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Magical Easter Island

INTERNATIONAL Tours & Travel Ltd (ITT) strives to provide clients with the latest information on products and destinations in South America along with personalised service and attention to detail. They told Penguin News: “To keep our knowledge current, we try to visit as many new and exciting destinations as often as possible to provide our clients with the best possible travel experience.”

Last month, our Agent Tamara McCormick visited Easter Island and Santiago...

After an early wake up, transfer to Santiago Airport and a 5 hr 20 minute flight by Boeing 767, I landed on Easter Island/Rapa Nui/Isla de Pascua! I was beyond excited as this has been on my bucket list for some time. Exiting the airport I was greeted by my tour guide with a fresh flower garland – you instantly feel tropical! That afternoon I had a private city tour, which I would recommend just so you get a feel for the place and get your bearings. The airport and town are located right next to each other and the town is not so big so easy to walk around. The tour included a visit to the church and the market, where locals sell loads of souvenirs and handmade crafts - I re visited this a few times! The city tour also included a visit to Ahu Tahai, where I finally got to see my first Moai (statue)! This is within walking distance of the town if you choose not to visit it by tour. I re visited Ahu Tahai on my last night to watch the sun set which I highly recommend it was just so enchanting. I got there about 7pm to make sure I had a good spot as my tour guide driver had advised it can be busy - and he was right as many people arrived to see the sun set just before 8 pm. I would recommend taking a cheeky drink and a snack and sit on a blanket and watch the magic happen. Later on, my first day after my tour I ventured out to have a look around the town. I found a great little restaurant/bar at the end of the fishermen’s wharf, La Kaleta. I enjoyed some local ceviche along with a couple of pisco sours... considering it was happy hour 2for1 it would have been rude not to!

My second day was at leisure, so I took the opportunity to look around the town further, admiring the little houses and the way of life. I stopped for some lunch in a small restaurant called Henga Henga. The tables were really intriguing and had been made from tree trunks. I enjoyed a fresh lemonade with my lunch, very refreshing in the heat of the middle of the day. That evening I tried another restaurant on the seafront called Pea – a great spot for people-watching and taking in the scenery. Live music in the form of 2 local guys with their guitars was an added bonus.

On day 3 I had two half day tours booked - in the morning we went on the Akivi Tour, which included AHU AKIVI, PUNA PAU and HURI A URENGA. We also visited Ana Te Pahu, which is a cave formed by a lava tube, this was very interesting to go in and look around and imagine how it was used for safety and shelter in years gone past.

For lunch, we found a little shack café, called Oheho, I personally found this place was my favourite food - the locals call it their equivalent of a fast food joint, but it had ceviche, burgers, empanadas and more, with great views of the harbour as well.

That afternoon tour included ORONGO, RANO KAU, VINAPU. I found this tour fascinating explaining how they would choose the next leader and tribe to rule Easter Island for the coming year by competing in the Bird Man competition, which explained why I kept seeing souvenirs with birds on.

That evening I had the Te Ra’ai dinner show, which involved traditional local food and dancing. I totally recommend this if you want to taste, learn and feel some of the local culture. They even get you up for a dance if you wish, and you also can take photos at the end and try on some of their head pieces.

The next day I had a shared tour, on an open bus which I thought sounded fantastic and it was! This tour was a full day tour covering the coast and the quarry Rano Raraku where they used to make the Moai’s. We finished the day at Anakena beach, which was stunning with lovely blue water. There are 3 bar/restaurants there so I sat and admired the view with another cheeky pisco sour.

Wednesday was my last day on Easter Island which included a transfer to the Airport where I was given a Moai necklace for good luck, and to start my journey back to Santiago. There is a lot of souvenir bits at the airport as well, in case you wanted to buy some more goodies.

The following day I had 2 wine tours ahead of me! I first visited Concha y Toro which was a 30 minute drive towards the Andes. I was on a shared tour, but is so happened no one else at the time wanted an English guide so I got a private tour around the scenic gardens, and sampled several different grapes … who knew there was so many! I also got to sample different wines at different stopping points, I really enjoyed the scenic views and of course the wine. They finish the tour by showing you the 100 year old cellar Casillero del Diablo, whose legend surprises you! You do also get a free Concha y Toro glass from the tour.

Next I headed to the Viña Santa Rita where I visited the stunning Casa Real Hotel, which was the old landowners original home. They turned it into a 16 bedroom hotel in 1996 with exceptional gardens; the onsite church means they can also hold wedding functions. I enjoyed a delicious 3 course meal accompanied with more wine. They also have a really intriguing (free!) museum with 1,800 pieces of pre-Colombian art displayed there.

My last full day I went on a tour into the Andes to visit San Jose de Maipo and the Yeso river, where they have built a dam. This tour involved a two hour drive each way. We travelled through the Andes admiring the views and old train tracks. We first reached San Jose where we collected our light snack ready for our stop at Embalse el Yeso (the dam area). After a little longer we finally reached our destination, and the views were amazing! So fascinating surrounded by the tall Andes mountains and the beautiful river. After a walk around and snack we headed back to San Jose where we had our lunch which in a remote restaurant, sat by the wood burner to keep me warm, before heading back to the city.

I have always wanted to visit Easter Island and I am so glad I now have … I totally recommend it to anyone thinking about it, it’s magical. 

For further information and advice on preparing an itinerary to this mystical island please contact me on email: tm.itt@horizon.co.fk

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