Published on April 26th, 20154
Machu Pichu? or Easter Island?
Geez – talk about Shiny Object Syndrome.
When it comes to wanderlust, I’ve apparently got SOS in spades.
So I’ve been researching my brains out for over a month now – on a 1-3 week (depending, totally up in the air) adventure to Peru come June. Machu Pichu, the main-squeeze of course, but most anything else that tickles my fancy in that corner of the world could also have made it into the loose itinerary I had in mind. Shoot, I even announced my plans for a trip to Peru in my 2015 Birthday Dreams post back in March.
We’re talking oodles of research especially on somehow getting to the Nazca lines (they’re out in the middle of NOWHERE!) fiddlin’ with every-which-way airfares – o.w. to Lima, overland PeruHop bus to Nazca (and possibly Lake Titicaca, Colca Canyon, etc.) to Cuzco; or vice versa. Else just a straight shot easy-peasy to Machu Pichu, the Maras salt puddles, etc. Fares were sweet if I opted for a straight shot (~$300 rt.) and the PeruHop bus most economical, but…
For some reason, nothing was lighting my fire. I’ve continued to waver on just when/how to cobble together the perfect Peru adventure for weeks now. Until…
SOS, made the decision for me.
And here’s how it went down.
TravelZoo (my long-time weekly alert on cheapo world-wide travel deals) struck again. This time it was for a 5 nt. land package on Easter Island for $494 pp. including a handful of tours. Now granted, I normally don’t favor packaged tours, but I’d heard Easter Island was quite expensive so the TravelZoo carrot seemed cheap enough leastwise to prompt me to click for the details. Turns out it would be more like $622 with a single supplement (natch) which rather dampened my enthusiasm, but… nonetheless, it lit a light bulb in my brain bright enough to nudged me to go trolling in Kayak for flights from Ecuador to Easter Island.
And this is what I found:
Note the “May 17 – 23” travel dates (plus or minus 3 days). Normally when I search for air, I search by “full month” or even wider as my retired lifestyle is nothing if not flexible, and that produces the lowest potential fares. But in this case, while I originally hadn’t planned on teaching the next CEDEI cycle (May 25 – June 26, in favor of instead skipping off for a couple of weeks or more to Peru), given that Easter Island can easily be explored in a week or less – I opted to look at just the window between terms at CEDEI. That way I could have a little adventure, and still teach next term.
Note also that AMAZING (it has to be said) fare of a mere $442 ROUND TRIP from ECUADOR all the way to EASTER ISLAND (which is a 5-6 hour flight FURTHER than even Santiago, Chile!)
But most interesting – note the VAST range of round trip fares depending on one’s choice of travel dates – from that low of $442 all the way up to those breathtaking $4,000+ fares! From less than $500 to more than $4 THOUSAND – for getting to the SAME EXACT PLACE!! Proof positive, that being flexible with your travel dates can be a HUGE ruble-saver.
That vast difference however, also lies in… how many stops and what length of layovers one is willing to endure en route to one’s final destination. And while even the $4,000+ fares weren’t non-stop direct from Ecuador to Easter Island (all the options made at least a stop in Santiago on the Chilean mainland), the various fare choices included some decidedly daunting multi-stops (in Lima, Peru AND Santiago) – often with seriously dismal layovers of 14 hours or more.
Dismal that is – only if you’re on a tight schedule or have no desire to say… spend a day seeing the sights of Lima and/or Santiago. Indeed, enough time to do a Peruvian cooking class and enjoy a fab dinner. Or… um, if you’re the TravelnLass – a long daytime layover offers an even better benefit – the chance to find a GEOCACHE in a new country!
O.k. so that breathtakingly cheapo $442 rt. was tempting but… even with my odd-ball penchant for long layovers, the schedule was a bit over-the-top grueling (i.e. 18 hrs. in Lima followed by 11 hrs. in Santiago on the outbound – touching down on Easter Island a mere *41 hrs.* later. And that just for the outbound; another 18 hr. layover in Santiago on the return). Ugh! No thank you. I’m not THAT desperately frugal.
Instead, I opted for a sweet $654 rt. with but one layover in Santiago on the outbound (arr: 4:15 pm, dpt: 9 am the next morning – just enough time to grab a geocache, a Chilean dinner and a good night’s sleep) plus another stop in Santiago on the return (arr: 8 am, dpt: 5pm – more geocaching? a cooking class? we shall see…)
In short, in a span of mere hours, this SOS-impaired wanderlust went from seriously targeting Peru for my next adventure to… a confirmed air ticket to EASTER ISLAND in Chile!
From there it was just a matter of grabbing a sweet little private room for 5 nts. for but $150 on bookings.com (with a 9.3 out of 10 rating!) And with a bit more research, it turns out I can opt for various ‘n sundry Easter Island tours once I’m on the ground for as little as $40 for a full day tour. Apparently it’s also possible to bicycle to some of the sites, else hire a taxi for a private sunrise tour if I like.
|Oh, and as if all of this ruble-saving sweetness wasn’t delicious enough – whilst rummaging around doing my Chilean due diligence research – turns out, the long-standing $160 “reciprocity” (visa) fee for U.S. citizens – was nixed last year, so a 90 day tourist visa for we Yanks is now free – yippeee!|
All which just goes to show – while the $662 sgl. 5 nt. (land only) TravelZoo package might have seemed like a good deal – with a bit of online research, I can do pretty much the same thing DIY for little more than $300 tops! Add in my $654 rt. airfare and… we’re talkin’ nearly a week-long visit to one of the world’s most remote and mysterious island for less than $1,000.
That and… Machu Pichu surely ain’t going anywhere, so – it will no doubt be back on the SOS wanderlust table after I return from Easter Island.
Now then, I mean seriously: which would YOU choose???