Easter Island

The Most Remote Airport in the World

Security?  Yes, it exists in a casual way.  Landing and taking off from Mataveri International Airport is almost like jumping into a time machine and flying before the fight against terrorism became a dominant ‘feature’ of most airports.  You go through a metal detector at the gate and pass your bags through an x-ray machine.  Keep your shoes on and don’t worry about that bottle of water.  You can keep it.

Ramp?  What ramp?  We don’t need no stinking ramp!  There’s only one gate if you are feeling generous and want to call it that.  The restaurant/snack bar/bar is outside where the ‘gate’ is.  There’s a sign telling you not to go past a certain point which takes you onto the tarmac.  The trust system is very important in Chile.

Because Wooly is a bit of a factoid geek here’s some really geeky stuff about the airport.  Mataveri International Airport is the most remote airport from any other airport in the world.  Santiago’s Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (yes, that’s the real name) is only 2,336 miles (3,759 km) away.  If you want a shorter route you have to come from the next closest airport on Totegegie Island in French Polynesia.  It would only be 1,617 miles away if air service existed between the two islands.  Bummer about that one.

Mataveri airport was once an abort site for the U.S. Space Shuttle.  There’s one runway (10,885 ft. or 3,318 m) and no taxiway.  After the plane stops it turns around and taxis back on the runway to the ‘gate’.

The instant you step off the plane you are greeted with tropical warmth and humidity.  Then you notice the artwork.  Once you step ‘inside’ the gate all the female passengers are given flowers.  Nope, you’re not in the building yet, you and the ladies handing out the flowers are only a couple of steps off the tarmac.  Didn’t I tell you it is like going back in time?  The really cool thing about this is you can get out your camera and start shooting.  When the plane arrives you can get real close for shots of the plane landing.

With only one daily flight to handle luggage unloading is fast.  It only takes a couple of minutes to claim your bags and head out to the taxis.  The fare to town is 3,000 pesos or a cheap bottle of wine.  Yes, we bartered our taxi fare with a 900 peso bottle of wine.  Many services on the island are more than happy to trade for alcohol.  Wine, vodka, whiskies and bourbons are the favored drinks.

So anyway, enjoy the pictures from the Mataveri International Airport on Easter Island, also known as Isla de Pascua or Rapa Nui.

 

Easter Island Signs

Wherever you go signs are waiting to be read.  Easter Island is no exception.  One of the most useful signs, the language sign, was at our hotel.  So why did the state of Montana drop the tilde over the ‘n’?

I have always liked the ‘how far’ signs found in remote places.  Of course the Polo North is the top sign.

But the real reason people travel to Isla de Pascua are the Moai.  Easter Island is one of the most remote islands in world and the Moai make the trip worthwhile.  Due to age, weather, tsunamis and earthquakes, some of the Moai have fallen.  As representatives of the people’s ancestors, it is very disrepectful to walk on them.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, the trust system is prevalent in Chile and this is an example of that.

Tahai is one of the many Moai sites on the island and it can only be reached by a short hike.  There are many hikes on the island that take you to some of the more interesting sites on the island.

Enjoy the photos from our Easter trip to Easter Island.  I am planning to post a series of articles/photos on Easter Island.  The topics will be big waves, birds (most in flight), the Moai, landscapes and beach scenes.  Stay tuned…

 

Easter Island Sunrise – Isla de Pasqua Amanecer

A colorful promise of a new day greets the early riser.  Follow nature’s example and bring joy into someone’s life today.  Today we are going to the Casablanca Valley area to attend a fall harvest where a benefit is being held for victims of the Valparaiso fire.  Over two thousand homes were burned leaving over 10,000 homeless.  Hopefully this benefit bring the promise of a brighter day for those victims.   Valparaiso se levanta.

 

Hanga Tetenga Waves

When at the seashore, both Raeski and I love watching the surf and if the waves are large it’s even better.  While driving between Moai sites on the east side of Easter Island we noticed the waves seemed much larger than on the west side.  Outside of Hawaii, these are the largest waves we’ve seen.  The larger waves are over 10 feet high.  I took over 200 shots of waves in the hopes of getting some good wave sequences.  Here’s one of them.

An interesting way to view the slide show is to quickly press the arrow key.  You can almost view it like we saw it.

 

The Most Unique Beach in the World

It’s picturesque with palm trees gently swaying in the tropical breezes.  Warm turquoise waters invite you to stroll barefoot in the gentle surf.  You’re visiting one of the most remote places in the world and there aren’t too many people to disturb the peace and quiet of your private heaven.

Anakena Beach on Easter Island is all that plus more.  It’s the only place in the world where mysterious Moai, those silent sentinels from the past, watch over you as you bask in the warm sun.  Wish you were here?

 

Ranu Kau

Chances are you have seen pictures of the iconic crater.  Filled with a lake, verdant green grass covering its volcanic walls whose south side is slowly crumbling into the Pacific giving a peek-a-boo view of the ocean – it’s a must see on anyone’s list of places to see while visiting Easter Island.

Now extinct, Rano Kau is one of the higher points on the island which allows visitors to see all the way to the north end of the island.  Near the rim on the southern tip of the volcano is the ceremonial stone village of Orongo, the center of the birdman cult.

For early morning photography point your camera south and capture that marvelous view of the Pacific.  To the west are nice views of Hanga Roa, the main town on the island.  Towards the northeast you will see bright sunlight reflecting off the ocean adding a mystical air to the rugged cliffs plunging into the ocean.

 

Akahanga and Vinapu

Today we are going to a couple of places often overlooked by the tour groups on the island.  The first stop is Vinapu which is a stone’s throw away from the end of the airport runway.  The moai have fallen into disrepair but the coastal views are worth the stop.

The second stop a single lonely moai awaits you.  It is one of the few you can get up close to.  But be respectful and don’t touch the moai because the oils in your skin discolor and degrade the moai.  It’s on the eastern side of the island which also means BIG waves!

 

Surfing Easter Island

Polynesians invented and love surfing.  This sport almost died at the hands of missionaries who attempted to prohibit just about anything that defined Polynesian culture.  Fortunately zealotry wasn’t able to erase a wonderful sport that people today enjoy worldwide.  If there’s a wave, someone wants to catch it.

The first photo is someone on a large wave that would take him into rocks.  That’s right, no beach or sand, just rocks.  I watched how he gave up the wave when the water got too shallow and the rocks too close.  The rest of the photos are of a guy riding a wave on the west side of the island where he could ride the wave all the way to the beach if he wanted to.

If you surf I would add Easter Island to your bucket list.  And if you’re really good, try the big waves on the west side of the island where the rocks are.

 

Ahu Tongariki

At the summer solstice they face the sun at sunset.  However this wasn’t always the case with these 15 moai.  In the early 1800’s most of the moai on the island were toppled during internal conflicts between the islanders.  To make matters worse, the toppled moai were then swept inland in 1960 by a tsunami created by the gigantic 9.5 earthquake in Valdivia, Chile.

Thankfully a project returned these majestic moai to their rightful place in 1990’s which included the largest moai on island – an 86 ton behemoth.  It took five years but it was worth it.  Now Ahu Tongariki is the finest exhibit of moai on the island.

Easter Island Sunsets

As Easter Island fades into fond memories we feel it’s appropriate to end the island posts with a series of sunset photographs.  It’s a magical place and we hope you caught of the magic through our photos.

Cheers, Wooly and Raeski

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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain

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