Travel on Easter Island: just to hear these two words the mind flies to a distant paradise, we do not hide it is undoubtedly one of our travel dreams. So welcome to the travel story on Valeria Easter Island.
Travel to Easter Island, the charm of being at the end of the world
I start this post on the enigmatic Easter Island with a question: Why travel to Easter Island?
Easter Island is not a usual destination, also because it is not really an easily accessible destination. Why go there? What did it mean to me?
Where is Easter Island located?
Easter Island (or Rapa Nui, in the local language) is a “non-place”, or rather a place that, in my imagination, was located outside the geographical coordinates and suspended in time. It has the charm of the wild and unattainable destination. It is no coincidence that it is the most distant location from any other destination on the mainland: over 3600 km of sea all around.
Easter Island map
Easter Island is politically part of Chile and, in fact, I had included it in my tour between Chile and Northern Argentina, but it is 6 hours by plane from the Chilean capital.
When you are on the top of the Terevaka crater (a volcano now extinct) and the view sweeps over the sea that surrounds you in its entirety, it is impressive to know that you are on an abandoned dot of land and away from everything and everyone.
This small strip of land in the middle of the ocean was reached in ancient times by the Polynesian peoples and the Maori of New Zealand on their small triangular sailboats.
It is unthinkable how they could have found this island in the middle of the sea without today’s nautical instruments.
Let’s say that a good dose of luck helped them.
Where does the name Easter Island come from?
The first to sight the island was the pirate Edward Davis, but thinking that he had sighted the continent, he did not dock there, let’s say for problems related to the law.
The first one who landed on the island was the Dutch Jakob Roggeveen, on Easter Sunday 1722, which is why the island was named Easter Island. The second European to land was Captain Cook in 1774.
The Moai, the statues of Easter Island
Being isolated also helped create a myriad of mysteries around the island, many of which are still unanswered …
“What is the meaning of the Moai, the large stone heads that are scattered throughout the island?”
“How were they built, with what techniques, since they were created from a single block of stone?”
“What event happened on the Island that led to decimate the local population (in the 18th century, when the first Westerners landed here, on Easter day, the Island had only 2,000 inhabitants, too few considering the possibility of sustenance offered by that land and the great works done in the past).”
In fact, when you are there, during the trip on Easter Island you can breathe a special atmosphere. Even now, a year after my visit, I can’t find any other words to define it besides “strange”. A barren land, a unique culture, reminiscent of Hawaii, but which for others differs completely … And the enigmatic glances of the Moai who scrutinize you practically everywhere …
From the suggestions of the place, however, we move on to practical information.
How to get in Easter Island
This small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean can only be reached from Chile, on the one hand, and Papeete, on the other, by air with the Mataveri airport, to Hanga Roa (the only city on the island)
Upon arrival at the airport you will be greeted with a necklace of flowers, at the departure it will be a necklace of shells to bid you farewell.
What to see in Easter Island?
Moai, Moai and more Moai … there are almost 1000 statues scattered on the piece of land that constitutes Rapa Nui.
There are many sites and complexes, but here are the ones that are the “must see” for me …
Rano Raraku, or the “forge” of the Moai
It is here that all the Moai of the Island have been “shaped” and sculpted. Rano Raraku is the quarry from which the materials used for the statues come. All the meadows and hills around here are scattered with abandoned Moai, some underground, some left lying on the ground, because they are not perfect or because it has not been possible to transport them elsewhere. A very suggestive place and a concentrate of works!
It is the only sandy beach on the island with a “tropical” aspect and at the same time another archaeological site, where 7 Moai scan the sea
Ceremonial site of Orongo
Village and ceremonial center built sheer above the sea, the place of the Bird Man cult, the annual winner of a fierce competition, which consisted in transporting a swimming egg from a nearby islet to the top of the Orongo cliff. From here, you can also admire the immense crater of Ranu Kao, which today houses a freshwater lake
A climb to the Terevaka volcano (on foot or on horseback)
To see the whole island and the immensity of the ocean that surrounds you
Located about twenty km from the city center, it is, in my opinion, the most magical place on the island. Go there just before sunset, sit on the ground and admire the sun that sets the Moai pink and the sea behind them.
What to do in particular while traveling on Easter Island?
1) Swim with the turtles: Which live in the cove next to the marina; if there is a sunny day, you can swim all year round
2) Make yourself a tribal tattoo: Tribal tattoos are typical of Polynesian culture, of which the inhabitants of Easter Island proudly emphasize belonging. The main street of Hanga Roa is full of Tattoo Shop: you will take home the tangible sign of the earth at the end of the world.
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