Guiding through Easter Island

Sprievodca Veľkonočným ostrovom

The idea of going to Easter Island came to my mind when I was in Mendoza in Argentina. Not that I was bored, but those little islands around South America obsessed my head. I wanted something compact where is easy to wander on foot or bike, and something affordable.

I really wanted to visit Falklands (Islas Malvinas) but they didn’t pass any of my criteria, and would be cold. Galapagos were too big to explore without a car in a few days so I checked flights to Easter Island and baaang. The vision of dream coming true, half of the regular price, and area 25x12 km decided. And I was lucky because this was the last place I visited before the outbreak of covid-panic in South America.

I love this video, it always brings me back.

Practical information

Name: Easter Island, Isla de Pascua, Rapa Nui
Geographical classification:
Oceania (Polynesia)
Political classification:
territory of Chile
Official language:
Rapanui, Spanish
Currency:
CLP Chilean peso
ATMs:
ideally Mastercard or Visa, in the centre of Hanga Roa is one ATM next to playground
Cash:
I think everyone would recommend bring a lot of cash, just in case that only ATM is broken
Exchange:
exchange your money at the mainland
Vaccination:
not mandatory
Water:
water from water tap in hostel was potable
Season:
all year round
Weather:
weather is unstable during the day but stable all year with tropical rainforest climate
Prices:
expect high expenses, everything is imported by plane, products in supermarkets tend to be 2x-3x higher than on mainland
Visa:
maximum stay is 30 days
Safety:
safe zone

conaf entrance tickets

Conaf and entrance ticket

Conaf or Corporación Nacional Forestal is Chilean private, non-profit organization, through which Chilean state contributes to the development and sustainable management of the country’s forest resources. In short, organization whose logo is in all national parks and forests around Chile, including archaeological site on Easter Island. If you want to see moai, craters, caves, and so on, you have to buy 80$ ticket which is valid 10 days. With this ticket you can go anywhere on the island how many times you want, just Orongo and Rano Raraku are limited to one visit. You can buy the ticket at the airport or in the city centre.

Moai

Symbol of the island is moai statue carved into rocks in Rano Raraku quarry and from there distributed around the island. They have different size, height, some painted eyes, and some wear hat. The highest can measure over 8 metres. The weight varies in dozens of tons. Ahu Tongariki is the biggest shrine with 15 moai. None of the statues were preserved standing, they all had to be restored.

Transport

Airport: Aeropuerto Internacional Mataveri de Isla de Pascua
Z Chile: regular flights from Santiago, sometimes twice a day
Z Peru: rarely flights from Lima
From Tahiti: approx. once a week
Cruises: Easter Island is included in some cruises

low landing on easter island

On foot: The island is small. If you are in good condition, you can walk to many places.
Bicycle: Use bike to get on the other side of island and explore landmarks on the way.
Hitchhiking: Local people are nice and willing to give you a ride. Sometimes you don’t even have to ask.
Car rental: Quick way of transport, but you might not be able to get everywhere.
Taxi: Yes, there is always this option. I didn’t use it.

biking on easter island

Easter Island map showing Terevaka, Poike, Rano Kau, Motu Nui, Orongo, and Mataveri; major ahus are marked with moaiInfrastructure on Rapa Nui is simple, there are only few roads. Travel all of them took 5 days. I spent the sixth day roaming in Hanga Roa and hoping my flight will not be cancelled.
Source: www.wikipedia.org by Eric Gaba

An example of how I spent my days

one-man-walking

Day 1

I landed in the morning and explored the closest site. First I went to Ana Kai Tangata and then on trail to Rano Kau and Orongo.

one-man-walking

Day 2

I chose northern trail along the cliffs from Hanga Roa. Then from Ahu Akivi trekking on the summit of Maunga Terevaka, and back to town. In the evening I checked Tahai, popular place for watching sunset. It was 34 kilometres, but still doable.

bicycle sign

Day 3

Sunbathing at Anakena Beach. It was only 35 kilometres with bike, not much, but my hurting butt.

bicycle sign

Day 4

This day I regretted I rented bike for two days in a row. My butt hurt with every movement, but I fought over that pain and rode 50 kilometres along the southern coast. I went via Vinaipu up to Tongariki, and I visited also Rano Raraku. There’s a lot of stuff on the way, I stopped every now and then, but on the way back I was like a rocket.

one-man-walking
hitchhiking sign

Day 5

I made a deal with one family in my hostel that they will give me a ride in the morning to watch sunrise in Tongariki for the quarter of the taxi price. Then I would go my own way up to Anakena beach.

sunrise I went by Poike where local man offered me the ride and took me to Papa Vaka. From there I had another lift to another place. Then I walked a bit until another family going fishing to Ovahe took me. Well, I went there, too. And the same family took me to Anakena a while later, because they didn’t catch anything. In the end, I came to beach couple of hours earlier than I planned. And the way back? I lifted my thumb and that was it.

one-man-walking

Day 6

My last day I did some souvenir shopping, grocery, walking around the town, had dinner, and I went again to Ana Kai Tangata.

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Accommodation

From the tent in camping spot to hotel. I stayed in hostel and I was very satisfied. It offered also bike rental for 10,000 pesos for 24 hours (approx. 12€).

6 nights, 3-bed room113€

Restaurants

On Easter Island you pay more for everything, it’s exclusive destination. I went to restaurant only twice, and it was the same place, so I’m not going to judge. I had fish both times, and I recommend it. You are surrounded by the ocean. Then I cooked on my hostel.

fish and chips with beer
My fish&chips with beer for 12,000 pesos (approx. 15€).
fish and sweet potato crisps
Swordfish and sweet potato crisps cost similarly. Pisco sour drink was complimentary. Just for me.

Reflections from my diary:

"...then I went to grocery, paid 23,000 pesos for almost empty bag, but what can I do, I am in the middle of nowhere in Polynesia where food is delivered by plane."

"Today I did another 23£ shopping and got almost nothing. But I bought the most expensive bananas and cauliflower in my life (4£+5£)."

Organized tours

Majority of tourists coming to an island stay only 2-3 days. Therefore, they rather pay for tour or private guide to see the most in the shortest time. Of course, they’ll learn about history, culture, and hear many stories about locals. But such tours are not cheap, like anything on the island. I chose to explore the island by myself. Not just because of the lower budget, but if I would be rushed in such unbelievably peaceful place for once, I would kill that guide.

Sunrise and sunset

Sunrise at Ahu Tongariki and sunset at Tahai are the only places where you meet more people. Otherwise, I had feeling we are just couple of tourists on the island. These places got popularized among tourists, but local people prefer to watch sunset from Rano Kau crater.

Beaches and water sports

I mentioned two most terrific beaches, Anakena and Ovahe, in my previous blog. Besides them, there are some tiny beaches and pools in Hanga Roa. Not that surreal, but ideal if you want to stay in town.

The island is popular also for water sports like surfing, scuba diving, or kayaking. In the harbour or by the beach you can rent equipment you need.

Wild horses

They are wild. For real. And grazing everywhere. On the hills, in front of moai, by the road, on the road. Everyone respects them and don’t hurt them. They got use to hubbub around. They are not tied to chains nor have tattooed signs. And they are wonderful. Besides the horses, regular grass grazers are the cows.

People

On Easter Island you’ll meet a lot of Chilean people, either on holidays, or working. But most I was grateful for meeting real Rapanui people. I was even in the car with the family speaking Rapanui language. It was fascinating. I heard some rumours about disliking tourists, but I didn’t experience that. Quite the opposite. People greeted me on the street, they offered me a ride when I walked by the road. All were nice and curious about me, from where I come, and if I like it here.

How to behave?

Definitely not like a moron. It is strictly forbidden to take any rocks, or touch moai, or step on the shrines. Do not go off the trails. And don’t you ever dare to throw any litter on the ground. Behave with maximum respect to historical monuments, animals, and people. It’s their home, not yours.

yes no rules

Soňa.

Icons by Freepik from www.flaticon.com

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