CHILE #4 – Into the mysteries of Easter Island

in travel •  4 years ago  (edited)


One of the most remote and isolated places in the world. This tiny island, 24 km. long and 12 km wide, belongs to Chile. That connection is hard to feel when the distance to Chile is 3700 km. Easter Island is world famous for its tight-lipped statues that are spread across the island. These statues might be what most people associate with the island. Ever since its discovery Easter Island or Rapa Nui (to its native Polynesian inhabitants) has most often been associated with the many imaginative theories about the origin of the people and the statues. But it has so much more to offer than being an open-air museum. Diving and snorkeling is great. Gorgeous beach and wonderful hiking possibilities. I stayed one week in a cottage just outside Hanga Roa, the one and only town on the island.

Hanga Roa

Ahu Tahai, Hanga Roa at sunset

The island was settled by Polynesians around 400 AD. It is believed that they came from other Polynesian islands. The name Easter Island was given by the Dutch navigator who discovered the island on Easter Sunday 1722. At that time the civilization of the island had already degenerated drastically, because of overpopulation, deforestation and exploitation. It was annexed by Chile in 1888, but in 2008 they were granted greater autonomy and is now «special territory» within Chile. Leaving Santiago you have to go through passport control. Rather confusing since it was a domestic flight! The national park makes up 40% of the island and belongs to Chile. This has caused political tensions. Indigenous Rapa Nui control almost no land outside Hanga Roa. They want more control over their land and tourism.

Rano Raraku

Rano Raraku

I spent my first two days visiting the most important archeological sites. My fist visit was Rano Raraku, which is where some of the most famous moai statues are found. The statues were erected by Rapa Nui people between the 10th and 16th century. Exactly why and how these statues were assembled is still not fully understood. The volcano of Rano Raraku is the quarry from which they were cut. Wandering around among dozens of statues was an amazing feeling. They are in all stages of progress, spread out on the slopes of the volcano. It was as stepping back into early Polynesian times.

Ahu Tongariki

Ahu Tongariki at sunrise

Next visit was Ahu Tongariki. 15 of the island's most famous statues are standing in a lineup upon a flat rock platform. They are turning there back to the sea, looking at the village once here. In 1960 a tsunami had flattened the statues and scattered several pieces far inland, but restored by a Japanese team in 1992 -1996. The site is on the east side and since it opens at 06 in the morning, I went out again one morning, just to sit there watching the sunrise.

Rano Kau, the large crater in the south

Orongo Ceremonial village house to the far right

My next visit was to the southern volcanic crater lake. Besides driving, it is possible to hike the 4 km. to the summit of this 400 m. volcano with a crater lake which is 1 km. in diameter. It offers an unbeatable view of the island and is one of the places where you can really feel the island's solitude in the South Pacific. By the crater rim, there is another archeological site. The Orongo Ceremonial Village, which is perched on the rim of the crater and a 1000 foot cliff plunging down into the Pacific Ocean, must have one of the South Pacific's most dramatic landscapes!

Anakena beach

Statues by the beach

After three days wandering around among the ancient statues and archeological sites, I took a day «off» and spend it on this lovely beach up north – Anakena beach. A lovely white- sandy beach with coconut trees. It even has as a backdrop a platform with seven moai's – statues. Facilities includes toilets, restaurant and souvenir stalls, But, more expensive here than in town.

Before hiking to Terevaka

hiking to Terevaka

On the summit of Terevaka

To really get the feel of how small and how isolated Easter Island is, I did a hike to the highest point. Terevaka at 507 m It is a 9 km. hike but not steep. It took me about 4 hours. The view is amazing and keep getting better. From the summit the whole island is visible and nothing but sea all around.

The work done by archaeologists, anthropologists, historians etc. has revealed many of its most hidden secrets. Even so, I find that there is still a mystical feeling about this isolated island left all alone in the Pacific Ocean.

Next stop: Atacama desert, northern Chile

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All the photoes are mine, Ulla Jensen (flickr, Instagram and facebook)

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ǝɹǝɥ sɐʍ ɹoʇɐɹnƆ pɐW ǝɥ┴

WOW!! I've never read a travel post about Easter Island and I think that the reason is that it's one of the most remote places in the world.

It looks so beautiful. I like that you shared some additional information too as I didn't know anything about it besides those statues :)

Were there many other tourists as well? It looks so empty on your photos :) If I would be closer I would definitely visit it as the views are stunning!

Thank you for sharing and have a great weekend!

It is beautiful and has so much to offer besides the statues. Before I went there I did not know much else than the statues. I think because they are world famous the focus is on them. Even it is small it is diverse. Not too many tourists. And it feels safe. Very low crime rate. After that visit I have decided to visit other Polynesian islands.😁

Such a strange place... I would like to visit it once...

It is a place with some kind of mysteriousness about it...

great post, once again :) steem on!

Thank you :)

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Thank you:)

Your photos of this incredible place are quite stunning. Those sunrise shots are excellent! I've seen the head that is at the Smithsonian. That is as close as I will ever get, so it is a treat to see your photos

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Easter Island is such an amazing place to visit!

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Phenomenal work on this article, @digi-me. Beautiful job. Thanks for your report as well as for the awesome photos!

I'd like to ask you to participate in my Art Curation Initiative #8

Thank you. It is a very exciting place, but at the same time you feel that complete solitude.

Amazing, that's one of the places I still want to visit, possibly by sailboat.

The whole history of how the Polynesians got to the islands is just fantastic. have you ever read Kon-Tiki Expedition?

  ·  4 years ago (edited)

Oh, you are sailin? That is a long way from the coast of Chile... That will take some weeks? Yes I have read the Kon-Tiki Expedition. I have several of Thor Heyerdahls books and I have also seen the documentaries about his expeditions. In fact, he is the one who has inspired me :) His name is presents on the island. Being a Norwegian, many of the inbabitants, including my landlady (who works at the museum) told me about dokumentary shown - in Norweagian, with Spanish subtitles!

Amazing! I'm not sailing, but it's on my plans! Or maybe a haft just like Thor did hahahahaha

It's cool to know that he inspired you, actually reading about that crazy journey makes us wonder that anything is possible