Peru and Easter Island Day 12


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10th May 2010
My first morning on Easter Island and I am keen to explore, I head over for breakfast at 8.00 but it does not start until 8.30 so head back to my room to read my book until then.
Breakfast is served by Edith who runs the hotel and I have a cheese omelette, there is another family there who are leaving today and they said they have had rain everyday they have been there, I hope that is not going to be the case for me. A little later, Deb, Cheryl and Lorrie who arrived the same time as me last night joined us.

After breakfast we talk to Bill, Edith’s husband about what tours we can take, we decided on the full days South Coast tour that day that will be led by Chris, an American who now lives on the Island.

We start by getting some water from the gas station and then drive to the first site.

The first stop is Ahu Hanga Te’e, a site with eight fallen Moai and their Pukao (topknots). Some of these topknots fell into the sea when the Moai where toppled but were recovered in 1986. You can really see the red colour of these topknots. In front of the of the ahu is a pania (a ceremonial stone circle).

Next on our tour is Ahu Akahanga, as we arrive a local seller has set up a stall by the entrance and Chris explains the significance of some of the local items such as the Rongo Rongo tablet which contains ancient Rapa Nui writing.

Ahu Akahanga is also known as the “platform of the king” because, according to legend, the tomb of Hoto Matu’a is nearby. There is 4 Ahu, 12 Moai and 8 Pukao, a boat ramp, earth ovens and a small cave that we went it that contained lots of spiders on the ceiling.

We then went to what I think is the most impressive site on the Island, Rano Raraku. Rano is the Easter Island statue quarry and not only are there cavities in the volcanic rock where the moai were carved and removed but many moai are still in various states of completion.

This is where we had to pay the $60 park entry fee which is good for five days so hopefully will not need to pay anything again it has recently gone up from $10 which it was for many years. I don’t mind paying the fee if it helps to preserve the statues.

We walk around the quarry following the designated paths and are not allowed to touch any of the statues, we spend a bit of time here exploring all the moai. Chris explains that the statues are actually in pits buried up to their necks and only 1/3 of the figures are visible, this was so the sculptors could work on the statues back and face.

We walk around the hill a bit to see a moai still attached to the cliff, Chris shows us the tool that the sculptors used to carve the statues; it was basically a hard bit of stone that the used to bang against the soft stone of the moai. We continued to walk around and saw the kneeling moai which has had to have a fence put around it due to people having their pictures taken on it’s knee causing it to get damaged, someone has even carved their initials into its back.

We then walk a bit higher and come across “El Gigante” the largest moai ever carved at 65 feet and estimated to weigh 250 tons, it is still in it’s construction phase and would have been impossible to move if complete.

To finish our tour at Rano Raraku we walk up to the craters rim to see the fresh water lake that is inside. There is also a number of moai in here as well. On the shore of the lake there are a number of reed beds.

We walk back to the bus and move on to our next site, but before we do I have a quick look around the shop but to be honest it is not very good.

We then call at Ahu Tongaiki, probably one of the most photographed Ahu’s on the Island and the biggest. It contains 15 moai that have been recently restored after the Ahu was destroyed in the 1960’s by a Tsunami. On the approach to the Ahu you pass by a lonely moai know as the “Travelling Moai” due to the fact it went on a tour around Japan a few years ago. The size of the 15 statues is immense and with them being on top of their platform increases their scale as you look up at them. There is also some petroglyphs carved into the ground in front of the Ahu showing a turtle.

The penultimate archaeological site of the tour is Ahu Te Pito Kura which has the largest moai that was ever moved at 32 feet and 82 tons. It is also said that Te Pito Kura was the last statue to be pulled down, probably some time after 1838. we walk over to the left side towards the bay where there is a spherical rock about three feet in diameter with four smaller rocks around it. Legend states that Hotu Matu’a brought this stone from his original homeland. The stone is said to have special powers, in fact if you pass a compass over the stone the needle changed direction, which we tested out, I even tried it with my iphone and it did move around.

The final stop on the tour was Anakena beach. We first went to look at the platform with seven moai on it. These are some of the best preserved examples of moai on the Island as they remained protected and undisturbed buried in the sand until they were recently discovered and restored. This is also the site where the only moai eye was found and is on display in the museum which I will be visiting later in the trip.

After we finish touring around the moai we have some free time on the beach so I go and dip my feet in the water for a while, the water was quite warm and the sand was very white.

We then get the minibus back to the hotel; it takes us about 20-25 minutes to get there.

I then spend the rest of the evening exploring the town of Hanga Roa. I go down to the coast and walk about down there for a while. There are moai platforms everywhere and I stay by the one with the moai with the eyes until sunset. On my way back into town I am followed by a friendly dog. I spend quite a bit of time looking for somewhere to eat, my number one choice “Au Bout Du Monde” is closed so end up at a restaurant called Kanahau where I bump into the Canadian ladies so have my diner with them, I have the local fish on a bed of sweet potato, it tasted great.

I them get some water from a store and head back to the hotel and go to bed.

Pictures Coming Soon