Exploring Amazing Rapa Nui, Easter Island

Rano Raraku is believed by many to be the Easter island’s most striking site. It shows exactly where the stone for the moai were taken from. Anakena beach close by provides a tropical environment for travelers to rest and swim.

The biggest volcano on the island is Rano Kua. It was a crater but is now filled with water and reeds. Orongo is a nearby ceremonial village that was the previous home of the birdman cult. It’s a village made of slab buildings which have been restored. There are birdman petroglyphs and cave paintings in the area.

Osterinsel Krater-Rano Kao (Easter Island).
Photo: ProfessorX

The birdman cult held an annual competition here during the manutara birds’ nesting period. One member of every tribe raced against one another to get the first egg. They had to climb down a cliff, swim across shark infested territory and wait for weeks for the first egg to be laid. The race back followed the same route, with the men having the added task of preventing the egg from breaking.

The first man to return with an unbroken egg was called the bird man and participated in a year’s solitary ritual. The final race was held in 1897. Because competitors were left wounded and bleeding from the cliff, they were frequently eaten by sharks in the sea.

The cult is said to have ended when another religious order took over. There is some suspicion that their take over was the reason construction was suddenly stopped on the moai. The guides from the area have plenty of knowledge about the tribes and ecological problems, so tours are best undertaken this way.

Further moai can be seen at Ahu Akivi, a ceremonial center where the sentinels are faced toward the sea. South America travel tours are incomplete without a trip to volcanic caves close by. Visitors can walk into them for some exploration. The Two Windows and Cave of the Banana are the most striking of these.