Easter Island Day 1: The Lesser-Visited East Side of Rano Kau

now that i’m back at home (and have decent internet speeds), i can upload my pictures from Easter Island and start writing my posts. it’s not until you experience such slow speeds that you realize how much you depend on the internet and ready access to information (or content creation).


settling in

on my first day, i was welcomed at the airport with a lei by the guy who owns the hotel i stayed at. almost all hotels will give transfers to and from town, by the way — the airport is literally on the edge of [the small] town. i later learned that the owner can trace his lineage, supposedly, to the original group of Rapa Nui remaining on the island after events in the late 19th century that left it with only 111 inhabitants.

Bp4CGWGCAAAEAhcthe hotel was located near Tia Berta, the famous empanada place, so i decided to have lunch there. here are some things you need to know about Easter Island empanadas: they’re either fried or baked, with restaurants specializing in one or the other. also, they are HUGE. do not order more than two thinking they are small like Argentinian empanadas. NO. also, you’ve gotta try the seafood variety, my favorite thing to eat there — it’s like a seafood stew in a handy dough pocket! it can, unfortunately, get drippy, so be careful.

i’m warning you now.

up to the crater

i decided at the last minute (like, two days before i arrived) to splurge on private tours for the entire time i was on Easter Island. long story short, no, it’s not my normal modus operandi. i knew it was expensive but my brain was/is fried from work and so i didn’t want to have to think or plan anything. just sign me up, let me absorb what you’re telling me, and let me enjoy my surroundings and not worry. easy-peasy. (spoiler: i do not regret this decision one bit!)

i had a half day left open on my first day and the guy who ran the tour company (James Grant-Peterkin of must-read/must-have/cheap on Kindle A Companion to Easter Island fame) suggested a half-day hike. i didn’t really read the description and semi-blindly agreed. and goddamn am i glad i did it.

while most people go up the west side of Rano Kau, the large crater on the southwest corner of the island, we went up the east side, taking almost three hours.


VERY approximate route we took. We hiked to the east side of the crater, followed it around about as far as it goes (until the big smile-shaped depression that’s caused by erosion at the bottom), then continued along the coast looping back through to go through a forest for a bit.

and no, there wasn’t a trail. due to recent rains, we had to wade through tall ground cover, sometimes as high as our hips. it wasn’t necessarily strenuous, but man, my guide (Christian, a great guy, by the way) liked to move fast.


Trekking on up to the crater rim

what an amazing way to see Rano Kau for the first time! coming up to the top of the rim, the view suddenly opens up wide and far. the inside is a crater lake with water that brilliantly reflects the sky above. it was absolutely breathtaking.


as we walked along the rocks on the rim, Christian asked if i enjoyed the outdoors. i never really thought of myself as an outdoors person, so i asked why. he responded that i am quick to scramble up and over boulders and it looked like i was used to that sort of thing. heh, i dunno, maybe it’s just me and my lust for abandonment that makes me quick and (hopefully?) sure on my feet? gotta step lively on those rusty old walkways! but, i digress.



Christian, who I ran into in town after the tours every single day I was there. It’s such a small place you’re bound to!

Christian wanted to take photos of me, and even though i normally prefer taking pictures rather than being in them, i gave him my phone. WHAT AMAZING PHOTOS — seriously, this made everything worthwhile. EV. ER. Y. THING.


On that rock


Another panorama that I took as we wound our way clockwise around the rim.


Further towards the water


My favorite shot of the whole hike

the last couple were taken after we had walked around as far as we could while staying on the rim. if you look carefully at some of the shots of Rano Kau, at the top of the eastern side of the smile-shaped depression is a pointed rock that sticks out like a triangle. we scurried under there as well (right around the corner from where i stood on the shot above) and i took this video.

it’s not really crazy until you step back (or look at it from the other side, when you’re visiting the ceremonial village of Orongo) and see just how incredibly steep and high the cliff leading to the water is. what an unforgettable experience!


Yep. That’s quite a drop.

on the way back, Christian took me by an abandoned campsite that a squatter had set up not too long ago, complete with tent and mattress and cooking equipment! from the looks of it, no one has been there in a while, but it’s odd someone went to all that trouble to haul equipment up to the middle of nowhere and not take it with? he said i was probably the first visitor to ever have seen this. true or not, this is one of the reasons why you do private tours from locals — he discovered this on his own while he was up there with his family.


such a great introduction to the island, and i hadn’t even seen a moai yet (other than the two worn ones at the Hanga Roa main harbor)!

p.s. lots of cows up in that part of the island (some places have lots of horses, some have lots of cows, this was a cow place). they’re nothing to be afraid of unless you see a bull (says Christian), but in three days all we came across were cute cows and calves. no bull(s)! as long as they’re cows, you can walk relatively close to them. as long as you mind your business, they’ll mind theirs. (also, watch out for cow pies — tons of them all over!)


2 Comments on "Easter Island Day 1: The Lesser-Visited East Side of Rano Kau"

  1. Cool! I wish I had taken that clockwise walk.

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