EASTER ISLAND, March 14 – 16 – Our late afternoon arrival into the land of the Rapa Nui (indigenous people) brought us on to this tiny ‘speck’ of an island way down south in the Pacific Ocean. Called by the local inhabitants as ‘Te Pito o Te Hanua’ – their meaning of living on their little ‘navel of the world’ – it is amazing that this tiny island is regarded as the world’s largest open air museum.
A greeting by our local guides and hotel representatives included a presentation of colourful flower necklaces. A short drive through the one little town of Hanga Roa and out into the countryside brought us to the beautiful EXplora lodge. Coming all the way to Easter Island is truly an extraordinary expedition, one that is cherished for a lifetime.
EXplora Lodge sits on high ground overlooking the ocean. Horses and cattle graze peacefully. Here we know we are privileged in good comfort at one of the very most remotest places on earth. Our lodge follows the highest ethos of environmental sensitivity and ecotourism. It is built in the local ’round houses’ style of the first stone villages on this island. Excellent meals and wines are a part of our happy experience here.
Our full day of touring on the island includes the most important key sights to see. Of course everyone is anxious to see the iconic gigantic stone statues, known as Moai, which are all over the island. First we climb the spectacular Rano Kau crater for amazing views over the island, into the deep crater (with fresh water lake at the bottom), and out across the vast blue ocean. Up here we find the the Orongo ceremonial village (the stone roundhouses), site of the “birdman” cult which came before the Moai culture. Up here we meet Sergio Rapu, a leading archaeologist of this island, who will be accompanying us and lecturing to our group all day at each of the key island sites. We are in excellent hands of knowledge.
From here we drive to the other end of the island to visit the Rano Raraku quarry on the side of a smaller volcano. Here is the literal ‘birthplace’ of the stone Moai … where these massive figures of abstract human were carved out of the lava “tuff” rock. Here we find many Moai in various stages of completion on the side slope of the extinct volcano … some from just beginning in their rock-carving construction, to some nearly completed and others completed, as well as others broken and cracked in their creation (and so discarded, as if dead, left lying on the ground). It is that time has ‘stood still’ here, like the carvers suddenly laid down their tools. It was from here at the quarry that the giant Moai started their ‘walk’ to various places around the island.
A short drive brings us to nearby Ahu Tongariki where several of these mysterious massive stone monoliths are stoically standing upright as they have for thousands of years. This is an awesome place. Some of these are weight in excess of 90 tonnes with their ‘top hats’ weighing up to 4 tonnes. This is the great mystery of Easter Island … how did they move these monoliths all over the island, how did they erect them in place?
From here we move on to the eastern side to Easter Island’s only ‘horse shoe’ bay with pristine white sandy beach. Here we find the site which is believed to be the original Polynesia explorers arrival from far away across the Pacific, arriving in their huge ocean canoes. The Ahu Anakena brings us more magnificent standing Moai with their ‘top hats’ in place. A lavish beachside bar-b-que lunch with tables and chairs await us under a marquee. We are treated to an authentic Rapa Nui cultural dance show – exuberant and exhilarating and colourful. This is Ballet Kari Kari of local women and men who enthusiastically perform ancient stories through song and dance.
Back at beautiful EXplora – enjoying early evening canapes and cocktails – our group enjoy an overview ‘wrap up’ lecture’ by Sergio Rapu. The mysteries of the Polynesian South Pacific are fascinating and often rather inexplicable but with plenty of theories and stories.
Across the southern Pacific Ocean, now we are headed deeper into Polynesia … on to the fabled and fabulous islands of Tahiti. At the stunning St. Regis Bora Bora we will experience more South Pacific beauty and culture, enjoying over-water bungalow suites … our adventures continue 🙂
Check out some photos from our adventure on Easter Island… Click any photo to enlarge.
Click here to follow us to as we travel to the beautiful islands of Bora Bora.