After trekking around on a self-guided walking tour of Hanga Roa during my first few hours on Easter Island, it was time for my first official tour of the island.

My first tour takes me to the South West area of the island (the lower left section of the map below)

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My first destination is Ahu Vinapu. And my first orientation on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), the Ahus and the Moai.

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An AHU is the stone platform on which the Moais are placed upon. They are actually sacred ceremonial platforms which, among other things, became burial locations as well… as ashes of ancestors would be scattered across the ahu and bones would be inserted.

Vinapu is an example of many of the 313 Ahu on the island. During a period of civil war, all the Moai on Ahus were toppled. (The ones you see standing are due to restorations in recent history). There are around seven moai at Vinapu. Because no Moai are standing… Vinapu isn’t as spectacular as other locations around the island.

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But what makes Ahu Vinapu unique is that it exhibits stonemasonry similar to that of Machu Picchu in Peru at the back of the Ahu.

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The blocks are carefully fitted slabs of basalt put together with no form of mortar.

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Also behind the Ahu you will see remnants of older Moai. During the stages of an Ahu, the Moai are sometimes placed with bigger ones over time. Older ones are sometimes recycled and reused for other parts of the Ahu.

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This is my first close-up encounter with a pukao. Also referred to as “Red Hats” or “Topknots”.  These are the ones placed the top of some of the Moai. An explanation of this in another post. (Wikipedia reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pukao)

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It was quite breezy here. Strong cold winds from the coast.

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Our next destination was the Orongo on Rano Kau.

We make our way up Rano Kau to this nice Visitor Center

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The main thing at the visitor center is to buy a ticket to the Rapai Nui National Park which allows you into Rano Kau and Rano Raraku. The ticket cost is USD $60.

NationalParkTicket

After a short trek…

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You get to the awesome rim of Rano Kau. A far different view from our own Pinatubo and Taal Volcanoes. While there is water inside its crater lake… its like a swamp inside.

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It was so windy up there… look at my jacket!

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At the top of Rano Kau, facing the coast is Orongo.

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What makes Orongo interesting is that it is a stone village with a ceremonial purpose. This was the location for the “birdman” games. It was a form of Olympic games during a time when the various villages were battling each other due to scarce resources.

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These stone houses were shelter for the participants of the games. This only served as shelter from the strong winds… and this they were stone. They entered through those small openings.

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The objective in the games was to race to Moto Nui (that island in the background) and bring back a Sooty Tern egg.

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That was the end of my tour for Day 1 on Easter Island… I would have a series of awesome tours for the next two days which begins with a trip to Ahu Akahanga and a visit to the Moai quarry at Rano Ranku.