned out to be a great investment! Not only is it an additional layer to brace the cold with, the secret pocket means you can keep your valuables (phone and credit card etc.) close to you and I used it as a pillow on bus journeys!
  5. Headband – A cute headband is super handy to cover up greasy hair on multi-day hikes where showers are a distant dream!
  6. Sunglasses – While they are the polar opposite of the last few items, make sure you have some quality sunglasses for your trip. And make sure you don’t sit on them and break them within your first week of travelling (speaking from experience here).

Clothes – Bottoms

When it comes to bottoms, variety is key. Bottoms can be hard to layer so you need to be prepared for a multitude of different climates, I survived just fine with the following:

  1. 2 x shorts – I packed two pairs of lightweight denim shorts (blue and black) for the warmer climates. If I could do it all again, I would probably swap one pair for a sportier style – cycling around the vineyards of Mendoza in denim shorts wasn’t particularly pleasant!
  2. 2 x jeans – I stupidly bought two pairs of jeans with me. In cooler destinations, I lived in my trusty black jeans (the ASOS Rivington are my jeans of choice) and the grey pair lived at the bottom of my bag for the entirety of the trip. Unless you’re a jeans lover, only pack one pair!
  3. 2 x sports leggings – South America is filled with incredible hikes, so make sure you’ve got at least one comfy pair of leggings. If you’re going to do the 4 day Inca Trail, don’t worry about only having 1-2 pairs, everyone is in the same stinky boat!
  4. 1 x thermal leggings – If you’re planning on doing any high altitude hikes, it’s advisable to have some thermal leggings to sleep in!
  5. 1 x lightweight flowy trousers – I am very glad that lightweight flowy trousers seem to be all the rage right now – these are dreamy if you are in a warm destination but want to be a bit more covered up – plus they take up no room in your backpack!

Clothes – Tops

Packing clothes for your top half is much easier. Essentially, you need to pick items that are easy to layer. Don’t bother bringing your favourite jumper as a warmer layer, you’re bound to pick up a “backpacker jumper” whilst on the road!

  1. 3 x normal t-shirts – In hindsight, 2 t-shirts would have been fine but female t-shirts tend to be so lightweight an extra one doesn’t hurt! I ordered this ASOS multi-pack for 3 cheap and cheerful t-shirts that I wouldn’t mind damaging/losing.
  2. 2 x sports t-shirts – Of course you need some sports t-shirts to go with those sports leggings while you’re hiking!
  3. 2 x vest tops – The art of layering requires some basic under layers – I recommend this ASOS multi-pack.
  4. 1 x long sleeve top – This will come in handy for layering on the cooler occasions. While on the Uyuni Salt Flats, I think I wore 5 layers of tops throughout the day so I could adjust as necessary!
  5. 4 x lightweight “nicer” tops – So far my packing list has been very very bland. To save my sanity, I chose to pack 4 light weight nicer tops which I could wear with with a whole range of bottoms to feel a bit fancier for dinners/nights out/exploring cities!

Clothes – Other

Now for all the added “extra” bits and bobs…

  1. 1 x lightweight Summer dress – This is a real necessity in warmer destinations! Pick a lightweight dress that you can both wear in the cities or use as a cover-up on the beach.
  2. 1 x playsuit – Here’s where I admit my stupidity. I had visions of being “that girl” who had a change of outfit and wore beautiful clothes for Instagram. I packed a lovely red playsuit that sat at the bottom of my bag for the entire trip because let’s face it, I’m not “that girl”.
  3. 14 x underwear – I decided to take 2 weeks worth of underwear but I know a lot of girls travelled with a lot less! As already mentioned, laundry facilities in South America are plentiful, so don’t pack too many, it’s just a waste of space.
  4. 4 x hiking socks Hiking socks are an necessity if you plan on doing any walking. No matter how comfy your shoes are, the socks can make a huge difference!
  5. 4 x bras (2 normal + 2 sports) – I packed one nude bra, one black bra and 2 sports bras to cover all bases.
  6. 1 x bikini – I spent more time in the mountains than by the beaches, so 1 bikini was more than enough for me!
  7. Sleepwear – Take some dedicated pyjamas if you want to… or just use your leggings and normal t-shirts to save space in your bag!

Shoes

I took a very limited shoe selection. While it was absolutely fine, I would consider packing a pair of lightweight comfy trainers so that walking shoes weren’t my only sensible option!

  1. Walking boots/shoes – I opted for walking shoes rather than boots as I wanted to be able to wear them in cities too. I opted for a super comfy North Face pair which I highly recommend! To save room in your bag, always wear these when moving destinations or tie them to the outside of your backpack.
  2. Flip-flops – I picked up a £0.90 pair of flip flops from Primark which I intended to mainly use in the hostel showers but I ended up living in them for most of my trip! Finding a pair of comfy flip flops is fundamental!
  3. Sandals – I packed one paid of nice sandals which I intended to use as my everyday shoes in the warmer destinations. Unfortunately, they gave me HUGE blisters on day 2 and I never wore them again!

Travel “Necessities”

This is the one section where I probably did over-pack. Luckily all of the items are very small and I didn’t know what to expect from my trip, so wanted to be prepared for all outcomes!

  1. Currency, Debit & Credit Cards – I took some Chilean Pesos for the first leg of my trip alongside a credit card with no foreign transaction fees (I opted for the Santander Zero card) and my normal debit card for back-up.
  2. Passport and ID – While your passport is a given requirement, I also took my drivers license to use as ID without the risk of losing my passport while out and about!
  3. Copy of Documents – Keep a copy of your passport and your travel insurance documents
  4. Torch – This is a necessity on some hikes which require very early starts. Most people opted for a more convenient headlamp, but I found a torch to be just fine!
  5. Water bottle – I bought this incredible Brita water bottle which filters dirty water before my trip and LOVED it. Unfortunately, a rather violent horse ride saw it fly from my bag and into the wilderness never to be found again.
  6. Travel microfibre towel – Okay, they aren’t the nicest things to dry yourself with but a microfibre towel is a MUST while travelling. My towel was accidentally taken by another traveller while I was in Chile and I learnt they are a lot harder to find and much more expensive overseas! Take two just in case!
  7. Padlocks – Invest in some good padlocks to keep your bag safe on long bus journeys and also to keep your locker safe in hostels.
  8. First Aid kit – Hopefully you won’t have to use it, but it’s best to have a small kit like this one just in case!
  9. Medication – Be sure to bring enough of your normal medication to see you through your journey. as well as some precautionary tablets such as painkillers and Imodium. Check with your doctors to see if you need any other medication for your trip – I brought malaria tablets for my trip to the Amazon Jungle. If you are affected by altitude sickness, it may be worth getting some Diamox before your trip too (I didn’t).
  10. Insect Repellent – Mosquitoes LOVE to bite me, so insect repellent is a must for me!

Gadgets/Electronics

Electronics are a very personal matter, so take as many or as few that you think you need. As a solo traveller, I tried to keep my “flashy gadgets” to a minimum and opted to take my point and shoot camera as opposed to my DSLR. I thought about bringing my kindle but instead downloaded the Kindle app on my phone which worked really well!

  1. Phone + charger + sturdy case
  2. Go-pro camera + charger + spare batteries
  3. Normal camera + charger + spare batteries (the Canon G7X is my weapon of choice)
  4. Various memory cards
  5. Headphones
  6. Portable charger
  7. Universal plug sockets

Toiletries / Cosmetics

The thing to remember with toiletries is that you can usually find whatever you’re looking for whilst travelling. So unless you have very niche needs or requirements, bring the bare minimum to get you going and then re-stock when necessary.

Lots of tour guides for hikes will tell you that you need to bring toilet paper with you. Don’t bother bringing it all the way from home, stock up when you’re in South America (I tended to just take as much as I think I would need for day hikes from my hotel)!

  1. Hairbrush
  2. Comb
  3. Nail clippers
  4. Small scissors
  5. Tweezers
  6. Shampoo
  7. Conditioner
  8. Deodorant
  9. Toothbrush
  10. Toothpaste
  11. Make-up
  12. Make-up remover
  13. Sun cream
  14. Moisturiser
  15. Razor

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post (however affiliate links may be used which mean I earn commissions on purchases at no extra cost to you) and all thoughts are my own.

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“Easter Island? What on earth did you do there?” is normally the reaction I get when I say how incredible Easter Island is. Given it’s remote location and the fact that few people have visited, it’s a fair question! So, here you can find my complete itinerary alongside some additional extras that I wish I had time to do!

Two Moai At Easter Island Quarry

Day One

Jump On A Flight From Santiago

Allow yourself plenty of time for your flight; not only is the flight a whopping 5 hours from mainland Santiago, Easter Island frequently suffers turbulent weather and flights can therefore suffer significant delays. My flight was delayed by 5 hours!

On arrival in Easter Island, I was presented with a lei by the hostel manager from Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana which made me VERY excited for what was to come from my first ever Pacific Island adventure.

On arrival at the airport, you will be required to purchase your ticket for all of the archaeological sites for $60. You will need to present this when entering most site or if a ranger asks you whilst you are standing in part of the National Park.

With expensive flights and a hefty fee for a ticket to the archaeological sites, you’re probably wondering how much a trip to Easter Island is going to cost you! Check out my tips and tricks on how to visit Easter Island on a budget here.

Get Your First Glimpse of A Moai – Ahu Tahai & Ahu Ko Te Riku

Easter Island Ahu Tahai

I had big plans for Day One on the island, but a long flight delay meant that these plans were somewhat scuppered! Instead of rushing around trying to rectify matters, I desperately searched the map to find the nearest Moai heads.

With Ahu Tahai being a short 20 minute walk from the main village of Hanga Roa, I headed there immediately and I don’t think I’ve ever walked so fast in my life! After being cooped up in an airport and then plane for more than 10 hours, I was ready to be unleashed on the mysterious statues that I had travelled so far to see!

Ahu Tahai is solo statue but 2 minutes away is Ahu Ko Te Riku where 5 stand proudly in a row. I certainly wasn’t disappointed with the view but little did I know that these were some of the smaller moai on the island and things were only going to get better!

This is one of the best spots to catch the sunset on the island – unfortunately my first night was extremely cloudy, so the sunset wasn’t particularly impressive. The good news is that as the site is so close to town, you can try and catch a great sunset as many times as you like.

Day Two

Explore the Town of Hanga Roa

Easter Island Hanga Roa

Eager to start exploring properly, I headed straight into town to see what was going on. Hanga Roa is the only real town on the Island and while there isn’t much to see or do in the town, it’s definitely worth popping in to see how the locals live. If you’re looking for a cheap lunch spot, “Club Sandwich” is the place to be!

If you’re looking for Wi-Fi, there are a few parks in the town which have free Wi-Fi but it might be at the cost of your own sanity whole you wait for your social media to load.

Get Your Passport Stamped!

Easter Island Passport Stamp

South America is filled with novelty passport stamps – if you get them all, you’re likely to need a new passport shortly after! However, Easter Island’s stamp is definitely worth getting.

Easter Island is owned by Chile and therefore there is no stamping process, when you arrive or depart from the airport. Instead, you can go to the local post office and pay a small donation in return for a passport stamp.

I also purchased an Easter Island postal stamp for my friend’s mum who collects stamps from around the work. Be warned that the Easter Island stamps are only valid on the Island (which makes no sense given that you can drive the length of the island in less than an hour). If you were to send a postcard from the Island, it would be routed through the Chilean postal system and you would need to purchase a standard Chilean stamp.

Try to Spot Turtles at Pea Bay

Easter Island Pea Bay

Pea Bay / Pea Beach is a tiny little beach a short walk from the main town centre and is one of my favourite Hanga Roa spots!

If you’re lucky, you will spot turtles swimming in the bay. If you’re not so lucky, you can console yourself with an ice cream from the Pea Restobar. I don’t know if it was the intense heat/humidity playing with my mind, but I’m pretty sure it was some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted (I recommend the pineapple flavour)! I am too ashamed to include quite how many times I bought ice cream from this spot within this itinerary.

Rent a Car and Begin the Loop Road Around The Island

Easter Island Cars

To truly experience the island, renting a car is fundamental. Luckily, car hire is reasonably priced, especially when you are travelling in a group.

While cooking dinner in the hostel the previous night, I got chatting to an American couple who were on a year long travel adventure. As they were the only other English speakers in the hostel at the time, I am very grateful that they took me under their wing and allowed me to share their car with them! We paid 35,000 CLP for 24 hours of car hire (approximately 35 GBP) which when split between 3 people was very reasonable.

There is a large loop road around the Island which hosts the main Moai archaeological sites. With this being my first full day on the island, it was a pretty impressive start to my time here!

See The Fallen Moai at Vaihu – Hanga Te’e

Fallen Moai Hanga Te'e

Hanga Te’e is the perfect place to see Moai in the state that they were left after the Huri Moai period (a.k.a “The Fallen Moai” period).

As with most of Easter Island’s history, the stories are unclear, but there is evidence to suggest that the initial toppling of the Moai was part of a conflict amongst islanders rather than by way of a natural disaster.

Easter Island adopted Christianity in the 1860s which led to a period of toppling the remaining standing Moai (bar some which are partially buried in the quarry) known as the “Huri Moai” period. The Moai which we now see standing were re-erected in later years.

Explore ancient history at Akahanga

Easter Island Akahanga

Akahanga has a really fascinating history. Each archaeological site has a red sign at the entrance for you to start learning about the history, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up obsessed with the history and the proud owner of an extensive Google search history!

By the entrance, you will find ruins of the best preserved ancient village on the island. Small thatched huts make up a number of ovens, houses and gardens.

Further along the marked path (be sure to stick to all paths on the island as the authorities are trying to cut down on unnecessary erosion by human traffic where possible across the island), you will find a platform which would have been used as a ceremonial centre. The platform consists of several stages which is believed to show a mixture of clans and families that occurred in the ancient society.

There are plenty more toppled Moai to see here too and fantastic views of the rugged coastline!

See Hundreds of Moai at Rano Raraku (The Quarry)

Easter Island Rano Raraku
Easter Island Quarry Crater

Now for my favourite stop on the road trip…

Rano Raraku is known as “The Quarry” and is the only archaeological site that your ticket will only allow you to visit once – so make the most of your time here!

The Quarry is now home to almost 400 Moai which never made it to their final destination and in the 18th Century was the source of the stone used for 95% of the Moai on the island. My favourite part of the Quarry is the unfinished Moai that you can still see resting in the rock face, partially carved.

Take your time to walk around the paths and admire the craftsmanship of the Moai but don’t forget to walk around the back of the main site (there are two paths as you enter the main site – it’s the path less travelled) to see a truly beautiful crater!

Get The Iconic Shot at Tongariki

Easter Island Tongariki Girl

If you’ve seen one photo of Easter Island, it’s probably of Tongariki.

Home to 15 Moai, it is the largest ahu (the long plinth on which the Moai are stood) and is home to the heaviest Moai ever erected which weighs a whopping 150 tonnes! The Moai all face directly into the sunset during the Summer Solstice.

This is a great place to marvel in the wonder of these statues and get your new favourite Instagram picture 😉

See Ancient Petroglyphs at Papa Vaka

Papa Vaka is home to the largest petroglyph (rock carving) on the island measuring 12 meters long. the petroglyphs depict the Rapa Nui’s concerns about the sea and the control of it’s resources and is a great way for archaeologists to learn more about the history of the island.

Feel Supernatural Energy at Te Pito Kura

Fallen Moai at Te Pito Kura
Easter Island Te Pito Kura Stone

At almost 10 meters tall (it’s ears are 2 meters long alone!) and weighing 80 tonnes, the Moai at this site (named “Paro”) is one of the largest on the island and legend states that this Moai was ordered by a widow in the memory of her late husband (suddenly a little plaque in a memorial garden in the UK doesn’t seem so special…).

Next to the Moai is a large stone which is thought to have been brought to the island by the founding king of the Rapa Nui people. The rock is said to have a magnetic and supernatural energy (due to the high iron content, the stone warms up quickly and causes a compass to malfunction).

Unfortunately, a few desperate people have ruined the fun for everyone else… visitors used to be able to put their hands on the stone to capture the supernatural energy; however, the stone is believed to increase fertility in women and it is now closed off after tourists began performing obscene acts… I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

Relax On the Beach At Anakena

Easter Island Anakena Beach

Finally, the last stop on the road trip is a relaxing one! Anakena is the largest beach on the island and is definitely worth a few hours of your time. With beautiful white sand, glistening blue warm sea, palm trees galore and, of course, a few Moai, it really is paradise!

It was late afternoon by the time we arrived and the beach was crowded in the February sunshine (especially compared to the other almost empty sites on our road trip)! If you are visiting in Summer months, try going early in the day to have the place to yourself before any tour buses arrive.

Day Three

Watch The Sunrise at Tongariki

Easter Island Tongariki

While you still have access to the rental car, get up early and witness the sunrise at Tongariki! Unfortunately I missed out on this activity due my American buddies having the keys to the car and not being interested in seeing another sunrise (I imagine they had seen plenty on their year long adventure)!

I tried to organise this trip for another morning and a taxi ride was seemingly more expensive than 24 hours of car rental – so definitely factor this into your plans!

Hike The Te Ara O Te Ao Trail

Te Ara O Te Ao Trail

There are two ways to witness the marvel that is the Rano Kau volcano… The first would be to drive (either in a rental car, taxi or on an organise tour with lovely air-conditioning), the other would be to hike the Te Ara O Te Ao trail which is the same route used 150 years ago to reach the ceremonial village of Orongo (at the top of the volcano rim).

I obviously opted for the harder option… forgetting that it was February and the heat was reaching Summer highs.

Despite the ridiculous levels of sweat and a stare-off with a particularly aggressive cow, it was a beautiful hike. From seaside scenery, small gardens, various viewpoints and a cave, there’s plenty to see along the way and you definitely get a greater appreciation for the island than if you were to hop in a car!

Marvel In The Volcano Views at Rano Kau

Easter Island Rano Kau

After a 2(-ish) hour hike, the first view of Rano Kau from the lookout is spectacular. While the whole Island is beautiful, without a doubt, this is the most impressive natural landscape on the Island.

The 200 meter high crater walls protect the plants that live within the volcano and stores the humidity which allows for the growth and conservation of endemic plant species – like a giant natural greenhouse!

The owner of the hostel I was staying in advised that I should walk the entire rim of the volcano (as you aren’t able to walk the whole way round, this would involve turning left and until the furthest point and then coming all the way back on yourself to reach the look out again and then head right towards Orongo and then coming back on yourself again to reach the path home). Given the threat of dehydration, I decided to skip the left hand side and continue my walk right toward Orongo.

Learn About The Bird Man Ceremony of Orongo

Orongo Houses

Ont he volcano edge, you will find the town of Orongo, a town which was only inhabited before the annual Bird Man ceremony.

Up until the 19th Century, men would hike the Te Ara O Te Ao trail before descending the 300 metre cliff to swim to Motu Nui (an islet nearby) in search of the first manutara bird egg of the season. The first man to retrieve the egg and return it safely to the mainland would be the ruler of the island for the next year! With the extremely high death risk in participating in the ceremony, you’d have to be a very power hungry chap to partake!

There is a great mini museum as you enter Orongo which explains the history of the ceremony and also reminds you of the greedy nature of the British – the only Maui from this Orongo is now residing in the British Museum in London (and I am still yet to see it)!

See The Caves at Ana Kai Tangata

Ana Kai Tangata Caves

While walking back down from the volcano, I stopped off at Ana Kai Tangata to check out the caves. If you are feeling more adventurous/more energetic than I was, you can climb down stairs which have been carved into the cliff and enter the cave

Dinner At Te Moai Sunset

Easter Island Sunset

After a very active day, I decided to treat myself to dinner at Te Moai Sunset which is far pricier than my favourite lunch spot (Club Sandwich) on the main street.

While the food is lovely, the main attraction is the view over Ahu Tahai at sunset. I arrived fairly early for the sunset, so spent some time beforehand lapping up the sun and sounds of the ocean while reading a book – Island life is blissful!

Stargazing

When the sun has set, there’s still plenty to see if you look up! Being on an island with very little light pollution means the stargazing is absolutely incredible. There’s no need to take a fancy tour to enjoy the stars, I simply sat on the porch of my hotel room!

Day Five

Have a Lay In & Enjoy Island Life

Wild Horses on Easter Island

Finally after the intense humidity of the prior few days, the rain came! I used the rain as an excuse to have a lie-in and enjoy island life in the morning – a necessity when staying on such a beautiful island! I won’t lie, I spent most of my time on the Island singing the Moana soundtrack to myself..

Don’t worry, the rain won’t dampen your fun – despite the strange looks from the locals, I still strolled into town wearing a little summer dress as it was still so warm!

Explore The Sebastian Englert Museum

If you want a better understanding of the Rapa Nui culture and the history of the Moai, this is the place to go! I found this museum so fascinating, and particularly enjoyed the boards which showed different historians and archaeologists views and opinions on the Moai – I love a good mystery!

Don’t worry if you’re not a museum lover, this one is small, compact and will keep you entertained throughout!

Take a Boat / Snorkelling Tour

Motu Nui Islet

In the late afternoon, I intended to take a boat trip out to the Motu Nui islet (where the Bird Man ceremony took place) to try some snorkelling.

My hostel manager recommended that I go with his friend who was leading a tour group at 4pm and that I would definitely be back in time to watch the traditional dance that evening…

Let’s just say that “Easter Island time” is definitely a thing and the boat journey didn’t start until well after 5pm. if you want to take a boat/snorkelling tour, book with a reputable agency on the harbour/main street!

Watch a Traditional Dance (Ballet Kari Kari)

The Ballet Kari Kari is a traditional dance ceremony which is held a few days a week to tell the story of the Rapa Nui people to tourists.

I couldn’t tell if this was going to be a genuinely cultural experience or a bit of a tourist trap but I never got to find out due to the late running of my boat trip – if you do go and see it, let me know how it was!

Day Four

Visit the “Inca Wall” at Vinapu

Easter Island Vinapu

With it being my last day on the Island, I wanted see the final few archaeological sites. I took a stroll into town and an extraordinarily helpful girl working in one of the tourist agencies made all of my plans spring into motion without the need to hire a car again!

First stop was a quick cab ride to Vinapu, an area that is home to stone work and carving techniques which do not exist in any other part of Polynesia. Instead, the wall is reminiscent of the techniques used by the Inca culture throughout South America, giving rise to theories about the origins of the population of the island.

There are a few Moai remains in this area too, including the remains of the only erect female Moai statue (the other is placed inside the Sebastian Englert Museum).

Explore The Cave Of Bananas At Ana Te Pahu

Easter Island Ana Te Pahu

My afternoon was spent on a guided tour crossing off the final items on my Easter Island wish-list. While guided tours may seem pricey and will give you less freedom than hiring a car, I highly recommend taking at least one quick tour while you are on the Island. With all of the mystery that shrouds Easter Island, there isn’t anything more interesting than discussing it with a local tour guide. I had a particularly lovely guide who wanted to practice his English with me (don’t blame me if you find a guide with an Essex accent…).

Our first stop was Ana Te Pahu which is made up of over 7 kilometres of underground chambers.

Just before the cave entrance is a beautiful lush green area where bananas and avocados are grown (hence the nickname “Cave of Bananas”). The cave itself was used as house many years ago and our tour guide told us plenty of stories about the former residents!

My favourite story was about the Rapa Nui people’s very strict rules against Incest (which is understandable really…) but at the end of the 19th Century, the population of the island had dipped to an all time low of only 111 people. So when you start tracing back through the generations, more or less everyone was related to each other…Therefore, couples in obviously incest relationships would hide here avoiding punishment.

Learn About 7 Young Explorers at Ahu Akivi

Easter Island Aku Akivi

Ahu Akivi is home to 7 Moai who are thought to represent 7 young explorers who were sent to explore the island before the arrival of the colonizers.

Just like all of the other Moai structures, Ahu Akivi is centered astronomically, this time facing directly into the sunset during equinoxes. This means that they are the only erected Moai which look out to sea on the whole island. Out of all of the Moai structures, I think that this one has the prettiest back-drop!

Puna Pau

Easter Island Puna Pau Topknots
View From Puna Pau

Many of the Moai heads on the island have red cylinders to represent the “topknot” hairstyles of the time. That’s right, they aren’t hats, the Rapa Nui people were not too dissimilar to the hipsters you see walking around Shoreditch in London.

Puna Pau is the quarry used to source the rock for the topknots. While this is facinating, it also offers great views of the island!

Say Goodbye to The Incredible Island!

Easter Island Airport

It’s safe to say that I LOVED my time on Easter Island and I would fly back in a heart beat if I could. Even though I had another 2.5 months of travelling ahead of me, there was something incredibly sad about leaving somewhere so special that few travellers get to visit. But don’t worry – the cuteness of the airport softens the blow!

Want to know how I spent the rest of my time in South America?
Read my entire 3 month South America itinerary here.

Alternatives

If some of the above activities don’t take your fancy, don’t worry, here’s some alternatives for you!

Scuba Dive With Underwater Moai

There are a few places that you can go diving on the Island, however the most popular spot includes seeing a submerged Maoi statue! Unfortunately, the statue isn’t authentic and instead it’s a replica that was made for a TV show – that aside, it makes for some seriously impressive photos! a PADI scuba diving licence is required to visit this site.

Explore the Island On Horseback

If you’re struggling to walk long distances in the intense heat or are bored of sitting in a car, the horseback riding is a great alternative – especially if you want to see areas that are off limits to cars.

Two popular routes are climbing to the top of Terevaka (the highest peak on Easter Island) or a tour near Anakena beach of the central coast where there are no roads.

Of course, chose a reputable tour guide and ensure that the horses are well cared for at all times.

Hike To The Tallest Peak For 360 ° Views

Terevaka is the highest peak on Easter Island and reaching the summit rewards you with 360 ° views – the downside is that it can only be reached by foot or on horseback. I fully intended on doing this hike after my trip to the top of Rano Kau – but it’s safe to say that the heat got the better of me! I imagine that standing at the top of this peak (which isn’t a high priority for most visitors to the island) would be the ultimate isolated bliss.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post (however affiliate links may be used which mean I earn commissions on purchases at no extra cost to you) and all thoughts are my own.

Danielle1

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Easter Island Girl Tongariki Easter Island Heads From Behind

Easter Island is both very remote and very high on a large number of traveller’s bucket lists. The combination of these two factors means that a trip to this gorgeous Island can be VERY expensive!

I weighed up the pros and cons of visiting Easter Island extensively before spending so much money on such a short trip. The deciding factor was something along the lines of “sod it, I probably won’t find myself in Santiago again any time soon, I’d regret it if I didn’t fly to Easter Island now”.

If you’ve read my blog post outlining my budget for my entire 3 month trip in South America, you will know that I really tried to maximise my experiences within the three months and therefore ended up spending a bit more than anticipated. However, that doesn’t mean that I was walking around throwing money at anyone that would take it – I think I planned my trip to Easter Island on as small of a budget as possible – here’s how you can to!

How Much Did My Trip Cost?

All in all, I spent £926.62 over the course of 6 days which is a grand total of £154.44 per day! Considering you could easily spend £150 per night on a hotel (no matter where you are in the world), I don’t think I did too badly for a destination which is known for being super pricey!

A breakdown of my costs are as follows:

  • Accommodation: £181.50
  • Food: £34.88
  • Gifts: £6.64
  • Necessities: £6.60 (public toilet and replacement sunglasses)
  • Sightseeing: £97.20
  • Transport £599.80

Now, here’s how you can book a trip for less than £1,000 too!

Easter Island Close Up Moai Easter Island Wild Horses

Flights

When To Book

Flights are the real reason that a trip to Easter Island can be very expensive. The key to getting a good deal looking at flights as early as possible.

I heard great stories about people being able to buy £250 return tickets last minute a few years ago but this didn’t seem to be the case in my experience. I visited Easter Island in late February 2018 and began looking at the flights in November/December 2017. Ideally, I should have booked the flights as soon as I decided on my dates as they did go up in price as time passed.

Should You Use A Flight Comparison Website?

This is the one time that I wouldn’t recommend using Skyscanner to check for flights, purely on the basis that there is only one provider for the route (LATAM). To save time, just check the prices directly on the LATAM website. There were a few times where the actual cost when clicking through to the LATAM website was much higher than the Skyscanner estimate – so don’t get your hopes up!

Flexibility with Dates

Flights can differ massively from day to day. If you can be flexible, check all of the prices on surrounding dates. For some reason, all of the return flights that I was looking at were around £1,000 and then I managed to find the exact same flights on slightly later dates for £560 return! At almost “half price”, it would have been rude not to book them!

Using a VPN / Accessing the Chilean LATAM Website

Of course, all good travel hackers would tell you to use a VPN to hide your location when booking expensive flights. In my excitable state, I forgot to do this while looking for my flights – oops!

However, I did try accessing the Chilean version of the LATAM website rather than the UK version and was shocked at how much cheaper the flights were! I tried to book the tickets but the site wouldn’t accept my UK credit card – it’s worth a shot though!

Check the Price of Business Class

I’ve heard rumours that the price of business class tickets to Easter Island sometimes aren’t that much more expensive than economy tickets! So be sure to check the business class section if you want to get the most bang for your buck!

RELATED: Easter Island is in the middle of nowhere, check out how I slotted it into a 3 month South American backpacking adventure here!  

Easter Island Girl Sightseeing Easter Island Palm Trees

Accommodation

Camping / Hostels

The cheapest way to stay on the island is to camp. Wild camping is prohibited on the island but campsites can be found at a relatively cheap price. The hostel that I stayed at (Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana) had camping facilities starting from £20 per night!

If you haven’t brought a sleeping bag or camping gear with you, the next best option is a bed in a hostel dormitory. Hostel beds are hard to come by on Easter Island unless you book early, this is perhaps because at Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana a hostel bed is around the same price as a tent!

Cheap Private Rooms

As I wasn’t carrying a sleeping bag and all hostel rooms had booked out on the Island, I ended up with a cheap private room. There are plenty of small family run hotels offering a basic bedroom on the island. I had a double room and shared bathroom which totalled £181.50 for 5 nights (i.e. just under £37 per night).

Given the fact that the Island is small, I imagined that there wouldn’t be many accommodation choices and I would end up spending over £100 per night! That’s simply not the case if you book early. Most reservations via Booking.com have a time period where it’s free to cancel the reservation, so even if you’re holding out for a price drop in flights (don’t get your hopes up too much), you can reserve the room just to be safe!

Easter Island Cave Easter Island Quarry

Food

Bringing Food From Mainland Chile

As I stood waiting to collect my dusty backpack from the baggage turnstile at the airport, I noticed something quite peculiar… most of the items on the baggage turnstile were cool boxes containing food! As all food is imported to Easter Island, many of the locals (and tourists alike) bring food with them from the mainland in an attempt to avoid the inflated prices on the Island.

As I was only going to be visiting Easter Island for 5 nights, I bought a big bag of pasta and a large sachet of sauce to see me through the evenings where I didn’t want to spend much money! Choosing accommodation that has cooking facilities is imperative if you’re looking to save money.

The bag of pasta and sauce sachet were so large that I ended up being able to leave a substantial amount in the kitchen for future travellers to enjoy too!

Cheap Eats on Easter Island Island

While I would eat dinner at the hotel most nights (yes, I underestimated how boring that one pasta sauce would become), it was fairly easy to find cheap lunches on the Island.

A great place to get cheap empanadas is Club Sandwich located in the main street of Hanga Roa (the town is tiny, there’s only a few streets to choose from). I think their empanadas started at around $3 each and were super tasty!

So many people warned me about the price of food on the Island and I was very scared for the future of my bank account. However, in all honesty, I didn’t find it that bad! If you are sensible and search for a good deal (not the cute little hut serving $20 acai / smoothie bowls), you will be fine.

If you’re looking for ice cream (which I was very frequently due to the intense humidity), check out the ice cream bar next to Pea RestoBar (the pineapple flavour was my favourite) and enjoy the sea views. You may even spot some turtles!

Easter Island Pea Bay Easter Island Crater

Sightseeing

National Park Ticket

On arrival at the Hanga Roa airport, you will need to purchase the national park ticket which costs $60 for all non-Chilean nationals. This ticket covers entry to all of the Moai archeological sites for 5 consecutive days.

By way of visiting the historical sights and Moai archaeological sights, this will be the only price you need to pay and none of the sights on the Island will require a further cost to enter them!

Guided Tours

It’s easy to rent a car on the Island to reach the sights, however I would recommend taking at least one guided tour so that you get to understand the history of the Island a little more. Once my car rental expired, I hopped onto an afternoon tour which cost £24 to try and see some of the sights I missed the day before.

This was one of the most interesting tours that I did in South America and that’s largely down to the incredible history and uniqueness of the island.

Free Things To Do 

Yes, you read that right – some things on the Island are free! One of my favourite things to do on the Island was hike to the rim of the Rano Kau volacano! While it wasn’t a difficult hike physically, the intense heat made it a very sweaty hike! Luckily, the incredible views made up for it (although I was almost chased by a cow…)!

Of course, the Island has a selection of beaches to choose from which are also free. The most popular being Anakena Beach which you will need to hire a car to visit. If you want to stay closer to town, Pea Beach is in walking distance but is very small!

The Easter Island museum is another great free activity! I don’t usually enjoy museums too much, but there’s something about the mysterious history of the Island which is truly captivating. I left wishing the museum was bigger (both for the history and the amount of time I could stand in an air-conditioned building)!

Quite honestly, one of my favourite things about Easter Island was it’s natural beauty. It costs nothing at all to enjoy the views, watch the wild horses graze and catch a spectacular sunset.

Easter Island Cars Easter Island Single Moai

Transport on Easter Island

Renting a Car

Car rental on Easter Island was surprisingly cheap! I met an American couple who were looking to hire a car on the same day as me, so our hotel organised a rental through Oceanic where 24 hours of useage cost £35. When split between the three of us, it ended up costing me just over £11 and was well worth it!

Considering most of the places you will visit in the car are already paid for by way of your National Park ticket, £11 is a small price to pay for a truly incredible day.

If you drive the main ring-road in one day, you won’t need to top-up on fuel at all! This is what we did, so I’m unsure as to how expensive fuel is on Easter Island.

Taxis

Taxis within Hanga Roa (the only town on the Island) are reasonably cheap at $3 but the Island is easily walk able, so you are unlikely to need to take one.

Using taxis to drive to any of the archaeological sights outside of the town will become very pricey. We stupidly didn’t use our rental car to visit Ahu Tongariki at sunrise (the must-see spot apparently)! When I enquired on hiring a taxi to make this trip on another day, I was quoted in excess of £50 for the short round trip!

Bike and Quad-bikes

If you don’t want to rent a car, bicycle and quad bike hires are readily available! If you are visiting in one of the slightly cooler months, these would definitely be great options! However, the thought of cycling in such intense heat wasn’t a pleasant one! And even though physical exertion is limited when riding a quad-bike, I imagine that I would have got seriously sun-burnt!

 

Easter Island Anakena Beach Easter Island Rano Kau

Is It Worth The Money?

Hopefully, this blog post has proven that the flights are the only cost that should really be feared when visiting Easter Island! If you have the time and the money to visit Easter Island, I think it is definitely worth it.

I’ve never been to such a secluded and beautiful Island. The residents of Easter Island are trying their hardest to maintain and preserve the Island to the best of their ability – it would be a shame to miss it.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post (however affiliate links may be used which mean I earn commissions on purchases at no extra cost to you) and all thoughts are my own.
Danielle1

 

 

 

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Girl Quilatoa Crater Ecuador

Eh? What’s a Flashpacker?

Well… when I started planning my three month adventure to South America, I had good intentions of sticking to a super strict budget. At the time, I wanted to spend around £1,000 per month, which would have been easily doable. However, I might have got a little bit carried away once the trip began…

I was in a very fortunate position to be given a three month sabbatical from work. As my sabbatical directly followed our super busy period, I had worked plenty of extra hours before the trip and was allowed to take these hours as paid “time off in lieu” meaning I was still receiving a wage throughout some of my trip – result!

The sabbatical was a celebration for becoming a Chartered Tax Advisor last year and I know that I won’t be given this opportunity again, so I really wanted to make the most of it (hence why I ended up spending a bit more)!

So essentially…. I’m a bit of a “flashy” backpacker…

 

Want to see my entire itinerary? Lucky you, you can find a HUGE breakdown here!

Girl Canyoning Banos Ecuador

What’s My Travel Style? 

Accommodation:

I stayed mainly in hostels with only a few “upgrades” throughout the trip. On one occasion, I stayed in an airport hotel (which is always pricey) as I didn’t fancy sleeping on Santiago airport floor on my own. My real luxury treat was a 3 night stay in an eco-lodge in the Amazon Jungle… Yes, I could have picked a cheaper accommodation, but I had been camping on many hikes prior to this and fancied a little bit of luxury!

Food: 

If I were a true budget-backpacker, I would have cooked more meals for myself. In reality, I only truly cooked for myself on Easter Island where food prices are known to be extortionate (part of me wishes that I also had access to a kitchen on the Galapagos Islands)! Otherwise, I loved sampling the local cuisines in restaurants across South America. Breakfast was the one meal that I tried not to pay for as it’s often included in the price of your hostel (warning: you will get bored of bread and jam hostel breakfasts)!

Activities: 

South America is FILLED with incredible bucket-list experiences and I simply couldn’t say no to any of them – oops! I faced a lot of fears during my trip (e.g. “Death Road”) which also often led me to pick the more expensive tour operators which had better safety ratings etc. Many backpackers that I met on my trip were a lot more picky and only spent their hard-earned money on a few top activities.

Transport:

Buses are the best mode of transport in South America and generally they are fairly cheap. However, to truly utilise my 3 months, I sometimes picked pricier options which made life easier (e.g. a 1 hour flight in Chile as opposed to a 24 hour bus journey and the Peru Hop buses which pick you up and drop you off at your hostels).

Girl Galapagos Islands Las Grietas

What Did I Spend?!

For the total 3 month trip, I spent £6,621.65 (just over £2,000 per month). That figure makes me want to cry a little bit given that I am normally such a thrifty traveller on shorter trips, but I can assure you that it was worth every penny.

If you are looking to complete this trip on more of a budget, you should read my buddy Ellie’s breakdown of her costs on a very similar trip here! She spent £3,787 in three months during 2015.

Dun Dun Dun… The Breakdown!

Just telling you how much I spent isn’t very helpful, is it? So, here’s a complete breakdown of what I spent my money on and how you can do it cheaper!

Argentina (£347.29 over 4 days = £86.82 per day)

  • Accommodation: £82.06
  • Food: £23.04
  • Sightseeing/activities: £173.79
  • Transport: £68.40

My very short experience in Argentina potentially isn’t representative of the country as a whole. I simply hopped over to Mendoza for 4 days as I had some time to kill while waiting for my flight to Easter Island from Santiago.

Firstly, I had to book a return bus from Santiago (an 8 hour journey) for £68.40. If you were travelling through Argentina, it is unlikely you’d need to go back on yourself during any journeys. Secondly, I lost some money as I booked a hostel before I arrived and cancelled it at the last minute – oops! Lastly, I used these 4 days to complete some really great day trips. I barely saw the city of Mendoza and instead enjoyed the surrounding areas which is obviously more pricey. You could easily have a much cheaper lovely day in the city!

Bolivia (£366.81 over 7 days = £52.40 per day)

  • Accommodation: £23.81
  • Food: £24.70
  • Necessities: £0.50 (public toilet)
  • Sightseeing: £206.00
  • Transport £111.80

Bolivia is a VERY cheap country… I really did pick the most expensive sightseeing and transport options available.

I completed the amazing three day tour of the Uyuni Salt Flats (highly recommend!) and opted for a well reviewed company who were more expensive than their competitors (Cordillera Traveller). We had heard horror stories from other companies who had drunk drivers and gave their guests food poisoning during our stay – so I’m glad I spent a little bit more! I paid $185 for this tour.

Secondly, I was TERRIFIED of “Death Road” and therefore picked one of the best rated tour operators again (Gravity Assisted Mounting Biking), there are much cheaper options but once again, I am happy with my decision!

As I was in a rush to get to Peru for my Inca Trail booking, I had to fly from Uyuni to La Paz rather than take the bus. The flight cost £64 and took 45 minutes which is great compared to the 10 hour night bus! Most other travellers took the bus with no issues.

Finally, due to some warnings about travelling in Bolivia as a solo female, I booked the Bolivia Hop bus to navigate from La Paz to Lake Titicaca and cross the border into Peru. I booked this trip for £45. Using local buses would be much cheaper and on reflection, I felt very safe in Bolivia, so the added expense wasn’t entirely necessary (although hostel pick ups and drop offs are a dream)!

Read about my time in Bolivia:

Chile (£727.36 over 11 days = £66.12 per day)

  • Accommodation: £210.23
  • Food: £158.73
  • Gifts: £15.60
  • Necessities: £50.23 (medicine for an eye infection and a replacement towel)
  • Sightseeing: £174.61
  • Transport: £117.96

For Chile, I recommend not getting ill (ha – easier said than done). I learnt the hard way that medicines are super expensive in Chile and it’s hard to get much without a prescription.

Once again, I took the more expensive but quicker and easier flight between Santiago and San Pedro De Atacama (Calma is the nearest airport) as opposed to the 20+ hour bus ride which would definitely save you money.

Restaurant food in Chile is more expensive than other countries (and in my opinion, not as exciting). So I did cook with hostel friends a few times rather than eating out. Groceries were affordable and very easy to find (especially in Santiago).

Hostels were more expensive than in other countries but the quality was also better (for the most part). I started my trip in Santiago and Hostal Forestal was probably one of my favourite hostels of the whole trip! Although a huge swaying factor for me is when a hostel serves more than just bread and jam for breakfast – ha!

Easter Island (£926.62 over 6 days = £154.44 per day)

  • Accommodation: £181.50
  • Food: £34.88
  • Gifts: £6.64
  • Necessities: £6.60 (public toilet and replacement sunglasses)
  • Sightseeing: £97.20
  • Transport £599.80

Not many backpackers find themselves on Easter Island (in fact, I only met one native English speaking couple during my time there and they were significantly older than me). If you’re looking to visit South America on a budget, you should wave goodbye to Easter Island!

The flights are SUPER expensive. I was lucky and managed to get some for £560 return. Yep, “lucky”! All of the return flights around my dates were around £1,000. You only need 4 – 5 days to see the island, so the cost per day for the flights is extortionate!

Without a doubt, the cheapest way to stay on the island is to camp. I stayed at “Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana” which has camping spots, dorm rooms and private rooms. As I wasn’t carrying a tent on my trip and the dorm rooms were sold out, I booked a private room (which was definitely the cheapest one on the island). Make sure you book your accommodation quickly if you want a dorm room!

Food is very expensive on the island and most people purchase food from the mainland and bring it to the Island. I’ve never seen so many cool-boxes filled with food circling the baggage reclaim belt! I generally would eat lunch at a restaurant (“Club Sandwich” became one of my favourite places due to their super cheap empanadas!) and then cook myself dinner to save some money.

Most of the “sightseeing” costs are paid upfront when you are forced to buy a $60 ticket to enter the Island. This ticket needs to be on your person at all times and will allow you to enter all of the Moai archeological sites.

The best way to save money on Easter Island when it comes to transport is to find some friends! Car rental isn’t particularly expensive on the island. When booking car rental through our hostel, we paid approximately £35 per day (just over £10 per day when split between the me and the couple I began travelling with)!

Read about my time on Easter Island:

Ecuador (£493.20 over 17 days = £29.01 per day)

  • Accommodation: £223.94
  • Food: £97.81
  • Gifts: £12.42
  • Necessities: £7.78 (Laundry and toiletries)
  • Sightseeing: £95.76
  • Transport: £55.50

Bus travel in Ecuador is CHEAP. Most journeys average $1 per hour which makes any backpacker super happy! I had heard that the buses were a much lower standard than other countries but I was pleasantly surprised! One of our buses even had WiFi!

Hostels and food were reasonable and decent quality. The one way that you can make your time in Ecuador very expensive is to do lots of guided tours. I treated myself to a private tour of a chocolate farm on my last day and the tour guide was explaining to me that items deemed to be owned by wealthy people were being taxed highly and this includes cars – buses however are tax free!

Read about my time in Ecuador:

Galapagos Islands (£879.09 over 9 days = £97.68 per day)

  • Accommodation: £176.82
  • Food: £92.45
  • Sightseeing: £423.00
  • Transport: £186.82

Dun dun dun, another set of islands = another expensive destination. The Galapagos is more frequented by backpackers than Easter Island, but is still on the pricey side. The good news is that flights are fairly reasonable – I paid £147 for return flights from the mainland and booked 3 months in advance.

The bad news is that everything on the island comes at a cost. You’ll need to pay $20 to have your extra scanning on your bags at the airport, $100 to enter the islands, $30 for “ferries” between islands, countless coins on all of the “water taxis” you’ll need to take to access the ferries/day trip boats…. the list goes on and on!

If you are “DIY-ing” a trip to the Galapagos (i.e. not taking an organised tour or cruise), there are three inhabited islands that you can stay on. Each one has a few really great free activities that you can partake in but you’ll need to pay potentially big bucks to go on some incredible day trips. I took three organised day-trips, so of course, you could take less!

Food is very expensive on the islands and if you can find a hostel/hotel with cooking facilities, do it! Supermarkets are easy to find on Santa Cruz (the main island), so stock up there before you head to the likes of Isabela where supermarkets are much harder to find.

Travelling in a couple or a group will reduce your hotel costs significantly. I was solo travelling and there are very few true hostels to stay in, so I ended up in private rooms on each island. I heard from other travellers that AirBnB is a great option for cheap accommodation – I don’t know why I didn’t look there! The official entry requirements state that you will need to provide proof of your accommodations for the entire trip before entering the islands, so I booked in advance. Nobody ever asked to see my proof of bookings or even asked me where I would be staying, so I could have turned up on the island and bartered for prices in hindsight. There are lots of accommodations that don’t take online bookings, so you might get lucky in those!

Peru (£2,100.35 over 34 days = £61.77 per day)

  • Accommodation: £672.32
  • Food: £237.59
  • Gifts: £3.30
  • Necessities: £107.98 (batteries, memory cards, rain clothing, massage and toiletries)
  • Sightseeing: £833.19
  • Transport: £245.97

I did some pretty epic things in Peru which have pushed the “price per day” up significantly. First up was the classic 4 day/3 night Inca Trail! I booked through Alpaca Expeditions for $690. Due to the permits and guidelines on the classic Inca Trail, this is the most expensive option to reach Machu Picchu. There are cheaper treks you can do, many travellers that I met hiked the Salkantay Trek and opted for the Inca Jungle Tour (a mixture of hiking, hiking, zip-lining etc.) and both were very highly reviewed!

After the Inca Trail, I treated myself to a $40 massage at the very well rated Paramatma Healing, there are tonnes of women standing in the main squares of Cusco offering dirt cheap massages but I hadn’t heard great things about them and I have a long-standing issue with one of my shoulders, so opted for better quality to not injure myself further!

My next “treat yo-self” moment came in the form of a trip to the Amazon jungle… as it fit into my schedule nicely, I opted to fly from Lima to Iquitos. There is a ferry that you can take to Iquitos which is cheaper, however you often have to sit and wait a number of days for the ferry to fill up before departure and I didn’t have much time to spare. I opted for a high-end lodge on the Amazon River and had an incredible time! There are budget accommodations in the Iquitos region of the Amazon but they are very basic – after lots of camping/basic accommodation during hikes, I decided to treat myself. The lodge cost $551 for 4 days.

Peru is generally the most expensive country to visit the Amazon jungle due to the fact that you will need to fly (or wait for a ferry). The two most popular destinations in Peru are Iquitos (a short flight from Lima) and Peurto Monaldo (a short flight from Cusco), however there are some great alternatives in both Ecuador and Boliva which are cheaper and don’t require flying!

Buses in Peru are more expensive than the likes of Ecuador but the quality is superior. As I was travelling on my own, I opted for the Peru Hop pass from Cusco to Lima with lots of stops in between. This was great as they pick you up and drop you off at all your hostels. In hindsight, I didn’t NEED to spare this extra expense. After my PeruHop trip, I took some buses with Cruz Del Sur in Northern Peru which were incredible – WiFi on the bus and a personal TV screen on the back of each seat!

Other (£780.93)

  • Flights from London to Santiago and Guayaquil to London: £666
  • Bank charges: £32.43
  • Travel insurance with additional gadget cover: £82.50

Of course, there are always the pre-arrival expenses that you can’t ignore like return flights and travel insurance! I booked my flights to/from South America 3 months in advance via STA and used Money Supermarket to shop for the best travel insurance for my needs!

Girl on Tortuga Bay Santa Cruz Galapagos

Other Top Tips! 

Cash vs Card in South America

Other than Santiago and Lima which are both very metropolitan and modern cities, you will NEED to pay in cash in most places, so make sure you have a card which allows you to withdraw cash without any fees.

I used the Santander Zero Credit Card with absolutely no issues! The card has no foreign transaction fees on purchases when made in the local currency, no cash withdrawal fees anywhere in the world and no monthly fee.

Other travellers that I met were using the Revolut card which is great to protect you against theft as the card is pre-loaded with a certain amount. However, as some people found out, if you lose your phone (i.e. your method of topping up your card), this can become an issue!

Keeping Small Change

Particularly in Ecuador, I found that lots of places didn’t have change to give you. So try and need your notes small, treasure your small change (no matter how annoying it is to carry around)! I often handed notes to waitresses that I deemed to be “normal” (i.e. equivalent to £15-20 or lower) and it caused such a problem that restaurant staff were running from shop to shop looking for change!

In Lima, bank workers could be found outside the bank ready to change your large notes into smaller amounts – while I didn’t use this service, a free walking tour guide reassured me that it was legit!

Keep a Few Spare USD 

Many larger purchases in South America (e.g expensive tours and hotel rooms) can be paid for using USD. While I wouldn’t always rely on this being the case, it’s good to know that you don’t need to get hundreds of notes from the bank in local currency to pay for the larger items – nobody wants to be carrying around a huge wad of cash!

I changed some GBP to USD before my trip as “emergency money”. I knew that I would be ending my trip in Ecuador (where USD is the national currency), so I knew that it would get used at the end of my trip even if I didn’t touch the emergency cash during the rest of my trip.

Just make sure that the USD notes are in pristine condition, many vendors in South America will decline ripped/dirty/old USD notes.

Keep Your Cash Separated

I was a bit rubbish and always kept all of my cash in my purse at all times which goes against all of the advice you will ever read. For the avoidance of any doubt, I will regurgitate the advice everyone gave me before my trip, despite the fact that I didn’t choose to follow it myself…

Pick-pocketing and bag-snatching are rife in certain areas of the world (South America included) and therefore it would be advisable to keep small amounts of cash and any spare credit cards scattered across your belongings/body in case of an accident.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. However, this post may contain affiliate links whereby if you make a purchase I earn a small amount of commission at no extra cost to you.
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So, I haven’t written ANY blog posts during 2018 yet, but there’s a good reason for it! I’ve spent the last 3 months exploring South America – yay! Now I’m home and ready to upload SO much content on this glorious continent – first things first, where did I go?!

The Timing

Let me start by saying that no amount of time in South America is enough. The likes of Brazil and Argentina for example are HUGE and bus journeys between destinations can be extremely long.

I was limited to three months, so made the decision early on to exclude Brazil and Argentina (mostly) from my trip, as well as the Patagonia region of Southern Chile/Argentina. Some people I met spent 2 months in Patagonia alone, so that will definitely be saved for a return trip!

I was travelling from 18 February to 18 May 2018, starting in Chile and ending in Ecuador. February is a great time to visit Chile if you want some sun as this is the height of their summer! For Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, from November to April is considered the “wet season” but thankfully most of the rain ceases in late March meaning I was only truly travelling in wet season for a week or so!

It is imperative to research the timing of your trip as you may be limited on activities if you choose to travel in the wet or dry seasons. For example, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is closed for the entire month of February, so if this is  your dream, don’t plan to go to Peru in February! Alternatively, the wet season might be the perfect time for you to travel if you want to see the Uyuni Salt Slats with the reflective effect!

Without further ado, here’s my itinerary….

Chile

La Moneda Palace Santiago Chile Santiago Cable Car

Santiago (4 days)

  • How I got there: Flight from the UK via Madrid
  • Where I stayed: Hostal Forestal (super fab, one of my favourite hostels)!

I flew into Santiago which is a great place to start your South American adventures as it’s so modern and Westernised – you won’t feel any culture shock here! While relaxing in the Summer sun sounds tempting, there are actually plenty of things to do in Santiago and you will struggle to feel bored.

With sprawling parks to explore, interesting museums, an abundance of restaurants/bars and plenty of history, this city has something for everyone!

Read more about my time in Santiago:

Chile Valparaiso Colourful Houses Chile Valparaiso Streetart

Valparaíso (1 day)

  • How I got there: 1 hour 40 minute bus ride from Santiago
  • Where I stayed: Nowhere, this was just a day trip for me but a friend stayed at Muffin Hostel

I only spent 1 day in Valparaíso as a day trip from Santiago with a few fellow travellers. However, if I were to go back, I’d probably spend at least one night here so that I can really explore the area.

Valparaíso is a port city most famous for it’s colourful hilltop houses and incredible street art. The city has a cool “hipster vibe”, like Chile’s answer to Shoreditch!

Read about my time in Valparaíso here:

Argentina

Argentina Mendoza Wine Tasting Argentina Mendoza Termas Cacheuta Argentina Mendoza Horseriding

Mendoza (4 days)

  • How I got there: 8 hour bus from Santiago
  • Where I stayed: Hostel Lagares (super friendly/helpful staff, great common areas but far from city centre)

With some time to kill before my flights to Easter Island (oooo, itinerary spoiler!), I decided to hop over the border into Argentina to visit Mendoza. The bus ride from Santiago to Mendoza is around 8 hours and the scenery through the Andes is gorgeous!

I spent my time cycling around the vineyards of Maipu, enjoying thermal baths and horse-riding through the Andes mountains. Again, in the Summer sunshine, these 4 days were incredible and I highly recommend a stop in Mendoza!

Chile (…Again)

Santiago (2 Days)

  • How I got there: 8 hour bus from Mendoza
  • Where I stayed: Hostal Forestal (once again, super fab)

When getting the bus from Mendoza to Santiago, bare in mind that you have to go through strict customs/baggage procedures to enter Chile as is it a “protected area” and therefore this can take some time. One regret from my trip is choosing a night bus for this leg of the journey as standing in the cold at the top of a mountain for 3 hours in the middle of the night wasn’t fun!

I ended up back in Santiago for 2 days as this is where my flights to Easter Island were from – I won’t complain though, I really did love Santiago!

Chile Vina Del Mar Beach

Vina Del Mar (1 Day)

  • How I got there: 1 hour 40 minute bus ride from Santiago
  • Where I stayed: Nowhere, this was just a day trip for me

I decided to take another day trip from Santiago, this time to the affluent beach town of Vina Del Mar. Ideally, when planning your trip, try to spend a night in Valparaíso and then head to Vina Del Mar the next day. They are very close to each other and it saves you going to and from Santiago (albeit, even that bus ride isn’t long)!

Easter Island Quarry Heads Easter Island Girl With Heads

Easter Island (6 Days)

  • How I got there: 5 hour flight with LATAM from Santiago
  • Where I stayed: Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana (one of the cheapest on the island, great kitchens and a range of accommodation – camping pitches, dorm rooms and private rooms)

Now… if you’re on a strict budget, Easter Island probably won’t be on your itinerary. However, if you have spare time and money, GO. The flight is more than 5 hours from Santiago, so you will need two days which are primarily for travelling.

My 4 days actually exploring the island were pretty magical. From exploring the Moai archaeological ruins to hiking to the rim of a volcano to relaxing on a beach, it was a very varied 4 days!

Read more about my time on Easter Island:

Chile San Pedro De Atacama Luna Valley Chile San Pedro De Atacama Luna Valley Chile Floating Lagoon

San Pedro De Atacama (3 Days)

  • How I got there: 2 hour flight from Santiago to Calma and then a 1 hour shuttle ride to San Pedro De Atacama.
  • Where I stayed: Hostal Laskar (super friendly staff, good rooms but you can probably find a hostel closer to teh centre of town)

The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world and the home of many amazing activities! I chose to explore the incredible landscapes of Valle Della Luna (Moon Valley), go stargazing to spot Jupiter among many constellations, attempt (and fail) to see the incredible Geysers Del Tatio (I’ll save that story for another time) and float in crystal clear salt lagoons.

San Pedro De Atacama was also home to the best food that I found in Chile. As it’s a touristy town, it felt like they had something to cater for everyone.

Read about my time in San Pedro De Atacama Here:

Bolivia

Bolivia Uyuni Scenery Uyuni Rock Tree Uyuni Salt Flats Dakar

Salar De Uyuni Tour (3 Days)

  • How I got there: Tour pick-up from San Pedro De Atacama
  • Where I stayed: Various accommodations booked through the tour company. In Uyuni I booked Piedra Blanca Backpackers Hostel for one night which was really modern and great – felt more like a hotel!

The Uynui Salt Flats appear on most backpacker’s bucket lists, and for good reason. I opted for a three day tour originating in San Pedro De Atacama and ending in Uyuni.

The first two days of the tour explore the surrounding national park areas with gorgeous mountains, hills, lagoons, geysers, flamingos and so much more! The final day is spent taking the standard silly photos on the salt flats.

I visited during the rainy reason which meant the floor of the salt flats was wet and gave the mirror effect (yay) but it’s meant to be just as gorgeous in the dry months.

Somewhere I wish I went: Sucre 

As I had to get to Cusco pretty quickly for my Inca Trail booking, I then flew from Uyuni to La Paz to continue my journey. However, if I had more time, I would have gone to Sucre along with the rest of the people on my salt flat’s tour.

Sucre is known for being a great place to stop and learn Spanish. Bolivians speaks slowly and are easier to understand than many residents of their neighbouring countries. The prices in Sucre are also dirt cheap with some travellers paying as little as $4 per hour for one-to-one Spanish lessons!Bolivia La Paz Cholita Wrestling

La Paz (3 Days)

  • How I got there: 45 minute flight from Uyuni
  • Where I stayed: The Adventure Brew Hostel (Wouldn’t recommend, crap breakfast, no atmosphere and far from the city centre). Others stayed at Loki Hostel and had good reviews, but if you want to party Wild Rover is the place to be!

The capital of Bolivia isn’t pretty. So while you won’t spend your time wandering around gawping at the gorgeous architecture, there are plenty of weird and wonderful things to do in La Paz!

From taking a free walking tour to learn more about the fascinating history and culture of the Bolivian people, explore the witches markets or enormous El Alto Flea Market (on Thursdays and Sundays only), watch cholitas (Bolivian traditional women) wrestling and cycle down “death road” (a.k.a. “the world’s most deadliest road”).

Read more about my time in La Paz here:

Copacabana Bolivia Isla Del Sol

Copacabana and Isla Del Sol (1 Day)

  • How I got there: 4.5 hour bus ride from La Paz
  • Where I stayed: Nowhere as I jumped on another bus in the evening!

I booked a Bolivia Hop bus from La Paz to Cusco which included two days at Lake Titicaca (the world’s highest navigable lake). On the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, you have Copacabana, a small town which didn’t particularly amaze me.

The trick to Copacabana is to leave the mainland and instead visit Isla Del Sol (“The Sun Island”), a gorgeous island just a short ferry ride from the mainland. I spent a few hours on the island walking across the island, soaking up the incredible views. However, I met some people who were so in love with the island that they stayed for 3 nights and already declared that they want to retire there! So if you have time, stay the night!

If you’re looking for somewhere to chill out and relac, Isla Del Sol may be the place!

Peru

Puno Floating Islands Peru

Puno and Uros Floating Islands (1 Day) 

  • How I got there: 3 hour bus ride from Copacabana
  • Where I stayed: The Real House (nothing too special, comfortable enough for one night!)

To continue my Lake Titicaca adventures, I arrived in Puno in the evening and quickly hit the hay before exploring the next morning.

The town doesn’t have much going on, albeit the main square is quite pretty. Once again, the main attraction is on the lake itself being the Uros Floating Islands. There’s some controversy surrounding these islands. While I really enjoyed seeing the construction and way of life on the islands, the tour does feel slightly like a human zoo.

While the locals appear to be more than happy to welcome you into their homes, there is a lot of pushy behaviour to make you purchase “handmade” goods from them and pay more money to ride in their wooden boats. It’s hugely a money making exercise as opposed to a cultural learning experience.

Girl At Rainbow Mountain Cusco Peru Moray Salt Flats Cusco Peru Peru Cusco Cathedral

Cusco & The Sacred Valley (10 Days)

  • How I got there: 8.5 hour overnight bus from Puno to Cusco
  • Where I stayed: Pariwana Hostel (to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of this hostel and stayed there for such a long time because it was so convenient and close to the city centre. I met lots of people that did love the hostel though! A buddy of mine stayed at Kokopelli Hostel and enjoyed it).

Cusco is a gorgeous city with incredible food. It’s also a good place to base yourself for great day trips – which I really took advantage of!

Rather than going and staying in the Sacred Valley, I instead just took day trips from Cusco to all of the archaeological sites. You could easily base yourself in a place like Ollantaytambo for a few days however to shorten the journey times.

Great day trips include rainbow mountain, Moray, Pisac, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo, Q’enqo, Puca Pucara, Tambomachay, Maras Salt Miles and many more!

I spent longer in Cusco than anticipated because I got ill and also because I was waiting for some friends to catch up with me – 10 days was a long time to stay put in one city but by this point it was nice to have a constant base for a while!

Inca Trail Peru Machu Picchu Peru

The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu (4 Days)

In the middle of my 10 days in Cusco, I completed the 4 day classic Inca Trail to Machu Pichu! It was an incredible experience and I highly recommend doing a trek of some description!

The Inca Trail often books up 6 months in advance and is quite pricey. If you want to be able to book your trek with short notice and on a lower budget, the Salkantay Trek, the Lares trek and the Inca Jungle Trek are all also popular choices!

Arequipa Plaza Del Armas Arequipa Blue Door

Arequipa (3 Days) 

  • How I got there: 10.5 hour overnight bus from Cusco
  • Where I stayed: Flying Dog Hostel (I really loved this hostel, chilled but a great place to meet people)

Arequipa is known as Peru’s “prettiest city” and I can see why! From panoramic views of the nearby Misti volcano to the gorgeous white architecture in the main square, Arequipa definitely is a pretty city!

There’s more to this city than just pure beauty, take some time to explore the history of Santa Catalina Monastery (which is of course, also beautiful) and be sure to visit Museo Santuarios Andinos, home to the “ice maiden” Juanita, the perfectly preserved body of a young girl found sacrificed on the top of a nearby mountain. The stories of the handful of children they have found on the mountains are incredibly fascinating yet disturbing at the same time!

Andean Condor Colca Canyon Colca Canyon Trek

Colca Canyon (2 Days)

  • How I got there: Organised tour with Oasis Palmeras
  • Where I stayed: At a small hotel in the bottom of the oasis in the canyon!

Between my 3 days in Arequipa, I decided to take a 2 day hiking trip to the Colca Canyon. The two days were pretty intense as I got injured (twice, ha) but very very beautiful!

Seeing the huge Andean Condors, hiking through gorgeous scenery, staying in an oasis at the bottom of the canyon, it’s a trip that I highly recommend!

Nazca Lines Viewing Tower

Nazca (1 Day)

  • How I got there: 10 hour bus ride from Arequipa including a lunch stop in a gorgeous little seaside town
  • Where I stayed: Nowhere – this was just a quick stop!

I didn’t have much time to spend in Nazca, so opted for the Peru Hop quick stop at the viewing tower during a bus ride from Arequipa to Huacachina. If you’re super interested in seeing the lines, be sure to spend a night in Nazca so that you can take a flight over all of the lines!

Huacachina Oasis Huacachina Sand Dunes

Huacachina (2 Days) 

  • How I got there: 2 hour bus ride from Nazca
  • Where I stayed: Banana’s Adventures Hostel – the best hostel! You get a bed in a dorm room, access to the pool and a free activity each day (sand boarding/dune buggying, a pisco/wine factory tour or a big BBQ)

Huacachina is a oasis in the middle of the desert famed for it’s huge sand dunes (literally, they are HUGE), adventure activities and Instagram worthy location.

Of course, chilling  by the hostel pool was high on my agenda, but only after some insane dune buggying/sand boarding and a pisco/wine tasting at a local factory!

After spending such a long time at high altitude, you will be very glad to be back down at sea level!

Isla Del Ballestas Peru Seals Paracas National Reserve

Paracas (2 Days) 

  • How I got there: 1.5 hour bus ride from Huacachina
  • Where I stayed: Kokopelli Hostel (great hostel with a pool, beautiful private beach area and large outdoor social area)

More time on the sunny Peruvian coastline! Paracas is the perfect time to relax on the beach and eat all kinds of fresh fish!

By way of activities, the Paracas National Park reserve is the ultimate place for loads of adventure activities – from riding ATVs through the moon-like landscapes and paragliding off the steep cliff-faces! If you’re not looking for adventure, be sure to take a boat ride to Isla Ballestas (a.k.a “The Poor Man’s Galapagos Islands”) to see an abundance of birds, sea lions and penguins!

Lima Downtown Cathedral Lima Barranco Streetart

Lima (3 Days) 

  • How I got there: 4 hour bus ride from Paracas (including a 1 hour stop at the Chincha Slave Tunnels with PeruHop)
  • Where I stayed: Kokopelli Hostel (after liking the Cusco and Paracas branches, I decided to give the Lima version a try! Do not stay here if you want to sleep – the hostel is above 2 bars/pubs which are rowdy for hours) & Kaclla Healing Dog Hostel (I moved here after deciding that sleep was pretty important and loved it, really cosy and comfortable).

The capital of Peru is known for it’s incredible array of food! Did you know that Lima is the only city in the world to have 2 restaurants in the top 10 best restaurants in the world?

Lima is made up of 42 districts, so it’s pretty damn huge! The three you should definitely explore are Downtown (filled with beautiful architecture and history), Miraflores (an affluent area with tonnes of good restaurants and bars) and Barranco (a cool street art filled district with fun on every corner).

Amazon Jungle Parakeet Amazon Jungle Sloth

Iquitos / The Amazon Jungle (4 Days)

  • How I got there: 2 hour flight from Lima to Iquitos, transfer from airport to boat, 2 hour speedboat to lodge
  • Where I stayed: Heliconia Amazon River Lodge

During my trip, I had the opportunity to visit the Amazon Jungle a few times – in Bolivia, Ecuador and a few locations in Peru. You need to choose the area that excites you the most (obviously, the wildlife varies from location to location) and also the one that fits your schedule / budget best. Iquitos is one of the most expensive areas to visit the Amazon due to the fact that you need to book return flights from/to Lima and accommodation seemed to be more expensive than other areas such as Puerto Maldonado (also in Peru but closer to Cusco).

My four days was filled with wildlife spotting, visiting a local tribe (and learning how to use a blow dart gun!), visiting local schools to learn about the conservation work they are doing, boat rides down the amazon river, star gazing, visiting rum factories and so much more.

Somewhere I Wish I Went: Huaraz

After nearly 2 weeks at sea level with no hiking, I didn’t really fancy going back to high altitude hikes. However, I did debate going to Huaraz on my way to Ecuador.

Huaraz is known for it’s intense hikes to Lagoona 69, a gorgeous glacier and Cordillera Blanca, all of which look incredible!

Piura (1/2 Day)

  • How I got there: 16 hour bus from Lima
  • Where I stayed: Nowhere, this was just a stopover

Piura was just a stop off on my journey from Lima to Ecuador. It looked like we were the only gringos in the entire town. Unfortunately we couldn’t explore much as there appeared to be a huge graduation ceremony taking over the entire town centre. So we found a hostel and abused their WiFi ha!

Ecuador

Loja (1/2 Day)

  • How I got there: 8 hour bus ride from Piura (including a stop to go through border controls)
  • Where I stayed: Hostal Pucara (not really a hostel, I got a private room for £9!!)

After boarding the bus from Piura that would take us across the Peru-Ecuador border, I arrived in Loja for the night. I had a few hours in the morning to wander around what appears to be a pretty little city! While there didn’t seem to be tonnes of tourist attractions, there were lots of cute little plazas with gorgeous churches!

Yoga Studio Vilcabamba Hostel Izhcayluma Ecuador Vilcabamba

Vilcabamba (2 Days)

  • How I got there: 1 hour 15 minute bus from Loja to Vilcabamba and then a quick taxi ride south of the city to the hostel.
  • Where I stayed: Hostal Izhcayluma (BOOK IT NOW. DO IT.)

After hearing so much about the amazing Hostal Izhcayluma, I had to go and stay there! For $10 per night, you get a bed in a dorm room (private rooms are also available) as well as a free yoga session in each morning – AMAZING. The yoga studio overlooks the gorgeous valley and is one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been!

The hostel also has a pool and massage parlour where I received a 75 minute full body massage for $22! There are plenty of hikes to do around the area and other tours you can book such as horse riding and exploring the “coffee route”!

This is the perfect place to relax and unwind, I’d go back in a heartbeat!

Cuenca Cathedral Ecuador Cajas National Park

Cuenca & Cajas National Park (2 Days)

Another day, another pretty little Ecuadorian city! I spent one day exploring what the city had to offer. SERIOUSLY gorgeous cathedrals/churches were a highlight – I always say that if you can impress a European with churches, then they really must be good!

On the second day, I took a day trip to the nearby Cajas National Park for some hiking. The park is seriously beautiful and well worth your time! I did the most simple route which should supposedly take 2 hours – my buddy and I got very lost. Make sure you follow the signs more carefully than us…

Banos Giant Swing View from Swing Banos Canyoning Banos Ecuador

Baños de Agua Santa (3 Days)

  • How I got there: 7 hour bus from Cuenca
  • Where I stayed: La Casa Del Molino Blanco (hostel could have been closer to the town centre and the staff could have tried to be a bit more helpful, but overall a good stay. Some of the most comfortable hostel beds I’ve encountered and great varied breakfasts)!

Baños is the ultimate adventure destination in Ecuador (although if you want to stay closer to Quito, I’ve heard that Mindo is a great alternative)!

With white water rafting, abseiling down waterfalls, zip-lining, giant swings above the city, paragliding, bungee jumping and so much more, Baños has something to suit everyone’s preferred level of adventure.

If adventure isn’t your thing, visit the thermal baths that the city is so proudly named after or jump into a bus for a tour of the nearby waterfalls.

Ecuador Cotopaxi Volcano Ecuador Pasachoa Hike Dog

Cotopaxi (3 Days)

  • How I got there: 3 hour bus to Quito, stayed the night and then took the Secret Garden shuttle to Cotopaxi. This meant that I had to re-trace my steps somewhat, however as the Secret Garden Cotopaxi is so remote, I wanted to take advantage of the shuttle!
  • Where I stayed: Secret Garden Cotopaxi (INCREDIBLE)

My three days in Cotopaxi were some of my favourites of the entire trip. I stayed at the super dreamy Secret Garden Cotopaxi which I highly recommend! My days were spent hiking to waterfalls, the peak of the Pasochoa Volcano and the refugio/glacier of the epic Cotopaxi volcano!

While not hiking, I was treated to an abundance of food provided by the hostel (hello unlimited banana bread!), cuddling with the 5 hostel dogs in front of the fire, playing cards and chatting with some incredible travellers and relaxing in the hot tub!

Read more about my time in Cotopaxi here:

Latacunga Quilotoa Crater

Latacunga (1 Day)

  • How I got there: 2 hour private shuttle organised by the Secret Garden Hostel
  • Where I stayed: La Posada (super friendly owner, 4 of us shared a huge private room which had 5 double beds for $10 each)!

Many people hike the Quilotoa Loop which is a 3+ day trail either starting or ending at the Quilotoa Crater Lake. As I was running out of time (and didn’t really want to hike any further after my time in Cotopaxi), I opted to skip the 3+ day hike and instead just took a day trip to the Quilotoa crater from Latacunga.

The crater is seriously beautiful and you have the option to hike around the rim (we walked part of the way) or to walk down to the edge of the water and back out again (two of the girls I was with did this and said it was tough on the way back up)!

Mitad Del Mundo Quito Ecuador Quito Cable Car

Quito (4 Days)

  • How I got there: 1 hour 30 minute bus ride from Latacunga
  • Where I stayed: The Secret Garden Quito (Amazing rooftop bar – very social!)

By the end of my trip, I was getting a little bit bored of cities and instead loved the more rural countryside destinations, so I didn’t really click with Quito as a city but still loved my time here. Communal dinners and drinks on the rooftop of the Secret Garden Quito with some incredible people made my time here, as well as two great day trips. One to the “middle of the earth” to hop, skip and jump over the equator and another to the famous Otavalo market to pick up some handmade souvenirs!

Giant Tortoise Galapagos Islands Galapgos Tortuga Bay Beach Galapagos Islands Las Grietas

The Galapagos Islands (9 Days)

  • How I got there: 2 hour flight from Quito to the Galapagos Islands
  • Where I stayed: On Santa Cruz island, I stayed at Hostal Seymour and on Isabella island, I stayed at Hostal Brisas Del Mar, both of which were great. I had private rooms in both hotels for an affordable price (a blessing on the Galapagos Islands)!

The Galapagos Islands don’t need much explanation, we all know how incredible they are!

From facing my snorkelling fears (twice), becoming immersed in wildlife, cycling for miles with glorious scenery and relaxing on stunning white beaches, the Galapagos is just as great as everyone says it will be!

The only disappointment is that I didn’t bump into David Attenborough…

Guyaquil Chocolate Making Class

Guayaquil (1.5 Days)

  • How I got there: 2 hour flight from the Galapagos Islands
  • Where I stayed: Hotel Gira (comfortable, clean private room for one night)

Like I said earlier, I had got a bit bored of cities, so decided that I wanted to do something different for my last days in South America before flying home.

I am so grateful to have stumbled across Mario’s website My Trip to Ecuador and I quickly booked a tour with him to a local cocoa farm (yay chocolate)! Without a doubt, Mario is one of the kindest, most welcoming people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and I had the best last day with him!

And before I knew it, Mario was dropping me off at the airport for my long journey home. My trip to South America was incredible and I loved every second of my itinerary from start to finish. There were so many bucket list adventures along the way and I feel so very grateful to have been on this trip! Now… to sit at my desk and stare out the window dreaming of my next adventure…

Have you been to South America? What would be your DREAM itinerary?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own. However, this post may contain affiliate links whereby if you make a purchase I earn a small amount of commission at no extra cost to you.
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