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ENG:Hanga Roa - Rano Kao

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Rutas Patrimoniales.jpg Original content from Heritage Routes of Ministery of Public Patrimony

Rano Kao, october 2005

Hanga Roa - Rano Kao hike

Instructions to follow the track in your smartphone

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Summary (editar)
Activity Trekking, Mountain Bike
Location Chile (english), Isla de Pascua
Scenery Atractiva
Atractions Vistas panorámicas, Mar, Patrimonio Cultural, Parque Nacional
Duration 3 horas o menos
MTB Duration 3 horas o menos
Effort 5.4 dopihoras
MTB difficulty Baja
Trail Siempre Claro
Signage Suficiente
Infraestructure Hotel(es), Cabaña(s), Hospedaje(s), Refugio(s), Camping
Topology Ida y Retorno por la misma ruta
Gain/Loss (meters) +385, -145 (±530)
Distance (k) 19.22 (round trip)
Mean altitude 79
Original creator Rutas Patrimoniales
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Climogram easter island

Year round.


Easter Island is located in the oriental end of the Polynesia, in the South Pacific Ocean, at 27 º 9 ' south latitude and 109 º 27 ' west longitude, at 3.700 km from the coast of continental Chile. One of the populated island most isolated of the world.

Route description

Archaeological Museum Father Sebastián Englert - Ana Kai Tangata

Cave Ana kai Tangata. Image: M. Bienes Nacionales
Profile route Hanga Roa - Rano Kao

The section begins in TUKI 1 located in the Archaeological Museum Father Sebastián Englert, called that way in honor to the priest Capuchin who dedicated his life to the investigation, rescue and diffusion of the Rapa Nui culture. The museum, inaugurated on October 10, 1973, exhibits the most representative objects of the culture, as well as panels with the history before the arrival of the European explorers. The museum possesses a specialised library, not only on Rapa Nui culture, but also on the Polynesian culture. After this visit, you will be in ideal conditions to go across the rest of the route, with a better understanding of the local customs and traditions.

Leaving behind the museum, walk down trough Atamu Tekena street up to the coastal sector, where there the

archaeological set of Tahai
Graveyard Tahai. Image: M.Bienes Nacionales
, TUKI 2

is located. This complex ceremonial place has three ahu or ceremonial platforms, besides rooms and domestic structures towards the interior. Facing the platforms, from left side to right, the ahu of five Moai (monolithic statues) receives the name of Vai Uri, the next one Ahu Tahai, and the third one, with eyes and hat, Ahu Ko te Riku. Because of his size, probably it was the most important ceremonial complex of this side of the Island.Between 1968 and 1970 it was restored under the direction of the archaeologists William Mulloy and Gonzalo Figueroa. In that opportunity there were find the basements of at least 17 Hare Paenga (boat houses typical constructions). The three restored platforms correspond to the same period and they would have been in activity between the year 1.000 and 1.600 A.C. Ahu Tahai, nevertheless, is the most ancient of the three and it was constructed about 700 A.C. After 300 years, there was constructed the platform that we observe today. The hat (pukao) of the moai Ahu Ko Te Riku, was carved for the restoration for illustrative purposes, there is not certainty that this hat existed in the old days. Also, the eyes were put by tourist purposes at the beginning of the decade of 1990.

Passing this sector and following the path you will get to the Cemetery Tahai, TUKI 3. Inaugurated in 1951. Due to natural events that affected the previous holy field, it is possible to find graves of the beginning of the XXth century. The first one buried in this place was a Chilean sailor. Also prominent figures of Rapa Nui history rest here, as Uka A'Hey A'Rero (King Atamu Tekera´s wife), deceased in 1946. The cross placed in the center, was carved on the original pukao (hat) of the Moai of Ahu Ko Te Riku located in Tahai's Ceremonial Center. This is the fourth funereal catholic place of Easter Island. The first one was placed in front of the Vaihú´s mission, the second one to the side of the current Gymnasium Koro Paina Kori and the third one, in the sector of the agricultural colony, used as a rest place for the patients of leprosy.

Between he cemetery and the sea, you must continue towards Hanga Vare Vare's sector, where there is the Ahu O'rongo or TUKI 4. According to the descriptions of navigators and travellers, this ahu was constructed by stones of big dimensions and well worked. It managed to have four Moai of toba and a fifth moai made in very hard stone, so called benmolita. It was located in a secondary structure, in the south end of the ahu (left side looked abreast). Along his history, this ahu was dismantled to use the rocks in the construction of houses and even, the former wharf of Hanga Roa's cove. In 1872 the French ship The Flore ended up at Easter Island, and the crew facing its inability to take a complete moai with them, the sawed one to move only the head. Today that moai’s head is in exhibition at the museum of Trocadero in Paris. In that occasion, Juliane Viaud, better known as Pierre Loti, was part of the crew, who besides a poet, was a great draftsman. His drawings and stories are a source of information about the life in the Island at the end of the XIXth century.The Belgian Franc´s expedition (1934- 1935), at the expense of the anthropologist Alfred Métraux and the archaeologist Henri Lavachery, took away from the same ahu the moai Pou Hakanononga, which according to the tradition, was not related to other Moai of the ahu. It was placed there for some king to indicate the best site for the tuna fishing. The Pou Hakanononga is exhibite in the Royal Museum of Art and History of Brussels.

Walking ahead through Policarpo Toro street up to Cove Hanga Roa O Thai, corresponding to the TUKI 5, one of five principal coves of Rapa Nui. Here you will find many fishermen’s boats. Also, this is a place for unloading transatlantic ships. It is the only places of services of autonomous skin-diving. This place is also known as Hotu Matu´a Square, named this way by doctor Álvaro Tejeda in November, 1938, as part of the actions done by him as a proclamation as Hotu Matua´s King. Tejeda tried to re-live in his honor the culture, the folklore, the history and the ceremonial known as the disembarkation of the king in the bay. Tejeda, in order to rebuild and implement an ahu in his honor brought the moai located in this platform, from the Ahu Atiu.

Continuing by Policarpo Toro street you will get the Ahu Tautira, TUKI 6, better known as Ahu Kopeka Tae Ati. Its first descriptions appear in the diary of the captain James Cook. In 1774, moai of the entire Hanga Roa’s coast were on foot. The last news about these Moai standing up is coming from the Russian expedition at the expense of the commander Lisjansky in 1806. However, in 1815, when another Russian expedition visits the island, supervised by the commander Kotzebue, these Moai were down.With the arrival of the missionaries in 1864 and the installation of the first catholic mission in Rapa Nui, begun to dismantlement the ahu to use the stone in the construction of the church and missionaries' houses and all of those that were converted to the Catholicism. Together with the ahu, the Hare Paenga (boat’s houses) locating opposite to the platform were disarmed. Today, all this place is a field of football. During the First World War, the German fleet supervised by the captain Von Spee, encamped on what was staying of the ahu and used the moai that today is in the principal platform, as oven. For doing so, they perforated the moai in the stomach. Some years later it was restored using by cement. After leaving the Island, the principal ship of the German fleet, the Dresden, was destroyed by the British forces nearby the island Santa Cecilia, today know as Robinson Crusoe of the Archipelago Juan Fernandez.The ahu almost disappears completely in 1932, when Hanga Roa's wharf was constructed. Finally, between 1979 and 1980 the ahu was restored under the direction of Sergio Rapu and Andrea Seleenfreund, avoiding his total destruction.

From the TUKI 6 we go though Policarpo Toro Street up to the Ahu Apina, which corresponds to the TUKI 7, known as Ahu Mamara Nui a Ure a Oho Vehi. It is placed by the beach, in the same site where in 1774 landed Captain Cook. One of the members of his expedition, the naturalist George Forster, indicates that the moai of the ahu measured 20 feet high (5,6 m) by 5 feet width (1,4 m). According to this description, the face was eroded, and the eyes, the nose and the mouth scarcely were distinguished. Also he mentions that the moai had a hat (pukao), of one meter and a half of high and of similar diameter.

Continuing along the coast, you get to Oho Vehi's sector, where the Collapse of the Italian Ship, TUKI 8, is remembered. The accident took place because of a strong breaking weaves at the moment of set sail that it made it run aground in a reef opposite to Papa Haoa. In the same point were found stones named pore or kikiris (round rocks), belonging to the ship and that were taken for the restoration of the Ahu Akivi (seven Moai), where nowadays they are. The only crew member of the ship who had Italian nationality was the cook, Nicolás Cardinali, from whom descend the current Cardinali who live in the island.

For the coastal edge take Apina Avenue, pass the Building of the Maritime Government, up to the west side where the Rose of the Winds is located, corresponding to the TUKI 9. This rose indicates the distances between the Easter Island and the principal cities of the world. You may appreciate the genuine isolation of Rapa Nui, the insular inhabited lands most far away from the world’s communities. The island is also known as “Tepito o te Henua” or the navel of the world.

Motu Taka Rua. Image: M.Bienes Nacionales

Continuing for this avenue, you’ll get Motu Taka Rua, TUKI 10, in Punta Roa, on the corner of Apina and Pont Avenue. The breach of the waves between the small motus (islands) and rocks of the sector turns out to be a spectacle of notable beauty. The transparency of the waters, luminosity, the purity of the atmosphere and the substratum of the sea bed, they allow a great diversity of colors that go from the pure target to the deep blue, spending for the habitual green emerald. It turns out very common to be able to estimate the practices of handcrafted fishing from rocks, which the local people develop in the zone. From here enjoy the spectacular beauty on the seashore of the Island.

From here we can appreciate Hanga Piko's panoramic sight TUKI 11, where you will meet the bay and the wharf of the same name. From two hundred meters of the shore, the cave Ana O’nono is located. This place was inhabited in the past. Then appears Hanga Viti Viti, a place where the yachts are protect and where the current wharf of Hanga Piko is located. The company Williamson Balfour constructed the wharf. Later, under the administration of the Navy, works of improvements were done. From 1988 to 1991, were done the works of conditioning that last up to today.

In Hanga Piko's center there is the Ahu Riata, TUKI 12. The site associated with a ceremonial complex constituted by the platforms Ahu Ataranga, to the north, and the Ahu Ana Hoto Huero, northwest from Ahu Riata. In the south end is placed the Ana Kororupa´s cave, were it is possible to appreciate different types of occupation. The stones of the cavern have been used as raw material for the elaboration of appliances and used in the height of sculptures. From 1995 investigations developed, recovering great part of the human osseous material being arranged in different funeral chambers, called avanga by the Rapa Nui community. In 1998 the only stand up statue is installed in the last platform.

After enjoy Hanga Pico’s bay and Ahu Riata, continues though the path up to Atamu Tekena Avenue, where you will see the guides towers of the airport, in Mataveri's sector, TUKI 13. In spite of its surface, Easter Island possesses one of three longest runways of Chile with an extension is 3.350 m. Often it has been repaired throughout the time, but in the decade of the eighties, the NASA turned into an emergency runway for space ship.

For Atamu Tekena Avenue, this section finishes in Ana Kai Tangata or TUKI 14. This cave constitutes a fundamental milestone in the history and island art tied to the ritual of the Tangata-Manu or Man-bird of Orongo. The sky of the Ana Kai Tangata´s cave is adorned by surprising paintings, in beautiful red and whittles colours. The figures represent marine birds as the Gaviotín Apizarrado (a type of gull) migratory species that come to make its nest every spring by the motus (small islands) in front of Orongo. This one also was the place where the surprising Vaka ama (boats of sewed tables) where made.

  • Distance and expected time: 4,4 kms, 2h 30m.

Ana Kai Tangata - Orongo (cumbre Rano Kao)

Rest station. image : M. bienes nacionales
Ceremonial village. image: M. bienes nacionales

The section begins in Mataveri's sector, where Ana Kai Tangata is located, narrowly related to Orongo's Ceremonial Village. By July, the groups that were taking part in the competition of the Tangata-Manu (Man-bird), kept together in a hare vaka of large dimensions until they moved in procession, from the volcano up to Orongo's ceremonial village, where the competition took place. This section was called "Te Ara o Te Ao” or "The Way of the Control ", in allusion to the ritual object that was symbol of power or authority of the chiefs. The winner of the competition of the Tangata-Manu came down with the Ao (command baton) in his hand denoting his new status. Nearby of the volcano Rano Kau also there was a great quantity of umu pae (traditional kitchen), liked with the rites of the Man-bird. In this track it is possible to have the experience of evoking the ritual, to take the time to check the details, and to prepare yourself to assimilate what is going to find in Orongo's Ceremonial Village. The stations of the route give you dosed information on ceremonial, and in section in general offers spectacular panoramic of the island and Hanga Roa. The section begins in the Ana Kai Tangata´s cavern, TUKI 14. This impressive tunnel of volcanic stone, formed over one million years ago, was used to receive the competitor who had managed to touch and take the first egg of the Manutara, by which his body was transformed in something sacred. The rite prepares him to be taken then to Hare Koro Rupa (site of ceremonial preparation) in Mataveri's surrounding areas, where was raised on arms and taken in a procession to the summit of the Rano Kau. From his hand, the egg was given to the leader of his clan, by this way he became in leader of all Rapa Nui for one year.

Ahu Rei Inga Peta. Image: M.bienes nacionales

From here, the path drives up to the Ahu Rei Inga Peta, TUKI 15, located in Mataveri Otai, on a promontory opposite to the sea. This one is the only ceremonial visible platform from this sector of the island coast. Not all the ahu present so monumental characteristics and the variations, both of size and of form, represent the manager vision of his production. The resources of the ahus, offers to the archeologists valuable information about the stages of the long history of the Island.

The path continues penetrating in the dependencies of the Administration of the Rapa Nui National Park, up to the Manavai or TUKI 16. There you will find former agricultural structures made of stone with a circular floor, with a diameter between 3 and 10 m, which were used for protecting the agriculture from the climate inclemency and to support the dampness (manavai). CONAF's native plants exhibits a sample of a series of vegetable species of traditional use: mako’i, hau hau, ngaoho, toa, marikuru, mahute, ti, pua, kumara, and toromillo, among others. In the past, these plants were used for diverse purposes: food, raw material for carving figures, treatment of diseases and personal ornamentation. The sample consists of 25 manavai, each one with different species, the proper majority of the polinesia.

Going towards the Foot of the Rano Kau or TUKI 17, there is a place where it is possible to see the north hillside of the volcano. The arboreal species observed here have been introduced to control the erosion. Finding Eucalyptus, Miro Tahiti and Cypresses. Through the footpath you probably will be able to see diverse species of terrestrial birds, like sparrows, diucas, tiuques and perdices, those were introduced at the beginning of XX century and have well adapted to the local conditions. The environment presents an important stone richness. Here it is possible to find white stone, raw material of the statues remaining at the local museum.

The TUKI 18 corresponds to the Station of Geological Observation, it offers a panoramic view of Hanga Roa, that includes the way crossed from Ana Kai Tangata to this point. Up to 324 msnm rises the Rano Kau volcano, only his north hillsides remain, while his south side has collapsed for the strong erosion produced by the sea. On the other hand, thanks to it, there have been formed cliffs who give an unique aspect to the landscape. Its age is calculated in 2,5 million years. The more recent activity of the volcano was 180 thousand years ago. Rano Kau is one of three volcanic centers that gave origin to the island, together with Maunga Terevaka, in the extreme northwest, and Poike, in the east end. Though these volcanoes rise some few hundred meters up the level of the sea, the island gets up near 3 thousand meters from the oceanic bottom.

This is the half of the distance of "Te Ara o Te Ao” or The Way of the Control, correspondent to the TUKI 19. From here it is easy to imagine the ritual of climbing to the top hillside of the crater up to the final mission. The worship to the built-up ancestors was one of the most excellent features of the prehistoric culture of Rapa Nui. The impressive expressions of this religious manifestation; temples outdoors or ahu, megalithic statues or moai, some how dominate the image and the history of Easter Island. Nevertheless, in XVI century, the prehistoric society was gradually leaving the cult to the deified ancestors, simultaneously the ceremonial’s cult focused in the god Make-Make, tie to rites of the fertility, the spring and the arrival of migratory marine birds. Orongo became the visible center of this new order that lasted until second half of XIX century.

Following by the footpath, it will find the Station of Rest or TUKI 20. From here you will have another splendid panoramic view of Hanga Roa. The location of Orongo, in the southwestern end of the volcano, could be strategic for the development of the cult of the Tangata-Manu. The location of the village, their height, and their view of the small islands, give to the sector a par ticular atmosphere that dominates the surroundings. Meantime you walk towards the village, you may have an idea of how the atmosphere of the ceremony was developed, when the groups ascended from diverse sectors and arrived at the crater of the volcano.

After a deserved rest, you will be able to reach the Crater of Volcano Rano Kau, corresponding to the TUKI 21 and the biggest of Rapa Nui. This panoramic one is without a doubt the visitors more appraised picture. This it is the scene of the more violent volcanic activity of the island; explosions of great magnitude made collapse the crater and left a great boiler exposed. A magnify surroundings of volcano Rano Kau, was chosen for the rites of the Tangata-Manu. As much in the interior as outer of the crater, have been found at least five hundred houses that bear relation to the agricultural activity, developed in the same crater.

Following the route, it arrives at the Station of Rest II or TUKI 22, where you will be able to enjoy a different panoramic of the crater. In the interior of the volcano area developed a micro climatic condition (radiation, winds, humidity, temperature, etc.), especially for the growth of arbustivas and arboreal species. Reason why this situation recreated in traditional agriculture, constructing the circular stone structures previously mentioned (Manavai). Volcano Rano Kau corresponds to one of the main water reserves of the Island. The waters rains are accumulated in the crater and are lead to pools (visible in the route to the volcano), where it is made drinkable and distributed to the urban zone of Hanga Roa. In previous times people had to come here to obtain water.

At the end of this section is the entrance to the Ceremonial Village of Orongo, TUKI 23, a place that due to its archaeological wealth is under the permanent protection of CONAF. If you wish to enter you will have to pay an entrance, this way you will be able to visit the established footpaths, interpretative stations and informative signals. The entrance marks the end of this Route, nevertheless, Orongo is an important site that you must visit and enjoy. Welcome to Orongo!

  • Distance and expexted time: 3,65 kms, 2h 25m.

Expected time

About five hours of walking considering time to stop at the stations. The return is much faster.

Rapa Nui national park fees

The easter island routes are inside de Rapa Nui national park. The entrance is paid once and allows entry to all routes. The fees are the following:

Chilean ($ CLP) forgein (US $)
Adults 20.000 80
Children 10.000 40

The tickets can be purchased at the International Airport Mataveri, In the central office Indigenous comunity Ma'u Henua, Atamu Tekena street (Next to the chemist's) And in the offices CONAF,In Mataveri section. Mataveri Otai s/n, Easter Island. Phone: (+56) 322100236 - 322100827, email: consulta.oirs@conaf.cl.

The validity of this entrance is of ten days after the first control performed (stamp with the respective date of entry to a site).


  • This trekking is described in full detail in the following topoguide of the Ministery of Public Patrimony. The printed guide can be obtained for free in the Ministery:56-2-3512100 -> 2325. It is hihgly recommended to take it to the walk, as it enriches the experience with descrptions of flora, fauna, geography and geology.

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