Rapa Nui National Park
Sunset on a Volcanic Coast
Easter Island is a strange, remote, and magical place. After a full day of wandering around this tiny island, we were fortunate enough to witness an absolutely breathtaking sunset over the Pacific. The "beach" here is made up of pitch black volcanic stone. I found it to be utterly fascinating.
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I've learned that some of the best times to be had when traveling, are when you wake up before anyone else. This, fortunately, is made easier when you travel towards the West. We decided that we just had to see the sun rise over the famous Easter Island Moai (these big, enigmatic statues). We woke up well before sunrise to take the 45 minute drive across the Island to this sacred stand. While the sun rose, we enjoyed a small breakfast picnic. The company was excellent; the view was magnificent.
While I still have my doubts that this Moai is authentic, and that it has somehow survived underwater in such pristine condition, while its above water compatriots have been so abused my time, and that it made it's way far off the shoreline to a conveniently beautiful coral reef without being destroyed what whatever natural disaster supposedly brought it here.... it was still a most memorable experience to scuba dive right up to it and say hello.
Purple taste explosion
Here you see mashed purple sweet potatoes. There is NO artificial coloring here. These potatoes are indigenous to, and grow only on, Easter Island. They were DELICIOUS, and I must say, quite a sight.
Heads in the Distance
As we walked back to our hostel from the main village of Rapa Nui, I noticed this small collection of ruins in the distance, detail worn away, but still majestic. I huddled in the flickering grass and captured the beings, still magnificent even when far away and out of focus.
Ahu Tongariki at Sunrise
We awoke long before sunrise and drove our car across the island to Ahu Tongariki, the picturesque, and probably most recognizable site on Easter Island. We had seen this once before in the daylight, but were anxious for the chance to see it at sunrise. We brought a blanket from our hostel, canned peaches for breakfast, and our tripods. We huddled together in the dark waiting for the sun to rise, and as it did, we marveled at the row of stone staring back at us. The morning was perfect until a local woman charged with guarding this ancient site spotted us from her tent up the hill, and angrily told us we were not allowed to camp here. Despite our protests and denials that we had slept below the heads, we trudged away giggling guiltily (although we were quite innocent), still exhilarated from the rising sun.
Ahu Tongariki @ Dawn
I always knew my trip to Easter Island (Rapa Nui) was going to be amazing, but nothing prepared me for this moment. After missing the sunrise the day before by 30 min, I had to try a second time. Ahu Tongariki is the biggest and most popular "line up" of Moai statues in the island - a must see at dawn. Upon arriving at the site at 5:15am, I walked into this mesmerising picture with the stars sparkling above. The serenity and mystery the statues emitted set the perfect scene as the first rays of light hit the imposing figures - I could just make up their shapes that had prevailed many other rises and sets. At that second I realised why Rapa Nui had been calling me for so long.
Rano Kau - Witches' caldron
This is one of the three volcanos that make up Easter Island. Also know locally as the witches' caldron for exactly the reason depicted on this photo. The issue is that the national park officially closes at sunset so, if like me you push your luck and stay on, you might find yourself locked up overnight...
another one of the 3 volcanoes that make up the island, Rana Roratka is where most Moai statues were carved and then moved onto its sitting place. It is estimated that it took 2 teams of 20 people 1 year to carve a medium size Moai. The quarry holds 100's of statues that were carved but not moved - an unbelievable sight...