Another gorgeous, sunny day in Rapa Nui (Easter Island)...and thank goodness because there is not a lot to do here if it is raining.
We went to the bakery to pick up our rental car and some food for lunch. They had the fattest beagle that I have ever seen...it was like a beach ball.
Renting a car on the island is rather different than usual. None of the big car rental agencies like Hertz, Avis etc have offices here. You can rent a car from an agency like Oceanic or Insular which have websites you can book through, or smaller agencies where you walk-in off the street or from locals who rent out their personal car to make extra money.
We did the "rent from a local" which happened to be the family running the bakery up the street from our accommodations. There is no contract, they don't ask or care if you have a driver license or insurance. Just pay the daily rate and you get the keys. So I gave the fee for a four day rental to a nice lady and got the keys to a Suzuki Jimmy. Each night we park the car in her driveway.
Even with the regular rental agencies, there is no insurance coverage. If you damage the car you pay to fix it. We paid $40,000 Chilean pesos a day which is $10,000 pesos less than the rates charged by the car rental agencies for the same car. It seems that almost everyone on the island drives a Suzuki.
We needed lunch food because there are no restaurants outside of the main town and only one gas station on the whole island so we need to have food with us if we are not going back to the town for lunch.
The paved roads have lots of pot holes and many of the dirt roads are pretty rutted. However I am truly enjoying the lack of over development here. It is a gorgeous island.
Most people get around by jeep, motorcycle, bicycle and ATV but there are number of people that get around on horseback. It is not unusual to have to slow down or stop because horses or cows are walking on the roads. Goodness knows where their owners are. I have also seen numerous dogs running after cars....and the chickens are everywhere!
Our first stop was an overlook where you get a great view of the southern part of the island. Then we continued to Rano Kau Volcano, Easter Island's largest volcano, where we checked out its amazing crater which has a reed-filled lake at the bottom. The crater has unique plant life due to people and animals not having access.
A short drive away is the ancient archeological site of Orongo Village. The site has 50 ancient stone dwellings and is the place where the ancient Birdman competitions took place. Each village on Rapa Nui had a representative to compete in a treacherous swimming and climbing challenge to a small rocky island to see who would collect the first bird egg of the season. The winner became the leader Rapa Nui for the next year. Your national park ticket let's you into this site only once.
We had our picnic lunch overlooking the ocean.
Our next stop was Ahu Vinapu. We practically had this place all to ourselves. Although the moai were all fallen (on their faces), it was still impressive to see the tightly carved blocks making the platform walls which reminded us of the perfectly fitted Inca walls. The site also had the only female moai, but I had problems making out how it was female.
Our final stop was Ahu Vaihu. We practically had this place to ourselves as well. These moai were also toppled over but the location by the sea was stunning.
On our way back to our apartment, I sighted a larger than tiny supermarket where we found a few more food choices.
We spent the last few hours of the afternoon doing laundry and enjoying a drink in our courtyard before heading out to watch the sunset behind the Tahai Moais.
TIPS and COSTS
National Parks ticket- $80 US per person. Good for all the Easter Island parks over a ten day period