Rano Kau Volcano
Easter Island - Rapa Nui
Rano Kau is one of the four volcanoes of Easter Island and the most impressive. It is a world heritage site that is part of Rapa Nui National Park and is the closest volcano to Hanga Roa.
The highlight of the Rano Kau volcano is the crater. Don’t expect to see any bubbling lava in it since the volcano is now extinct however still prepare to be amazed by the sheer size of the crater. There is a lookout point that gives you a great view of it and being there to see the real thing will blow away any photos you may have seen of the crater before.
The crater is 1km in diameter (and 200 meters deep) and is filled with a lake, one of three natural freshwater reserves on the island. You will immediately notice that one of the parts of the crater wall (to the right of the lookout) has fallen into the sea. Within the next century the wall could lower to the level of the lake due to erosion from the ocean and drain it dry.
For another slightly different vantage point (for photos) walk up the hill to the left of the lookout. There is already a slightly worn path where many have done the same.
Near the Rano Kau Crater
Once at the top and perched on one side of the crater of Rano Kau you will find Orongo village which was once home to the birdman celebration. To get there (from the crater) just continue up the dirt road if you came by car, or you can follow the walking track to the right of the lookout point that goes along the side of the crater edge.
Also near here, before you enter the lower slopes of the volcano, make sure you check out the Ana Kai Tangata cave where you can still see some painted hands decorating parts of the walls.
How to get to Rano Kau
There are two ways to get to the top of Rano Kau to see the crater, by car or on foot.
From the main road of Hanga Roa head towards the airport and turn right. The road will go past a petrol/gas station on the left (the only one on the island) and continue all the way to the top. Note, it is a dirt track so may be muddy / slippery after rain. Keep an eye out for the Ana Kai Tangata Cave to the right before you start heading up the slope.
By Foot: There is a path that doesn’t follow the dirt road the cars take. You can start at the Ana Kai Tangata Cave and it is more or less signposted the whole way. If you get lost, just keep walking in an upwards direction :) Expect to take 3-4 hours and take water (and snacks) with you.
NOTE: Rob W. and Ange P. spent a week on Easter Island at the end of January 2013 to produce most of the information, photos and videos we have here.
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