At least that’s what my guide map says. We did a lot of nothing in Rapa Nui, but we still managed to check out most of the major sights.
Just a few hundred meters from Pantu’s house was Tahai, where we saw our first Moai. These massive stone sculptures once stood watch over every village, standing in little rows with their backs to the sea.
Tahai is where everyone comes to watch and photograph the sunset behind these stone giants – in the evenings I liked to watch them all converge on the site like camera-toting zombies.
Of course, it does make for a cool picture:
Rapa Nui is shaped like a triangle, with an extinct volcano at each corner. The most impressive crater is Rano Kau, near the airport. Filled with marshland, it looks like miniature world down there.
Rano Kau is also the site of the Orongo ceremonial village, with some well-preserved stone huts and interesting petroglyphs.
To see the other sights around the island, we rented a little 4×4 one day. This time,it was my turn to learn how to drive a standard transmission.
We drove all along the coastal roads with the windows down, enjoying the smell of the ocean as huge waves pounded the rocky coastline.
Most of the moai lie in ruins, having been knocked down centuries ago at the hands of their creators. All those that stand today have been re-erected during the last century.
We saw the impressive seaside collection of moai at Tongariki,
And on the hill at Ahu Akivi, the only moai which face the ocean.
There are even a few at the island’s only major beach, Anakena, where we stopped to have lunch and cool off.
The girls found time to make a sand sculpture, too:
By far the most impressive site is Rano Raraku, the volcanic quarry where all the island’s moai were originally carved.
Here you can see dozens of moai in various stages of completion. Some are only partly carved from the mountain,
others lie strewn across the hillside, many buried up to their necks.
It was really cool to walk around these – so surreal. Of course, the real mystery is how these enormous statues were transported from here to the far corners of the island.
Probably the same way the pyramids in Egypt were built – with the help of aliens.