Our second day on Easter Island was a perfect example of how hard work pays great returns.
Armed with 4 liters of water in hand and 4 large empanadas in our bellies (collectively), we were ready to discover the south western part of the island. We bought some hand-pressing (rechargeable) flash lights and began our trek with a stop at Ana Kai Tangata, which was both an important ceremonial site and where they built small canoes.
If you look carefully at the sign, you will notice the fine print in the bottom right:
Caves are unsafe. Caves could collapse in any moment. There is no guarantee of your safety.
Luckily, we noticed this having already entered it.
We easily could have spent the rest of the day there watching the waves crash, but after over an hour, we decided to push on.
But first we replenished our water supply at a kiosk owned by Carlos and Benito, who said it would be peti etahi (cool) for us if we managed to trek up the volcano.
It was imperative that we made it up to the top of Rano Kau because we needed to get our Rapa Nui National Park passes at Orongo (that’s what we get for not buying it at the airport straight away). Our late start and extended stay at the cave left us with about an hour to complete an 80 minute trek up a very steep path with minimal tree shade.
Upon reaching the top, we were rewarded with impressive photo ops looking into the massive crater 1.6 km in diameter and outward over Hanga Roa.
This, coincidentally, is the same one we photographed from the airplane! Peti etahi, indeed!!
We also met two new friends along the way, Teresa & Bernardita, two of the coolest people we’ve met so far.
As it turned out, the ticket booth was open an hour longer than we were told, so we easily had enough time to grab our passes and take a tour of Orongo, a ceremonial village consisting of 54 houses made of impeccably stacked slabs of rock. From there, you can also see many petroglyphs, and the small islands of Motu Iti and Motu Nui.
Apparently, every year in the beginning of spring, there would be a contest held in order to choose the new chief. Contestants competed by jumping from the cliff at Orongo, and swimming to those small islands, racing to pluck the first egg laid by the Manutara (their sacred bird), and returning with it back to Orongo.
As if we weren’t dirty enough from the hike, the four of us hitched a bumpy, practically off road ride into town on the back of a pick up truck down the dusty paths of the volcano. It was well worth the extra 2 hours walk back into town we would have had.
After a quick dip in the ocean, we treated ourselves to some of the best ice cream on the island and a classic sunset by the wharf.
Update (as requested):