Friday, November 23, 2012

Easter Island, Chile

With a weeks' vacation during the thanksgiving break, decided to jump to Easter Island, Chile for 4 days. Thoughts on the locale:

1) Easter Island is not a tropical vacation paradise. In fact, it's very much the opposite. Although isolated from the rest of the world by geography, at one point in time Easter Island was flourishing with people - enough to chop down most of the vegetation on the island and fish its shores to near extinction. This, combined with the intense sun (and little shelter from the lack of trees), barren volcanic landscape, lack of beaches (2 beaches, one ~50m wide, one ~500m, ~1hr drive from the main town), and jagged volcanic coast (read: death upon entry at 99% of spots) makes Easter Island a very barren place.

2) However, Easter Island not being a tropical vacation paradise is part of its appeal. Even with the Moais being world-famous, for it's size (60+ sq miles) it's surprisingly underpopulated with tourists considering the lack of flights into and out of the island. It retains its laid back atmosphere; nobody locks anything and safety is not a concern, renting a car is as simple as paying for keys, and everything is slow paced. 

3) 4 days is sufficient to see the island in its entirety. There are just not that many historical sites on the island, and one can easily cover all the bases in 4 days, or arguably 2 if kept to schedule. However...

4) You need a car to travel around the island. The island is small, but not that small; those that advocate hiking along the entirety of the island are asking for skin cancer. Car rental, however, is cheap - 25000 CLP/day - and effortless, though seems that most cars on the island are manual. 

 5) If you're coming here for tropical things like surfing, drinking, or snorkeling, forget it. See point 1 about the beaches and the whole death upon entry thing.

The island is definitely worth a visit, though exactly how far out of one's way to get here is an open question. Seems to be a good stopping off point via Tahiti or Chile/Peru. Don't spend more than 4 days here, however, unless one wants to go crazy. Try to go to the quarry Rano Raraku early morning (hours are 0900-1600) for good photos, since you can only go once! Stock up on supplies on the mainland; everything, including water, really is expensive; really fresh produce grown on the island can be bought in the central area (by the Banco Estado) at mornings. And it gets dark at 9!

1 comment:

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