This was one of the stops I was most excited about on our journey but honestly I can’t even say why. I think the remoteness is romantic maybe? Easter Island at least to me is one of those places that sounds so far away, so magical that I really wanted to see it for myself. As an added bonus it really broke up our flight travel across the Pacific. An easy 5.5 hour flight from Santiago and then another 5.5 hour flight to Tahiti where we are staying a week and then New Zealand. I need to ease in to the relaxation I guess.
I started to read bits and pieces about the history of the island and the one thing that really struck me was about the deforestation and destabilization of the ecosystem. I am poorly paraphasing and oversimplifying but basically the island was destroyed after rats not native to the island came with the Europeans. This contributed to native tree species being destroyed. This contributed to agriculture being diminished because top soil was eroded. This contributed to bird species becoming extinct (also through overhunting since there was no agriculture). Basically, this island is a good example of what can happen when we just use the earth to suit our own benefit without thinking of the greater picture (much like we are still doing today) Also, the moai.
It is really evident that the island is in the middle of nowhere. Screenshot from the inflight monitor.
We arrive at 830AM. Due to its remote location, the island is expensive to visit. To try to keep costs down we decided we would camp. We were welcomed at the tiny airport by a whiteboard with our names on it and some leis. We were apparently not the only people on a budget. The truck to pick us up had another 8 people and bags to pick up.
The campsite faces the ocean (big plus), has a fairly organized kitchen (plus), showers (plus plus) and is cheap. The only downside is there is NO PRIVACY. Makes sense given the history of the island. The campsite will take up to 50 tents (at least that is our guess given the number of food cupboards in the kitchen)
Our tent is set up for us and we are provided with gym mats to sleep on as well as sleeping bags all for $11USD/per person per night. There is an additional charge to access the WIFI (which for obvious reasons is painfully slow) and electricity to charge items. Dani decides to take a nap and I decide to go for a walk.
It is WAY hotter than I was expecting. I am not really sure why I didn’t think of this but seriously it is HOT. Walking to ‘town’ I am sweating uncontrollably.
Town is pretty small. There is about 5800 people on the island. There is one main street that has the shops and small grocery shops. There is a marina area that has a couple of small beaches and docking for fishing boats. This is also where you see the first moai.
Most people spend 2 days on Easter Island. Some only 8 hours — like the single cruise ship that makes a visit annually (also there during our time) We had this as a stopover on our ticket to Tahiti that we timed to give us 6 days on the island. Since it felt like time was on our side, I had previously suggested to Dani that we would simply hike the island since it is quite small (14 miles by 7 miles). This idea was quickly vetoed once we realized how hot and humid it was. We spent the first two days wandering around town and taking in the events of Tapati Festival such as Rui where the two competing clans sing until a song is repeated (this event goes on for about 5 hours – we lasted 1 hour), Takona where traditional body paint is applied and a story performed with song and dance is used to explain the body paint is performed, fruit weighing and body surfing are all ones that we enjoy (or at least watch)
The following day we decide to rent a car. We have exhausted walking up and down main street and you only come to Easter Island once so better make it count. The car rental is expensive but since we are sleeping in tents and eating food we brought from the main land we decide this is a good spend. I am mildly petrified by the fact that you drive this car uninsured – the rental company will not insure you and any insurance from credit cards etc is invalid. Don’t ask me why – that is just the way it is. You damage it – you buy it. The island as I said is small and not very populated so I am sure this is not a problem. We are told to watch out for the horses.
We make our way to Orongo first. This is a stone village and ceremonial center. The crater and view are also stunning.
We continue down the road and stop at various other sites. Many of them with the moai toppled.
We finally make our way to Ahu Tongariki where we will go for sunrise the following morning — to get the postcard shot as suggested by the car rental guy.
We continue on to the beach and then head back to town. Day one complete.
I manage to convince Dani to go on a hike the following day. The hike is to the top of Tevekava. This is the highest point on the island and allows for view of the Pacific Ocean in ALL directions. It is an easy hike of only about 3 hours round trip. That is of course unless you make a false start and end up in a farmers lot with dogs barking at you. Then this hike instead takes almost four hours. The path had ONE fork and we took the wrong direction. This is even more hilarious and embarrassing to me since as previously stated…there is NOTHING on the island, no trees blocking our view just us guessing which of the hills is the highest.
When we finally do make our way (thankfully due to a tour group riding horses that we can follow from a distance) it is as promised – absolutely stunning. You can see the island in its entirety and ocean as far as the eye can see. It plays tricks with your eyes and seems as though you can see the curve of the earth.
We drive to the last of the sites that we want to see which is Rano Raraku. This is the quarry that supplied all the stone for the moai. The quarry is filled with moai in various stages of completion. Some of these are incomplete because carers encountered very hard rock. Others are assumed to be sculptures that were never to be removed. It is crazy to see the carving in the walls of rock.
Also, Dani notices I have the same nose as the moai.
Now that we have circled the island three times in the rental car we feel satisfied with our spend. This only leaves the problem of what to do for the next two days.
Watch the sunset over the moai in town since it is walking distance
Go to the beach
And watch the daily LAN flight take off. Seriously – it is amazing.