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krisek Easter Island (Rapa Nui) - A travel report by Krys
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Easter Island (Rapa Nui),  Chile - flag Chile -  Valparaíso
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krisek's travel reports

Rapa Nui - a dream trip come true!

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No-one is poor on Rapa Nui, otherwise known as Isla de Pascua or Easter Island. It is a paradise island of the Pacific, at one of the three Polynesia's corners. The island is full of mystery, perfect all year round.

Rano Raraku
Rano Raraku
Rapa Nui’s mystery is the real reason for erecting the numerous moai around the island and their pukaos (hats or topknots). There are about six hundred of them on the island. Their sizes vary considerably and the vast majority of them have never fulfilled their alleged purpose. I heard from the locals that the statues were carved of stone and erected at the temples (ahus in Rapanui - the local language, a version of Eastern Polynesian), which contained ashes of the ancestors. They were positioned in a way to face the villages - almost like the moai were representing the ancestors looking after the villagers. However, no-one really knows why those moai were made.

The story, which Kevin Costner presented in his film 'Rapa Nui' contains disproportionally more fiction than factual history. The linking of two supposedly separate traditions, the mysterious of moai with the more factual of the Birdman and thus creating a new one of the White Canoe, was not welcome by the elders of today's Rapa Nui but they did happily took several roles in the production.

Until as recently as 2002, the island had been visited by a cargo ship just twice a year. The vessel would bring petrol, household equipment, kitchen gas, and any other food or equipment which was not produced or manufactured on the island. Every time the ship came, it was a fiesta on Rapa Nui. These days, the ship comes twice a month and the islanders cannot use this event as an excuse for partying that much.

Marijuana, I was told, was one of the key instruments supporting the way of life on Rapa Nui. It is happily grown in gardens and it is pure - no chemical additives. One can say it is an organic marijuana. The Rapanui had been using it for centuries and it is part of their culture. No-one is denying that. So, the Chilean authorities (Chilean Navy, actually) although disapprove the production and usage, they keep calm and let the people off.

Favourite spots:
Ahu Tongariki
Ahu Tongariki
Amazing - that’s what I thought of Ahu Tongariki when I first saw it from the top of Rano Raraku volcano. Directly on the beach, there are fifteen large fully erected moai and one with the pukao. In addition, there was much larger one, lying down on its back in the front of the temple. When I looked at this ahu from the top of the volcano, where it was carved out, I had to count the statues three times, because I could not believe there were so many.

When I stepped down and approached the temple and thought that it could become one of my favourite photographs of the holiday. The ahu was simply too nice to be true. Ahu Tongariki is perhaps the most visited and celebrated Rapanui temple of all. I wouldn’t argue about that, because it is spectacular and it deserves it. Whereas Ahu Tahai is the travellers’ favourite spot for sunset, Ahu Tongariki is the one to be seen at sunrise. Having said that, I still believe it looked fabulous at sunset, too.

What's really great:
Ahu Ko-Te-Riku
Ahu Ko-Te-Riku
There were a few restored temples right in the capital, within a few minutes walk from the main streets, so I thought I could start with them and see how things develop later on. These temples were: Ahu Riata, Ahu Tautira, Vai Uri, Tahai and Ko-Te-Riku. When I got to the first one - Ahu Riata - I could hardly believe I was there, at the end of the world! It felt a little scary that the nearest land was three hours away by air, apart from the one, which was the bottom of the ocean. Ahu Ko-Te-Riku, right next to Ahu Tahai, was a shrine with a sole large moai but complete with the pukao and large white eyes. Its face was fascinating. It showed no emotions, and expressed perhaps only calmness and consistency, like a faithful guardian. It was a true image of Rapa Nui and, again, it looked incredible at sunset as it stood tall at the black cliff. I took a substantial number of pictures of it then and at various times of a day later on, and even in the moonlight.

Fallen moai
Fallen moai
However the Rapanui believed the island was actually the navel of the world or Te Pito O Te Henua, as the Rapanui know it. There is stone on the island that represents this centre of the world. It is said that the Rapanui kings would come to the stone to recharge their energy. In fact on the day I came there, the stone was exceptionally hot. Much hotter than other stones around! This definitely stimulated my imagination.

Ahu Vaihu, my tour's first stop was an intriguing fallen temple, whose moai were toppled not by any of natural disasters, like tsunamis. It is believed that the erection of moai consumed the majority of the woodland, which was in the effect followed by a shortage of other natural resources. This subsequently led to civil war between the Longears (prolific and skilful sculptors) and Shortears occupying the opposite shores of the island. Opponents kept knocking down the ahus of the others.

Ahu Tahai
Ahu Tahai
I stayed at the Orongo Hotel owned by a gay Rapanui. He behaved like a real drama queen or, in other words, old woman. His features were unmistakably Polynesian, and his gayness was hyper-obvious. He was always wearing a sarong made of silk with large flowers pattern, had long grey hair, which he decorated with small fresh orchid. He actually reminded me of one of my senior managers from a company, which I left shortly before travelling to Rapa Nui. I didn’t think it was funny at all. Anyway, he was well regarded and respected on the island and considered as “very special”. I really liked that and liked him as a great character.

Well, the hotel offered very comfortable rooms with specific features. In my bathroom I had a choice of pink towels or shocking pink towels and my bed sheets had a pattern of large pink flowers. It was very clean and the shower curtain had pink ribbons sewn on it. The rooms were spacious, had large ceiling-to-floor slide window and a round table right at it.

Shadow of Ahu Tongariki with view to the Rano Raraku
Shadow of Ahu Tongariki with view to the Rano Raraku
I found few places to go out in Hanga Roa, however I would not consider as an island with no nightlife. There was always something happening somewhere. Along the two main roads and between there pubs and drink bars - a very good spots to meet people. And the drinks were lush! Obviously, I preferred the local feel but there were also touristy things to do. It was important for the locals. That’s how they earned their money.

One night I went to see the traditional Rapanui dance, which clearly demonstrated that the island was part of Polynesia. The gals and guys put up a great show and were fluent in it. The guys were showing off their traditional tattoos, which also proved that the Rapanui people were Polynesian. However, I later found out that the numerous motorbikes, which were the only source of noise on the island, belonged to those dancers!

Anakena Beach
Anakena Beach
Ahus Tahai and Ko-Te-Riku were superb at sunset. I think I already said that. I was so glad that I could make it the first night, even more so now, that I know that the next evening did not produce equally spectacular sky. There is a great meadow, open and with views over the temples and the ocean - vast, open ocean.

Anakena and its beach was the place where both the locals and the tourist hang out. This was the place where all those tourist, who came on the plane with me and all those, who had been already on the island, must have been frying their skins and cooling down in the ocean. It was the only sandy beach on the island. But, first of all, it was the place where the Rapa Nui took for their picnics and barbecues. They came along with their families. They sat and lay down under the palmtrees...

Ahu Anakena
Ahu Anakena
I ate at my hotel. The restaurant was amongst the best on Rapa Nui. I saw that fat cats and bog fish came there to eat. The owner cooked and he was very good. His grilled fish was fabulous. The menu was short but had enough choice. It was also a great place for breakfast.

I spotted a few other restaurants in the capital and even looked up their menus. They looked good. Some of them did seafood platters. I almost tried one, but I limited myself to soup. Hehe. I did not want to disappoint the owner of my hotel... I have been once reprimanded that I did not take breakfast the morning I went to see the sunrise at Rano Raraku. He shouted at me across the town, complaining that the breakfast was waiting for me. It was 10:30 in the morning, so I asked whether it was too late for breakfast. But it wasn’t. He stopped watering flowers and whipped me a tasty breakfast in no time.

Other recommendations:
Rangaroa - view from top.
Rangaroa - view from top.
I wanted to walk up the volcano of Rano Kau. I shared the idea with the hotel owner, who became worried that I was not going to make it because it as too far and too hot. Then, I chose not to share my thought that I was going to totally ignore his comments. The hike was great. I decided to take the road on the way up and the trail on the way down. The road was steadily and almost evenly ascending. There weren’t flat parts at all. I liked that because I could keep my rhythm. Part of the road was in the shade, which was a blessing as my contact lenses were filled with sweat most of the time, and I was no longer sure if I was tired or just couldn’t see sharp anymore. Had I not sweated that much, I might have been more sure if one of the people I met on the road was the actor, who played in the film ‘Shakespeare In Love’ the role of the actor with the stutter.

The awesome crater of Rano Kau impressed me! I have always had a soft spot for volcanoes. If you’re on the island - go check it!

Published on Thursday February 21th, 2008

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Wed, Dec 31 2008 - 09:00 AM rating by basia

I from your reports find out interested news. Surely never there I will be, but feels as this I would see all.

Fri, Mar 14 2008 - 01:33 PM rating by alfonsovasco

i love thi report....!!! unique and erudite

Sat, Mar 08 2008 - 12:28 AM rating by bootlegga

Amazing pics!

Sat, Feb 23 2008 - 11:21 PM rating by jorgesanchez

OK, this report is in the position 400 in the general list...??? four members gave 5 points, as I can read here below, but two other use the anonymity to rate it much lower.... why!
For me is an incredible excellent and unique report.

Sat, Feb 23 2008 - 09:16 PM rating by rangutan

Another colourful gem! [4.6]

Sat, Feb 23 2008 - 12:08 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

nice report ,very good pictures and well written ,glad to read it

Fri, Feb 22 2008 - 08:55 PM rating by mistybleu

A very interesting report with great pictures.

I have a soft spot for volcanoes as well and would love to see an active one. When you got to the crater what did you see?

Fri, Feb 22 2008 - 05:15 AM rating by droz112

Great report - I'd like to go there one day - I have several books on my shelves about Rapa Nui and also the Pitcairn islands ...

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