Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Rapa Nui: Do's and Don'ts!


Well, it's the last in the series - a summary of what I learnt about visiting Rapa Nui, a major highlight of this summer's trip and somewhere I really hope I can return to one day.

Do's

- Explore the island without a map! It’s difficult to get lost with very few actual roads, and everything eventually leads to Hanga Roa anyway, so put on some walking boots and head out there!

- Watch some hypnotic dancing. The traditional dance show is a fantastically fun evening out, keeping musical traditions alive. Definitely well worth it!

- Check, Re-check and check your flight again. Flights to Rapa Nui are notoriously overbooked, and the queues build up fast at the airport – the key is to re-confirm a couple of days prior to flying, check in online, and then arrive at the airport early regardless (we’d heard of people who had checked in online, strolled up to the check-in desk and been told they were too late and their seat had been passed on…). Anything to get on that plane! (Coming back is no problem however, no over-booking in the other direction)

- Hire a local guide one day for some of the big sights. We booked one day with a guide after realising that our time was short and there was so much more to see, and it turned out to be the best decision we made – our guide was knowledgeable not only of the sights but of the landscape, political situation on the island and some of the less-visited areas, which made for interesting discussions and a wonderful day.

Don'ts

- Touch the statues. After an awful incident a couple of years ago when some idiot tried to crack off an ear, there is huge concern over the welfare of the artefacts – please be aware and keep a reasonable distance.

- Just stick to the main sights. They are fantastic, but there are also loads of small caves, petroglyphs and other hidden treasures to find if you have the time.

- Expect a tropical island! Rapa Nui is rugged, quite bare and hosts only one beach. But it is one huge open-air archaeological site, and is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to.

- Forget your camera! Around every bend is a great photo opportunity, with the overwhelmingly powerful Moai, volcanic landscape and gorgeous sunsets. Take an extra memory card…

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