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Melissa Matheson is one of Goway’s veteran sales executives and has travelled extensively. But one remote location she had yet to get to was Rapa Nui – Easter Island. Now, having finally realised that goal, she passes on her impressions and tips on one of the world’s most remote, yet sought after destinations.
Easter Island is a fabulous little island and is part of Chile despite being located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The island is home to 887 monumental statues called the moai. These are the famed statues, shrouded in mystery that draw people to the island. Certainly one of the main highlights that drew me to travel there.
To get to Rapa Nui, you will need to take one of two flights daily, depending on the day as some days there is only one flight and other days, none! The flight takes approximately 5 and a half hours on, and the island is exclusively serviced by LATAM Airlines from Santiago. This is the only way to get to Easter Island.
Once there you then realize how special this island really is and how widespread the moai are. They are everywhere!
Easter Island is still the road less traveled, very rugged and remote. In saying that, you will notice that things we take for granted in North America are not readily available on the island. For example, you may have issues in getting an internet connection anywhere other than Hanga Roa, the island’s tiny main town.
When staying on Easter Island, you will find that all lodging is located in the Hanga Roa area, very close to the airport. Restaurants and shops abound in the quaint little town and it is from there you will take excursions to the many moai sites located all over the island. Alternatively, you can rent a vehicle and self-drive your way around. The island is small and can traversed by car in half a day.
In order to see all of the moai and the best of the island – there are also beautiful beaches, lava caves and extinct volcanoes to explore – I would suggest at least 2 nights with 3 being the preferred length of time to avoid being rushed. Remember, it’s a long way to travel, so you want to spend as much time as you can exploring.
The first and most popular sight to see is Ahu Tongariki – 15 large moai that are among the island’s most famous. Ahu Tongariki is the largest ahu (site), on Easter Island. Its moai were toppled during the island’s civil wars and in the twentieth century, the ahu was swept inland by a tsunami.
The next highlight is Rano Raraku, the Quarry where all the moais were carved. After each statue was made, it was moved from the quarry and placed around the island.
Orongo Village is a must see, where the Birdman ritual entered the history and legend of Rapa Nui’s people. The Birdman was an annual competition that required competitors to collect the first sooty tern (manu tara) egg of the season from the islet of Motu Nui, swim back to Rapa Nui, and climb the sea cliff of Rano Kau to the clifftop village of Orongo. A great recreation can be seen in the film “Rapa Nui”.
Most visitors like to spend some time at Anakena as well, as this is the only beach on the island that you can swim at. There are moai to look at there too – or are they looking at you? Either way, these ones are much older than other moai around the island.
Even though you can self-drive the island, I highly recommend doing at least one day tour with a local guide. The guides are very knowledgeable and can explain everything in depth, telling you which moai are real and which ones were erected recently (Yes, not all of them are ‘the real ones’).
When it comes to Accommodation, do know that Easter Island is not luxurious and most accommodation offerings are of the 3 and 4 star range. I stayed at the Taha Tai, which is a great property, but you have to be prepared for the simple and basic.
There are some higher end properties on the island such as Altiplanico which is of true 4 star quality, plus the 5 star explora lodge which is rugged like the island, but still lovely and distinct in its own way. The explora lodge offers a unique experience, as it is a full service lodge. All meals and excursions are included and the excursions are tailored to the passenger’s abilities and interests.
Easter Island is a dream destination for globetrotters who love a good mystery. Right now there is no better way to take in this unique destination than with Goway’s newest special offer. Travel to Easter Island from May to October and receive a US$1,000 discount on a 4-night stay. Between May and October – high season in the northern hemisphere – Easter Island enjoys fewer visitors and temperatures around 24°C, ideal conditions to explore. Make 2019 your Easter Island year and save with Goway!
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