The Megaliths of the South Coast of Easter Island, Chile.
Easter Island has a lot of acheological sights that are worth exploring. While it can be easy to do self exploration, the sites at Easter Island aren’t well marked in terms of informative travel. Our third day on the island would have us taking a tour to be fully informed about the sites. Our investment was well worth it.
This post is one chapter on our trip to Mexico City, Mexico and Easter Island, Chile. This trip was enhanced through Alaska Mileage Plan and through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
Read More from This Trip
- Trip Introduction: Easter Island, Chile via LATAM Business Class and Alaska Airlines First Class
- Alaska Airlines Premium Class: Seattle – San Francisco
- The Westin San Francisco Airport, San Francisco, USA
- Alaska Airlines First Class: San Francisco – Mexico City
- The W Mexico City, Mexico
- Pujol Restaurant, Mexico City
- Quintonil Restaurant, Mexico City
- Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing in Mexico City
- Iberia One World Business Lounge, Mexico City
- LATAM Business Class: Mexico City – Santiago
- LATAM Business Class: Santiago – Easter Island
- The Taura’a Hotel, Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile
- The Coastline of Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile
- Driving to Ahu Tonjariki, Anakena, Easter Island, Chile
- The Megaliths of the South Coast of Easter Island, Chile
- Under the Giants at the Rano Raraku Quarry, Easter Island, Chile
- A Journey of Legends at Orongo Crater, Anakena and Puna Pau, Easter Island, Chile
- LATAM Business Class: Easter Island – Santiago
- LATAM VIP One World Business Class Lounge: Santiago International
- LATAM Business Class: Santiago – Mexico City
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Mexico City – San Francisco
- Virgin America: San Francisco – Seattle
Activity: The Megaliths of the South Coast of Easter Island, Chile.
We had breakfast at the Hotel Taura’a hotel, which was included in our room rate. I had researched on Trip Advisor and Easter Island Travel was the top rated tour. The comments generally favoured the depth and breath of experience of the tour guides.
Booking Easter Island Tours:
Going in, the website was professional and they offered a full Easter Island experience in two days / two tours. They also offered guided walks to some of the lessor known sites; a feature we would have used if we were staying for a longer period of time. We booked both tours about 5 days in advance at $90 USD per person per tour. They also offered fully private tours at $145 USD per person if that’s your thing. I was a little worried about the LATAM Easter Island Fare not being honored and didn’t want to end up with a whole bunch of sunk costs, which is why we booked late. In the end, I would recommend booking a little further in advance as we didn’t get our first choice of tour days and had to spend the first day on our own in Easter Island without a tour guide. Either way, their tours were excellent and I would easily recommend them.
Getting back to the day, we were picked up by Easter Island Tours guide Patricio. We had booked on the “Megaliths” tour today. There were only 2 other people in the tour so it was the 5 of us altogether for the day. Our guide Patricio had lived on the island of Rapa Nui for 40 years. He had many interesting stories of moving here and marrying a local Rapa Nui woman. He several great stories of having witnessed the island change from having only 6 cars to now several hundreds of them.
We went over to our initial site Ahu Vinapu which was just off the airport runway. It was a bit of a grey day this morning. We saw the cominbations and formations of new ahu landings versus old ones. This included an explanation of the precision that was used in constructing the ahu platforms. I didn’t realize that the ahu’s were sacred ground where the remains of the elders and family members were buried.
One rectangular piece is a great example of how precise the platforms were cut. It was “inca style” block cutting although it was not proven if the Incas from Peru had visited easter islald or whether the technique just made sense.
Most of the Rapa Nui history was passed down through oral traditions. As with other cultures, sometimes there are slight variences in the stories.
We also saw one of the few female moai statues that was remaining. It was a small upright column that had breasts on it. It was the sole one standing up in this photo and it didn’t look like much. It was unusal as all the other moai were of men.
We also learned about the civil war that occurred on the island. In short, we learned bout long ears versus the short ears. The long ears were the royalty of the island having likely wore decorations in the form of heavy earings that made their lobes stretch long. The long ears “employed” the short ears as their slaves. At some point, there was a civil war and the battle that resulted in many of the statues being toppled over. It also likely resulted in the freezing of moai construction projects as when the island was discovered, many elements were in a frozen state of construction.
The Coast at Hanga Poukara:
Departing the site, we headed over to Hanga Poukara. We looked at some jagged volcanic coast line. It was very beautiful with lots of water. Our visit today had lots of wild horses roaming through the coast. This was a similar feature to other visits we had on the island. I couldn’t figure out whether anyone owned these but they seemed to wander free all over the place.
We made it past the horses and over to the coastline. The rough rocks made it for a spectacular sound with the waves crashing ashore that photos don’t do real justice.
The ruins of Akahanga Village:
We left Hanga Poukara and travelled up the road to Akahanga, a site we visited yesterday. We looked at different areas. It was more symbolic with a guide as we were able to get the interpretations on many items. Overall the site was a large village like an inca village. We were able to inspect the small house foundations for sleeping (left side of the photograph). The houses, in that time, were just used for sleeping, and all the living (cooking, eating, cleaning) occurred outside of the sleeping area. You can also see the proximity of the houses to the fallen moai on the shoreline (in the distance).
Similar to the archeological ruins of Egypt, each site has some unique features to it that make them special and unique. At this site, we looked at several toppled moai with particular examination for the eye sockets and their formation. History described that most of the finishing touches for the moai were constructed when they were finally mounted on the platform. The moai were made to be representations of the elders of the community after they had passed away.
This particular site had some hieroglyphics carved into the nearby rock at the base of the toppled moai.
Unusually so, this was one of the only sites that had a toppled “baby” moai. It was reported to be initially on a local platform now resting on its back with a view of the ocean. It’s always hard to imagine the death of a child and I can’t help but wonder the circumstances of how this one became to be imortalized in a moai statue.
We wandered through the village looking at features of the toppled moai. The Akahanga site was among the largest of our visit so there was lots to see with the guide.
On our way out, we looked at at a shelter cave at AkaHenga. Again, it was just for sleeping in not for living in.
Te Ara O Te Mora:
We left Akahanga and headed up the road to Te Ara O Te Mora. All of the moai were chiseled from the Rano Raraku quarry, which was just up the road. Something happened on the island, either a civil war or population starvation, which caused all the production activity and moai to stop suddenly. Te Ara O Te Mora was an example of this: a massive maoi that likely weighed several tons that sat frozen in transit… miles from it’s final destination. It was similar to the mysteries of how the Pyramids of Giza were built.. did they get rolled? Dragged? It’s never been definitely or scientifically solved.
The site was again next to rugged coastline.
My First Impressions of Circumnavigating Easter Island:
We headed back to the rental truck and headed back to Hanga Roa; a full day of sightseeing accomplished. It was great to see the sights at your own pace but it was definitely lacking in full understanding since it’s an area that doesn’t offer a lot of explanatory plaques. We would get better understanding over the course of the next few days as we did our guided tours.