Easter Island: Part 2- The Adventure

by Mike on January 5, 2012

Ahu Tahai, the only Moai with it's eyes restored

Ahu Tahai, the only Moai with it's eyes restored

This place is a long way out of the way, but I finally made it. The first day, I was really anxious to get myself booked on tour bus which is not normal for me.  Usually, I tend to stray aways from tour groups because locals tend to equate tour bus passengers as cash cows and are subjects of solicitation, but with Easter Island I made an exception

Here’s why.

It’s been known that Easter Island is an archeological site with a lot of history in the form of it’s ruins.  In addition, the island is protected by National Park rules.

With a tour group, a guide would not only provide a“history” lesson about the particular Moai sites and the other inconspicuous pile of rocks scattered across the shoreline, but also verse me on the rules to follow and to respect these Moai statues after all, these represent deceased ancestors.

With that in mind, I had no problems shelling out the 30,000 Chilean Pesos for a full day tour.

An example of such pile of rocks is shown in the following pictures.  Had I not had a guide with me, I would have been clueless about rock formations or function of various platforms that lay in the vicinity of the Moai.

Foot bed for house used by early Rapa Nui People

Foot bed for a house used by early Rapa Nui People

Toppled Moai

Toppled Moai

The highlights of the day tour started from the main town of Hanga Roa and followed the ruins and sites along the southeastern shoreline towards Rano Raraku, the quarry where the Moai were carved.

From there, we headed towards the impressively restored Ahu Tongariki and ended with an hour or so at Anakena beach where we could jump into the inviting waters before heading back to town.  The whole tour lasted about 7 hours, which lunch included.

Ahu Tongariki, the site of the best restored Moai

Ahu Tongariki, the site of the best restored Moai

Anakena Beach

Anakena Beach

At the Rano Raraku or Orongo site, I was required to pay 30,000 Chilean Pesos(per person) for the national park entrance fee.  Once this fee is paid, you’re allowed to visit either site within 5 days, but be sure to keep your pass with you when visiting the other site.

Moai in the midst of creation at Rano Raraku, the quarry where the Moai were created from

Moai in the midst of creation at Rano Raraku, the quarry where the Moai were created from

Moai at Rano Raraku.  These were probably in the midst of being transported to the shoreline

Moai at Rano Raraku. These were probably in the midst of being transported to the shoreline

BEST THING TO DO ON THE ISLAND

Besides the seeing the Moai, the point of interest that’s probably worth doing for anyone visiting the island is to hike or go with a guided horseback group to Terevaka Volcano, which is the highest point on the island at 507 meters(~1600 ft).

As a writer for a blog that encourages fitness, I wasn’t going to be schlepped up to the peak on a horse.  So, I rented a mountain bike for two days and biked the half hour to Ahu Akivi, the start of the trailhead.  My intentions were hike up to the vista point with my mountain bike and ride down.

After an hour and half or so, I eventually arrived at the top and when I did, I was able to visually see how small the island is.

View of Hanga Roa, from Terevaka

View of Hanga Roa, the main town from Terevaka. It 's hard to believe it took me a little over 2 hours to get here from the main town.

An elevation 500 meters of 1600 feet is basically a hill, but from this viewpoint, you have a full 360-degree panoramic view of the entire island.  In just about in any direction you look, you see the ocean.

It’s definitely a scenic sight that’s worth seeing.  I especially enjoyed my journey to the vista point because I was ahead of the crowds at 11 in the morning.

The trail is relatively easily where a novice can probably maneuver down the terrain with a mountain bike without too much difficulty.  On my ride down, I passed several groups of guided horseback riders.  Seeing them on the way up, reassured my decision to start early for this hike.

In the afternoon, I visited Orongo, the ceremonial village.  Again, I rode my rented mountain bike there after grabbing lunch in the main village.  There’s a short cut trail that cuts the hike to just under an hour.   Once at the village, there’s a visitors center that requires an entrance fee, but I simply showed my paid park pass from Rano Raraku, the other site where I paid the park entrance fee.

GUIDELINES FOR EASTER ISLAND

Bring a sweatshirt – Even though temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius or 86 degree Fahrenheit it’s windy along some coast line especially at the peaks of the extinct volcanoes.

Footwear – Wear Sneakers at a minimum on a guided tour; flop flops and rocks don’t mix well.

Sunscreen – Wear sunblock at all times.  The weather changes very fast.  Even though it looks cloudy or if it’s drizzling, the trade winds make the weather pattern unpredictable.  During my stay, I thought my first day was going to be a wash out, but it turned out to be a very pleasant day.  Needless to say, I didn’t bother to put sunscreen on and ended up a little burnt by early afternoon.

Cash – The official currency is Chilean Pesos, but US Dollars are accepted at most tourist attractions such as the tour groups, hotels, and for the park entrance fee.  There are several ATM’s through out the island, particularly at the airport, the lone gas station, and one bank in town.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s a long flight to see an island that’s equivalent to that of a large town.  The island is small enough to see the main sites in a day tour.  Unless you’re into scuba diving or hiking, where there’s other little areas to explore, three days is more than enough time on the island.

The main town has one or two main streets on the island that has shops and stores a tourist would be interested in.  The Island isn’t cheap by any means.  The food and everything else is a more expensive than what I was used to paying.  At the time of this writing, the going rate for a can of soda is about 1500 pesos or $3 USD.

I rented a mountain bike from this rental shop, which ran about $30 USD for two days.  This shop included a pump, spare tube, and a lock with the rental bicycle without any deposit.   I don’t rent bicycles that often so I don’t have anything to compare it to.

Although, some would argue against visiting due to it’s remote location, I’m glad I took the 5 hour flight out here and crossed this off my bucket list.

Ahu Tahai, the only Moai with it's eyes restored at sunset

Ahu Tahai, the only Moai with it's eyes restored at sunset

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

NYBanker January 6, 2012 at 2:43 am

This was a really nice report. Thanks for sharing.

Reply

moa999 January 24, 2012 at 3:46 am

Very nice report.
Any tips on accommodation or recommendations on tour guides.
Many thanks for the TR on FT as well.
I assume with the Chile fee that you could have had a stopover on the way back for no additional fee?

Reply

Mike January 24, 2012 at 5:13 am

Yes, I could stopover on the way back from IPC without paying the entry fee again, which allows you to stay up to 90 days.

Reply

Mike January 25, 2012 at 2:07 am

I had to search my trash for the old receipt. I used the tour company Kia-koa. The tour guide was great!

Reply

Edmundo Ross July 12, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Hola, necesito saber si me autorizas a usar un par de fotografías en una guía turística de Chile, la foto llevará el crédito que tu me indiques.

Muchas gracias y quedo atento!!

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