Exploring Easter Island in Chile has been on my bucket list for the longest time. However, travelling there is not easy or cheap. I tried using my travel hacking strategies to book a flight there with my British Airways Avios for around $100 in each direction. And I was successful! Until COVID-19 happened, I had to cancel my booking and dreams of visiting this world-famous island. Post-COVID-19, Chile re-opened travel within the country again but prices to visit Easter Island were ridiculously bad for tourists. During December, they were charging around $2000 for the flight. Luckily, I found a trick through the use of a VPN to pay the local price for the flight ($350 one way). I saved even more money by using my Scene+ points with my Scotiabank AMEX Gold to reduce the price further to just $150. Looks like I’m back in business and I get to see Easter Island! Or so I thought because something happened to me and Karen on the island that almost ruined the trip for us.
VIDEO – My Adventure Exploring Easter Island in Chile – Country #97 To Visit All Countries
A horrific way to start our trip
I tried travelling to Chile during the last two weeks of December. It was a bad time to travel for Canadians because we had record snowstorms occurring. At the same time, Air Canada and Toronto Pearson airport were struggling to hire people to work because their pay is terrible. As a result, Karen and I ended up getting stranded in Toronto for four days and one day in Montreal because we missed our connecting flight to Chile for the dumbest reason which wouldn’t have happened if the Airport was properly staffed.
Karen and I ended up losing around $1500 each on travel bookings we will never get refunded for in Patagonia, Chile and staying for our hotel in Toronto.
This will go down in my books as one of the top three worst trips of my life.
Flying from Santiago to Easter Island
When we finally made it to Chile, we wanted to make the most of our trip. The domestic airport in Santiago is pretty beaten up compared to its beautiful international airport. The gate going to Easter Island is ridiculously far from the security gate as well. It took Karen and me over 25 minutes of walking non-stop before we reached the boarding area.
Regardless, we were just crossing our fingers that the flight was going to happen. At this point, we have trust issues with flights actually going through thanks to the terrible airlines in Canada.
Luckily, we boarded the flight without any problems and it was actually a pleasant flight.
Arriving on Easter Island
Karen and I felt excited when we arrived on Easter Island. It felt like e finally made it! We get to have a vacation in this remote world-famous location.
We had booked a cottage called Cabaña Vaenga Miro through booking.com and our host’s husband, Francisco, picked us up from the airport and drove us to their home. The cottage was located right behind their house and we met our wonderful host, Marcia, who gave us a tour of the place. During our entire time in Rapa Nui (Easter Island), she made us feel welcome.
We also contacted a tour company recommended by Marcia to book a two-day tour with them. Post-COVID, you need to join a tour to see the archaeological sites. The cost of the tour is 50,000 Chilean Pesos per person.
Horrible first day
Despite the great start to our day in Rapa Nui and we thought we were finally out of the woods, things turned for the worst. Karen and I were starving and because it was New Year’s day when we arrived, there were no restaurants open except for one. We went to that restaurant and ate a bad chicken. A few hours later, we were hanging out on the toilet quite a bit. We just got food poisoning. This will come to haunt us for the next seven days while we are in Chile.
Full-day tour of Easter Island during our second day
Despite having horrible food poisoning bout, I decided to do the tour anyways. The cost of the full-day tour is 50,000 CLP and it includes visiting several Archaeological sites mentioned below:
- Rano Raraku (quarry of moai)
- Ahu Tongariki (15 moai platform)
- Te Pito Kura
- Ahu Nau Nau – Anakena (beach)
The tour operator’s name is Kita (you can contact him on Whatsapp at +56 962326131 to inquire about tours) and he was doing a test drive on Cristopher, a potential guy to join their team. They are both really friendly and told Karen and me many fascinating stories about the island. What I particularly liked about their tour style is they focused on storytelling and the lore of Rapa Nui. Cristopher would explain to us the folklore and then compare it with the scientific findings making the tour very interesting. Cristopher is also different from the other Rapa Nui locals in that he learned English very early and spoke fluently so the language barrier is not an issue at all.
Our first stop is Vaihu where Cristopher educated us on the importance of this place. Here, he showed us places where the first Polynesians arrived and made chicken houses and early forms of agriculture.
Cris also showed us their ancient dwellings that were apparently only reserved for the chief.
It was pretty cool to go inside these shelters to see what they looked like.
The next stop we checked out is Akahanga where Moai’s were tipped over during the revolution that occurred in Rapa Nui.
Cris also showed us a spot where the early Polynesians used to catch fish. Basically, fish would go inside this water area and the locals would use rocks to trap them allowing for an easy catch.
I wasn’t feeling good after exploring this place and also got a chance to use the toilet used by the park rangers. Cris said he never got a chance to go in their toilet area so that was a neat experience on its own. It was actually pretty clean!
Ahu Te Pito Kura
The next spot we visited is Ahu Te Pito Kura with more Moai’s that was pushed down.
However, the main highlight is the stones where you can make a wish. Apparently, these stones have some sort of magnetic properties which is why it’s important.
The next spot we visited is the quarry of the Moai. This place is huge and is the location of the place where the Rapa Nui people carved the statues.
The place is so huge you can even see it from a distance.
Reaching the spot where the stones were harvested requires some hiking.
Before long, we reached the first few batches of Moai. Apparently, many of them are considered a dud and that’s why they never left this place. The leader of the Rapa Nui people was apparently picky when it comes to the quality of the statue. If a mistake is made, they have to remake the statue from scratch again.
In one funny instance, our tour guide, Cris, ran into his aunt and introduced her to us. She was telling us how much she loves going to Peru for an alcoholic drink called Pisco Sour. I told her a joke insinuating that she’s a drunkard and apparently, she was shocked by my rather offensive humour.
One interesting thing that Cris told us is this specific Moai in this picture. Apparently, he’s not one of the locals as Moai’s are typically made as avatars for past ancestors to possess once a year in order to visit the Rapa Nui people. This specific Moai is actually from a visitor from another Polynesian clan and he was famous among the locals so they decided to make a statue of him.
This area also had many unfinished Moai that are huge in size. Apparently, the older Moai were much smaller and they became bigger and bigger as the years passed.
After a quick toilet stop (the biggest one among the archaeological sites), we were off to see the biggest Moai on the island.
This next spot is where everyone is gathering together to take tons of pictures.
I don’t blame the tourist because this place is spectacular.
Karen and I joined the fun and took massive amounts of pictures and videos as well.
This place also has a cool backstory. A big tsunami hit the island causing all these giant Moai to fall down. Then, a Japanese person devised a way to help bring these Moai upright again. The top knots (the red hat) also fell and they only restored one for sightseeing purposes.
We also got a chance to see the backside of these enormous Moai.
Ahu Nau Nau
The last part of our first full-day tour is the beach. I was feeling chills at this point from the food poisoning and stopped paying attention to the explanations.
All I wanted to do at this point was to get some food to eat and get some rest. We ended the tour here and Kita was kind enough to help Karen and me find some food to eat to bring back with us to our cottage.
Resting in our cottage
Karen and I opted to eat tuna to avoid getting food poisoning from the poorly refrigerated meat on the island. We were told that because of blackouts fridges stopped keeping meats cool causing some of them to go bad.
After eating the fish, I passed out from feeling sick and slept for several hours. Luckily, getting some rest helped a bit and felt a bit better by the following day.
A second full-day tour on our third day on Easter Island
The next day, we were ready to go on our second full-day tour. The second full-day tour is shorter than the first but enjoyable and informative regardless. We would visit the following sites as advertised by the company and some other ones not advertised.
- Rano Kau
- Orongo (bird man worship)
- Akivi (7 moai platform)
- Puna Pau (hat quarry)
- Ahu Huri Au Renga
Cris returned to be our tour guide and Kita drove us around the island to continue monitoring his new team member.
Ahu Huri Au Renga
Our first site is a lone Moai on the island.
We then visited Akivi not too long after. This site also has several Moai but it’s one of the earlier ones.
This area is also the starting point for the hike up Maunga Terevaka. Karen and I didn’t do the hike because we were both suffering from food poisoning and it would have been a bad idea.
Our next destination is Puna Pau. This is where the top knots were made. The rocks here are much lighter in size making it easy to place on top of the Moai.
The material is red in colour and this signifies feminine energy. In the Rapa Nui culture, both masculine and feminine energy is important. This makes perfect sense to me where you should not reject one energy over another and embrace both.
Ana Kai Tangata
This next spot was not advertised but is a cool one to visit.
We basically walked down a long stairway leading toward a cave.
Inside the cave are rock art created by the ancient Rapa Nui people.
Sadly, many are eroding because of the waves crashing against the rocks. It is the same issue that many Moai are experiencing where they are being eroded by mother nature.
The next two locations in our tour are right beside each other. The first one is a volcanic crater now filled with water and vegetation.
It’s quite a sight to see and much more impressive in person.
Cris said he used to sleep here when he was working as a park ranger. He said it was the best time of his life just living off mother nature.
The next spot right beside the volcanic crater is Orongo.
This place is the location of some housing for the Rapa Nui people. Also, they hold competitions here where the winner gets to spend the night with the princess.
The competitors would have to go all the way down to the island and get bird eggs to bring back to the starting location. It was a gruelling contest and often involved the death of some participants.
After checking out this site, we also visited the museum with more information about the place. The most important thing we learned is how British people came and stole their rarest Moai made from a different material and put it in the British Museum.
The final area we visited is Vinapu.
This site is the only place on the entire island that has a female Moai. All the Moai have been male but they found female Moai here made of the same red material as the top knot.
Locals don’t know if the female Moai also had a topknot.
Before the tour finished, Cristopher also explained to us how Easter Island came to be part of Chile. He said the Navy came to the island and enslaved the locals. The Chilean navy turned the island into a sheep farm and they also shipped out all the male Rapa Nui people to the front lines of the war with Peru.
Some of the survivors of the war went to the Chilean mainland and got educated and sent a letter to the Chilean government in regard to the atrocities happening in Rapa Nui. By some luck, the letter came to the right hand and they were liberated. But not before the navy covered up their evil deeds.
Hanging out in the cottage
After the tour was finished, Kita helped us find a fish meal to bring with us back to our cottage for us to eat for lunch. We said our farewell to Kita and Cris for their awesome service.
Shortly after, Karen and I found a local place to get our laundry washed so we have clean clothes as we continue our trip to Chile. We also checked out the local grocery stores and bought some canned fish and pasta to eat for dinner.
Recovering on the fourth day in Easter Island
We spent our fourth day on the island just relaxing as we recover from food poisoning. Unfortunately, we weren’t getting any better so we mostly just rested. For meals, I put together instant noodles with egg and some bananas. Marcia also showed us how to boil guava leaves and drink it to help reduce our symptoms (it surprisingly worked really well) during these past few days.
Flying out of Easter Island
On our last day, we said our farewell to Marcia, our awesome host, as her husband dropped us off at the airport.
I bought some food from the overpriced airport cafe before we boarded our plane heading back to Santiago.
Easter Island was an amazing place to visit. It’s too bad Karen and I had food poisoning. Our time there would’ve been even better and we could have done some hiking. Regardless, I’m just happy we actually got to Rapa Nui. It’s expensive to go there and it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime travel destination because of how far it is from other places in the world. I’d recommend doing a tour with Kita and Cris if you ever go there as their service and storytelling are just that good.