Mar 27, 2019 - National Geographic Orion
We all got together last night at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Santiago and had a chance to make new friends as well as a few re-acquaintances. This prepared us for a very early start today for a morning flight to Hanga Roa Airport at Rapa Nui (“Easter Island” in English and “Isla de Pascua” in Spanish language. This is where we would spend the next three days, which we anticipated the visit to be one of the major highlights of our coming Polynesian voyage. We were divided between two hotels during our stay at Rapa Nui, i.e. the Hanga Roa Hotel (found just outside of the town of Hanga Roa) and the Explora Rapa Nui Hotel (located in the countryside, well away from town).
After lunch, we all went to the Tahai Archeological Zone, located just north of town. This is where we got our first experience of the spectacular statues that dominated the island for several centuries. Our excellent guides explained much about the amazing story of this Polynesian culture, most of which has been pieced together through decades of work by dedicated archeologists, a few of whom accompanied us today. Reading books and viewing photographs of the famous moai statues did little to prepare us for the sense of grandiosity had from witnessing them firsthand.
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