Travel on the island of Easter: only to hear these two words the mind flies to a distant paradise, we will not hide it is without doubt one of our dreams of travel. And so the travel story on Valeria’s Easter Island, a special guest of this Wednesday at the end of January, is welcome.
Journey to Easter Island, the charm of being at the end of the world
Start this post on the enigmatic Easter Island with a question: Why a trip to Easter Island?
Easter Island is not a usual destination, also because it is not exactly an easily accessible destination. Why go there? What did it represent for me?
Where is Easter Island?
Easter Island (or Rapa Nui, in the local language) is a “non-place”, or rather a place that, in my imagination, was placed outside the geographical coordinates and suspended in time. It has the charm of a wild and unattainable destination. It is no coincidence that it is the farthest from any other destination on the mainland: over 3,600 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 a good 6 hours by plane from the Chilean capital.
When you are on the top of the crater Terevaka (a now extinct volcano) and the view sweeps over the sea that surrounds you in its entirety, it is striking to know that you are on an abandoned dot and far from everything and everyone.
The Polynesian populations and the Maori of New Zealand on their small triangular sailboats reached this small strip of land in the middle of the ocean in ancient times.
It is unthinkable how this island could have been found in the middle of the sea without the nautical instruments of today.
Let’s say that a good dose of luck helped them too.
From what comes the name Easter Island
The first to sight the island was the pirate Edward Davis, but thinking he had sighted the continent, he didn’t dock there, let’s say for problems related to the law.
The first to land on the island was the Dutchman 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
Its isolation has also helped to create a myriad of mysteries around the island, many of which are still unanswered:
“What is the meaning of the Moai, the great 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 happened on the island that led to the decimation of the local population (in the 18th century, when the first Westerners arrived here, on Easter Sunday, the island had only 2,000 inhabitants, too few considering the possibilities of livelihood offered by that land and the great works done in the past). ”
In fact, when you are there, during your trip on Easter Island you can breathe a special atmosphere. Even now, one year after my visit, I can’t find other words to define it besides “strange”. A barren land (the native vegetation has been practically exterminated over the years), a unique culture that in some ways reminds of Hawaii, but for others it is completely different … And the enigmatic looks of the Moai who scrutinize you practically everywhere …
However, from the suggestions of the place, we move on to practical information.
How to get Easter Island?
This small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean can only be reached from Chile, on one side, and Papeete, on the other by air with the Mataveri airport, in Hanga Roa (the only city on the island)
Upon arrival at the airport you will be greeted with a necklace of flowers, at the start it will be a necklace of shells to say goodbye.
What to see in Easter Island?
Moai, Moai and more Moai … there are almost 1000 statues scattered on the patch of land that constitutes Rapa Nui.
There are many sites and complexes, but I report those that are for me the “must see” …
Rano Raraku, or the “forge” of the Moai
It is here that all the Island’s Moai 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 to lie on the ground, because they are not perfect or because they could not be transported elsewhere. A very suggestive place and a concentration of works!
It is the only sandy beach on the island that looks “tropical” and at the same time another archaeological site, where 7 Moai scrutinize the sea
Orongo Ceremonial Site
A village and ceremonial center built sheer above the sea, the site of the cult of the Bird Man, the annual winner of a fierce competition, which consisted of transporting an egg by swimming 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 kilometers 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 inflames the Moai and the sea behind them.
What to do especially during the trip on Easter Island?
1) Swim with the turtles, who live in the cove next to the marina; if there is a sunny day; it is possible to swim all year round
2) Get 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.