Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Remote Island Escapes -

GOOD FOR: Strange and in­trigu­ing stat­ues 2,000km from any­where

When your near­est in­hab­ited neigh­bour is al­most equally re­mote Pit­cairn, you know you’re far from home. De­spite its Poly­ne­sian roots and its mid-pa­cific lo­ca­tion some 3,500km west of main­land South Amer­ica, Easter Is­land be­longs to Chile – it was an­nexed by the coun­try in 1888. How­ever, by that time, the tra­di­tional so­ci­ety of the lo­cal Rapa Nui peo­ple had al­ready col­lapsed, due to de­for­esta­tion, slave raiders and out­breaks of dis­ease brought by for­eign ex­plor­ers. Thus lit­tle is known about the is­land’s most re­mark­able at­trac­tion: its mys­te­ri­ous moai.

No one quite knows why the Rapa Nui carved more than 800 of th­ese huge stone heads, which weigh up to 86,000kg. The­o­ries abound; some think they’re the work of aliens. But they re­main one of the world’s great­est wonders.

Much of the is­land is a na­tional park. You can fol­low trails that lead up to the ex­tinct vol­cano of Rano Kau to look into the wide, reed-dot­ted crater la­goon, and you can hike up Mount Tere­vaka (507m), the is­land’s high­est point. You can wan­der around the lush bowl of Rano Raraku crater, where most of the stat­ues were carved (and many still re­main). And you can visit mag­nif­i­cent moai sites such as Ahu Ton­gariki, where 15 huge heads gaze out from atop their cer­e­mo­nial plat­form.

GET­TING THERE: LATAM Air­lines (latam.com) flies six times a week from San­ti­ago (main­land Chile) to Easter Is­land; flight time is from around 5.5 hours.

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