Ask Lonely Planet: Remote stop in mysterious land

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Monolithic moai carvings on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Photo / Thinkstock
Monolithic moai carvings on Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Photo / Thinkstock

My wife and I are planning an extended backpacking trip to South America, with our first stop being Chile. Is there a cheap way, without having a round-the-world ticket, to have a stopover on Easter Island en route to Santiago?
- Myles Deighton

Lonely Planet's Sarah Bennett & Lee Slater write:

It is possible to fly to Chile via Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Air New Zealand and Air Tahiti Nui have regular scheduled flights to Papeete, on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia. From there, Chile's national carrier, LAN, will fly you to Rapa Nui. LAN also operates daily flights to Santiago in Chile and a twice-weekly service to Lima, Peru. You can, of course, do this in reverse if you want to visit Easter Island at the end of your South American trip.

A more common way of getting there is to fly direct from Auckland to Santiago with LAN - or via Australia with Qantas - and then catch a return flight to Rapa Nui from there. This often works out cheaper as the New Zealand- South America leg is more competitive.

However, it is worth keeping an eye out for Air NZ deals to Papeete, which could make for a more economical and more interesting journey.

If you book early and are flexible with your dates you are more likely to get a better deal. Easy-to-use metasites such as hipmunk.com and kayak.com are useful for comparing flights. Or visit your local travel agent such as the Flight Centre and book through them.

Most travel agents will also keep a look out for bargain flights if you provide them with dates during which you can travel.

Christmas in the snow

I am planning our last big overseas family holiday before our teenagers leave the nest, and would like to have a Christmas in the snow in Europe. There will be six of us: two adults and four teenage boys.

Is there a great ski resort town with a real Christmassy feel where we could rent a holiday house for a couple of weeks? Would there be a suitable place in Slovenia or Italy? We have friends in both countries that we would like to visit and I'd love to go to Venice as well.

We will have four to six weeks. Is it best to book now for flights at that time of the year or wait a bit longer to see if any cheaper flights appear?
- Deborah Wilmore

Lonely Planet's Sarah Bennett & Lee Slater write:

Neighbouring countries Slovenia and Italy both boast some lovely resorts, so combining a skiing holiday with visits to your friends should be no problem. In fact, your friends are probably a good source of advice, so perhaps run a few ideas past them.

Slovenia's largest and best-equipped ski resort is Kranjska Gora, nestled in the Sava Dolinka Valley near the borders with Austria and Italy. The views of the Julian Alps are spectacular, and the town itself is charming with an authentic alpine feel. There are also plenty of places to stay including rental apartments and houses, and kranjska-gora.si is a good place to find them.

Nearby Bohinj is another good option, as is Bovec in the Soca Valley with its emerald-green river. Bovec is linked to the good-value Italian resort of Sella Nevea (Sellanevea.net), and the two resorts combined offer about 30km of satisfying runs. Other resorts in this area are down-to-earth Tarvisio and family-friendly Forni di Sopra.

If you're heading to Venice, the Veneto region is home to Cortina d'Ampezzo, the supermodel of Italy's ski resorts. In the Piedmont, you can get up close to Mont Blanc at Courmayeur with its legendary pistes, and Cervenia in the shadow of the Matterhorn.

There are plenty of other options in both countries. See Slovenia.info for ski areas and accommodation, as well as sloveniacottages.co.uk. Accommodation sites for both countries include holidayrentals.co.uk and holidaylettings.co.uk.

Lonely Planet's Mediterranean Europe guidebook provides trusted recommendations and advice on skiing, eating, and generally having a good time.

When it comes to flights, book sooner rather than later. It will generally be cheaper, and last-minute bargains are harder to find for a group of six.

- NZ Herald

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