Rapa Nui may be a small island, but it consists of a good dozen individual (now extinct) volcanoes. Plenty of ‘mountains’ to climb onto then. The most spectacular is easily Rano Kao, the volcano right next to the only town on the island. It has a huge crater of almost 2km of diameter and a lake has formed inside the crater, with plenty of little islands.
From here the view onto the Sea and the islands relevant for the bird man cult can be seen. Turning around, one can see the entire island with its volcanoes and the green-golden grass. This is a lovely 2-3h hike that ends at the Orongo village. Main cultural site for the bird man cult, it happened to be booked for a documentary on said cult on the day we were visiting. Therefore we got to see plenty of people in the traditional… well, it’s hard to call it clothing.. make-up maybe? A really cool sight! A part from the actors, I really enjoyed seeing the houses. They’re barely chest-high and were only used for sleeping as day to day life happened outside.
The second hike I did, was up to the highest volcano of the island, Maunga Terevaka. From there you can look over the entire island and enjoy watching wild or semi-wild horses. It is also a popular spot for guided horse back riding tours. This allowed us to see the wild horses trying to mess with the tours.
Once they got too close, the guide chased them off,only for them to make a big circle and come back from the other side.. Very amusing. The way back to town from the volcano can almost be considered its own hike. It leads along coast past some fascinating caves. Such as the banana cave, named for its little sheltered garden with banana plants and the window cave, named for its two openings towards the ocean. Most of these caves formed as lava tunnels and in case of the latter, the lava ended up plummeting into the ocean. The path also leads past several Moais in more or less restored states.. Some of which we were unable to identify at all.
The final hike I did was up the oldest volcano of the island: Poike. The hike is obviously rarely done. I had to fight my way through bushes on several occasions and would’ve enjoyed carrying a machete numerous times. I wanted to do this tour as a guided horse-back ride, but couldn’t find an operator willing to do this for a single person.. Luckily I had maps.me with me, so that I could find a number of the advertised and sometimes hidden sights anyways. In particular the Make Make deity, carved into the stone with an open mouth to collect rain water was really cool. I did not figure out how to get into the virgin cave, as the path got treacherously close to the cliffs and I didn’t see the path leading to the cave. But that is part of what makes Poike so nice: It feels like you have the island to yourself. Nobody will cross your path, especially since there is no path for large parts.