recommendations for a guide - easter island
recommendations for a guide - easter island
My wife and I were spent our 30th Anniversary on Rapa Nui in July 2012 and researched tour guides, tours and general information through the last year before our trip. We normally like to tour on own but based on all we read, it seemed like a Tour Group was going to be the best option to really see and learn about the Island. Several hotels offer to arrange tours for you when you arrive so arranging your tour in advance really isn’t necessary. They all have space and based on weather changes, cancellations are frequent so you can get in with little difficulty. Most hotels have staff with great connections so they will find you a tour to get on if you run into problems.
We spent 6 days on the Island. Everyone has different opinions of how much time you need but to be very honest, you want to "absorb" the Island so give yourself as much time as you can. This is not NYC, so stop and smell the roses. Also giving yourself extra time will give you cushion depending on what happens with the weather which is very unpredictable. Plus the flights in and out are so horrible timing, you may want to get caught up on your sleep.
We were going to go with a Tour Group through our Hotel (we stayed at Hotel Taha Tai) but through here in Trip Advisor saw a posting about a private guide by the name of Carlos Cabezas (CabezasCarlos@hotmail.com) whom the traveler HIGHLY recommended. Given he has no website and DONT bother trying to call the Island, he is great with emails, we decided to gamble and hope the Trip Advisor comment was good. Turned out, using Carlos and the advice we got, was THE BEST THING we did besides giving ourselves 6 days to explore and relax and enjoy the Island! Don’t get me wrong, YOU can see everything in three days and probably four or five is perfect but give yourself time to absorb the Island, plus your on vacation, so enjoy the time off!! Its an amazing Island, but NOT someplace you will come back to every year or every other year for that matter, actually you probably will never go back as there is only so much to see and do and its so painful flying to get there...
So getting back to Carlos! He is amazing. He has been on the Island for over 11 years with his GF. He is Chilean from Santiago but has traveled around the world. He speaks English fantastic but is obviously fluent in Spanish and his GF speaks Chezk and I believe he speaks French too. He prefers to not do groups that only speaks Spanish. Kind of odd but there as so many guides on the Island that speak Spanish, he doesn’t want to compete with them. HE IS NOT Island Certified Tour Guide.. but NO BIG DEAL.. this is largely a political issue as he has applied to be certified often and they are not open to certify non permanent residents. So that is NO issue and frankly we felt it made him much more impartial and gave us information with NO bias!! Even though he isnt Island Certified, all the Tour sites Park workers knew him so there appears to be no animosity that he isn’t certified. Frankly we thought its crappy they wont Certify him but suspect this happens with many that are not Rapa Nui. Keep in mind his English and translations were incredibly valuable too!
Carlos is really amazing. He picked us up each morning at our hotel, took us to lunches, made lunch for us when we climbed Mt Terevaka, gave us advice on Restaurants, banks, etc.. etc. etc.. and even information on what to do in Santiago for three days after we left Rapa Nui.
There as so many great things about Carlos we could go on for hours. He will give you as much information that is available on the history of the Island, he will share all the theories and perceptions.. he will give you the information that everyone has collected and LET YOU decide what really happened. He is so impartial and patient it was amazing!
We spoke with others that were in groups and watching and hearing they were herded like cattle. If you didn’t speak Spanish it was often frustrating plus they didn’t get flex time to leave when they wanted. If you prefer being with Groups, let your hotel arrange it when you arrive, but if you want flexibility, lack of bias, friendship, respect and English speaking.. Carlos or any private guide is the way to go.
Oh yea, the other part of Carlos, we arranged everything by email before we arrived. He required NO credit card information or deposit, we paid him after the tours were done, he does prefer Peso's but will take dollars if you prefer and after you confirm the dates you want to go he will be flexible on changes. He will recommend three days of touring and we highly recommend that. If you can walk, let him do the hike to top of Terevaka. He does a great job, there are NO Moai or Ahu but the views and air is amazing. He wil prepare lunch for you and you will eat on blankets at the top if you desire.. Let him take you to his favorite Empanada huts! They all are amazing!
ok.. Im sure you are wondering about cost. Here is a bit of advice on traveling to Rapa Nui. If you are concerned about costs and prices, I would encourage you to pick a different place to travel to. The word here is "experience". You are on adventure to experience a fascinating place and THE most remote Island on the Planet. If your worried about costs, dont visit the Island. Now, Im not saying its absurdly expensive, honestly its about the same cost of traveling to Tahiti or Kauai but its much more primitive and you have to realize, everything you get there is flown in or comes in by boat. While a lot of people complain on Trip Advisor about the costs on Easter Island, honestly I dont think its that unreasonable for where you are and putting things into perspective. Its remote location so its not cheap but its not like staying in Paris or London. So dont worry about the costs of anything.. All is a bit high but justifiable and really we didn’t think all was too expensive. You can do things less expensive on the Island if you take your time and ask questions! Now as far as Carlos, another great thing about him, his rates are the SAME as what you will pay if you do a group tour!! That is really awesome considering you have a private guide and your schedule for the same price as a group!! Depending on what you do his prices will vary but generally and exclude gratuity and exclude lunch. Keep in mind he is renting a car to drive you around so that is included in his cost. Tipping isn’t mandatory but it is becoming more frequent at 10%. For Carlos we would recommend at least 10% tip!
Feel free to email him direct and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to email us. We would be happy to share answers for any questions you have!
Good luck on your search, and keep in mind, anything you do will be fine.. don’t have your expectations too high.. this is a remote place and the conditions are nearly third world.. but.. most importantly this will be one of the most amazing fascinating trips you make in your life and everyone you know will be envious when you return!!
Art and Lorri
I preferred to use a local Rapa Nui guide. The people of Rapa Nui have limited sources of income and I wanted to leave my money with them. But it was a personal decision and each visitor can decide for themselves. It is in fact a big issue, mainland Chileans taking jobs locals can do and settling permanently on the island and it was one of the reasons for the occupation of the airport a few years ago under the previous government. But there is no doubt that it is a unique place to visit and worth the effort to get there.
Very true the Rapa Nui vs.continentals issue. Personally, I recommend respecting the locals on this one especially with the history of how the continentals treated the islanders for the hundred + years.
In my opinion and SERNATURs (a Chilean government tourism body) Josie Mulloy is the best guide on Easter Island. It should be noted however that she works mainly with travelers who are looking for a highly trained and educated guide with specific knowledge in a diverse range of topics pertaining to Easter Island, and is not a hire upon arrival, driver with a few tidbits type of guide. I think she's the best of both worlds as Rapa Nui is her culture and ancestral homeland, and she also has a relatable perspective having grown up in the US and mainland Chile for periods as well. A bio of Josie is below. I encourage you to consider her as an option if you'd like the absolute most informative and enjoyable time on the island.
Josefina ‘Josie’ Nahoe Mulloy – specialist on Easter Island
Daughter of a Chilean father, an American mother, and granddaughter of American archeologist William Mulloy who is responsible for the majority of archeological restoration on the island, Josie offers unique perspective, insight, and personal history to Easter Island. After growing up and receiving an education in the U.S., she relocated to her father’s homeland and shortly thereafter received ‘Top Guide of the Year’ in all of Chile. She is regarded not only as the most insightful guide on the island, but the most fun as well and she looks forward to sharing the mystery of Easter Island with you.
All my best in life's adventures,
what is her website
how to contact Josie ?
Dear Art, are you in Scottsdale? My husband and I are going to Rapa Nui in late December - I just wanted to know if you were local - I am going to try to contact Carlos from your great review.
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