Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, is one of the most extraordinary archaeological sites in the world and one of the most mysterious and isolated destinations in world travel. The island was settled between the 4th and 16th centuries by a Polynesian society, who developed a unique culture free from outside influences and left the distinctive monolithic stone statues, or moai, as a reminder of their culture. Of the 800 or so maoi originally built, some 400 remain today in various stages of completion and repair, ranging in size from 2 to 21 metres. The maoi were constructed from solidified lava at Rano Raraku and transported to their sites of erection on wooden rollers - this resulted in the deforestation of the island and the barren landscapes seen today. In addition to the maoi, there are ceremonial shrines or ahu, raised rectangular platforms some of which have associated maoi or tombs, and pictographic writings (rongo rongo) which are still undeciphered. After flying the 3,790km from Chile to Easter Island, you will arrive in Hanga Roa, a small town of less than 4,000 inhabitants but a good base from which to explore the island. Some of the main maoi sites include Ahu Tongariro with 15 restored moai right on the coastline, Ahu Vaihu with 8 toppled moai lying facedown on the ground and Anakena on the northern coast with a perfectly restored maoi overlooking the beach. The ceremonial village of Orongo in the south of the island is one of the most culturally important sites where the warriors of the Birdman Cult would swim to the nearby island of Motu Nui in search of the first of the eggs laid by the manutara, or sooty tern, each year. There are several important ruined buildings and petroglyphs at this site.
Travel to Rapa Nui / Easter Island
Organised group tours: Click here to see 7 tours to Chile which may include Rapa Nui / Easter Island.