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Nearly all of Easter Island is within the confines of Parque Nacional Rapa Nui, in an effort to protect the island's moais, petroglyphs, beaches, and 20,000 archaeological sites. Conaf (tel. 32/210-0236; www.conaf.cl) administers the park and charges a $10 (£6.70) entrance fee at their office in Orongo that is good for all sites during the length of your stay. The best way to tour archaeological sites is with a knowledgeable guide, but plenty of travelers go it alone and at their own pace with a rental car. Either way, if it's high season, reconsider taking a tour with a large group as it seems to spoil the mysterious ambience of the island. Important note: It is imperative that travelers understand that all archaeological sites and the moai statues and their ahu platforms are considered sacred and should not be walked upon or altered in any way.

The best tour guides in the area are bilingual Ramon Edmunds and Josie Nahoe Mulloy, who form Haumaka Archeological Tours (tel. 32/210-0274; haumaka@entelchile.net); unfortunately they can be quite busy during high season, so contact them well in advance. Aku Aku Turismo (tel. 32/210-0770; www.akuakuturismo.cl) is a competent tour operator with bilingual guides and large group half-day tours around the island, including boat tours and horseback riding.