Hanga Roa

Hanga Roa in Easter island.

Hanga Roa in Easter island.

Hanga Roa has a population of 3,304. Housing almost the totality of the population.  The city provides most of the services: post office, telephone, court and a bank.

The creek is the other center of permanent activity. By the boats there are the remains of an ahu or altar with a moai; at its foot there’s a small beach. This beach is located between formations of lava and has a variety of coral with extraordinary developments, such as Porites lobata of more than 16.4 feet of diameter; which is visited by sea turtles.

A bit further to the South, near the Hanga Roa hotel, there’s another creek, the Hanga Piko, with a small dock that is used for unloading the boats that come with provisions from the continent. It’s ideal for diving; most of it, it’s recommended for adventure diving.

In Hanga Roa visit the church where wood figures that combine catholic elements with symbols of the Rapanui culture. Masses are held on Sunday, with chants in Rapa Nui and melodies with a stressed Polynesian rhythm.

In Hanga Roa there are night discos, where they dance to the pop modern music. Crafts are sold at the crafts market, the fair and the Mataveri airport.

The most relevant areas for cultural tourism are in the Rapa Nui National Park(Parque Nacional Rapa Nui) and are protected and supervised by CONAF.

Circuit for travellers:

Ahu vai uri in Easter Island.

Ahu vai uri in Easter Island.

The Circuit to Tahai is a trip on foot that lasts half a day. Go out until the Hanga Roa Otai creek, where you will see two restored ahu, each with a moai. Continue along the coast until the cemetery and go on the trail by the shore until Tahai. It’s a ceremonial center that gathers evidences of the Rapa Nui culture in its height moment. The first group of moai corresponds to the Ahu Vai Uri temple. In front of that group is the square, used for ceremonial and religious meetings and where the chiefs, priests and high rank persons built their residencies. Still remains the foundations of one of this boat-houses or hare paenga, of elliptical structure.

Contiguous to a stone ramp is the ahu Tahai. The ramp was used by the canoes that got to the small creek. More to the north, another isolated moai, the Ko Te Riku, exhibits its capping or hat of reddish stone, called Pukao.

Return through the trail located in front of the ahu Tahai. Go up and, when reaching the superior site where there’s a parking lot, notice the modern house where his owner, Gerardo Velasco, intended to perpetuate the boat-house tradition.

Close to the ceremonial center of Tahai is the Father Sebastián Englert Anthropological Museum exhibiting objects, graphs and drawings about the Rapanui culture. It has a the William Mulloy specialized library, where you will find books, photos, videos and music about the Easter Island and the Oceania in general. It’s open from Tuesday to Friday, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 2 pm to 5:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday fro 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. The admission is $1,000, and for children $500. The admission is free for the locals. The library is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Close to the museum there’s a vehicular road that comes out and will take you to the center of the town.

Puna Pau quarry in Easter island.

Puna Pau quarry in Easter island.

Exit Hanga Roa on Av. Atamu Tekena to the South, until reaching the Mataveri runway. Continue on the paved road to Anakena. Take the detour towards the left that will take you to the Puna Pau quarry, an archeological center where the hats or capping (Pukao) of reddish stone of the moai were found. Keep going until the center to find the Ahu Akivi. It’s a restored ahu with seven moais. These were lined up in relation to the equinoctials, along with another group of ahu that also have an astronomical orientation, showing the knowledge of the skies of the Rapanui culture. Observe the egg white pebble stones that decorate the platform inclined to the ahu. These stones were found in the coast, and where ballast stones of a sunken ship of the XIX century, the Appoliné Emilie.
Following the road towards the west coast, you will see banana plants and a place with beautiful vegetation semi-submerged in a hole. This is the entry to the Te Pahu cave, one of the biggest one in Easter Island. You can go in with a flashlight and get to the other opening, at 492 feet.

Continue on the trail until the ahu Tepeu, with big stones in its platform very well assembled. The moai are still knocked upside down, just like they were left during the crisis period. Here there are many remains of the boat-house or hare paenga.

If you are going in a 4×4 vehicle, go back to the town towards the South, along the coastal track. If you are not, go back to the same entry road. Along the coastal track you can locate, if you travel with a guide, the hidden entry to the cave of the two windows (cueva de las Dos Ventanas). Going in with a flashlight; at 164 feet, a bifurcation takes you to two exits over a cliff in front of the ocean.

Anakena in Easter island.

Anakena in Easter island.

Another interesting trip that can be made in the island, is the visit to Vinapu, to Rano Raraku and to Anakena. It’s a stretch of 28.5 miles that lasts the whole day. Take food.

Exit Hanga Roa on Av. Atamu Tekena until the Mataveri runway. Turn left and border the runway until the end. There you will see small hill to the left -the Orito-, the main quarry of obsidian, the bright black stone with which the majority of tools were made. Keep going straight to the coat, to the area of Vinapu. This sector is formed by temples or main ahu in ruins. One of them has a great similarity, in the carving of its stones, with the Machu Picchu ruins. The moai that were on top of structure were knocked down; even more there’s one, semi-buried, sticking his face out to the sky.

At 1.8 miles of Vinapu there’s another archeological site: Hanga Poukura. Here there’s a confirmation that the moai were knocked down, since their faces are broken and they are incrusted on the ground. At some 1.2 miles, along the coast, is the Vaihú complex, that’s also conserved just how it was left after the crisis. Observe some of the hats of red stone that were thrown to the ocean. At 1.8 miles, next a small creek, is the archeological center Akahanga, which includes an important village.

Continuing towards the East, the road passes by the ahu Hanga Tetenga, with a broken moai in four parts that measured 32.8 feet of height. Take the next detour towards the left, to go to the parking in front of the quarry of the moai. On the road border you will see many moai upside down, abandoned when they were being moved to the ahu. Stop at Rano Raraku. This is one of the most visited places and of greatest interest for the archeologists. In the quarries of this volcano almost all the existing moai were carved. Carefully follow the trail outlined, that have been designed so the visitor has a better experience during his trip. One of the moai reaches 68.8 feet of height, which is like a seven floor building. Go up to the border of the crater. In its interior there’s a lagoon with cattail and other moai, built in inner quarries.

Continuing along the north coast, you will see the group of structures at the La Perouse bay (Ñanga o Honu) and the ahu Te Pito Kura, with its knocked down moai of 32.8 feet of height, the tallest one ever erected over an ahu. Then you will get to Anakena. Here there are two restored ahu and the most beautiful beach in the island, with white sand, the only one apt for swimming and that during beach season it also has a lifeguard. This beach was the place where the ancient governors lived, and now we can appreciate a small forest of palm trees that was planted. Walk to the East towards Ovahe, a small beach with pink sand that offers another resting option, but that is not apt for swimming. In these beaches the recreational diving is widely practiced.

Return using the inner road that crosses the island by the Vaitea ranch.

Orongo Village in Easter Island.

Orongo Village in Easter Island.

Finally, another interesting and pretty trip that can be made in the island is the one that takes you to Rano Kau y Orongo. It’s a circuit of 5.5 miles round trip. It lasts half a day by car or on foot. Cooperate with the preservation of this important legacy; do not go on top of the houses or the stones with rupestrian art and do not draw lines on the petroglyphs.
Exit on Av. Atamu Tekena until the end. Continue to the right using the vehicular road that borders the coast. Go further until a small esplanade used for parking. Below this small cliff is the Ana Kai Tangata cavern, whose depth reaches about 9.8 feet. Observe the paintings of terns, possibly Manutara, on the sky of the cave. The observational platform must be respected and it’s not allowed to go further inside.

Go back to the road, continue straight and go up to the Rano Kau volcano, with a crater of 0.9 miles of diameter and more than 656 feet of depth. If you go on foot, take the trail that will lead you directly to it. The road ends up at the CONAF booth, where is the access to the Orongo village. Each visitor must register when entering and exiting this area, one of the most fragile ones of the Rapa Nui National Park. After registering, request a free leaflet with information about the site.

Orongo is a ceremonial village. Continue on the trail to the right that will take you to the first point of interest, a viewpoint from which you will be able to appreciate the islets or motu. Then walk around the village, composed by 53 houses of a unique design in the island. Stay within the trail to assist in the better conservation of the archeological resources in the area.

Finally, you will see to the right the greatest concentration of petroglyphs of Orongo, There are images of Tangata Manu or bird man; of Make Make, its creator god, and of Komari, a fertility symbol. From there you can appreciate the three islets to which the tern Manutara arrived; the clan chief that got the first egg was anointed Tangata Manu, until the following Spring.

The Cultural Legacy Te Ara o Rapa Nui Route (Ruta Patrimonial Te Ara o Rapa Nui) is a pedestrian route called “Te Ate o Rapa Nui.” It’s divided in two consecutive stretches, one urban and the other rural. The first one starts in the museum and travel along many points of interest on the coast of Hanga Roa. The second stretch starts in Ana Kai Tangata and ends in Orongo.

A trip of interest is the visit to Puna Pau, to Ahu Akivi and the caverns of Easter Island. It’s a trip of 13.6 miles that lasts half a day by car or motorcycle.

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