Chile has an extended coastline sparkled with endless islands.
Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. It is located at 3 700 km from the Chilean coast and 4 000 km from Tahiti and has about 5,800 residents, of which some 60% are descendants of the aboriginal Rapa Nui.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.
The island is best known for the mystery surrounding its people and the moai, monumental stone figures, which have intrigued travelers, scholars and artists for centuries. A total of 887 monolithic stone statues have been inventoried on the island and in museum collections so far. They were carved out of compressed volcanic ash found at a single site inside the extinct volcano Rano Raraku.
The islanders have practiced rites and ceremonies to honour certain deities or protect their people. Since 1975, The Rapanui sponsor an annual festival, the Tapati, around the beginning of February to celebrate Rapanui culture.
Chiloé, part of the archipelago carrying the same name, comes into sights after crossing the Chacao Channel. One is easily captivated by the authentic charm of the island and its inhabitants, the “chilotes”, descendants of Spaniards and the local huiliche people.
Chiloé is widely known for its distinctive folklore, mythology, cuisine and unique architecture. The mythology is based on a mixture of indigenous religions and the legends and superstitions brought by the Spanish Conquistadores.
The wooden architecture of Chiloé developed along two distinct lines: one, associated with Spanish settlers of the 16th century and another with German colonists from the mid 19th century. The colouful houses on stilts or “palafitos” and the famous wooden churches considered UNESCO world Heritage, have become one of the classic images of the island.
Though the cultural heritage of Chiloé definitively seems to take center stage, the area’s natural beauty is impossible to miss.