Travelogue – Highlights of Day 5 – Rapa Nui:

Rano Raraku Crater and Lake, Papa Vaka Petroglyphs and Garden and Paro the fallen Moai at Te Pito Kura

The view from the entrance of Rano Raraku’s crater, next to the quarry where the moai were carved.
The view from the entrance of Rano Raraku’s crater, next to the quarry where the moai were carved.

Day 5 (Part 1)

I woke up at about 3am and something was amiss. It was quiet outside. The stormy weather had died down. This could just be a lull I thought, but what if it holds? I reset my alarm and went back to sleep, holding thumbs.

I was up early. It was still dark, but everything seemed calm outside. The owner of the B&B had a full-time tenant who worked at Rano Rarako and I was hoping he would give me a lift with the aim to hike from there right around the north coast.

Considering the forecast I knew it was a bit ambitious, but at the very least I would get to see the inside of the crater behind the quarry at Rano Raraku, which I didn’t see the day before.

Rano Rarako - inside the crater - lakeside - entrance area - sand, stones and trees
First view, Rano Rarako crater entrance area – sand, stones, trees, lake
Rano Rarako - Moai on the inside wall opposite the crater lake - Rapa Nui
I decided to explore a path to the left: Looking across I could see moai dotted on the inside wall opposite the crater lake
Rano Raraku crater - Vantage Point Lake View (2) - Rapa Nui
After ascending the slope halfway around the crater, I was rewarded with an exhilarating view of the lake, as well as the valley behind me. I took my time to appreciate it all, with sunshine filtering through the clouds from time to time.
Flowers and Boots - Hiking Easter Island
Trudging through high grass and morning dew. 
Hiking around the lake - Rano Rarako Crater - Easter Island - June 2015
Lakeside View – trekking around the crater
moai obeserving from above - Rano Rarako - Rapa Nui
A moai peering over a mound from the slopes above.

The weather remained clear and it was turning out different than expected. After about two hours (with one hour being completely on my own) in and around the crater I prepared to set off for my journey around the Rapa Nui north coast.

Walking past Tongariki again, I continued along the main coastal road which then led me to eventually find myself behind the crater (in the distance, in the picture below) where I had been an hour or so before.

As I walked along the road some friendly locals stopped in a pick-up truck, saying in Spanish: “Amigo, where are you going? Can we give you a ride?” I thanked them for the offer and explained that I’m enjoying my walk and prefer to see how far I can go on my own. Several rental cars also passed me by.

I soon came across Rapa Nui horses grazing amongst yellow flowers of a lethal kind.  The evening before it was explained to me by Victoria, a Chilean guest at the B&B, that these flowers are the reason why some of the horses have been dying on the island.

Horses amongst Flowers - Easter Island North Coast
Horses amongst flowers – Easter Island north-east coast. These yellow flowers are from a plant species, Cotalaria, introduced to Rapa Nui in the 1980’s. The idea at the time was for the plant to help reduce soil erosion in critical parts of the island. However it turned out that a side effect of having them grow wildly is their toxicity to horses, which graze on them randomly and then become disoriented and dehydrated. Eventually the animals wander off in a daze and become ill from liver damage and perish. The previous day I noticed a “sleeping horse” while hiking – it must have been a recent victim of this phenomenon.

Further on I reached an archaeological site resembling a mini botanic garden, where I walked the paths and read the information boards.

Papa Vaka manavail and petroglyphs garden - Rapa Nui
This  site is known as Papa Vaka. ‘Manavai’ are traditional greenhouses. The Rapanui used these stone enclosures to cultivate and protect sensitive flora from strong winds and the elements.
Papa Vaka Petroglyphs of Octopus (heke) - Rapa Nui North Coast
There are several petroglyphs at Papa Vaka – this one is of a ‘heke’ (an octopus).

The next site I stumbled upon was that of a huge “fallen” moai, apparently toppled from its platform very many years ago.

Paro - fallen moai - Te Pito Kura - Rapa Nui
Paro, a toppled or fallen over moai at Te Pito Kura, one of the biggest on Rapa Nui, estimated at 10 metres and 82 tons.
Next to Te Pitu Kura - Rapa Nui North Coast
Rapa Nui North Coast with Te Pitu Kura in the foreground and Paro, the huge toppled moai behind it, with the extinct volcano Poike in the background.

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Continue to Day 5 – Part 2 >>

Exploring Easter Island (June 2015)
Photographs and text by Jean-Jacques Montagnier
Copyright © 2015 – All Rights Reserved – Gypsy Café


Explorer, Philosopher, Photographer


  1. Wolfgang

    A very vivid report with beautiful photos – thanks for sharing your experiences of discovering that amazing island, Jacques!

    • Jean-Jacques

      Thanks for visiting and commenting Wolfgang! Glad you enjoyed the pictures and the description.

    • Jean-Jacques

      Thank you for commenting JC – glad you like the pictures!
      Yes, it’s a place well-worth visiting. It being so remote
      and also having so may points of interest caused me to make
      extra effort with blogging about it. I think we can learn
      something from a place like Easter Island, in relation to
      resource management and conservation. I might write about
      that later in one of the columns. I’ll have one more post
      up about Easter Island in the next couple of days.
      Thanks for visiting!

  2. Diana Graham
    Diana Graham Reply

    Hello there Jaques, Thank you for these interesting images and text. I’m thoroughly enjoying your experiences. Warm regards.

    • Jean-Jacques

      Hello Diana – great hearing from you and thank you for visiting and commenting!
      Blessings and warm regards from afar.

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