If you live in Denmark like I do, this is about as far away as you can travel, and still I was completely surprised when I arrived on Easter Island. The climate is warm, the landscape is volcanic and rugged, the locals are of Polynesian descent – and yet this was one of the places in the world where I felt immediately at home. The locals are a very proud people that cherish freedom. For example, the island boasts about 8,000 free-ranging horses that can roam wherever they please. The only enclosure I saw on the island was the runway at the airport. I like that! However, my real reason for coming was to experience the historic side of Easter Island. The island has long been on my bucket list, and it’s still there, because I would really like to go back to do some hiking and explore the culture once again.
Easter Island (Rapa Nui in the local tongue) is an island located in the South Pacific. The island is part of Chile, and is one of the most isolated islands in the world. There are lots of fascinating historical locations on Easter Island. I can recommend the grassy landscape of Rapa Nui National Park and the Ahu Tahai ceremonial complex if you want to discover the remains of this mysterious ancient culture. Feel the awesome isolation of the island’s rolling green hills, where the wild horses roam. Treat yourself to a festive dinner, complete with elaborately costumed entertainers performing traditional song and dance. But most importantly, the moai of Easter Island are a true world treasure.
Near the town of Hanga Roa, I visited Ahu Tahai, the site of three restored moai, the rock statues for which the island is famous. I also stopped at the Rano Raraku quarry, where almost 400 giant statues remain in various stages of completion, giving us insights into how these mysterious icons might have been created. At Ahu Tongariki, I visited a monument featuring 15 large statues lined in a row. I also saw Ahu Akivi, considered to be a particularly sacred site and home to seven moai, all of which are positioned to face the sunset during the spring equinox and with their backs to the sunrise during autumn equinox. The astronomical precision is unique to this location on the island. And last, but not least, I visited the Orongo ceremonial village, where the famous ‘birdman’ competition was held. Winning this dangerous race was the fastest route to prestige and power in Rapa Nui society.
I stayed at the Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa, which was a truly wonderful experience. The property was designed in homage to the village of Orongo. Inspired by the architectural shapes of the caves, its rooms are smooth, cosy and organic, built from natural materials such as cypress logs, clay and volcanic rock.