Before “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, there was a push to create a more family friendly image of Las Vegas. As part of this “amelioration”, oversized replicas of two moai, typical Easter Island statues, were installed in front of the Tropicana Casino. Ever since I saw them, I’ve wanted to see the real thing.
Our trip began in Puymule, France. 15220km and 8 time zones later we landed in Rapa Nui a.k.a. Easter Island.
Ahu Tahai, the first real moai we saw, was right in the town of Hanga Roa. After unpacking my Brompton, I went to explore the nearby sites of Puna Pau and Ahu Akivi.
The next morning, I set off on a bike loop around the island. Julie wasn’t sure if she wanted to cycle or to hike, so I left on my own. For the first half of the way, I was following the seaside. There were many moai along the shore but most of them were toppled face down. So, I only briefly stopped at some sites and skipped others altogether. Guess who I bumped into half way through? Yes, Julie on a bike. After all, she decided to cycle but at her own pace. Together we checked out Rano Raraku, a quarry where moai were carved out and where the originals of those I saw at the Tropicana still stand. We went on to see Ahu Tongariki, the most stunning of all the moai of the island. Julie stayed there a bit longer to admire the statues and I headed towards Anakena, the only sandy beach on the island, next to an archeological site. Once there, I dipped in the Pacific Ocean, took a look at the moai statues, and turned back to Hanga Roa. Guess who I bumped into a few hundred meters from the hotel? Yes, Julie on a bike. I was really impressed: it was a hilly ride with a strong headwind, yet she made it.
The day after we hiked Rano Kau, one of the three volcanos that formed the island. The crater has its own ecosystem with vegetation endemic only to this place. The view from the rim is impressive. At the far end lays Orongo, an ancient ceremonial village that was the center of a Birdman cult.
Once back in town, the rest of the day was laid back.
Three days passed by quickly. I wish we would’ve had a bit more time there.
Easter Island in numbers:
82km – distance cycled
887 – documented moai on Easter Island
37 – of them are restored and re-erected on platforms
4m – moai’s average height
86t – the heaviest moai
324m – the height of Rano Kau, the extinct volcano I rode up