I'm usually not the person to advertise companies and services, but I was really delighted by the one day tour around the island by AO Tour. It was organized by Martin, the owner of my accomodation ("Martin & Anita"), just the evening when I arrived. The tour came to pick us up (we were 4 people from my place taking part), stopped to get food and water for the day and headed out East right away. We visited most of the famous sights around the island: Vinapu, Akahanga, Rano Raraku, Ahu Tongariki, Te Pito Te Henua and Anakena, so went all around. You could take this tour by yourself as well, but it gives a very nice plus to get a first impression of these places on an organized tour. I did it on my first day at Rapa Nui.
Fondest memory: Our guide, Patricio knew the island, the history and the local customs very well, he left enough time for us to explore each site and showed us some of the not so-well known items around the above mentioned places. He was easy-going and spoke very good English, and took the extra effort to explain everything once again in "private" to the only one non-English speaking, Spanish lady on our tour.
I especially enjoyed his van, which gave us a more "real Islander feeling" than an air conditioned brand new one would have (like those which are taking the tourists from the Hotel). It was more personal as well, due to not having 20-25 people in the group but only 7 of us.
Horses were introduced to Easter Island in the 19th century and quickly became an indispensable part of island life. Now, horses roam all over the island, and seen from a distance, as this small herd was by the crater lake at Rano Raraku, they add a picturesque touch to the landscape. If only that was all there was to it.
Whilst the numbers are officially said to be about 1000, the reality is that there are far more, and the island cannot sustain them. Nominally, 90% of the animals are "owned", in practice almost all are feral, left to roam at will. Living like this, any animal will become malnourished, dehydrated and diseased. So it was with Rapa Nui's horses, and then, some 20 years ago, a new hazard to their well being was inadvertently introduced.
The deforestation of the island combined with the reduction of good grazing caused by overstocking by horses and cattle has made the island extremely vulnerable to invasion by opportunistic plants such as guavas and eucalypts. One such invader is the chocho - Crotolaria grahamiana - a member of the lupin family. Introduced as a control for soil erosion, this plant is actually extremely toxic to horses and cattle. Eating it has a devastating effect on these animals causing blindness, staggering and irreversable liver damage, invariably leading to a long, slow and painful death . But simply blitzing the plant and removing it from the island - which is next to impossible, the plant now covers huge areas - is not the answer. That would lead to more deaths by malnutrition ... a real Catch 22.
Fondest memory: Help came via a young American veterinarian student who visited the island and was both distressed and professionally interested in the problem of the "caballos locos" - the "mad horses" (the symptoms they display when affected by chocho are just the same as BSE - the infamous mad cow disease). Determined to do something positive, he worked on identifying the problem and then returned to the island to initiate a volunteer programme to help the Rapa Nui improve all aspects of their husbandry of their horses.
There has been a knock-on effect in the management of stray dogs too. In January 2006, for the first time, a volunteer veterinary team came to the island to begin a neutering and spaying programme to begin to address the problem.
Ongoing programmes that address the problem by neutering animals with a real chance of survival, teach and encourage good animal husbandry, and practise judicious euthanizing, are the best hope for the future.
Want to know more? Watch this
All the archaeological sites on Easter Island lie with in the area designated as the Parque Nacional Rapa Nui and are supervised (to a greater or lesser extent) by the parks' rangers. There is a single charge for the park, payable at the Orongo Ceremonial Village site, that covers you for your entire stay and allows access to all sites. Whilst most sites are unattended by rangers, they maintain information and assistance stations at Orongo, Rano Raraku (the quarry) and Anakena (the beach) and visit the other sites periodically.
The map on the Park website shows the extent of the park's jurisdiction.
Easter Island is a great destination for photographers. What about the moai and ahu, the scenery with the wild coastline, the volcano's and the people of Rapa Nui.
Some tips to think about:
- Off course you want to have a picture together with a moai; best place to make these
kind of pictures is the 'moai factory' of Ranu Raraku. Here you can come as close as you
want to the moai.
Please don't do it on other ahu, because these are sacred places for the people of Rapa Nui
and you shouldn't walk on these altars.
- Everywhere on the island you will see horses; wild and also people riding on them.
When you want to make a picture of Rapa Nui people riding their horses please ask
permission to make a pic (some of them will ask you some money !!).
- The best place to make a picture from a fantastic sunset is Tahai, just north of Hanga Roa.
These are the best people on earth! We adored spending time with them and learning about their fascinating culture!
Fondest memory: We miss the people. We met so many wonderful people while we were there. Although Easter Island is well known for the magnificent moais, the Rapa Nui people make the island even more spectacular! :-)
It is said that the original settlers who came with King Hotu Matua eventually split into two warring clans, the Long Ears and the Short Ears. There are many different theories about the arrival of the Long Ears and the Short Ears, but it is generally believed that they went to war. After the victory by the short ears, the different clans started to fight and it was during this time when many, if not all, of the Moai were toppled. Those Moai standing today actually had to be re-erected.
If a moai looks a bit unstable, I wold not stand under it, as I am sure you would not want one of these huge statues to fall on you!
Favorite thing: The ahus are the platforms on which the moai stand. As many of the ahus are also ancient burial grounds, you should not walk on the ahus themselves. In some areas there are rangers working, and if you step where you shouldn't you'll start to hear the whistle, and then you know you're in trouble.
On your first day, spend the time to walk up the coast from Hanga Roa as far as ahu Vai Uri or, for the more adventurous, ahu Te ihu o Motu pare. This walk will get you acclimatised abnd a great sense of what Easter Island is about.
Fondest memory: My best memory of Easter Island was sitting with a Maoi from the Rano Raraku Quarry and watching the sunset.
It is very important to maintain a courteous and appropriate attitude with the islanders. They are extraordinary people that deserves respect, because they are, with the atmosphere of the island, those that will make of your trip an unforgettable experience.
Fondest memory: My sister's marriage.
Just walking among the huge figures is a humbling and fascinating experience.
Fondest memory: Easter Island...Paaseiland...Isla de Pascula...Rapa Nui - All names for this island 2.030 nautical miles away from the continent. All names that condure up dreams and meant that we HAD to see it for ourselves! We went wondering what it would be like, and came away stunned by its unearthly beauty and strangeness and mystery. Something we will never forget.
Favorite thing: try to bring some new items along with you to trade at the market. As supplies are expensive to get to EI, the costs to the locals are as well. I took a number of things to trade, but the most popular were good quality T-shirts with logos and/or country names. Also good, were Levis jeans and portable cassette players with headphones (should have batteries as well). You can use these to trade at the local market near the church in Hanga Roa.
Visit Rano Raraku - without the tour buses.
Go for a swim just off the secluded Ovahe Beach
Grab a flashlight and explore one of the sunken gardens near Ahu Akivi
Search out the 'Cannibal Cave'
Fondest memory: Being at one with the hundreds of silent giants along the slopes of Rano Raraku
Favorite thing: find out the time of sunset ,get to the Tahi Complex,sit on the grass and watch the beauty of nature and the mystery of easter island collide with spectacular sunsets
A small beautiful island, with a lot of interesting places to visit...
Fondest memory: The sunset with the sea and the moais...and one of the friendliest people on earth...