“It may be remote, but even Easter Island is adapting to the 21st century, with a new luxury hotel and a tour exploring the islanders’ cultural history,” writes the UK paper, The Guardian, in this February 10, 2012 travel article.
According to the paper, “The intriguing thing about Easter Island is that on the one hand, it has an ancient past spanning thousands of years and on the other, you have its remarkable recent history.”
Easter Island, known as Rapa Nui by the native islanders, was settled by a Polynesian culture thousands of years ago, largely independent from outside influences for centuries until it was annexed by Chile in 1888.
“The changes the current population has seen in its lifetime are astounding.”
Within a few decades, flights from the Chilean mainland have increased to as many as three a day during the high season, and Hanga Roa airport is now on a direct route between Santiago and Tahiti.
The arrival of several upscale hotels – first, the Explora lodge in 2007 and most recently, the Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa – nudged the tourism market into the luxury arena, landing Easter Island on Forbes’ “bucket list” and prestigious travel rankings around the world.
“It only takes 10 minutes on the island…”
“…to dispel one of the most common misconceptions,” writes The Guardian. “The moai statues do not comprise just those few photogenic ones seen in the coffee-table books. In reality, there are around 900 of these stern, big-headed figures scattered across the island. You see them everywhere you turn, dotting the coastline and green hillsides.”
And while Easter Island’s fame for “big stone heads and deforestation” is well-earned, it doesn’t begin to describe the beautiful, complex reality on the island.
“…as barren as it is, there is nothing bleak about this isolated land. Its simple colour palette features mainly golden greens and granite, all surrounded by the Pacific. Occasionally, there’s a stretch of soil the colour of wet brick or a flash of glacier-mint blue when the surf crashes over a rock.”
Islanders who are “welcoming and fiercely proud of their culture.”
The article also relates the author’s search for “a new tour, which focuses more on the islanders’ traditional way of life, teaching you how to farm and fish.”
She found the tour in the form of a company based in Hanga Roa, “one of the most unusual operators in town.”
“The whole experience is very hands-on, with everyone chipping in … and our small group – from Argentina, Chile and Korea – loves it.“