Easter Island: Making the Most of an Afternoon

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#1: Beginning the Trip of a Lifetime
#2: Making the Most of an Afternoon

My hotel/B&B hosts, Peter & Tiare were on hand to welcome me at the airport and were soon giving me a tour of Hanga Roa, Easter Island’s one town. My flight had arrived an hour early, which meant the post office was still open and they were kind enough to stop and let me get my fake stamp. (Fake because Easter Island is part of Chile)

Easter Island passport stamp
I’d secured a guide for my one full day on the island which made renting a car for Sat afternoon and Monday morning a costly option. I was then trying to figure out what I could do without a car. Peter suggested a hike up Rano Kau, the nearby volcano crater, if I liked to walk, but quickly reconsidered when he found out I had been in transit for 24 hours.

For some reason I felt the need to protest that I was quite the walker and went to the gym regularly. I could handle the 2 ½ hour hike up and then back down to the town. He wasn’t convinced, but he offered to drive me to the base of the volcano to shorten my walk.
He also lent me a hat and a liter of water, strongly advising me to put on lots of high spf sun screen to avoid sun poisoning.

He seemed quite worried when I came out in a sleeveless, swingy sundress and my cute little hiking sandals. And as I gushed about the island and talked about my many other travels, I could tell he still felt like he shouldn’t let me go alone, but I was adamant.

So he dropped me off, I started up, and within 5 minutes I was gasping for breath. The incline wasn’t that bad, it just never stopped. And I only then realized I hadn’t eaten since 6AM that morning and it was already 2:30.

Hike up rano kau easter island
For the first 30 minutes, my only view was of trees or the beautiful and deadly (more on that later) 8 ft tall lupine bushes, so there was very little payoff. In fact, I was earnestly considering if there was any way to save face if I just turned around and went back into town.
I was hot and sweaty as I finally cleared the tall bushes and could take in the coastline and “real” topography. 45 minutes from starting, I finally reached the top and took in the beauty of Mirador. Well worth the hike.

Rano Kau lake
Up top the sun was warm and the breeze was cool and I felt so alive and happy I’d made the trip, and even more so that I’d done the hike.  After taking in the lake which featured rare species of plants not found on the rest of the island, I walked along the ridge to Orongo, the Birdman Village.

Ridge Rano Kau Easter Island
It was interesting, and the view was beautiful, but I’ll admit not being all that interested in the stone caves where some of the natives had lived. Probably because I had yet to see any of the statues up close, and I definitely had a one track mind.

Birdman caves easter island
The descent went quite swiftly (barely 15 minutes) and I had the distinct pleasure of overtaking and outstripping a pair of college aged American tourists. They were in suitable long pants, sports shirts, hiking boots, and sensible backpacks. What they thought of me tripping down the mountain in my sundress, strappy sandals, and faux Prada purse (I didn’t even think about a backpack since I could cram my cameras and waterbottle in my purse) I can only imagine 🙂 HA.

I clung deparately to that superior feeling as I then walked the two miles into town (at this point my legs were killing me). I’d hoped to eat at the recommended empanada shop, but I arrived around 3:30, right in the middle of afternoon siesta. Darn.

Hanga Roa Church Easter Island

So I walked around town, checking out the one church with its unique décor, and picking up some more bottled water and snacks. Another restaurant that had been recommended was open at 4, so I had an early, and perfect, dinner at the end of the island’s one pier. I enjoyed two glasses of wine with dinner, not realizing how tired and dehydrated I was, and wound up buzzed for the first time in ages.


Since it was barely 5PM, I decided to “validate” and walk back to the hotel via the Tahai (one of the more famous statue sites) instead of taking a cab directly home. Afterall, I had such a short time and Tahai was supposed to be best at sunset.

It was a little farther from the restaurant than it had looked, and the bag with my water and snacks grew heavy. I was able to appreciate the statues in the setting sun, but didn’t have enough energy to wait for sunset, still more than an hour away.

So I headed back to the hotel, choosing the wrong dirt roads TWICE and going about a mile and a half out of my way. By the time I arrived at the hotel my buzz was long gone and I was ready to collapse. I slumped in a chair on the porch willing myself to watch the sunset before going to sleep, barely aware when Peter stopped by to make sure I’d made it back ok.

The sun set and 15 minutes later I was fast asleep.

Upcoming Post: Perfect Dining On Easter Island


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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