I recently watched a repeat of last years' fascinating BBC4 documentary about the remote and tiny Pacific island of Easter Island which reminded me of the extraordinary diversity of territories and spectacular landscapes that encompass Chilean territories, from the driest desert in the world in Atacama in the north to vast sparkling blue ice fields of Patagonia and to this remote Polynesian island located far out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, famous for its distinctive and massive rock sculptures.
In the film, Dr Iago Cooper, now seemingly the’ go-to guy’ for engaging programmes on archaeology and history in South and Central America, explores the intriguing history of the once numerous Rapa Nui local population who were first encountered by Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen in the early 18th century.
Whether you believe the commonly held historical belief that their own waste of natural resources led to this once thriving culture’s demise or whether you accept this film’s own thesis - that in fact it was the very arrival of the Europeans themselves that weakened the population and eventually led to their cultural collapse to almost extinction - this is one of the world’s most fascinating and mysterious islands.
Easter Island or ‘Rapa Nui’ as it is known by its local population is some 7 hours by air from the Chilean capital of Santiago which has a daily flight connecting the island with the mainland. Spend days here exploring the quarries where the island’s iconic Moai statues were once carved and admire the lines of these majestic carvings that tower above the skyline lined along vast platforms.
Hike across its sweeping hills and even, as this film illustrates, examine the recent efforts by the local communities to reintroduce reforestation projects to build up the flora and fauna that once thrived on this island and return it to its former glory where natural resources and community ingenuity could make it once more self-sufficient for generations to come.
The rich cultural influences of the original islanders has also seen something of a resurgence in recent times as the local families celebrate the Tapati festival in late January, a fantastic time to coincide your visit as two local clans compete over a week with innumerable contests from singing, dancing, races, surfing and canoeing to show which clan is the best. Every member of the clan can express their creative talents to score points for their team and it brings together the whole island in wonderful celebration of the Rapa Nui culture.
Combine your visit to Easter Island with a wonderful luxury Chile holiday combining the magnificent salt flats and red hues of the Atacama Desert with its unique wildlife from vicuna to vizcacha and the fjords, glaciers and dramatic granite peaks, a haven for condors, guanaco and even the occasional puma in spectacular Patagonia.
Contact us to plan your luxury holiday to Chile.