Rapa Nui – the navel of the world
Rapa Nui, formerly known as or in Spanish as Isla Pascua, is currently undergoing major changes. The local population has always attached great importance to independence and little importance to immigrants. The name Easter Island is now removed from the encyclopedia, the island can now only be called Rapa Nui, Polynesian roots are capitalized. This is now our fifth visit, this time we don’t want to do all the hiking but just enjoy the island. Not too much has changed over the years. The many vehicles and motorcycles are conspicuous. The peace of earlier years is a little clouded. The landscape, the smell of the guavas, the bizarre stone heads have remained and a visit is still worthwhile. Whether a journey in the middle of winter is worthwhile itself, will show up in the next days.
Travel time and entry formalities
We wanted to visit the island in winter and chose August as our travel month. The flight from Santiago de Chile to Hanga Roa is more bureaucratic than entering Chile itself. Now an entry form for the Easter Island has to be filled out, additionally a hotel reservation and the return flight ticket have to be shown. The whole thing takes a little longer, so it is better to arrive at the airport early enough. Even now in winter the plane was fully occupied, after 5 hours flight time there was a really hard landing. The paradise first appeared as a damp disappointment, it rained already for 5 days almost without interruption and today was the worst day.
At the airport it is best to buy the ticket for the national park, which costs about 80 USD for foreigners. You should carry this with you on every excursion, the ticket is senselessly checked constantly.
Island tour Rapa Nui
As always we start our stay with a classic island tour. The weather plays along today and greets us already for breakfast with sunshine. For the next days we are going to have over 20 ° C. There are many agencies for excursions. Of course, one can also take a taxi or rent a car, but then misses the most interesting explanations of the local guides. Around 9.00 in the morning we are picked up from our hotel Tiare Pacific and with a minibus we pass the airport to Vaihú. Here we look at the replica of a historical settlement, which is newly built and really well done. You can see the ship-shaped houses covered with grass, as well as the wind-protected gardens and the different cultivated plants, like sugar cane, taro or camote.
In Akahanga we are told why the Moais were overthrown, the typical story of the long ears, filmed by Kevin Costner. There is also a small one of over 200 lava caves scattered all over the island. Afterwards it gets really exciting, in Tongariki we march around 15 big Moais. This is certainly the most famous place Rapa Nuis, a picture that has been published thousands of times, beautifully situated with a beautiful postcard worthy bay in the background.
Not far away is the quarry Raraku with more than 200 finished and not yet finished statues in all intermediate stages. Fortunately there are toilets (1 USD) and a small restaurant with delicious dumplings, the Empanadas. Try the ones filled with tuna, absolutely delicious. The stay here lasts about 2 hours. It now goes past the volcano Poike to the other side of the island. A path leads slightly downhill to the Te Pito Kura, the Moai that was last fallen from its pedestal, the Ahu. Right next to it is the magic stone, a round polished ball and esoteric attraction.
A few minutes further on the beautiful beach Anakena surprises, even now in August you can go swimming here. Of course the Moais in the background are great, but the main actors of the scenery are the coconut palms and the white sand. Right next to the parking lot there are several cafes. At 16.00 we drive back to Hanga Roa. Dinner with sunset at Te Moana is actually obligatory, as a small aperitif of course a Pisco Sour.
TIP!!! Right next to the restaurant you can almost always see sea turtles and puffer fish in the harbour basin.
The most beautiful places of Rapa Nui
Of course there are many beautiful places and corners on the Easter Island but for me there is this one magical place that I have to visit every time. A path leads from Hanga Roa up to Orongo and the fantastic crater Rano Kau. The path ends directly at the crater rim with a small viewpoint and parking lot. Here one does not go right to Orongo, but left a few hundred meters along the crater rim. From the grass-covered volcanic ground, some rocks rise over the crater like a galleon figure. In the afternoon, the sun stands in the back and a thousand small lakes glisten from the 1000 m wide crater. At the latest now you can feel the special of the island. Orongo is about 20 minutes away. A small tour leads through the complex with a view to the bird island, the scene of a wild dare which was filmed by Kevin Costner.
By bike to Akivi
There are a lot of bike rental companies in Hanga Roa. These are not top class bikes now, but ours were well maintained in any case. You have to look for smaller bikes for children. As a family with two children, we pay much more together than for a rental car, something doesn’t fit. The traffic in the middle of winter is already so heavy that it is no fun to be on the road by bike, at least in the centre. My favourite round past the cemetery, along the coast and back over the Moais of Akivi and the quarry was also put in its place. That is to be taken literally. Who thinks of taking your entrance ticket with you on a bicycle tour if you don’t even leave the road? They just block off the road and ask for the ticket??