When you depart Hanga Roa (the main town) you can drive around the island in about 1-2 hours if you make minimum stops along the way, but we have the car for 2 whole days so we may as well make the most of it.
The car we hired is great, but it’s falling apart which is actually needed on this island as the roads are TERRIBLE! It was a white knuckle ride from the second we departed the hostel. There are pot holes that are so deep, the roads are so windy that it is no surprise the speed limit is 30km/h in the town and 50km/h on the main roads around the island.
The first stop was probably 1 of the 2 most famous sites in the whole of the island - Rano Raraku (the Moai statue quarry essentially) which is home to The Rano Raraku volcano is one of the most incredible and extraordinary archaeological sites on the planet. In this magical place full of mystery, the Moai were made, the giant statues that have made Easter Island famous worldwide. The enormous figures and the quarries of the volcano surpass any expectation and get the traveller to be speechless when he contemplates one of the most fascinating wonders of humanity. This is the sit where the giant Moai heads protrude out of the ground but with no body – totally mind blowing.
Between the finished figures that rest at the foot of the volcano and those that still remain on the outer and inner slope of the same, apparently a total of 397 Moai have been counted. This is the area of the island where the largest number of statues is concentrated, almost 40% of the total.
The next stop on the list was the infamous Tongariki - Ahu Tongariki is the largest ceremonial structure built on Easter Island and the most important megalithic monument in all of Polynesia. It represents the zenith of the sacred constructions called ahu-moai that were developed in Rapa Nui for more than 500 years.
According to history and the internet, the central platform, whose axis is oriented to the rising sun of the summer solstice, measures almost 100 meters long and with its wings or original lateral extensions reached a total length of 200 meters. During the last final phase of construction of the ceremonial altar, Ahu Tongariki held 15 Moai, which made it the platform with the largest number of images of the whole island – so impressive!
Well there is some history for you! It really is such an interesting place here full of so much history as well as mystery but rich in culture and archaeological wonder. In the evening we attempted to watch the sunset, but we were both exhausted it was a pretty early to be evening filled with empanadas – SHOCKER, and questionable vegetables. Side note- as everything here is imported, pretty much all fresh food is gross by the time it arrives. Yet it costs 4x more than anywhere else on the planet.
Heading back to Tongariki first thing in the morning for sunrise – wish us luck the weather will be good!