Exploring the moai

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
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Trip End Jan 19, 2007


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Thursday, June 8, 2006

Slept intermittently last night as dogs barking a lot nearby and as they stopped the cockerels started crowing (not sure why was middle of night!) and woke up v cold. In the morning realised had left patio door open which didnīt help on either of the above counts!

Got up for a brekkie (included)and then wandered down to main town area (one large street with a couple coming off it) to find out about tour options and how to get around the island. Wanted to do a tour today to get some background as guidebook info is limited and then tour ourselves tomorrow. Very few tour agencies open (think they all operate on S American time ie get up a lot later than we had!) and no tour to start today so decided to hire a jeep for 48 hours which would also enable us to get up for sunrise (great - just what we needed less sleep!!) Got the jeep for $100 with no insurance (none on the island but max speed limit is 60kmh). Island is only 24km long so in theory could walk it but didnīt think we would get to see too much of it. Went to market to get some picnic stuff and headed north up the main road through the central of the island to Anakena. Roads are pretty desolate and everyone drives pretty cautiously. Main road was fine but any other roads are very potholey or mud and def needed 4WD. Anakena is the site of some of the moai (big stone statues things we had come to see) and is on a lovely white sand beach (see photo). These maoi were restored in the mid ī50s as many were destroyed or fell down from a tsunami. Was a lovely position and the statues were impressives if a bit smaller than we imagined. Weather was quite warm and sunny but decided not to go for a swim yet!

Next went on the more difficult road and headed east to Ovahe and nice beach and cove and headed further east driving past Poike a volcano on the far east of the island. The landscape is pretty wildernessy with wild grasses and lots of black volcanic rock everywhere. Although the climate is pretty stable all year round not a lot grows on the outer bits of the island which makes it feel quite mysterious but is not as windy and wild as I imagined. Went to see more broken moai and their platforms (are built on lots of stones around them).

Then went to the main moai site of all the postcards - Tongariki - where there are 15 moai. These were a lot larger and more impressive along the coast edge. Wild horses roam around them which is nice too. After lots of photos headed further round to nearby Rano Raraku. This is another volcano (extinct fortunately) that you can climb up. On the way there are lots of carved statues of people standing and lying down which were cool. At the top of the volcano you actually peer into the crater which was beautiful with a lake and loads of reeds (see more photos!). Was really impressed with this and didnīt expect to see things like this here. Definitely a highlight!

Saw one of the wild horses lying down on the floor looking in pain. Saw a couple of cowboys herding horses nearby so Dave went to tell them about it. Were very dark and had scarves around their heads and no shoes. Looked almost intimidating at first. They werenīt that bothered (prob not their horse) but were dead nice recommending us what to do on the island.

Then further east down the coast road seeing platforms and broken moai on the way. Then drove up the middle of the island to Ahu Akivi for more moai and then the caves at Te Pahu. People lived in caves and had created a huge one here which was also a quarry (I think at some point). Then over to the west coast to the single moai on its own by the sea for sunset. Were a few clouds but was still nice.

That night were pretty shattered so made tea at the hostel. Rest of guests were Chilean or Spanish speakers and were cooking up various delights. Meanwhile we had a tin of spaghetti (that we still had from NZ) and made toast without a toaster by holding the bread over the gas burner of the hob. You could tell everyone was really impressed. Some of them offered us some of their food so they must have felt really sorry for us.

There is a triathlon and marathon on over the next few days so some people here for that. Pretty cool place to do it. One guy tried to persuade Dave to join in īyeah right?!
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