Our spontaneous decision to go to Easter Island was one of our best decisions yet! We’re never going to be so close and be able to change plans so easily than this trip, so off we went. And it was just an amazing weekend. We must have all said ‘wow’ about 100 times in 48 hours!
There is only one airline (LAN) who fly to Easter Island, and despite being ‘close’ it’s still a 5 1/2 hour flight to get there! On the way there i was in the very last row in the middle three seats. Not what i was hoping for by any stretch, however luckily the middle seat wasn’t taken so myself and a lovely lady (who came to be called Helen i found out) shared the middle seat and stretched out for the journey! She was an Aussie in her 60s and was somewhat eccentric, but nice nevertheless! She slept most of the flight but lent me her guide to Easter Island which i took photos of on my phone so i had the key info to hand!
When we arrived, we were picked up by our hotel and whisked away to Hotel Orongo. An ever so sweet place. The rooms themselves were pretty basic, but the hospitality, warmth and friendliness of the staff was just brilliant. They just wanted to share their lives with us, and it was so nice to be part of for a few days.
Saturday morning we asked the hotel to arrange for us to go on a tour to see the sights. We were in a bus of around 10 people and got taken around with two guides. One in English/Spanish, and one in French as there are a lot of French who visit (who knew?!) It meant that i got the best of both guides, and if i’m honest the french guide was much better and much more informative, so i’d share the info with Sofia & Keryn when there were good facts to be had!
Our first stop was where the villagers used to live. We could see the stones still in position, along with our first glimpse of some Moai. The vast majority are fallen / broken but some have been reconstructed. It was good to see the original ones first to understand the stories. Each Moai comes from a family. They took months to carve (depending on size) and were all given characteristics, be it the ears, the nose, the mouth to depict the family traits. Almost all Moais are male, with the exception of two females.
Our next stop was Ahu Tongariki where 15 have been restored to their former glory. They all have their backs to the sea – the Moai were designed to look over the village and keep people safe. So almost all face the island. The 15 were really quite stunning. Some Moai have a red ‘mound’ on top of their head which is to depict their hair. again sadly not many still have their hair ‘on’ and in some places you see the hair quarrys where they are still standing.
We next went to Rano Raraku which is the largest quarry where over 400 Moai can be seen (including one kneeling one i really liked!), along with a lagoon which was so colourful.
The final stop was Annakena Beach where people go to sunbathe, swim and generally chill. We were lucky enough to see a wedding taking place – they all looked so happy just singing and laughing all together.
We headed back to the hotel where a note from Richard & Jan had been left – they came and joined us for a sunset drink on the coast and then dinner at the french restaurant. The owner was hysterical. Large, (called himself Obelix), obnoxious, and proud of his food. We saw him throw a table of 8 out because they weren’t ‘up to standard’! Helen from the flight was also there so joined us too which was nice! The food was good (Jan & Richards paella could have fed an army!) – the wine was tasty and we had a good evening chatting and reminiscing about our G tour!!
Sunday morning was a first for me – i went to church! It was a recommended thing to do and i’m glad we did. Seeing (and hearing) the congregation sing together, hold hands together, and pray together was really nice. it was crowded (not enough seats!) so you can tell that they care about religion.
After church we headed back to the hotel for breakfast and then got a taxi to take us to Orongo where we could see the islands where the Birdman competition took place, along with the volcano which was breathtakingly beautiful. The whole weekend we had lots of ‘wow’ moments! You can also see a 180 degree view of the sea, and if you look closely you can see the curve of the earth – something i’d never seen before. Really makes you appreciate how giant the earth is….
Then we decided to go to Annakena beach for a swim, some lunch and to sunbathe. It was delightful! I may have had a little snooze under the palm trees!
Dinner that night was in our hotel which the guide book had recommended. We let the chef surprise us, and it was delicious. Soup, followed by Tuna steaks with salad, rice and two sauces that he’d made that were just sublime. Wine to accompany the meal, fruit to end and we were more than replete.
The next morning we got up early for sunrise with Valeria – the taxi driver from the day before we had been so friendly and interesting. A great thing to see as the sun rises over the Moai. It felt very special. Then we checked out and slowly made our way to the airport (via a few shops!) The owner also told us a lovely story about the hotel which i’ll summarise for you now…
Back 50 (ish) years ago, Prince Philip visited Easter Island. The only place which had electricity and running water (at that time) was the hotel we were in, so he stayed there. As they were so honoured, the father offered Prince Philip a chess board he had made himself to thank him for his visit. Now 50 years on, the father has sadly died, but the hotel would love to have the chess board back as it’s a piece of their heritage. So the owner is sending a letter to Buckingham Palace (via me!) to see if that may be possible. Oh – and whilst they send back the chess set, if they could also send the Moai that is sitting in the British Museum too that would be good!!
I dont hold much hope of the Moai being sent back, but if the chess board does, i said i’d go back too to return it to the owners!!
4 hour flight back to Santiago, sad to be leaving but lots of amazing memories of the most remote island in the world!
Next stop: Santiago