Lost in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean and one of the remotest places on earth, the windswept Easter Island is an extraordinary outpost of humanity which still holds the key to one of civilisation’s most enduring mysteries. This tiny triangular island stretching just 23 kilometres at its widest point is accessed by a five hour flight from Santiago and is home to the world famous Moai, huge monolithic stone sculptures of solemn faces that date back as far as the 2nd Century AD.
• Learn about the enchanting history of the Birdman competition
• Be entranced by the extraordinary history of the stone Moai
• Go snorkelling over some of the planet’s most pristine corals
• Head out with the local fishermen to catch your dinner of Red Snapper
• Cycle to the Ahu Akivi moai and through the yam & taro plantations
Literally hundreds of Moai are scattered around the island either standing in rows staring out to sea whilst many others lie flat on their faces, which is thought to be a position of humiliation, brought about by the savage inter-clan warfare that ravaged the island centuries ago when the social fabric of the island broke down due to the population’s inability to continue to feed itself.
Many of the Moai are elaborate in their features and extraordinary in their size (up to 10 metres high and weighing 25 tonnes) and so quite how such a tiny pocket of humanity with no cross-cultural contact with outside influences developed such a sophisticated statue culture is remarkable. Other questions such as how they were moved and erected onto their platforms have still not been fully explained and the resulting mystery ensures these unique statues remain a compelling sight.
The Moai are without question the highlight of a visit to Easter Island, but there are a number of other very interesting places and features to be seen such as the little town of Hanga Roa with its pretty houses, fragrant eucalyptus trees and many extremely elaborate rock carvings and the ceremonial village of Orongo with its associated Birdman legends and the various ceremonial platforms on the island. The marine ecosystem that surrounds Easter Island is renowned for its caves, arches and drop-off cliffs as well as for its abundant coral and colourful tropical fish, so the scuba diving is very interesting here. The island itself is beautiful with spectacular volcanic scenery, sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs that fall hundreds of metres into the ocean below.