Visit Easter Island on a low budget!

Most people wanting to visit Easter Island are deterred by how expensive it is. But it is very possible to go there with a minimum budget. And because there are so many things to see and do that are completely free, it can in fact be a very cheap holiday.

[Below] Airfares are cheap at the moment. I paid US$440 which is excellent if you consider the guide-books quote prices between $600 and $900. It's low season at the moment - mostly because it's winter - but Rapa Nui is a tropical Pacific island so the weather is more or less always the same. Perhaps it rains more often in winter but the rain normally clears within a few minutes and is usually followed by beautiful, blue skies. Just make sure you don't leave the house without waterproof layers and you will be alright - the rain can get pretty heavy.

The entrance to the National Park - which is more or less the whole island - is a once off fee. So keep your ticket with you after paying for it at one of the two big volcanos: Rano Kau or Rano Raraku (below).

You can rent a bicycle but this small island will seem very big if you're exploring it on bike or foot, so most people rent a car. But the easiest and cheapest way to get around is by hitch-hiking. It's safe and easy and you get to meet the locals, who are all extremely friendly and often speak English - thank you tourist trade.

By the end of my trip I was even hitching short distances, just to go down the road. The last guy that picked me up went out of his way to drop me off infront of the airport terminal. He was telling me how his mother never had the opportunity to travel because she spent her whole life raising him and his 23 brothers and sisters - all from the same parents. Wow!

I must have done at least three tours around Rapa Nui during my 8 day visit, and didn't pay one peso for transportation. Actually, as I was camping in the backyard of a Couchsurfer the only thing for which I did pay during my trip was food.

Easter Island is a very expensive destination, but by camping and hicth-hiking I spent less than US$5 per day.

There are a few campsites in Hanga Roa, the only town of Rapa Nui. And I know at least a few of them have tents for hire. When you get to the airport there will be several desks where the representatives of the campsites and hostels will offer you a place to stay. They will even take you there from the airport. But I suggest you take your own tent, meet some locals and ask if you can camp in their backyard.

[Below] At Rano Raraku there is a small, shy sign pointing to an almost hidden path to the left. About 90% of the people missed this sign and hence completely missed the trail up the volcano to a view of the lagoon-filled crater and an amphitheatre of moai around it.

[Below] The best thing about Easter Island is that most things are free. There are countless caves scattered and hidden around the island. You're not supposed to camp in them - and I never needed to - but I'd say it's very possible.

Some of the caves are very special and have ancient rock art inside. This includes rock carvings and rock painting. I'm not entirely sure, but I think the painting below depicts the birdman cult. The human form is exactly in the middle of the photo, painted like a forward-slash, i.e. \.

And for those interested, there are also many other activities on offer, such as diving, snorkelling, surfing, tours, horse-riding, etc. But obviously make sure your wallet is a little heavier for these.

Other info:
* Names: Easter Island, Rapa Nui, Isla de Pascua
* Currency: Chilean peso
* Languages spoken: Spanish, Rapa Nui and English
* Cell phone network: Chilean
* Water: Potable (it doesn't taste amazing but it is drinkable)
* Cheapest food: Empanadas (less than US$3 each) and Completos
* Flights: The only airline serving the Island: Lan ( Possible routes are:
- Direct from Santiago, Chile
- Indirect from New Zealand, via Tahiti

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