Easter Island Hiking

Ask me which Pacific island has the most to use walkers and I’ll most likely respond to Easter Island. Right here on an island 11 kilometres wide and also 23 kilometres long you’ll discover virtually a thousand old Polynesian sculptures scattered along a powerfully attractive coast or cluttering the slopes of a vanished volcano.

The legends of Easter Island have been recounted many times. What’s much less understood is that the island’s assorted marvels are easily available on foot from the convenience of the only settlement, Hanga Roa. Prior to setting out see the sights, nevertheless, go to the superb archaeological gallery alongside Ahu Tahai on the north side of town (the term “ahu” refers to an old stone platform). Besides the exhibits, the gallery has maps which can assist you prepare your journey.

The initial early morning after arrival, I suggest you climb Easter Island’s many incredible volcano, Rano Kau, where Orongo, a major historical website, rests on the crater’s edge. Rather than marching directly up the main roadway to the crater, look for the unmarked shortcut path off a driveway to the right simply past the forestry station south of town. It takes under 2 hrs to cover the six kilometres from Hanga Roa to Orongo, yet bring along a picnic lunch as well as make a day of it.

An additional day, rise early as well as take a taxi to charming Anakena Coastline at the end of the led roadway on the north side of the Easter Island (you ought to pay under US$ 10 for the 20 km). A few of the famous Easter Island statues have actually been recovered at Anakena and also you could go for a swim, although the major factor you have actually come is the chance to travel back to Hanga Roa around the road-free northwest edge of the island. You’ll pass various abandoned sculptures lying facedown where they dropped, and the just living creatures you’re not likely to encounter are the little brown hawks which will certainly view you intently from perches on nearby rocks. You’ll arrive back in community in five or 6 hours (however take ample food, water, and also sunscreen)if you keep relocating. This is most likely the finest seaside stroll in the South Pacific.

Begin early and catch a taxi to Rano Raraku, the rock quarry where all of the island’s sculptures were birthed. This is conveniently the island’s most stunning view with 397 sculptures in various phases of completion existing spread around the crater. When you see the first scenic tour buses headed your method, trek down to Ahu Tongariki on the shore, where 15 huge statuaries were reerected in 1994.

An exceptional 13-km stroll begins at the gallery as well as complies with the west coastline 5 kilometres north to Ahu Tepeu. As somewhere else, keep your eyes pealed for banana trees growing out of the barren rocks as these often indicate caves you can explore. Inland from Ahu Tepeu is just one of the island’s most photographed websites, Ahu Akivi, with seven statuaries recovered in 1960. From here an indoor ranch road runs directly back to community (study the maps at the gallery very carefully, as you’ll go much out of your way if you choose the wrong roadway below).

A shorter walking takes you up Puna Pau, a smaller sized crater which provided rock for the red topknots that originally crowned the island’s statues. A various stroll takes you right around the 3,353-meter airport terminal runway, which goes across the island simply south of community.

Easter Island’s modest environment and also scant plant life make for easy cross country hiking, and you will not discover yourself obstructed by fencings and also exclusive building indications extremely usually. A minimum of 5 days are needed to see the primary views of Easter Island, as well as 2 weeks would certainly be far better. Liteblue

The very first early morning after arrival, I recommend you climb up Easter Island’s many amazing volcano, Rano Kau, where Orongo, a significant historical site, rests on the crater’s edge. A few of the popular Easter Island statues have been brought back at Anakena and you can go for a swim, although the primary reason you’ve come is the chance to trek back to Hanga Roa around the road-free northwest edge of the island. Inland from Ahu Tepeu is one of the island’s most photographed websites, Ahu Akivi, with 7 statues brought back in 1960. A much shorter hike takes you up Puna Pau, a smaller sized crater which supplied rock for the red topknots that initially crowned the island’s sculptures. A minimum of five days are required to see the main sights of Easter Island, as well as two weeks would certainly be much better.Liteblue

Rapa Nui National Park

Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island, bears witness to a unique cultural phenomenon. A society of Polynesian origin that settled there c. A.D. 300 established a powerful, imaginative and original tradition of monumental sculpture and architecture, free from any external influence. From the 10th to the 16th century this society built shrines and erected enormous stone figures known as moai , which created an unrivalled cultural landscape that continues to fascinate people throughout the world.

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief Synthesis

Rapa Nui National Park is a protected Chilean wildlife area located in Easter Island, which concentrates the legacy of the Rapa Nui culture. This culture displayed extraordinary characteristics that are expressed in singular architecture and sculpture within the Polynesian context. Easter Island, the most remote inhabited island on the planet, is 3,700 kilometres from the coast of continental Chile and has an area of 16,628 hectares while the World Heritage property occupies an area of approximately seven thousand hectares, including four nearby islets.  

The Easter Island was colonized toward the end of the first millennium of the Christian era by a small group of settlers from Eastern Polynesia, whose culture manifested itself between the eleventh and seventeenth centuries in great works such as the ahu –ceremonial platforms- and carved moai – colossal statues- representing ancestors. Rapa Nui National Park most prominent attributes are the archaeological sites.  It is estimated that there are about 900 statues, more than 300 ceremonial platforms and thousands of structures related to agriculture, funeral rites, housing and production, and other types of activities.  Prominent among the archaeological pieces are the moai that range in height from 2 m to 20 m and are for the most part carved from the yellow–brown lava tuff, using simple picks (toki) made from hard basalt and then lowered down the slopes into previously dug holes. There are many kinds of them and of different sizes: those in the process of being carved, those in the process of being moved to their final destinations –the ahu-, those being torn down and erected.  The quarries (Rano Raraku and others) are invaluable evidence of the process of their carving.  The ahu vary considerably in size and form; the most colossal is the Ahu Tongariki, with its 15 moai.  There are certain constant features, notably a raised rectangular platform of large worked stones filled with rubble, a ramp often paved with rounded beach pebbles, and levelled area in front of the platform. Also extremely valuable are the rock art sites (pictographs and petroglyphs), which include a large variety of styles, techniques and motifs. Other archaeological sites are the caves, which also contain rock art.  There is also a village of ceremonial nature named Orongo which stands out because of its location and architecture.  While it has not attracted as much attention, the housing and productive structures are of extreme interest.

According to some studies, the depletion of natural resources had brought about an ecological crisis and the decline of the ancient Rapa Nui society by the 16th century, which led to decline and to the spiritual transformation in which these megalithic monuments were destroyed.  The original cult of the ancestor was replaced by the cult of the man-bird, which has as exceptional testimony the ceremonial village of Orongo, located at the Rano Kau volcano.  Fifty-four semi-subterranean stone-houses of elliptical floor plans complement this sacred place, profusely decorated with petroglyphs alluding to both the man-bird and fertility.  This cult would see its end in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Colonization, the introduction of livestock, the confinement of the original inhabitants to smaller areas, the dramatic effect of foreign diseases and, above all, slavery, reduced the population of Rapa Nui to little more than a hundred.  Currently, the island is inhabited by descendants of the ancient Rapa Nui as well as immigrants from diverse backgrounds, accounting for a significant mixed population.

Critère (i): Rapa Nui National Park contains one of the most remarkable cultural phenomena in the world. An artistic and architectural tradition of great power and imagination was developed by a society that was completely isolated from external cultural influences of any kind for over a millennium.

Criterion (iii): Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island , bears witness to a unique cultural phenomenon. A society of Polynesian origin that settled there c. A.D. 300 established a powerful, imaginative and original tradition of monumental sculpture and architecture, free from any external influence. From the 10th to the 16th century this society built shrines and erected enormous stone figures known as moai, which created an unrivalled landscape that continues to fascinate people throughout the world.

Criterion (v): Rapa Nui National Park is a testimony to the undeniably unique character of a culture that suffered a debacle as a result of an ecological crisis followed by the irruption from the outside world. The substantial remains of this culture blend with their natural surroundings to create an unparalleled cultural landscape.

Integrity

The Rapa Nui National Park covers approximately 40% of the island and incorporates an ensemble of sites that is highly representative of the totality of the archaeological sites and of the most outstanding manifestations of their numerous typologies. The integrity of the archaeological sites has been preserved, but the conservation of materials is a matter of great concern and scientific research. The management and conservation efforts, still insufficient, focus on addressing anthropic factors and the effects of weathering, both on the material -volcanic lava and tuff- and on the stability of structures.  Progress has been made in the closure of areas, monitoring and the layout of roads so as to maintain the visual integrity of the landscape.

An increase has been observed in cattle that wander illegally inside the Park limits.  In terms of invasive vegetation, certain species have proliferated and have had an impact on the landscape.  At the same time, they have adversely affected the structural stability which is being addressed through the management of the sites.

Authenticity

The Rapa Nui National Park continues to exhibit a high degree of authenticity because there has been little intervention since virtual abandonment of the area in the later 19th century.  A number of restorations and reconstructions of ahu have been made on the basis of strictly controlled scientific investigations, and there has been some re-erection of fallen moai, with replacement of the red stone headdresses, but these do not go beyond the permissible limits of anastylosis.

Authenticity is being maintained and conservation interventions are consistent with the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, with prevailing sense of respect for the historical transformation of the Rapa Nui culture, which, in a context of deep crisis, toppled the moai.  In this respect, it is important to consider that the Rapa Nui National Park must provide an account of the various stages of the Rapa Nui civilization, not excluding that of its crisis.

Protection and management requirements

The Rapa Nui National Park has two official protections.  On one hand, since 1935 it has been a national park, administered by the National Forest Service of Chile (CONAF).  On the other hand, the entire Easter Island was declared a National Monument in 1935 and the same was done with the islets adjacent to Easter Island in 1976.  The property enjoys a solid legal and institutional framework for protection and management.  There are two institutions responsible for this activity that coordinate with each other (National Monuments Council and CONAF) and with the community for conservation and management.  There is a museum, the R. P. Sebastian Englert Museum of Anthropology, which supports research and conservation efforts.  A management plan is in place which undergoes periodic review and there is a team in charge of Park administration. Nevertheless, site management becomes complex because of cultural differences and the reluctances from part of some sectors of the local community about State intervention. Liteblue

Visitor management is a great imperative, with challenges in establishing carrying capacity and providing infrastructure of basic services and interpretation.  Also, it is necessary that the local population effectively support the conservation effort, for example, through livestock control.

A better dialogue is necessary among researchers to reach conclusions on the available knowledge and to manage it in a functional manner conducive to conservation; to systematize the information produced and generate a periodic, comprehensive and sustainable monitoring system.  Additional staff and resources are needed for the administration and care of the site, to reinforce the number and training of the park rangers team, and to increase the operating budget.  There is a constant pressure on park lands; the State must prevent its illegal occupation.  

The essential requirement for the protection and management of this property lies in its multifaceted status as a World Heritage site, as a reference point and basis for the development of the population of the island, and repository of answers to fundamental questions that are far from being revealed.

Easter Island Population

Easter Island, known as Rapa Nui by its inhabitants, has been surrounded in mystery ever since the Europeans first landed in 1722. Early visitors estimated a population of just 1,500-3,000, which seemed at odds with the nearly nine hundred giant statues dotted around the Island. How did this small community construct, transport and erect these large rock figures?

“Despite its almost complete isolation, the inhabitants of Easter Island created a complicated social structure and these amazing works of art before a dramatic change occurred,” says Dr. Cedric Puleston, lead author of this study, based at the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, USA. “We’ve tried to solve one piece of the puzzle — to figure out the maximum population size before it fell. It appears the island could have supported 17,500 people at its peak, which represents the upper end of the range of previous estimates.”

He adds, “If the population fell from 17,500 to the small number that missionaries counted many years after European contact, it presents a very different picture from the maximum population of 3,000 or less that some have suggested.”

Previous archaeological evidence implies the indigenous people numbered far greater than the 1,500-3,000 individuals encountered in the 18th century. The population history of the island remains highly controversial. In addition to internal conflict, the population crash has been attributed to “ecocide,” in which the Island’s resources were exhausted by its inhabitants, reducing its ability to support human life.

Puleston and his colleagues examined the agricultural potential of the Island before these events occurred, to calculate how many people the Island could sustain.

“The project, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, involved a number of really good researchers, including archaeologists, a local expert in Rapa Nui culture, a soil scientist, a biogeochemist, and a population biologist, to get a thorough picture of what the island was like before European contact,” he explains.

“We examined detailed maps, took soil samples around the Island, placed weather stations, used population models and estimated sweet potato production. When we had doubts about one of these factors we looked at the range of its potential values to work out different scenarios.”

They found 19% of the Island could have been used to grow sweet potatoes, which was the main food crop. By using information on how birth and death rates at various ages depend on food availability, the researchers calculated the population size that level of production could sustain.

“The result is a wide range of possible maximum population sizes, but to get the smallest values you have to assume the worst of everything,” says Puleston. “If we compare our agriculture estimates with other Polynesian Islands, a population of 17,500 people on this size of island is entirely reasonable.” Liteblue Gov

He concludes, “Easter Island is fascinating because it represents an extreme example of a natural experiment in human adaptation, which began when people from a single cultural group spread quickly across the islands of the Pacific. The different environments they encountered on these islands generated a tremendous amount of variation in human behavior. As an extremely unusual case, in both its cultural achievements and its ecological transformation, Easter Island is remarkable and important. It retains an air of mystery, but it’s a real place and has a real history lived by real people. Dispelling that mystery brings us closer to understanding the nature of humanity.”