Towering Under the Giants of the Rano Raraku Quarry and Tonjariki of Easter Island, Chile.
The most famous sights on Easter Island include the Rano Raraku quarry and Ahu Tonjariki. Both are world class archaeological tourist attractions that are worth the long distances to get there.
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: Towering Under the Giants at the Rano Ranku Quarry and Tonjariki, Easter Island, Chile.
Today’s activities were a continuation of the tour that we had started earlier in the day with Easter Island Travel. For the earlier part of the day, please see our earlier visit.
After the earlier visit to Vinapu, Hanga Poukura and Akahanga, we travelled onward to the two main sights for today: the quarry at Rano Raraku and the largest collecting of moai on display at Tongariki.
Towering under the Quarry at Rano Raraku:
We travelling onwards to Rano Raraku; the quarry and the initial carving site for more than the 900+ moai around Easter Island. The quarry was the market where you could buy a moai for your ahu and have it (presumably) transported to your village. The top knots were made a different volcanic rock from elsewhere on the island.
The Government of Chile has it set up that you can only visit the quarry once per $80 USD park pass. I assume this is due to crowding and capacity concerns, but it was pretty quiet on our visit. It’s a bit sneaky because I would have loved to spend lots of time here on this or a future return visit.
Arriving to Rano Rakaku:
We stopped near the entrance to get some initial photos. It was very impressive with the mountain in the background with the light hitting it just right.
We went up to the admission gate and a through walk throughout the property.
The Moai Statutes:
Most of the moai statues were buried over time due to hill erosion up to their heads. Some are just peering out from the ground. It was also reported that the quality of the statues are better when they are covered (and buried) as they are not subject to water and weather erosion. As a result, there were no plans to have the site excavated, although there have been some projects to excavate individual moai. You can get a perspective on how big these giants actually are by the size of them compared to the humans standing next to them.
It was very surreal to be wandering through these giants. What did they see? Who were they designed for? It was amazing and I could have spent days taking photographs of them and hanging out watching them. MrsWT73 took a more jaded view towards them; “They’re a bunch of rocks – you’ve seen one you’ve seem em all. It’s hard to fault that logic at times but I still really enjoyed myself.
Cutting a Moai from the Quarry:
We continued upwards towards the top of the quarry. We saw the areas where they were cut out from the volcanic rock. You can see a few peeking outwards from where construction and carving just stopped.
There was a breathtaking view from the top. One could see both the quarry and the coastline for miles.
The Only Kneeling Moai: Tukuturi
From the top, we wandered around the corner to see the only kneeling moai; Tukuturi. He’s best described as a short eared warrior who was kneeling.
From this vantage point, you could also have distant views of Ahu Tongariki, which looked spectacular amongst all the blue sea in the background..
We had to pass through the quarry to get access to the other side of the site.
Hiking the Short Crater:
Our guide Patricio took us up on a short hike to the crater. It wouldn’t be Easter Island without some wild horses running through the park being herded off by management.
We climbed about 10 minutes up to the crater and discovered a crater basin. There were yet another series of moai statues in the top side of the mountain. We were not able to get too close to these. We just appreciated their view from the distance.
We headed back down to the base of the quarry and had lunch at the base. It was a needed re charge as we had been on the go and it was nearing 2 PM.
After a snack and re-charge, over to Ahu Tongariki for a second and last look at this magnificent site for this trip. Our second visit was in the late afternoon, which was ideal for photographs since the setting sun lights up the statues in a way that allows for great photographs.
According to our guide Patricio, the center moai is the most senior, followed by placements around them (as opposed to numerical seniority starting from each or one end). The tallest statue was suggested to be as a result of a strong economy and not by any one tall person; meaning that the villagers could have purchased a larger statue as opposed to a smaller one.
In terms of recent history, the civil war had seen the moai statues pushed over. The site was then mowed over by a tsunami from Chile in 1960’s which resulted in a large amount of damage. The sit was then re-created by a Japenese crane construction company Tadano Limited, which took 4-5 years depending on which account of the story you read. The project was reportedly chosen by the Japanese company as the Ahu Tonkariki sight was also the land of the rising sun. The company maintains some cranes on the island.
We also located and inspected some petro glyphs in the areas, including turtles and fish. These were located just set back in land from the 15.
The last 16th moai lay nearby and did not get placed when they all of a sudden stopped construction.
The sight is totally majestic from every angle. I couldn’t get enough of it.
We took some funny photos. How do you resist this?
The Travelling Moai at Ahu Tonjariki:
On our way out, we stopped for a last look at the travelling moai. The travelling moai visited Osaka, Japan in 1982. It later returned to Easter Island; later reunited to it’s family.
We returned to town and were dropped off at the Hotel Taura’a by Patricio. It was truly and excellent tour and he was a wonderful source of knowledge for our day.
The Rapa Rock Bar:
We dropped off our day supplies and immediately headed out for a sundowner cocktail. We ended up at the Rapa Rock Bar; which was recommended to us by one of the LATAM flight attendants as the IPC aircrew bar. It completely fit the bill of an aircrew bar. It was 5 minutes beyond every other waterfront restaurant / bar, with prices that were 20% cheaper. It was also totally deserted when we enjoyed Pisco Sours’ on the deck.
Sunset at Ahu Tahai:
After our apperativo, we walked about 20 minutes up to Ahu Tahai to watch the sunset. Ahu Tahai is just outside of Hanga Roa and is the place to see the sunset in Hanga Roa. Watching the sunset silhouetted behind 4 moai will be something that is seared into my travel mind for quite some time.
My Impressions of Spending Time with the Moai:
All in, it was a pretty spectacular day for us. I really enjoyed the experience of seeing these massive sculptures and the legacies that they have experienced through their lives.