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Easter Island
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Easter Island, Chile

Author: Pauls Timrots

This Pacific island, governed by Chile (located 3600 km from the Chilean coastline), is certainly not among the destinations that motorcycling enthusiasts would particularly seek to visit: its longest stretch of uninterrupted road is 15 km at best, and there is no chance to reach anything above 80 km/h in speed. However, should life lead you to Chile or Tahiti and you would like to "check in" at one of the loneliest spots of the globe, it is definitely worth your while to take a detour to Easter Island. In any case, the trip will be anything but boring - this becomes apparent as soon as you take a look at the cars available for hire only to find that your best option is a tiny, angular and slightly wobbly Suzuki Samurai. There's not much to be said for the selection of motorcycles, either. At long last we manage to find one that has a non-rusted chain and some tread left on the edge of the tyres. A rickety, worn machine that consumes some six or seven litres of gas per 100 km - and no-one seems to have bothered about regular servicing of the brake system either - but it does start, and will take two. Even if it does break down on the way, it would not be a big deal, as you would not have to push it for any more than 10 km. This really is one tiny island!
A request for a helmet elicits a bewildered response: "A helmet? Whatever for? If you want something on your head, wrap a towel around it!" In all seriousness, too - apparently, this is a method used by the locals to protect themselves from the heat. So we must also go without helmets this time. At least the rental fee is ridiculously low (LVL 3-5), although still higher than that of the little Suzuki 4x4. No going above 80 km/h, though. Firstly, it isn't exactly a given that the motorcycle itself could handle it, and secondly, the roads are quite narrow and winding, there are no long stretches, and you can never know what trajectory will be preferred by the driver of an oncoming vehicle. By nightfall, all delight in windblown hair and the cool breeze on our faces is also extinguished as the sunburn on our foreheads manifests to full advantage.
There is no cause to moan about the quality of the roads - as elsewhere near the equator, the tarmac is decent, with no surprises. No vistas to rival New Zealand this time: the 20 000 residents who once inhabited the island have eaten and chopped down everything that ever was available, and have now moved to the continent in search of a better life. All that remains next to the three extinguished volcanoes, the largest barely more than half a kilometre high, are just a few eucalyptus plantations here and there. Admittedly, the big-eared figures of the mystical moai statues are truly worth seeing. It is because of them that Easter Island has been included on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.
Only some 3 % of the nearly 4000 inhabitants are local islanders, and the only sign of activity on the road appears near sunset, when parents go to pick up their children after school. This is the only time when you may see a car or two on a nearby intersection. Otherwise, all is completely quiet. No wonder, considering the fact that Easter Island is on the path of a single flight - Santiago to Tahiti - and it is only the passengers of this lone Boeing that can physically visit the island at any given time. Four days after your arrival, when you already know this God-forsaken corner of the world by heart, you can fly back to the mainland.

Worth Knowing


There are no weather limitations to visiting Easter Island - it is always warm!

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Keywords: Easter Island, Chile, Motorcycle

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