Many of us have a “bucket list” of things we’d like to do. Or, others, like me, have a bucket list of places we’d like to visit. A few months ago I decided to check off three of these destinations.
Along with my husband, Art, and our good friends, Chris and Rick Zantop, I boarded a flight to Santiago, Chile to begin our adventure.
Our first destination was San Pedro de Atacama, three hours north of Santiago. The Atacama Desert is a place of active and soft adventure in northern Chile between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. We loved our accommodations at the Explora Lodge. Explora handles everything from transfers, to meals, to all activities. There are so many things to do here that you plan your individual itinerary for each day with your own personal guide. Some of our activities included hiking, swimming in the hot springs and watching the pink flamingos in the salt deposits.
Three days later we were off again. Back to Santiago for an overnight at the newly refurbished Grand Hyatt. The next morning, we took a five-hour flight to our second destination, one of the most remote and unusual places on Earth: Easter Island.
The Explora Lodge was again our home for the three days we stayed on Easter Island. The people who are called Rapa Nui, the food and the scenery were wonderful, but the best part was hearing the stories about the huge Moai monuments that dotted the island landscape. These statues are made out of volcanic rock and they are the most incredible ancient relics ever discovered. I was fascinated by the mystery surrounding them. Our guide was fantastic, so knowledgeable and proud of his heritage. We were sorry to leave this magical place. One could easily spend more time on the island horseback riding, hiking and snorkeling.
Another five-hour flight and we landed in Lima, Peru for an overnight. We stayed at the beautiful Miraflores Hotel on the ocean. This hotel, run by Orient Express, is the best one in Lima. It is decorated beautifully and has a great staff.
The next morning, a short flight took us to Iquitos where we were transferred to the beautiful Aqua Expedition for our journey into the Amazon. The Aqua is a fairly new ship holding 24 people in 12 beautifully decorated cabins. From the wood floors to the white duvets, the cabins are comfortable and roomy. The huge picture windows allow you to see the river as you float by. I was amazed by the excellent food and the variety served onboard the ship. The staff was helpful and fun to be with. Each day we boarded our skiffs to delve deep into the jungle. We saw unusual birds, pink dolphins, manatee and bats. The highlight was seeing the Anaconda snake and going into the jungle to see what vegetation is used for medicinal and other purposes. I enjoyed our visit to a local village where the children put on a program for us. We brought them books, pencils, paper and T-shirts as gifts, for which they were all grateful. It is times such as these that I realize how much we take forgranted in our everyday life. After four days journeying down the Amazon, it was time to go home.
Since this part of South America is in our time zone, we returned home with no jet lag, but with an abundance of great memories of our visits to three very different and interesting destinations.