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Easter Island – Tourist Information

Easter Island also known as “Rapa Nui” or “Isla de Pascua” is a mysterious open air museum with massive stone statutes (Moai) dotting the coastline around the island. Officially the Island is a territory of Chile and one of the worlds most isolated places, situated on a triangle of volcanic rock in the South Pacific over 2,000 miles from the nearest population centers of Tahiti and Chile.

The island is known as one of the world’s most sacred sites, famous for its giant stone busts, built centuries ago, they reflect the history of the dramatic rise and fall of an isolated Polynesian culture.

Early settlers called the island “Te Pito O Te Henua” (Navel of The World). It was named Easter Island by a European, Admiral Roggeveen who arrived on the island on Easter Sunday 1722. Locally today it is known as Rapa Nui.

There has been much confusion and controversy as to the origin of the Easter Islanders. Some think Peruvians built the statues, some feel the Island is a piece of a lost continent. DNA has proven that Polynesians were the first settlers arriving around 400 AD from the west in large boats. This is seen as remarkable given that Easter Island is such a great distance from other land. Legend has it they were looking for other land as their own island was being swallowed by the sea.

The island was a paradise and the islanders prospered — archaeological evidence shows that the island was covered with a variety of numerous trees, including the largest palm tree species in the world. The natives used the bark and wood for cloth, rope, and canoes. Birds were plentiful and provided food. The climate was mild and the water provided an abundance of fish and oysters.

Their religion developed with its centerpiece the giant moai, or heads, that are the island’s most distinctive feature today. The moai, are scattered around the island and supposedly depicted their ancestors. This was likely considered a blessing or a watchful eye over each small village. The ruins of the Rano Raraku crater, the stone quarry where hundreds of moai sit today, show how these figures were important. The birdman culture (as seen in the petroglyphs) was obviously the islanders’ fascination with their ability to travel to distant lands.

In addition to the statues, petroglyphs (rock carvings), traditional wood carvings, tapa (barkcloth), crafts, tattooing, string figures, dance and music, the islanders possessed the Rongorongo script, the only written language in Oceania. As time went on confidence in their religion was lost as disagreements broke out. This is reflected in the ruins of the moai statues which were deliberately toppled by human hands.

At its peak the island had more than 10,000 population, straining the capability of it’s ecosystem. As a result lush palm forests were destroyed for agriculture and the massive statues, and resources became scarce. The once thriving advanced social society descended into a bloody civil war, and apparently cannibalism as they ran out of food sources. The islanders tore down the statues, that today have been re erected by archaeological efforts.

Through contact with western civilization, slavery and disease the island population by around 1800 had dropped to approximately 110. Around 1888 following the annexation of Chile the population rose to more than 2,000. Despite the Chilean presence there is still a strong Polynesian identity.

The Rapanui people are extremely friendly and the landscape is amazing with its volcanic craters, lava formations, beaches, brilliant blue water, and archaeological sites.
Access is from Chile and Tahiti, tourism on the island is run by the Rapanui themselves. There are many package tours and various hotels and guesthouses on the Island. There are opportunities to stay in a private home, a great way to experience the island and local culture. In late January to early February the islanders celebrate Tapati, a festival honoring the Polynesian cultural heritage of the island

There are a series of ongoing excavations, conservation and preservation projects.All but one of the 22 standing statues in Rano Raraku Quarry interior have been previously exposed through unscientific and undocumented digging.

The Easter Island Statue Project (EISP) has a 20 year history of an archaeological survey, the objective of which is the creation of a complete, full, island-wide monolithic and portable statue inventory and the compilation of an historical image record for each.

In 1982 the EISP team started a 5 year Easter Island Statue Project, mapping the interior of Rano Raraku, the volcanic quarry from which 95 percent of the statues were created. Over one thousand statues were documented throughout the entire island and created the world’s largest archaeological archive

Rano Raraku, a volcanic crater on the island’s eastern plain, was the source of the sideromelane (basaltic) from which 95% of the statues were carved. This source is irrefutable as there are 397 in situ statues, of which 141 in various stages of completion have recently been mapped by EISP in the interior quarries. Much rarer statue lithologies are basalt (hawaiite lavas) from three named regions.

There are only 20 statues which were carved of basalt. Of these, 7 are in museum collections. The British Museum holds two basalt statues.

The Island is extremely small, so it is possible to get around fairly easily. There are rental cars, usually jeeps, as well as dirt bikes. With a car, you can see most of the sites on the island in a few hours.

The biggest tourist attractions are, of course, the Moai. All of the sites, are free and are mostly found along the coastline of the island. Two exceptions are the volcanic craters of Rano Kau and Rano Raraku. “Rano Raraku” is where the moai carvings were created by hundreds of laborers out of the volcanic rock. A visitor can see various stages of the carving and partially finished statues in this 300 foot remnant of a volcano. Rano Kau, the remains of a volcanic cinder cone, has a spectacular mottled unearthly appearance. Both craters are filled with fresh rainwater. There is a combined entry fee currently at $60 US. Make sure to keep your ticket.

Easter Island features two white sand beaches. Anakena, on the north side of the island, has an excellent bodysurfing location. The second is Ovahe, along the southern shore of the island near Ahu Vaihu, this beautiful beach is much larger than Anakena and is surrounded by breathtaking cliffs. Scuba diving and snorkeling is popular near the islets Motu Nui and Motu Iti (well known for “The bird man culture”).

There is an extensive cave system with a couple of “official” caves and numerous unofficial caves on the island. Many of the openings to the caves are small but open up into large, deep and extensive cave systems. These are not to be explored on your own and can be damp, slippery and dangerous.

Most of the commerce on the island occurs in the port town of Hanga Roa. There are a number of small shops, as well as an open market and approximately 25 restaurants with limited menus, although there is a wide range of fish.

All in all Easter Island is a remote spectacular destination offering a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

 

 

Written By Avril Betts CHA

Article source: http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/easter-island-tourist-information

Maldives – Breaking the myth of being expensive

Sitting on the plane and gazing out of the window to see picturesque islands surrounded by crystal clear ocean waters. You get down at the humble airport and proceed towards immigration. Getting your visa is a cakewalk as no pre-arrival is required to enter this country. So, you get your visa stamped with the blink of any eye, grab your baggage from the conveyor belt, through customs and then make an exit directly on the arrival at the ocean shore itself. You have happily arrived at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport at Male, the capital of Maldives.

Maldives is known for its exquisite and breathtakingly beautiful islands and beaches. There is also, no denying of the fact that some of the resorts charge you handsomely for the luxuries that they offer. However, the big myth associated with travelling to Maldives is that it is only for those who have deep pockets and are ready to shell out a fortune. You may not exactly picture Maldives with long-term travel or even independent travel, for that matter, but it would be a mistake to consider this country only for the rich and wealthy.

Maldives can be a part of your round the world itinerary and can certainly be done on a budget. This could be one beautiful experience without hurting your pockets too much.

Getting There

Fares from India (South Asia) or Malaysia/Singapore/Philippines (South East Asia) for roundtrip to Male could cost you as low as $250 USD. There are host a cheaper options available in terms of flights and most are short haul flights (Air India, Etihad, Sri Lankan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Emirates, British Airways and much more). As your round the world ticket would have been booked in advance, you are almost certain to land a handsome deal to fit in Maldives in your itinerary.

Myth Busted: Getting to Maldives is certainly not an expensive proposition and once you are flying from Asia, it is reasonably convenient and easy.

Visa

All nationalities are issued a free visa by the Maldivian Government. There is no such thing as a pre-arrival visa requirement. So, no headaches or prior planning for getting any visa.

You can check this fact from the Maldives Government website itself.

Myth Busted: No visa requirements and formalities to be completed for getting your passport stamped. You just have to land up there.

Accommodations

Well, this certainly is at the heart of the subject. Maldives comprises of a host of big and small islands. Almost every island is home to a private resort and the concept of island hopping is certainly new. Given that the economy of the country and the livelihood of most of its people primarily depends on Tourism, there are a huge number of options when it comes to accommodations.

There are both expensive and luxurious resorts happily co-existing with budget resorts and guesthouses. It is also true that Maldives is still not on the list of typical budget travel or independent travel destinations and there aren’t any ‘cheap accommodations’ to be found.
If you want to go for a decent budget resort, you could get a handsome deal for as low as $100 USD per day which would include full board meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). You generally get free Wi-Fi along with air conditioning and hot showers. This could make some sense as you can add Maldives in your around the world trip for a decent budget. Some would call this not at all cheap but it is certainly not that expensive either.

Airbnb is a savior here. There are plenty of guesthouses spread across different islands that are listed with Airbnb and offer decent accommodation ranging from $25 USD to $ 100 USD a night. These rooms are generally clean and reasonably spacious and you can experience local life at one of the islands at affordable rates. The islands where you can get the taste of local Maldivian cultures and lifestyles are Hulhumale, Fulidhoo, Mathiveri, Maafushi and Guraidhoo.

Myth Busted: Maldives is definitely not only for the rich and wealthy. It is no more only a luxury destination but can be done on a budget as well. In the coming years, budget travel is almost there at its doorsteps.

Food & Drinks

The Maldivian platter is unsurprisingly full of seafood but there are great options. At guesthouses, the meals are affordable and reasonably priced between $ 12 USD and $ 18 USD. At the fancy resorts, the meals are generally included in the rates that they charge. Nonetheless, the breakfasts are anyways pretty heavy and you will find yourselves only going for dinner and skipping lunch on some occasions.

If you want to catch up on some spirit, it’s a mixed bag out there. Alcohol is prohibited by the Maldives government and is only available in the private resorts. So if you are going local on this, there will be no alcohol in store. On the resorts, the alcohol is reasonably priced where you can get a drink for as much as $7 USD or a beer for $ 5 USD.

Myth Busted: A myth associated with Maldives is that food and drinks are expensive. Be sure to be pleasantly surprised when you land there.

Transportation

Local ferries are the most commonly used mode of transport in this part of the world. The timing schedules of theses ferries are often on erratic but costs a meagre $ 3 USD per person for long journeys.

Speedboats are the other mode of transportation. A bit on the expensive side, costing around $ 50 USD to as high as $ 200 USD per person for a return trip. The resorts usually pick up their guests from the airport to their place of stay by speedboats and the cost is generally included in the cost of stay.

Myth Busted: Given the fact there is water everywhere and no other means to get to another place, island hopping for $ 3 USD and even $ 50 USD is certainly not a bad deal.

Excursions

Contrary to what you might think, excursions and activities can be done on a splendid budget. Snorkeling and Diving are the most sought after amongst travelers on the island country. Be sure to get mesmerized by the crystal clear waters, amazingly beautiful reefs and breathtaking aquatic life. Both guesthouses as well as the fancy resorts offer some value-for-money deals for getting to experience the beauty what lies in the ocean waters of Maldives. The price ranges from $ 50 USD to $ 130 USD per person.

Myth Busted: Either way, it is inexpensive to spend such money to get an amazing experience of a lifetime.

Final Take

Maldives can no longer be referred to as the playground for the rich and wealthy. Given the location of the country and prevailing factors, there is no point comparing budgets of your trips to South East Asia or Eastern Europe. Choose options that suit your style of travelling and be sure to land in paradise without having to shell too much.

 

Written By: By Tarun Arora

Article source : http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/maldives-breaking-the-myth-of-being-expensive

A Caribbean Inn From a forgotten time

An Old Fashioned Caribbean Inn On Bequia In St Vincent And The Grenadines

Old fashioned Caribbean accommodation is becoming rare, the Caribbean Inn or Guesthouse has not vanished entirely it isn’t often you will find one as charming as Julie and Isola’s Guest house on Bequia in the Grenadines.

Julie’s Guest House is in actual point of fact two guesthouses, one behind the other, and it is situated not far from the ferry landing pier in Port Elizabeth on Bequia., almost just across the road.

Typically Caribbean accommodation is simple, and perfect for the traveller who wants to visit the Caribbean, but doesn’t have much money to spend, but wants to experience the old fashioned holidaymaker’s lifestyle as opposed to the five star resort comforts and the life in a bubble that you get there.

Julie and Isola’s Guesthouse does exactly that. The accommodation is Caribbean, simple, clean and family run, in this case by the McIntoshes.who do a brilliant job from their own special rum punches to what is possibly

the best kitchen on Bequia.

To stay at Julie’s which by the way is very famous throughout the Grenadines will cost $39 for a double with no meals, $54 if you include breakfast, and $78 including dinner, all figures in US$.

The meals are delicious and famous Caribbean fare, and at dinner the menu is different each night, with the emphasis definitely on seafood. It is of course very fresh indeed, and Julie makes soups to die for.

Of the two guesthouses the one nearer the road is more modern, and roomy but noisy, so if you want the real Caribbean experience then stay in the older second guesthouse. The wooden verandah is just old Caribbean and whilst open and not in the least private does encourage conversation between fellow guests, and you will find much in common with the people who chooses this kind of old fashioned Caribbean Inn. It has to be said the walls are fairly thin in this second guesthouse, honeymooners be warned!!

The real charm of Julie’s guesthouse is the kindness, care and consideration, all honestly given, and are without equal anywhere in the world. This is a real belong to the family feel place that Julie and Isola have successfully run for over 25 years. The give out a huge amount of love at their Guesthouse on Bequia, and get loads back with many many people who can afford to, but won’t stay anywhere else.

One of the great things about Julie’s Guesthouse is its central position, convenient for the dollar buses and taxis which you will need to get yourself to Lower Bay and Friendship Bay. Take the bus because that means you travel with the local people, so you will travel to the sounds musical of the Caribbean.

Lower Bay is a great beach with a couple of restaurants/bars, and never too crowded.

Julie and Isola’s Guest House on Bequia in the Grenadines is true Caribbean accommodation at its very best, where you will be treated in a way you thought only your mother could, so because of this it is a real home from home. So if you wish to visit Bequia, then don’t even contemplate staying anywhere else.

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