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Which is best: guided tour or research?

USA
posts: 24
reviews: 23
Which is best: guided tour or research?

I'm thinking about renting a car and finding and seeing the sights on my own rather than taking guided tours.

The plan is to do lots of reading ahead of time and to take a few good books on the island, so I can know what I'm seeing. Will I miss out on much? To those who've studied up and taken tours: did you get much from the tours you couldn't have gotten from your own prep?

I just prefer going it alone, not dealing with groups, and wandering and exploring at will.

london
posts: 2
reviews: 19
11. Re: Which is best: guided tour or research?

Hi, we went to Easter Island in Feb for the Tapati festival and had a fab time. I so want to go back soon as I think the island has an incredible magic to it.

We spent some time with James from Easter Island Spirit. I think he works as the British Consulate over there and he also guides. He has lived on the island for years and can speak Rapi Nui, Spanish and English so his tour was invaluable. I think he has a website so go check him out.

I think having a guide adds so much context to what you are looking at and James also gave us tips on places to eat and more information on the Tapati festival as he also presents that each year.

Go for Tapati - the island really comes alive!

Canada
posts: 122
12. Re: Which is best: guided tour or research?

HI,

I hear you! We did not want to be tied to a tour group either. We felt limited in how much time could be spent at a place, if you're not too interested in one thing, you're obligated to stay there anyhow, and wait for the group OR if you wanted to be somewhere a bit longer than the group, you were a bit out of luck. There is a schedule to be followed afterall, and it just was not for us, although it does work for many other tourists.

We did not rent our own car either, even though you can. We REALLY read up on this place before we went, but what if the specific thing we were looking at had some sort of significance that you were not aware of.... it would just look like another rock carving. Not very interesting that way either.

We found a native taxi driver, and he took us around. His ability to speak english was great, and he explained how his family grew up, and what they belived the purpose of certain objects were, and why they don't touch them, or why they go to one place more than another... or why they do not climb on ahus, what the significance of a certain cave is, etc. It's a bit like North Americans too.. for example, we believe in dressing up for Hallowen... because of old tales and spirits... etc. and we celebrate with dress up and candy...etc. . Research books don't get into the depths of thier culture... they just tell you the names and locations of sites, and sometimes generalize. To hear a native person's perspective is a whole new learning experience

We asked the driver to make us a package deal, and bring us to one site in the morning and one in the afternoon... after a couple of hours at each we came back to the bungalow for a meal, and relaxation, change of clothes, camera download, etc. During this time, our driver had time to do local trips and still make money. He did this for the 2 weeks we were there, and it was great.. he even took our photos. We got to stay as long or little as we wanted - no crowd... no rushing. We were pleased with this option, and maybe it can work for you. Something to think about.

fozziegirl@excite.com

Seattle, Washington
posts: 12
reviews: 51
13. Re: Which is best: guided tour or research?

It depends on how you're traveling. I was traveling solo and when I got to Easter Island it rained heavily for the first 2 days. Sometimes if it rains really bad even the local bus tours will not operate. On the 3rd day, a Sunday, I finally ventured out only to find you that the tourist office was closed and so where the local "tour operators" (usually a mini-bus). I did not feel comfortable renting a 4x4 jeep by myself (that's all they rent to tour the island or something bigger and most places only rent vehicles with a stick shift), so the owner of my hotel was nice enough to call around and he put me on a bus that had just started doing the rounds to pick up the tourists at different locations. I did like the tour (they all do pretty much the same route) and they give you a good idea of what is where on the island. However if I could do it again and if I was with someone I would definitely rent a jeep (they are affordable if you split the cost) because it would be great to be able to go to the sites early in the morning or at sunset and just take your time to see the Moai (especially if you like photography like me, it's nice to get there when most tourists are gone or haven't got there yet). The roads can be really muddy and sometimes they look like trails. you have to be a good driver especially if you want to venture by yourself and keep in mind that, if you get stuck, you might have to wait for an hour or two before someone crosses the same path, although there are not that many roads on the islands and if you follow the maps, they usually keep on the right track. There are also beautiful quiet beaches on the island so if you have time, after seeing all the sites you can just relax at the beach (most likely you won's see anyone else there). Be aware though that there are sharks and they get pretty close to the shallow waters so check the warning signs!

14. Re: Which is best: guided tour or research?

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USA
posts: 24
reviews: 23
15. Re: Which is best: guided tour or research?

Since I started this post and my trip was quite a while ago, I should probably add my own thoughts on the matter.

I did lots of research, kept my complete guide to easter island handy, and went it alone with no guided tours. I was very happy with the choice. It was a lot of fun driving anywhere I pleased in my bumby little 4x4, dodging potholes, heading out early to Rano and the beach before anybody else arrived, spending as much time as I liked, and stopping anywhere an anywhere along the road if something caught my eye.

I felt very sorry and very lucky watching tour buses stop on one side of a site, then watching as its inmates filed past the moai toward the other side to immediately get right back in the tour bus on the opposite side.

My advice is: absolutely, positively rent a car. If you want to cut costs, you don't have to rent one for the entire trip. If you want to get the personal touch of a guide, try it out, but don't _only_ use a guide.

Frankly, I think you'll get much more exhaustive and accurate historical information from books than guides. The one guided tour I took was fun--it's nice to get the locals' perspective--but the information was skimpy compared to what I already knew from my advance research.

So, mix it up if you want the best of both worlds, but explore on your own, too!

16. Re: Which is best: guided tour or research?

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Fernandina Beach
posts: 23
reviews: 44
17. Re: Which is best: guided tour or research?

Good to hear you had a good trip, cxdexterhaven. I would only add that based on my 4 days on Easter Island last November, I would advise to do all three, given enough time. Read your guides, take a 1 day tour, and rent a vehicle for at least 2 more days. You can really get to know the place, the culture and history if you try a 'multi-disciplined' approach! Easter Island is truly a remarkable, unforgettable experience, isn't it?

Fernandina Beach
posts: 23
reviews: 44
18. Re: Which is best: guided tour or research?

Good to hear you had a good trip, cxdexterhaven. I would only add that based on my 4 days on Easter Island last November, I would advise to do all three, given enough time. Read your guides, take a 1 day tour, and rent a vehicle for at least 2 more days. You can really get to know the place, the culture and history if you try a 'multi-disciplined' approach! Easter Island is truly a remarkable, unforgettable experience, isn't it?

19. Re: Which is best: guided tour or research?

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