2 Days Archeology tour itinerary for Easter Island: Say Hello To Moais Of Rapa Nui
Discover the meaning of the Moais statues and the people who built them. With the help of a Native Rapa Nui Guide, you will understand the connection amongst Natives and their archaeological heritage.
Arround the ISLAND
Incomplete statues at Rano Raraku
Ahu Tongariki - the largest Ahu
The view from Orongo - and some birdmen carvings
The biggest tourist attractions on Easter Island are, of course, the Moai. Please note that the Moai are archaeological features and should be treated with care as they are far more fragile than they seem. Often Moai will be placed upon ceremonial platforms and burial sites called Ahu. Do not walk on the Ahuas it is an extremely disrespectful gesture. Even if you see others walking on the Ahu do not do so yourself.
Most of the sites, which can be visited for free, are found along the coastline of the island. First-time visitors may be struck by how many archaeological sites there are around the island, where you can be virtually alone as the only people visiting. Each village typically had an ahu if not several moai, and thus on a drive around the south coast of the island, every mile contains several sites where you might see ruins.
The slightly inland quarry at "Rano Raraku" is where most of the moai were carved, out of the hillside of the volcanic rock. This 300-foot volcano remnant provided the stones for most of the great figures and is where a visitor can see various stages of the carving, as well as scattered partially-finished figures. The approach takes you past several Moai partially buried on the outer slopes - some with only their heads above ground. Rano Raraku also contains the very largest Moai, far larger than any that were completed and transported around the island. A climb to the left side of the crater, over the top, and into the bowl, is well worth it. Hiking to the opposite lip of the crater, where the most moai are found, is one of the most dramatic sites on the island. Ahu Tongariki nearby is the largest Ahu.
Both Rano Kau and Rano Raraku are the remains of volcanic cinder cones and are filled with fresh rainwater. The entry fee is 60 US dollars total for the two sites. Make sure you keep your ticket. For hikers Rano Kau is a pleasant day trek from Hanga Roa, it is possible to trek from town to the lip of the crater and down to the edge of the lake. If guavas are in season, one can graze on feral guavas as one walks through the Guava scrub.
RANO KAU & BIRDMAN VILLAGE
Two exceptional sites are the volcanic craters of Rano Kau and Rano Raraku. Rano Kau is the largest crater on the island and contains the largest freshwater lake/marsh on the island. On its lip at the point where sea cliffs and crater cliffs meet is the sacred village of Orongo, once the destination of the race that formed the heart of the birdman cult and an incredible viewpoint to sea the islets of Moto Nui and Rano Kay and the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Every part of the rocks at Orongo are carved with birdman motifs.
Bus/truck or jeep
Rapa Nui native tour guide
National park ticket
Today is a real opportunity to live an adventure and at the same time visit the entire island tourism sites. Around the island, you can find rests of the ancient culture of the native islander.
Ideal items to take with you:
Sportswear and shoes
Rapa Nui or Easter Island (Spanish: Isla de Pascua, Polynesian: Rapa Nui) is one of the most isolated islands on Earth. Early settlers called the island "Te Pito O Te Henua" (Navel of The World). Officially a territory of Chile, it lies far off in the Pacific Ocean, roughly halfway to Tahiti. Known as one of the world's sacred sites, it is most famous for its enigmatic giant stone statues or moai whose oversized heads, carved centuries ago, reflect the history of the dramatic rise and fall of the most isolated Polynesian culture.
Map of Easter Island: Due to its extreme geographic isolation, many people assume that only the highly intrepid traveler can get to Easter Island. In fact, the island is accessible by regular commercial air service and tourism is the main industry of the island.
Still, it is rather "out of the way" for most people, with a minimum of more than 5.5 hours in the air from the nearest continent, and very limited routes to get there. The only regular flights are via daily to Santiago de Chile and once per week to Tahiti With no competition for fares on an objectively lengthy and obscure flight, fares range between US$300-US$1200 round trip from Santiago.
About the only scenario in which Easter Island is "conveniently located" is on the round-the-world voyage, in which it provides an interesting stop on the way between Polynesia and South America, and will help bolster others' perception that you went "everywhere".
The Name of the Island: The English name of the island (Easter Island) commemorates its European discovery by a Dutch exploration vessel on Easter Sunday in 1722. But today known as Rapa Nui a name given for the Tahiti people, similar to the name of Rapa Iti, locals history and myths talk about the ancients name given for the first aborigines landing at Haga Rau as ‘’ KAUAHAGA O VARU (Soul Mouth) and recently TE PITO O TE HENUA (‘’Navel of the World ’’).
Today DNA testing has proved conclusively that the Polynesians arrived from the west rather than the east, and that the people of Easter Island are descendants of intrepid voyagers who set out from another island almost 25 thousand years ago. Legend says that the people left for Rapa Nui because their own island was slowly being swallowed by the sea, affected by earthquakes.
Develop: In brief, the prehistory of Easter Island is one of supreme accomplishment, flourishing and civilization, followed by environmental devastation and decline. Although it is not agreed when people first arrived on Easter Island (with estimates of one thousand years ago), the consensus seems to be that the first peoples arrived from Polynesia. Rather than being inhabited by mistake or chance, evidence has suggested that Easter Island was colonized deliberately by large boats (Catamarans a Polynesian design) with many settlers—a remarkable feat gave the distance of Easter Island from any other land in the Pacific Ocean, 3 to 5 thousand kilometres.
The first islanders found a land of undoubted paradise—archaeological evidence shows that the island was covered in trees of various sorts, including the largest palm tree species in the world, whose bark and wood furnished the natives with cloth, rope, and canoes. Birds were abundant as well and provided food for them. A mild climate favoured an easy life, and abundant waters yielded fish and oysters.
Moais: The islanders prospered due to these advantages, and a reflection of this is the religion which sprouted in their leisure, which had at its centrepiece the giant moai statues, that are the island's most distinctive feature today. These moai statues, which the island is littered with, are supposed to have been depictions of ancestors, whose presence likely was considered a blessing or watchful safekeeping eye over each small village. The ruins of Rano Raraku crater, the stone quarry where almost 1000 Moai were carved and outside which many still sit today, is a testament to how central these figures were to the islanders, and how their life revolved around these creations. It has been suggested that their isolation from all other peoples fueled this outlet of trade and creativity—lacking any other significant way to direct their skills and resources. The bird-man culture (seen in petroglyphs), is an obvious testament to the islanders' fascination with the ability to leave their island for distant lands, but more important, represent the second era of the Rapa Nui survivor of the war between clans around 500 A.C.
However, as the population grew, so did pressures on the island's environment. Deforestation of the island's trees gradually increased, and as this main resource was depleted, the islanders would find it hard to continue making rope, canoes, and all the necessities to hunt and fish, and ultimately, support the culture that produced the giant stone figureheads. Apparently, disagreements began to break out (with some violence) as confidence in the old religion was lost, and is reflected partly in the ruins of moai which were deliberately toppled by human hands. By the end of the glory of the Easter Island culture, the population had crashed in numbers, and the residents—with little food or other ways to obtain sustenance—resorted sometimes to cannibalism and bare subsistence. Subsequent slave raids by powers such as Peru and Bolivia devastated the population even more, as did epidemics of western diseases until barely a hundred native Rapa Nui were left by the late nineteenth century.
Today, Rapa Nui National Park is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Its residents rely much on the tourism and economic links to Chile and daily flights to Santiago. As with many native peoples, the Rapa Nui seek a link to their past and how to integrate their culture with the political, economic, and social realities of today.
Easter Island is extremely small, so it is possible to get around fairly easily with generally jeeps, trucks, motorcycle, and boats, available in Hanga Roa downtown, as well as a few dirtbikes. With the Tour Service, you will have the opportunity to visit and enjoy the main sites on the island in a day and a Half Day Tour. Most hosts will also rent out their jeep (at a very competitive rate) if you simply ask. Be aware, you will not get insurance with your car hire at the entire island. Bicycles can be hired on a daily basis. For those on a tight schedule, able for more curious or adventurous visitors than an organized tour.
SOME OF OUR PRICES As follows: ALL FOR 24 HRS.
Bicycle (24 hours): USD 17.
Motor Scooter (8 hrs): USD 42.
Small Jeep/car (8hrs): USD 64.
Larger cars (8 hrs): USD 98.
Easter Island features two white-sand beaches. Anakena, on the north side of the island, is an excellent shorebreak bodysurfing location with a bit of north swell. Even the 1" waves barrel (it's also possible to surf in the harbour at Hanga Roa and many of the locals do so). The second beach is a hidden gem called Ovahe. Found along the southern shore of the island near Ahu Vaihu (along the road from Hanga Roa to Ahu Akahanga), this beautiful and desolate beach is much larger than that at Anakena and is surrounded by breathtaking cliffs. Note of caution: the path leading down to the beach is somewhat treacherous and unstable and best reached by foot - driving off-road (contrary to the misguided and somewhat callous actions of some tourists) on most of the island is illegal anyway.
Scuba diving and snorkelling are popular near the islets Motu Nui and Motu Iti (well known for "The birdman culture") which are located about 1km south of the island. There are three shops where it is possible to rent the equipment and from there get on a guided tour to the islets: HONU Diving Center.
An often overlooked but particularly fascinating and "otherworldly" aspect of Easter Island is its extensive cave systems. While there are a couple of "official" caves that are quite interesting in their own right, there is also real adventure to be had in exploring all of the numerous unofficial caves on the island, most of which are found near Ana Kakenga. While the openings to most of these caves are small (some barely large enough to crawl through) and hidden (amid a rather surreal lava strewn field that has been likened to the surface of Mars), many of them open up into large and inhibiting deep and extensive cave systems. Note of caution: these caves can be dangerous in that quite a few runs extremely deep. A person left without a torch/flashlight will be immersed in utter blackness with little hope of finding their way out soon...if ever. The caves are also extremely damp and slippery (the ceilings in some have collapsed over time from water erosion).
Rapa Nui Native Guides on Tours: These Tour company offers guided tours to Easter Island, a wonderful way to explore the best of the island and its culture without having to worry about breaking any local rules. A well-respected Rapa Nui Native tour guide can show you aspects of the location and culture that you might otherwise never see and understand.
Most, if not all of the commerce on this island occurs in the port town of Hanga Roa. There are a number of small shops geared toward tourists, as well as an open market. If you join an organized tour, expect to see the same souvenir-sellers at each site selling the same items - generally a plethora of moai-inspired trinkets. The official currency is the Chilean Peso, but, unlike on the mainland, transactions can be performed in US Dollars.
When buying souvenirs it is best to use cash. Often the vendors will have a very high minimum charge or will tack on a service fee for using a credit card (about 10-20%). This is only if the vendor accepts credit cards at all; many small vendors will only accept cash.
At least four ATMs are available on the island: one from Banco Estado on Tu'u maheke, Hanga Roa, which only accepts Cirrus, Maestro and MasterCard branded cards but NOT Visa. The other one inside the bank Santander, a bit further, on Policarpo Toro, which accepts Visa, Cirrus, Maestro and MasterCard. There's also an ATM in the departure hall of the airport, and also at least one at the gas station near the airport. The local bank can do cash advances against a Visa card, but the bank opening times are limited and the lines can belong.
There are around 25 restaurants catering to tourists on the island. A few can be found close to the dock in Hanga Roa, with a few others scattered in the surrounding areas. Menus tend to be limited, as most of the food on the island needs to be imported. The range of fish, though, is considerable - as is true for most of Chile. There are also a few "supermarkets" where visitors can pick up snacks, limited sundries, booze, etc.
Like the souvenir vendors on the island, many restaurants do not accept credit cards or will have a high minimum charge. Also tipping is appreciated but should be done in moderation, usually spare change or less than 10% works.
As a result of the increased amount of tourists, some of the restaurants may be a kind of "tourist trap," so don't hesitate to ask your guide or your host for advice where to go.
Haka Honu- Quite possibly the best restaurant on the island. The tuna dishes are particularly good. Get to Haka Honu early or it is likely that you will not get a table.
Pisco, hard alcohol made from fermented grapes, is the unofficial drink of the island. Try a pisco sour, which is pisco mixed with lemon juice. Another common cocktail is the piscola - pisco and coke. Drinking pisco straight is possible, as it has less of a kick than Vodka, although Chileans would not advise it.
The Accommodations on Easter Island as Hotel and "Guesthouses". Representatives will come to the airport to greet travellers who may wish to stay with them. Rates are usually quite reasonable. The proprietors will be happy to help you find places to eat, drink and generally get around.
Our hotels frequently have restaurants offering at least breakfast, and often dinner as well. A larger 30 room hotel with a spectacular ocean view, two blocks from the main street. Free breakfast and hotel transport and free wifi in the lobby. we are constantly running price specials for different seasons.
Type of Tour
This tour is offered throughout the year on the following days of the week.
- Monday 09:30
- Tuesday 09:30
- Wednesday 09:30
- Thursday 09:30
- Friday 09:30
- Saturday 09:30
- Sunday 09:09
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