This is the first of four hiking reports covering our visit to Easter Island from December 26, 2017 through January 2, 2018. The four hiking reports will each include some bonus photographs of places visited in the nearby area of where we did our hikes. This will help you to get a better overview of Easter Island and what there is to do there during one week of time. This first report covers the Rano Kau Trail and includes visits to Ana Kai Tangata, Orongo, the three adjacent motus, and Tahai. The second report covers the Maunga Terevaka Trail and includes a visit to Ahu Akivi. The third report covers the North Coast hike and includes visits to Ana Te Pahu, Ana Te Pora, Ana Kakenga, Ahu Tepeu, and Anakena Beach. The fourth report covers the Poike peninsula and includes visits to Tongariki and Rano Raraku. Easter Island had long been a destination high on my priority list of places to visit in the South Pacific. Being one of the most isolated inhabited islands in the world, Easter Island is not an easy destination to reach. To get there, we took the weekly overnight flight from Tahiti on LATAM Airlines. The flight took about 5 hours and there was also a 5 hour time change upon arrival. After waiting in the slow-moving line to get through customs and finally making it through after about one hour, we checked into our place of lodging and picked up our rental vehicle. As it turned out, we stayed in a nice cabin near Hanga Piko bay which was a grazing place for wild horses and had nice views overlooking the ocean cliffs. This provided for easy access to downtown Hanga Roa and also to the three moai platforms at Tahai, which seemed to be a gathering place for locals and tourists alike every night just before sunset. In addition, we were able to use our lodging place as the starting point for a hike of the Rano Kau Trail.
To get to the trailhead, we did a little bit of an extension by walking along an informal trail next to some eroded sea cliffs. The sea cliffs in between Hanga Piko and the CONAF gardens have some very impressive scenery. It's mesmerizing to stand and watch the waves coming in from the sea until they crash against the rocks or back walls of the sea caves. Looking to the southwest, the sheer cliffs of Easter Island rise up to impressive heights in the direction of Orongo. On another day, we would take a boat trip out into the ocean and get even more impressive views of these cliffs (which you can see included as some of our bonus pictures). One of the most interesting areas passed is Ana Kai Tangata, which is a sea cave that contains pictographs. The most clearly visible cave paintings show Sooty Tern birds, which were featured in the Birdman competition held yearly on Easter Island up until 1867. A short distance past Ana Kai Tangata is the trailhead sign for Te Ara O Te Ao, which translates to The Road of Command. It has been in use for some 150 years now. The hike starts in Mataveri at the CONAF gardens, climbs up the slopes of Rano Kau volcano, circles around the crater to the right, and ends at the ancient site of Orongo. While climbing uphill, great views can be enjoyed looking back at Hanga Roa and across to Maunga Terevaka, the highest point on Easter Island. We did this as a family hike, but our 5-year-old son Stefan found the heat to be challenging to deal with. There are some shady spots on the hike up within the Eucalyptus groves, but for the most part there is just exposed sunshine. The hike measured out to be 4.6 miles round-trip when including the trail extensions that we did at both ends. The Rano Kau Trail itself from CONAF to the crater overlook is 2.8 miles round-trip. At the end of the hike, we spent some time visiting Orongo and learning more about the ancient Birdman competition, which is also explained a bit within our full set of photographs. Click here
to watch a video of our time on Easter Island. Our hike took place on December 27, 2017.