I’m more of a DIYer when it comes to adventure. I’m in it for the immersive experience, even though the immersive experience can be tedious, boring, fumbling, and wrought with issues.
However, on this adventure, I’ve been pleased that we’ve embarked on some portions of the adventure that have been organized by a tour agency and are led by tour guides. This privilege absolutely costs us a lot of money, but in my judgement it has been worth it. Our guide in Rapa Nui, which was required, elevated the experience without question.
The guides help us spot features and learn facts we would not otherwise learn, not without reading books upon books to suss out the interesting facts. The guides have done all of this over years and years of guiding in the region, and many are passionate about the subject matter. They distill the information to the most interesting bite-sized facts for our easy consumption, and they often do it in an exciting or interesting way, such as when our guide in Atacama had us hike through the bottom of Valle de la Luna before bringing us to an overlook to explain how the valley was formed.
The guides also help in that they know where and when to go see a feature, such as going to the Atacama geysers at 7am to see the cold air and hot aim make steam plumes or to visit Rapa Nui island in reverse of the large tour groups. Guides have helped us avoid the crowds.
The guided experiences are different and in a way less fulfilling than the DIY, self-accomplished approach to exploration, but the guided experiences do not disappoint.
The guided experiences especially do not disappoint for the children. Perhaps the lessons and facts can be a little dense for children, but kids get a kick out of hearing from someone other than mom and dad about what they are seeing and experiencing on the journey.
Also, our guides make killer meals on the excursions, prepping tables and chairs, bringing assorted beverages, and firing up stoves to grill chicken or scramble eggs. The full-service luxury of a table, chairs, and meal prepared at a remote overlook is quite remarkable and enjoyable. We ate well in the Atacama desert.