NEVER BEEN TO... EASTER IS­LAND

Business Traveller - - UPFRONT -

SLAP BANG IN THE MID­DLE OF THE PA­CIFIC OCEAN, 2,300 miles from the coast of Chile, Easter Is­land (or Rapa Nui, in its na­tive lan­guage) is one of the most re­mote places on the planet. Tri­an­gu­lar in shape, it oc­cu­pies just 63 square miles and has three ex­tinct vol­ca­noes, which share the sky­line with the fa­mous long-faced moai stat­ues.

The lat­ter num­ber 900 or so al­to­gether, and are carved mainly from com­pressed vol­canic ash – tes­ta­ment to the thriv­ing Poly­ne­sian civil­i­sa­tion that oc­cu­pied the is­land dur­ing the Mid­dle Ages. Sci­en­tists dis­agree over what has­tened the demise of the is­land’s frag­ile ecosys­tem in later cen­turies, but Euro­pean dis­ease, slave raid­ing, in­ternecine war­fare and de­for­esta­tion caused by over-farm­ing cer­tainly didn’t help.

Tourists can visit this Poly­ne­sian won­der – part of Chile since the 1880s – thanks to Mataveri In­ter­na­tional air­port. The first half of Fe­bru­ary is pop­u­lar, when the Ta­p­ati fes­ti­val sees teams of Rapa Nui peo­ple com­pet­ing in cul­tural and sports com­pe­ti­tions, in­clud­ing per­ilous hill de­scents in a hol­lowed-out ba­nana-tree trunk.

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