From the peak of Rano Raraku (the decaying volcano that is the home of the astonishing Moai Quarry archaeological site) you have a view over the entire eastern promontory of Easter Island. A small bay cuts into the coastline about a kilometre from the peak. Next to the bay (one of the few natural harbours on rugged isle of Easter Island) lie the ruins of the village of Tongariki.
Little remains of Tongariki, apart from its moai, and the platform (called an ahu) upon which they stand. You can just make out the moai from the peak of Rano Raraku. There are fifteen of them in total, all standing in one line, their backs to the sea.
The smallest of the moai (those on the lefthand side of the uppermost photograph) are the oldest of the cluster, while the tallest of the moai (those on the righthand side of the same photo) are the most recently carved.
In front of the moai of Tongariki I find three horses, all toffee brown in colour, their manes and forelocks whipping in the wind.
These are wild animals; there are plenty scattered around the island. They graze at will, in paddock, in wind-sculpted headland, and in archaeological site alike.
The moai of Tongariki, like all the moai of Easter Island (barring those found within the Quarry), were deliberately toppled during a mysterious and much debated era in Easter Island’s history.
These moai, along with several other clusters on the island, have been put back on their feet so that we might marvel at them in their full glory.
Practical information and how to reach the Ahu Tongariki:
Easter Island is not the easiest of places to get to (it’s the most remotely inhabited location in the world excluding Antarctica) – unless you happen to live in Santiago, Chile, from where there are regular flights.
It’s a 30 minute drive from Hanga Roa (the capital city of Easter Island) to Tongariki. More transport info here.
Read more on Tongariki and Rapa Nui National Park in the UNESCO World Heritage listing.