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Easter Island: The Majesty and Mystery of Rapa Nui

Program Number: 16342RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/13/2014 - 1/22/2014; 9/12/2016 - 9/21/2016; 10/10/2016 - 10/19/2016; 1/30/2017 - 2/10/2017; 2/20/2017 - 3/1/2017;
Duration: 9 nights
Location: Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile
Price starting at: $3,999.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 20; 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners    

At the turn of the millennium, the island of Rapa Nui — later named Easter Island by a Dutch explorer — flourished with the communities of early Polynesians. Delve into their legacy and history as you explore Easter Island and relish in an opportunity to study the monolithic moai that still exist. Meet archaeologists and historians who study these ancient peoples as well as local residents who continue to call this sub-tropical island their home.


• Walk around the quarry from which the massive moai were carved, which includes nearly 400 unfinished giants and spectacular petroglyphs.
• Connect with local Rapanui people
• Explore the island's most important archaeological sites — including Ahu Tongariki, Orongo Ceremonial Village, and Ahu Vinapu — and examine the mystery of why the moai were built, why they were toppled, and why the cult of the birdman arose.

Activity Particulars

Physically demanding program with extensive walking over uneven terrain and along hillsides. Some stairs required.

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.

Date Specific Information


The January 30, 2017 departure is scheduled to be on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) during a portion of the annual Tapati Festival, a celebration of Rapa Nui culture and arts through music, dance, athletic competitions, and visual arts. This program is two days longer to allow more time to enjoy the festival.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Santiago (Chile), 1 night; flight to Easter Island (Rapa Nui), 6 nights; departure.

Coordinated by Hawaii Pacific University.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Santiago (Chile)
1 night

Explore historic Santiago and surrounding neighborhoods as you make stops at the Plaza de Armas, the Pre-Columbian Art Museum and the Presidential Palace. Enjoy a scenic view of the city from Christopher Hill, with its iconic, 46-feet-high statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.

Flight to Easter Island (Rapa Nui)
6 nights
Overnight flight to U.S.A
1 night

Begin your investigation of Easter Island as you head to Tahai for an introduction to the famous monoliths of Rapa Nui. Explore Hanga Roa village and visit the archaeological site of Ahu Vaihu. Climb the hillside path to view the quarry from which the massive moai were carved out of the hard basalt, and continue to view Tongariki, the largest ahu (temple platform) on the island. Drive to Parque Nacional Rapa Nui to explore Rano Kao crater, a fresh-water lake, and Orongo Ceremonial Village where the infamous Birdman Festival was once held. Set off for an exploration of archaeological sites, including Ahu Vinapu before enjoying the white sand beach of Anakena. Explore Easter Island’s top knot quarry with your study leader, and look into the life of local residents.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Discovered on Easter Sunday in 1722 by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, the island of Rapa Nui had already been inhabited by native Polynesians for more than a thousand years. Evidence of this ancient peoples’ traditions remains in the iconic moai, large stone statues carved from volcanic ash.

Santiago: Four-star hotel. Easter Island: Comfortable hotel surrounded by beautiful gardens near the coast.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Plaza San Francisco
  Santiago, Chile 1 night
   Hotel Otai
  Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Chile 6 nights
 Hotel Plaza San Francisco
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Located in the center of Santiago’s business and financial district, the Hotel Plaza San Francisco is within walking distance of museums, the opera house, the subway and shops. The hotel completed a renovation in 2007 and is reputed as Santiago’s premier hotel. Its Bristol Restaurant has received a variety of national and international culinary distinctions.
  Contact info: Alameda 816
Santiago,   Chile
phone: +56 2 360 4444
  Room amenities: The rooms in Hotel Plaza San Francisco include minibars and safes. Televisions are equipped with satellite channels. All accommodations provide desks, complimentary newspapers, and multi-line phones with voice mail. Bathrooms offer shower/tub combinations with handheld showerheads, bathrobes, makeup/shaving mirrors, and hair dryers. All units feature refrigerators and coffee/tea makers. Additional amenities include windows that open and complimentary toiletries.
  Facility amenities: Hotel Plaza San Francisco has a full-service spa, an indoor pool, laundry service, fitness center, a sauna, restaurant, and bar/lounge. Wireless Internet access is complimentary in public areas. Business amenities include a business center, small meeting rooms, and a meeting/conference room. The property has designated areas for smoking.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check in time: 1:00 PM

 Hotel Otai
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Otai means "In the Coast" in Rapa Nui language. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the Hotel Otai is a simple, quaint hotel located in the center of Hanga Roa and just a short walk to the coastline. (PLEASE NOTE: Hotels in Easter Island are basic by North American Standards. They are clean, safe and well-kept but all materials must be brought from the mainland by air or by monthly supply ship. Please set your expectations appropriately.)
  Contact info: Te Pito o Te Henua s/n
Hanga Roa
Rapa Nui-Easter Island,   Chile
phone: +(563) 210-0250
  Room amenities: Phone, hairdryer (to be requested at the reception desk), A/C, min bar, in room safe.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, outdoor swimming pool, laundry service, television room and Internet access.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights after:  No special Road Scholar rates or discounts are available. Participants need to book directly with the hotel should they require post stay accommodations.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Meet Group Leader at 12:15 PM for orientation in the hotel lobby and then lunch. You will be staying at Hotel Plaza San Francisco that night.
  End of Program:
Ends after breakfast and flight from Easter Island to Santiago's Arturo Merino Benitez Airport. You will be staying at Hotel Otai the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Along with the completed Health and Safety and Participant Information forms, a photocopy of your passport picture/information pages must be sent to the Program Provider, Pacific Islands Institute.
  Required innoculations:
Yes: None are required but all immunizations should be current and you should consult your personal physician or a travel clinic 6–8 weeks prior to departure.
  Parking availability:
Complimentary parking is available on site
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Arturo Merino Benitez Airport is 21km (13 miles) from Santiago (travel time – 30 minutes). You can get from the airport to downtown Santiago by taxi for less than $18; via bus Tur Bus (tel. 2/671-7380) or Centro Puerto Bus (2/601-9883) for about $2.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Santiago
  Nearest airport:  Arturo Merino Benitez Airport
  Transportation to site: 1. Head south on Camino A Lampa toward Amrico Vespucio go 1.8 km 2. Continue onto Vespucio Norte Express for 1.1 km 3. Take the exit onto Costanera Norte. Travel 11.8 km 4. Take the exit toward Autopista Central for 450 m 5. Slight right onto Autopista Central for 1.0 km 6. Slight right onto Manuel Rodrguez and drive 1.1 km 7. Turn right onto Liber Bernardo O'Higgins Hotel Plaza San Francisco will be on the right. Total Distance is 18 km and takes approximately 25 minutes
  From End of Program
  Location:  Rapa Nui (Easter Island)
  Transportation from site: 1. Head west on Te Pito O Te Henua toward Avareipua for 170 m 2. Take the 2nd left onto Atanu Tekena. Drive for 1.3 km 3. Turn right to stay on Atanu Tekena and travel 350 m 4. Turn left onto Policarpo Toro; go 850 m 5. Continue onto Rano Kau for 600 m 6. Turn left. The airport will be on the left Total Distance is 4 km and takes approximately 6 minutes.

Required innoculations:

Yes: None are required but all immunizations should be current and you should consult your personal physician or a travel clinic 6–8 weeks prior to departure.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departures
(Monday, January 13)
 Evening: Depart on overnight flights from the U.S.

Day 2: Arrival in Historic Santiago
(Tuesday, January 14)
 Morning: Arrivals. Rooms are guaranteed for early check-in.
 Lunch: Bristol Restaurant, lobby level
 Afternoon: Explore historic Santiago and surrounding neighborhoods on a guided visit with stops at the city's historic center, Plaza de Armas, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Pre-Columbian Art Museum and the Presidential Palace. Continue to Saint Christopher Hill, with its iconic, 46-feet-high statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception for great views of Santiago (weather and smog permitting). Drive through the neighborhoods of Providencia, Las Condes, and Vitacura, then stop at Pueblito Los Dominicos, a charming local handicraft market (time permitting).
 Dinner: Bristol Restaurant, lobby level
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Hotel Plaza San Francisco
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Fly to Easter Island
(Wednesday, January 15)

Note: Non stop flight from Santiago to Rapa Nui (app 5 hours) Local time time in Easter Island is two hours behind mainland Chile

 Breakfast: Early lite breakfast – Bristol Restaurant
 Morning: Check out of hotel; depart for Arturo Benitez Airport. Lan Chile flight departs Santiago on mid-morning flight for Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Food typically served on flight. Early afternoon: Arrive Easter Island, transfer to hotel and check in
 Lunch: Lunch aboard plane (Lite snack provided upon arrival at Hotel Otai)
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to rest and relax after flight
 Dinner: Welcome Dinner- Hotel Otai
Accommodations: Hotel Otai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: An Introduction to Rapa Nui/Rapa Nui Dance
(Thursday, January 16)

Note: Walking and standing during study trip to Ahu Tahai, uneven terrain. Hat, sun screen and/or umbrella suggested.

 Breakfast: Continental Breakfast - Hotel Otai
 Morning: Begin with a welcome and overview class of Rapa Nui. Discover the Padre Sebastian Englert Archaeological Museum on a guided visit of museum and its artifacts, including the only intact white coral moai eye, as well as displays of local geology, flora and fauna; maps; illustrations of house types; and many other elements of Rapa Nui culture. Padre Sebastian Englert was a missionary priest who lived on the island nearly 35 years and studied the people, the culture and the carvings. White numbers are still visible on some of the moai and pukao that are part of the system he developed while inventorying the islands artifacts. The new museum and associated facilities were built with a grant in aid from Japan.
 Lunch: Hotel Otai
 Afternoon: Head to Tahai for an introduction to the famous monoliths of Rapa Nui: Ahu Vai Ure topped by five moai; Ahu Tahai (A.D. 680); and Ahu Ko te Riku (A.D. 12th century, a 15½-feet-high, 20-ton moai that is topped by a pukao (red scoria top knot). At Hanga Kio`e, a small bay just past town, view two more ahu restored by Dr. William Mulloy, part of a larger site that includes Ahu Akapu with its solitary moai and Dr. Mulloy's gravesite.
 Dinner: Hotel Otai
 Evening: Cultural Event: Rapa Nui folkloric traditional dance, featuring island dancers accompanied by musicians playing traditional instruments. A featured dance, the Hoko is an ancestral dance that represents the wars and confrontations between various tribes
Accommodations: Hotel Otai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Ahu Vaihu, Tongariki and Rano Raraku
(Friday, January 17)

Note: Walking up and down the quarry of the moai. Tracks and stairs while climbing. Climbing shoes, no flat soles, are recommended. Walking sticks in case you need extra support

 Breakfast: Continental Breakfast- Hotel Otai
 Morning: Choose to explore Hanga Roa village either on a guided visit or independently. Then set off to the archaeological site of Ahu Vaihu. Constructed of finely crafted stones, Ahu Vaihu is located at the small bay of Hanga Te`e. The ahu has 11 toppled moai whose pukao (top knots) are lying where they fell, and a circle of rocks on the ground, used for paina ceremonies to honor the dead. Continue down the South Coast along the wind- and wave-carved shoreline, past many collapsed ahu, toppled moai and fallen stone fences to Rano Raraku.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch in the National Park Picnic Area.
 Afternoon: Climb the mountainside path to view the quarry from where the massive moai were carved out of the hard basalt. Moai, in all stages of production, cover its southern flank. Continue to Tongariki, the largest ahu (temple platform) on the island. Demolished in 1960 by the tremendous force of a tsunami, Tongariki has recently been restored by Chilean archaeologist Claudio Cristino and Sergio Rapu with the help of Japanese archaeologists and the Rapa Nui people, so it once again supports its 15 moai.
 Dinner: Hotel Otai
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Hotel Otai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Ahu Vinapu, Anakena, Ahu Nau Nau and Poike Ditch
(Saturday, January 18)

Note: Optional swimming at Anakena beach during lunch break. Study field trip demands some walking and standing to appreciate stone structures. hat, sun screen and/or umbrella suggested.

 Breakfast: Continental Breakfast-Hotel Otai
 Morning: Class: The People of Old - Rapa Nui Ancient Culture. Later in the morning, set off for an exploration of archaeological sites, beginning at Ahu Vinapu, whose construction has raised many questions due to its similarity to the pre-Columbian structures found in Cuzco, Peru.
 Lunch: Tunu Ahi Barbeque Lunch at Anakena Beach.
 Afternoon: Discover Anakena, a beautiful, sheltered, white sand beach surrounded by swaying palm trees. This beach, the largest in Rapa Nui, is where Hotu Matu`a is said to have beached his canoe and lived in one of several caves while waiting for his boat-shaped house to be completed. Take a swim or stroll the beach before going up the hill to Ahu Nau Nau, a complex archaeological site where, in 1978, Study Leader Sergio Rapu, in reconstructing the ahu, first recognized that the coral fragments unearthed in the sand were the inlaid coral eyes of the moai. With this discovery and the subsequent investigation of other moai came the realization that all Rapa Nui's moai, once they were placed on the ahu, were given eyes. Barbecue lunch at Anakena then depart for Poike Ditch where according to legend the Long Ears and Short Ears had their famed battle.
 Dinner: Hotel Otai
Accommodations: Hotel Otai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Parque Nacional Rapa Nui, Rano Kao Crater, Orongo Ceremonial Village, Home-Hosted Dinner
(Sunday, January 19)

Note: Excursion to Ana Kai Tangata cave requires climbing even and uneven stone steps to reach and exit cave. Field trip to Orongo demands some walking on even and uneven terrain, also climbing few steps and standing during explanations. Light wind breaker recommended.

 Breakfast: Continental Breakfast-Hotel Otai
 Morning: Choose to relax or attend Sunday mass at the historic Rapa Nui Roman Catholic church, where the choral hymns are sung in the Rapa Nui language. The hand-carved wooden statues and designs used on the vestments are wonderful examples of the use of culturally related symbolism in liturgical art.
 Lunch: Hotel Otai
 Afternoon: Drive to Parque Nacional Rapa Nui, where you visit two of the truly great sights of Rapa Nui -- Rano Kao crater, a fresh-water lake, and Orongo Ceremonial Village where, until 1853, the infamous Birdman Festival was held in the spring of each year. Located on the southwestern point of the triangle, the park provides spectacular views of the whole island. Then, head to Ana Kai Tangata, which can be translated as place-men-eat, which could mean a place where men took shelter for meals. The cave is known for its ancient paintings of sooty terns flying across the roof.
 Dinner: Home Hosted Dinner
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Hotel Otai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Wrap Up/Farewell Umukai
(Monday, January 20)

Note: Walking and standing during optional study trip to lava tubes, uneven terrain. Hat, sun screen and/or umbrella suggested

 Breakfast: Continental Breakfast- Hotel Otai
 Morning: Class: Wrap up session
 Lunch: Lunch is on your own to explore local eateries
 Afternoon: The afternoon is free to explore independently or visit Rapa Nui’s lava tubes with your study leader. On Rapa Nui, many lava tubes were formerly used as dwellings.
 Dinner: Cultural Event: Rapa Nui Umikai (Farewell Dinner) at Hotel Otai
Accommodations: Hotel Otai
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Flight to Santiago/Connections to US
(Tuesday, January 21)
 Breakfast: Continental Breakfast- Hotel Otai
 Morning: Free time - Prepare for Departure Transfer to airport – Check in for flight to Santiago, Chile.
 Afternoon: Fly to Santiago, Chile- Meal served on board.
 Evening: Arrive Santiago, Chile airport. Independent connections to final destinations. Overnight flight to US.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 10: Arrive US
(Wednesday, January 22)
 Morning: Early morning arrival in US (location depends on individual's gateway airport)

Free Time Opportunities
  Santiago Mercado Central Market
This delightful, galvanized steel construction was built in 1872, to replace the unsanitary Mercado de Abastos (provisions market), which had served the needs of local citizens since the colonial period. Today, the Central Market still shines with nostalgic architectural pride and offers an eclectic selection of handicrafts, fruit and vegetables. The specialty is fish and shellfish, which can be sampled in the small kitchens down the side of the building, or in the more formal restaurants that are interspersed throughout the market. Enjoy a plate of fish marinade or razor clams in parmesan sauce, while being serenaded by a band of local mariachis. Address: San Pablo 967 interior. Open daily (except on election day): Sunday to Thursday, 6 a.m.– 4 p.m.; Friday, 5:30 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday, 5 a.m. – 5 p.m. For additional information, visit
  Paseo Peatonal Londres
A beautiful and attractive walkway located in downtown, it is comprised by various structures built between 1922 and 1925. Marina Ortiz de Gaete, widow of Pedro de Valdivia, encouraged the construction of the Soledad Chapel, next to the first church of the Franciscan Order, which is today the San Francisco Church. This small civic neighborhood is full of various eye-catching architectural styles that live in perfect harmony. Address: Londres, Centro.
  Parque Metropolitano (Cerro San Cristóbal)
This beautiful green area, including the hills of San Cristóbal, Chacarillas, Gemelos and Pirámide, occupies 1,799 acres and is one of the largest parks in the country. Its forestation began in 1921. In 1926, the mayor Alberto Mackenna transformed it into a public area. The summit is 2821 feet above sea level, crowned by an image of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, 46 feet tall and sitting on a pedestal 75 feet high topping Cerro San Cristóbal. There is a zoo, two swimming pools, picnic areas, restaurants, children's play area, a chapel, botanical gardens and mile-long gondola ride. Go all the way up to the summit for a full view of Santiago. On a clear day it's possible to see the snowy Andean peaks in all their splendor. Pedro de Valdivia Norte, Providencia, Santiago, Chile. Open 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily.
  Museo Histórico Nacional
This aesthetic-looking building was constructed between 1804 and 1807 by Jose Goycolea, a student of prominent architect Joaquín Toesca. This was also the site of the first sittings held by the National Congress, and the great liberator himself, Gen. Bernard O'Higgins, had an office in the building. Now considered a national monument, it is home to the National Historical Museum since 1911 and houses a collection related to different periods and famous personalities in the history of Chile, from pre-Colombian times right up to the 1970s. There is also a section dedicated to numismatics (money, coins and medals). Address: Plaza de Armas 951, Centro. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission: Adults CLP600; On Sunday, entrance is free.
  Museo Parque de las Esculturas
With its attractive sculptures and beautiful green scenery, this park-cum-museum is the perfect place to enjoy a pleasant walk alongside the Mapocho River on a temperate summer evening. The sculptures are made out of stone, metal and wood, respectively, and rambunctious children often use them as makeshift jungle gyms. The park is also home to a concert hall, where national and international stars perform. During the summer months, the hall hosts a series of jazz concerts organized by the local council. Address: Avenida Santa María 2201, Santiago, Chile. Entrance is free. Open daily, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  Rapa Nui (Easter Island) Horseback Riding
Guided horse rides are available through three operators: Piti Pont (tel:100-664), Pantu (tel:100-577) and Tadeo (tel:100-422). Cost is approximately $10 per hour.
  Market Visit
Hanga Roa has a municipal marketplace featuring local crafts, vegetables and food within easy walking distance of the hotel.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

An Uncommon Guide to Easter Island: Exploring Archaeological Mysteries of Rapa Nui.

Author: Lee, Georgia Ph.D

Easter Island Rapa Nui, a Land of Rocky Dream

Author: Ramirez, Jose Miguel

Description: The text was written by the archaeologist José Miguel Ramírez, who was Superintendent of the Easter Island National Park for seven years. This is a very high-quality book, with 192 pages, which dimensions are of 20 x 30 cm (approximately 10 x 12.5 inches). It contains more than 220 full-color photographs that range from aerial photos taken during various flights and under different light conditions, to underwater pictures of caves and native fish species of the island. It has a large number of photographs of archaeological sites and landscapes, but, and perhaps most importantly, the last 58 pages are devoted to photographs of islanders of Rapa Nui that belong to the Rapa Nui ethnic group. Also included are images of the Tapati Rapa Nui, which is an event that brings their ancient customs and rates to life.

Island at The End of the World

Author: Fischer, Steven

Description: "Fischer''s fluent narrative reveals how smallness, isolation, and a fragile environment have shaped the history of this tiny community. . . . Its strength lies equally in the author’s sensitive micro-study approach and its subject matter. Above all, it deserves a wide readership because Easter Island still presents a global warning about the imperative of environmental sustainability."--American Historical Review (Philippa Mein Smith American Historical Review)

Island at the Center of the World

Author: Englert, Father Sebastian Englert

Description: (Translated by William Mulloy) Out of print, available used.

Rapanui: Tradition & Survival on Easter Island, 2nd edition

Author: McCall, Grant.

Description: General history of Easter Island, its culture and society from ancient to modern times.

The Complete Guide to Easter Island

Author: McLaughlin, Shawn

Description: Very comprehensive guide. If you read only one book, this is our recommendation

The Mystery of Easter Island, The Story of an Expedition

Author: Scoresby Routledge, Mrs

Description: Historical adventure travel

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