Delve into the history of Easter Island at several ceremonial locations, including a village on the edge of an extinct volcano where a mysterious cult flourished.
Depart from the pier and enjoy a short drive to Tahai, a ceremonial site with five moais that vary in scale and shape, unlike most of the moais on Easter Island. The two largest figures may represent a mother and father or symbolize different leaders of the indigenous people. Their exact meaning remains a mystery, despite the efforts of American archaeologist William Mulloy, who excavated the site and is now buried nearby.
Following your exploration of Tahai, you'll drive to Rano Kau, an extinct volcano with a crater lake and marshes at its bottom. Set on the sea and sheltered from the winds that dry much of the island, it's one of Easter Island's most naturally beautiful sites. Almost a mile across, the crater has its own microclimate, where figs and vines flourish. It's also a source of obsidian, a glass-like stone that could be easily fractured to make sharp blades.
Next, you'll visit Orongo, a ceremonial village on the edge of the Rano Kau volcano. It consists of more than 50 stone houses that were inhabited until the mid 1800s, when diseases brought by European explorers devastated the population.
The birdman cult once held festivities at Orongo, in which they prayed for success in the annual Sooty Tern egg hunt, held on a tiny islet just offshore. As you're exploring Orongo, you may see numerous petroglyphs of the birdmen who gathered the eggs. Following your exploration of Orongo, you'll re-board your transportation and drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour approximately 90-minutes of mostly moderate walking. At Tahai, there will be uneven ground and dirt paths to negotiate and at Orongo, there is a slope and some uneven dirt paths that can make the walking strenuous in places. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and not recommended for those with mobility concerns. Light-weight clothing with long sleeves; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; insect repellant; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Guests should bring plenty of water from the ship as none is available during the excursion. There is only a limited restroom facility at Orongo on this tour. Several vehicles of differing sizes are used as transportation on this tour and only one guide goes with the group so there is no commentary on board the vehicles. However, at each stop, the guide will provide commentary for the entire group. Littering or touching the statues is strictly prohibited on Easter Island. The order of the sites viewed or visited may vary.