Guided tours take visitors around the island to see the ancient statues up close. Alongside its extraordinary cultural heritage, Easter Island has a great wealth of natural riches with extinct volcanoes, lava tunnels, and caves that were formed by a volcanic eruption, and a rugged coastline of cliffs and hidden bays
RAPA NUI (EASTER ISLAND) is a small volcanic island halfway between Oceania and South America. It’s mostly famous for the Moai, massive human figures carved from stone by the Rapa Nui people between 1250 and 1500 AD.
I’m lucky to have recently visited this tiny dot of an island in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean. It was an immersion into an unexplored culture, where you can ride a horse all the way up a volcano and hear stories about the Birdman religion and sacred ceremonies. Among other things:
Welcome to Chile! Arrival and transfer to your hotel. Accommodation at EUROTEL PROVIDENCIA.
Reception at Mataveri airport and according to Polynesian custom, greeting with flower necklace.- Transfer to the selected hotel. Accommodation at MANUTARA HOTEL or MANAVAI HOTEL.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning this tour starts from the town of Hanga Roa, Rapa Nui. Bordering the coast, towards the ruins of the Vaihu temple. This platform next to the attractive fishing bay of Hanga Te’é held 8 moai, each with its red headdress. Continuing to the archaeological center of Akahanga, with several moai upsides down, abandoned during their transfer.
You will find remains of “Hare Paenga”, known as boat houses, with their unmistakable fundamental stones and decorative terraces. The central platform once held 12 moai and eventually widened from left to right. Then the Rano Raraku volcano, one of the highlights of his visit to Easter Island.
With an infinity of moai that is in all the stages of the carving and with an air of a ghost town that permeates the place, as if one day the sculptors had dropped their tools to never return. In this place, there are 397 moai in different stages of construction. A ten-minute walk along a path takes you directly to the crater of this magnificent volcano. You will see about 70 moai standing (half buried) on the upper slopes. Continuing towards the recently restored Ahu Tongariki, with the largest group of moai.
We will continue to Ahu Te Pito Kura where you can see an intact platform with its moai in the position that remained when it was demolished about 200 years ago. This giant is the largest moai that has been transported from Rano Raraku and has been erected on a platform. It measures 10 meters and weighs 70 tons approx. To the left of the platform, surrounded by a stone wall is a large rock, around which four other smaller stones were placed. Some legends tell that the first king of the island, Hotu Matua’a brought it from Hiva, the mythical Polynesian island where the first colonizers came from and that is why it is full of mana. Like many volcanic stones, it has a high iron content that makes it hotter than the rocks around it and also makes compasses behave unpredictably when they rest on it.
Finally, Anakena beach, which has become an idyllic South Pacific beach, which has everything, including palm trees imported from Tahiti. The picnic tables and the shade make it the perfect place to take a break on the tour of the island. Anakena has 3 original platforms, the first one is just to your left when you go down to the beach, it is practically not distinguishable if it is not from behind. The jewel of Anakena is its Ahu Nau Nau, which stands in all its majesty on the sand.
In Anakena, the sea is usually calm and at an ideal temperature for bathing. There is a line of buoys that mark the limit to where the lifeguard controls. And there are no dangerous animals to fear in the sea. In this place, lunch is held and after lunch, there will be an option to take a bath or explore the magnificent surrounding landscape. I return in the afternoon.
Breakfast at the hotel. On this tour you will visit the cave of Ana Kai Tangata. You will appreciate the wall at the bottom of the cave, which reveals the remains of several paintings of native birds. The figures are painted with natural earth pigments and animal fat, which in theory made them much more durable. Birds are clear representations of the manutara, a species around which the Birdman competition was organized. It is thought that this cave was the place where competitors who swam to the motu met before or after the race.The place is picturesque and ideal for sitting and watching the waves, both from above and from inside the cave.
We continue our journey to the Vinapu sector where you can appreciate the development of carving techniques for the construction of platforms on Easter Island. You can find the remains of platforms that will provide you with additional information about the archaeological mysteries of the island. This place is characterized by its large basalt tiles made to fit carefully in a manner similar to Inca buildings of Cuzco. Then we arrive at the Rano Kau Volcano where you will find its crater which is an impressive natural amphitheater and one of the most majestic views of the entire island. The surface of the lake is covered with cattails of cattails under which the water is about 10 meters deep, below, the sediments reach immeasurable depths. To the right of the viewpoint you will find a fenced rock that contains petroglyphs with drawings of bird man.
Finally we arrived at Orongo, which in the Moai periods was a ceremonial center where ceremonies of initiation and entry into adulthood of children were practiced. Also, in this place, the bird man ceremony was performed. The tribes competed and settled in the stone houses that you will find in the ceremonial village. Each tribal chief chose a young Hopu manu who competed down the cliffs to the sea and swam 2 km to Motu Nui on a pora (reed board) that gave him buoyancy and served them to carry some basic supplies.
Arriving at the motu they settled down to wait for the first seagull to lay an egg, and the first one who managed to steal it was the winner. If you go up the road, you will have a more complete idea of what the houses of this ceremonial village were like, which were restored in 1974 by William Mulloy and a group of islanders. It will pass through two houses that were left unrestored and whose roofs are collapsed. As you travel through the place, you will see that almost every house looks towards Motu Nui, which is where the action took place. Some houses have several entrances and others are connected to each other, such as rabbits burrows. All were used to sleep or protect from the weather. The last house in Orongo is one of its biggest attractions. You will have in front of you the most important petroglyph site of the island, where you will see representations of male birds and komari (symbol of female fertility), as well as images of Make Make, the creator god of the island. Excursion does not include lunch.
Breakfast at the hotel, during the afternoon we start the tour where we will know the Akivi platform that measures itself 90 meters long, while the central platform, on which the moai are, is 38 meters. The seven moai, each of which measures more than 4 meters high, have a homogeneous design, from which it can be deduced that all were in charge and stood up at the same time. It is a ceremonial place, particularly interesting not only for its location but also for its legends that are known around its seven moai. Then continuing towards Uri to Urenga, this moai was restored by William Mulloy in 1976.
It is a platform 13 meters long by 4 meters wide, with a moai that has the peculiarity of presenting two pairs of hands. It is striking that the moai looks exactly in the direction where the sun rises during the winter solstice (June 21) and its platform is aligned with two neighboring hills, Maunga Mataengo and the Maunga Traina, in addition to two smaller nearby ahu. For this reason it is believed that it was a solar observatory that was important in the Rapa Nui calendar. Then visit Puna Pau, a site located east of the town of Hanga Roa, in a small crater of red slag.
Its name means “dry spring”, which implies that this crater once had water, or that at least water passed by nearby. Puna Pau became an important source of raw materials, thanks to the red volcanic stone and its quarry where all the headdresses were carved. The stone is soft volcanic rock with a high iron content, which makes it relatively easy to carve and gives it its distinctive red color. The headdresses weigh up to 12 tons each and were intended for the last moai of Rano Raraku, measuring more than 13 meters.
You may see several drawings or petroglyphs carved on some stones: they are considered to have been carved when the quarry had already been abandoned. On the way it is possible to see the path by which they were transported, finding some of these unfinished hats. Climb to the top: there are splendid views of Hanga Roa and the west coast of the island, in addition to the small crater of Puna Pau. The headdresses were sculpted with the same method that was used in Rano Raraku for the moai, carving all possible details while the headdress was still in the rock bed. Then they took it off the side of the crater and lowered it to the base, where they could polish the rough part. The next step was to raise it to the left edge of the crater (you will see that there is a headdress on top of everything), which was not easy; finally they rolled it downhill, to the place where he was waiting for his transfer.
At the agreed time, transfer from the hotel to Mataveri airport, farewell with a typical collar. Arrival in Santiago and accommodation at Eurotel Providencia