RANO RARAKU /AHU TONGARIKI
RAPA NUI HIGHLIGHTS, RANO RARAKU, NURSERY OF THE MOAI AND DAZZLING AHU TONGARIKI
“Rano Raraku remins one of the greatest and most curious creations of mankind, a monument to the great lost unknown behind us….” Thor Heyerdahl
We had driven past the crater, one sees it from many vantage points, always a tease.
Across an expanse from the base of the crater, we first visited the incredible AHU TONGARIKI, with its infinite platform supporting 15 huge figures. It is the largest ceremonial platform anywhere in Polynesia, 220m (721′) from one end to the other.
Between 1992-96, a Chilean team headed by Claudio Cristino restored the platform with the support of the Japanese government who paid the $2 million cost. The moai, like all others on the island had been overthrown in past history, but suffered even more when the 9.5 earthquake (largest in human history) that struck Chile in 1960, caused a massive tsunami 11m (36′)high, that hurled pieces of the moai all over the area. With its eastern location, it suffered greatly.
We finally got to the quarry, the crater, the source of the rock for the moai, RANO RARAKU. What a thrill. It is the most special, of special places, on Rapa Nui, a sort of Wimbledon of primitive carving, a St. Peter’s for the soul. We visited more than once, as one should really do, to see the moai in different light. It is a marvelous experience to visit there.