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Published: September 19th 2016
A short trip to the airport and we were on our way to Easter Island and for once in relative comfort on a modern aircraft. It was clear on departure from the plane that we had entered the chaos of a pacific island airport, a tiny entry hall, a single small luggage carousel inadequate for the large number of tourists and rude Chinese who seem to be everywhere now days.
Eventually after being pushed around by Chinese women I managed to get our bags out the doors into the milling crowd where there was no taxis although I did manage to get one eventually. Our accommodation was about five minutes away from the little airport and after dropping off an American girl who Ruth felt sorry for we arrived at our hotel. There was no one there initially but we soon had our room and a hire car was soon on the way. The vehicle is right hand drive so that should be terrifying to everyone but me.
We decided to go visit the Orongo Ceremonial Village where the Bird Cult rituals were performed. The village is located on the edge of the Rano Kaur volcano which has a
significant wetland in its crater. The village was made of solidly built stone buildings and looked out over the small islands of Motu Kao Kao, Motu Iti and Motu Nui which are now protected. The introduced Chamango Caracaras (falcon), Common Diuca Finch and the Chilean Tinamou dominate since the extinction of indigenous bird species.
The extinct crater was a stunning sight but it was not the reason we came here so we continued on over very poor roads to Ahu Vinapu where we discovered our first Moai, we were alone which made the experience special. We found two here both quite small, one lay on its back while the other had been re-erected all very exciting. Next we headed into Hanga Roa in search of food, eventually deciding on empanada, food is expensive here as is everything shipped in from Chile. After dinner we drove around town and down to the water front here two large Moai have been erected opposite the football pitch.
The next day dawned windy and wet, we had planned to do the more distant locales today but the constant rain put a dampener on that. It seems I was speaking Spanish in my
sleep last night which is peculiar considering I don't speak Spanish.
We visited Ahu Vaihua a large platform with several Moai and topknots made of red scoria then continued on to Akahanga a much larger site with a number of large Moai pushed to the ground and a cave. The weather was worsening by now so we decided to head back to town via Puna Pau the site of the red scoria quarry where the topknots were made. Here we met the American girl Muriel from the airport.
Next we continued to restored (1960) Ahu Akivi and the seven stunning Moai lined up on a large platform, it was an incredible sight but the weather remained unkind. The free Museo Antropologico Sebastian Englert was well worth the visit providing a wealth of information on island culture and history and nearby were the wonderful coastal sights Hanga Kio'e and the temple complex at Tahai. We will return to Tahai tomorrow as heavy rain drove us into the waterfront Pea bar for the rest of the afternoon.
We rose early which is often the norm when we travel, to be greeted by another heavy rain storm, everytime I venture
into the Pacific it is the same wind and rain. One of the local cats visited and bit me on the hand the little bastard drew blood. After a simple breakfast of toast and tea we set off for Atu Ature Huki and Ahu Nau Nau Moai sites located in a lovely little bay which boasted the islands only beach (Anekena) and a lovely beach it is. There were some seven wonderful Moai lined up in row and a large herd of horses too.
Next we went looking for another site but only succeeded in getting bogged, I managed extract us but for a time things did not look good so after that we avoided all dirt roads. Next stop was Ahu Tentana Pito Kura which had the tallest moai raised over a temple till it was toppled and the strange Te Pito O Te Henua. The petroglyphs at Papa Vaka were our next stop they have suffered the wear of time and are now difficult to see.
The next two stops are the true jewels in Rapanui's crown, Ahu Tongariki restored in the early nineties by a Japanese company after the 1960 Tsunami has 15 stunning Moai
standing with their backs to the crashing sea. A short distance up the road is Rano Raraku an extinct volcano with a lovely reedy lake in its crater. The mountain is the nursery of the Moai with hundreds laying in various states of completion including a 21 metre colossus half carved out of the hillside. The Red Tailed Tropic Birds wheeling and bickering in the updrafts surrounding the mountain were also a highlight.
The final destination of the day was a return to Tahai, the weather is lovely now and the Moai stand gloriously above the surf the most impressive of which had a topknot and painted eyes. Tonight is the start of National Independence day celebrations in Chile and the fiesta has begun on Isla De Pascua.
Our last morning as usual, started with rain but soon the skies were clear. After typically expensive breakfast on the main drag we went in search of Dos Ventanas a lava tunnel a few kilometres walk up the coast from the capital. After exiting the car we picked up a canine guide that harassed every horse and cow we encountered along the way, finally we reached the tunnels but without
a torch there was not much to see. The walk itself was pleasant and it felt good to get done exercise on such a nice day. We then returned to the hotel to get our bags prior to heading to the airport to check them in, we then drove the hire car back to town to return it before heading back to the airport.
We arrived in Santiago at 930pm local time and after some confusion acquired a cab to our hostel near Parque Forestal. The hostel is quite good if a bit noisy.
Chile is surprisingly expensive.
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