I spent almost a week on Easter Island. The island is one of the most remote places in the world. A journey to Easter Island is no joke. Take a geographic map and observe its position you will see that the nearest inhabited lands are thousands of kilometers away. The closest inhabited place, which is almost 2,000 km away, is the equally remote island of Pitcairn where about fifty people descendants of the mutineers of the Bounty live. The coast of South America is approximately 3,500 km away and the island of Tahiti is over 4,000 km away.
ONLY ONE FLIGHT A DAY CONNECTS THE ISLAND WITH CILE
There are two options for reaching Easter Island: a daily flight from Santiago de Chile and a weekly flight from Tahiti in French Polynesia operated by the airline LATAM. Both flights last 5/6 hours. When you plan your journey to Easter Island, buy air tickets from Santiago de Chile to Easter Island well in advance. In fact, they can cost between 300 Euros and up to over 1,200 Euros, usually the earlier you buy them, the less they cost.
THE TICKET TO VISIT THE ISLAND
You will arrive at Mataveri airport and here you will find an office where you will have to buy a ticket for the Rapa Nui national park. The ticket is necessary to visit the island which, fortunately, is largely a well-kept national park. The cost for non-Chileans is 80 US dollars per person, the validity of the ticket is 10 days starting from the visit of the first archaeological site.
The park ticket allows you to visit every archaeological site on the island as many times as you want. Only the two most important sites: the Orongo archaeological site and the Rano Raraku moai quarry can only be visited once. So take all your time when you visit these two places because you can not go back unless you buy a new ticket.
Always remember to bring the park ticket with you because at every entrance to an archaeological site you will be required and stamped. Each archaeological site has its own stamp, as well as on the ticket I had the stamps made also on a page of the travel diary, a beautiful memory of the places visited.
A BARREN LANDSCAPE CHARACTERIZED BY VOLCANOES
The airport is located next to the only inhabited center of the island: the village of Hanga Roa. About 7,000 people live on Easter Island, partly descended from the ancient Polynesian inhabitants: the Rapa Nui people. The island, which has a triangular shape, extends over approximately 160 square kilometers. At the three corners of the island are the three main volcanoes: the Terevaka, which with 507 meters of altitude is the highest on the island, the Poike (370 meters) and the Rano Kau (324 meters). A dozen smaller volcanic cones dot the interior of the island. The landscape of Easter Island is barren, the ground is largely covered by shrubs and low vegetation.
THE MOAI: THE STATUES OF STONE
The island is famous for its stone statues, the moai. The ancient inhabitants of Easter Island built hundreds of these huge statues that measure a few meters high – the average height of these statues is 4 meters, but the highest ever erected reaches 10 meters. Almost all the statues have been carved in the stone obtained from the quarry of the Rano Raraku volcano. In this place there are hundreds of moai still to be completed, one of these unfinished moai is even 21 meters high. The island is rich in archaeological sites, in practically every heap of rock that you will find along the coast of the island, if you look closely, you will be able to see the remains of the ancient civilization that shaped the moai.
JOURNEY TO EASTER ISLAND: HOW MANY DAYS TO VISIT EASTER ISLAND?
How many days to stay on the island? Considering where it is and the time to get there in my opinion it is good to stay one night more than less. Most tourists stay there 3 nights and then leave. In my opinion, 3 nights is too short a period. For history and archeology lovers a visit to this island is exciting. My 5 nights spent on the island passed in the blink of an eye, in hindsight I would have preferred to stay one more night. However, 4 or 5 nights may be enough to visit most of the archaeological sites and to get in tune with the island. At first glance the island is barren and bare, but it bewitches you. I couldn’t stop stopping at every archaeological site, at every pile of stones, at every cliff, at every volcano.
In the village of Hanga Roa stop at the Post Office to put an Easter Island stamp on your passport or diary. Try to spend at least one Sunday morning on the island in order to attend 9:00 am mass in the local Catholic church where you can listen to the magnificent songs in Rapa Nui, the Polynesian language of the inhabitants, which is very similar to Tahitian. Watch the sunset over the sea in front of the moai group of Hanga Roa where the moai platforms of Ahu Tahai, the lonely Ahu Ko Te Riku and the more distant Hanga Kioe are located. Do not miss a visit to the interesting Antropológico Padre Sebastián Englert museum where you will have the opportunity to learn more about the history of the island and where you can admire the only authentic eye of a moai.
THE THINGS TO SEE ON A JOURNEY TO EASTER ISLAND
Among the most spectacular things to see in this remote island I really liked the crater of the Rano Kau volcano. Here it is absolutely necessary to follow the path that runs along the edge of the crater to the point where it meets the sea and where the cliffs do not allow you to continue further. The ceremonial village of Orongo also has its charm.
Another fascinating place is undoubtedly the moai quarry of the Rano Raraku volcano. Here you can see the inside of the volcano crater where there is a lake and several moai and then the external slopes. of the volcano literally dotted with statues that look like mushrooms that arise from the volcanic land of the island.
The white sand beach of Anakena, also dotted with groups of moai and full of palm trees, is the only place on the island that recalls a tropical island. Another mystical place is the Ahu Tongariki, the most spectacular moai platform, where there are 15 moai including the heaviest moai ever erected that weighs 86 tons. From Ahu Tongariki you can admire beautiful sunrises with the sun rising just behind the moai.
Among the many things to see also the quarry of the hats of the moai of Puna Pau and the only moai facing the sea, those of Ahu Akivi, located in the interior of the island not far from Hanga Roa. I also really enjoyed a trek that I did in the wildest part of the island, along the slopes of the Poike volcano at the eastern end of the island. Even the highest peak of the island, the Terevaka volcano is easily reached with a walk of a couple of hours.