Earlier this year I visited the worlds most remote inhabited island located in the South Pacific ocean called Rapa Nui, or, as it is more commonly known Easter Island. Here are some of my thoughts and experiences whilst on my 7 day trip out there.
Easter Island (Rapa Nui: Rapa Nui, Spanish: Isla de Pascua) is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the south-easternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues called Moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park. It is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. The nearest inhabited land (around 50 residents in 2013) is Pitcairn Island, 2,075 kilometres (1,289 mi) away and the nearest continental point lies just in central Chile, 3,512 kilometres (2,182 mi) away.
Above you can see two of the the three volcano’s that the island is made up from, directly ahead (North East) you can see the Terevaka summit on the horizon, and far right in the very distance is the Poike peninsula, the third volcano is Rano Kau which I am standing on making this image. All three are extinct, the last time Easter Island witnessed any volcanic activity was over 800,000 years ago.
The Moai are said to have been carved and erected between the years of 1100 – 1680CE. It was believed that the living had a symbiotic relationship with the dead in which the dead provided everything that the living needed (health, fertility of land and animals, fortune etc.) and the living, through offerings, provided the dead with a better place in the spirit world. Most settlements were located on the coast and most moai were erected along the coastline, watching over their descendants in the settlements before them, with their backs toward the spirit world in the sea.
Interestingly, all the upright Moai you see today have been re-erected in the past 100 years or so. Clan fighting led to all of the statues being toppled sometime in the 1700’s, Captain James Cook noted on his first trip there in 1744 that some of the statues were lying face down having been toppled in war, when the British ship HMS Blossom arrived in 1825 it reported none left standing on the island. Below are a few shots of the toppled Moai, please click on the thumbnails to enlarge.
Hanga Roa is the main town, harbor and capital of Easter Island. It is located in the southern part of the island’s west coast, in the lowlands between the extinct volcanoes of Terevaka and Rano Kau. The population of 3,304 (2002 census) comprises 87 percent of the total population of the island. Here’s a few photos from around the town and the coastline it sits on. The coastline of the Island is mostly volcanic rock and if you search carefully you can find faces and other carvings from the islands history in the rocks along the shoreline
My first evening there I was walking along the waters edge just north of the town Hanga Roa with my camera when I heard a galloping behind me, I turned and jumped out of the way just in time as a wild horse galloped past being chased by a pack of dogs, I manage to take a shot in disbelief before they all disappeared over the hill and out of sight, it was all over almost as quickly as they appeared, quite surreal and would be the first of a few very unique experiences I had there and will probably never have anywhere else on my travels.
As the sun started to set on my first evening I left Hanga Roa and walked a few minutes north up the coast to take some photos of the Ahu Tahai, an Ahu is the platform onto which the Moai are placed. The Tahai Ceremonial Complex is an archaeological site restored in 1974 by the late Dr. William Mulloy, an American archaeologist, Tahai comprises three principal ahu from north to south: Ko Te Riku (with restored eyes), Tahai, and Vai Ure. Visible in the distance from Tahai are two restored ahu at Hanga Kio’e. As the sun disappeared below the horizon the clouds glowed orange, it was quite a show for the end of my first day here and one of them sunsets you only see via weather patterns that occur in the middle of an ocean over an island.
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**excerpts take from the Easter Island wiki page.