Ahu Tahai

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Easter Island, Chile

Ahu Tahai Easter Island Reviews

Toonsarah Toonsarah
393 reviews
Meeting the moai Nov 11, 2016
This is a large complex located very near to the town of Hanga Roa, so just about everybody comes here. For us it was the first stop on our morning tour and we were one of the first groups to arrive, so it wasn’t at all crowded and it was very easy to get good photos.

The site known as Ahu Tahai is in fact a group of three ahu: Ko Te Riku, Tahai, and Vai Ure. Ahu Tahai is the middle of the three and was the first to be constructed here, which is why the complex is named for it. It has a single rather weathered moai which (unusually) stands on a square base with no room for any others to be added.

The far ahu as you enter the site is Vai Ure, with five moai, only a couple of which are reasonably whole – two are missing parts of their head and the fifth is headless and barely recognisable. There is also an empty spot where a sixth must once have stood.

But the first ahu, Ko Te Riku, will probably make the most impression on you, as it did on me, as it is the only one standing on the island to have had its eyes restored. The replica eyes were based on one found at Anakena in 1978. This moai also has a pukao, the red stone topknot thought by most to represent the distinctive hairstyle of the Rapa Nui men.

Between Ahu Vai Ure and Ahu Tahai is a stony ramp leading down to an ancient harbour, reminding us that this was once a thriving village and the moai the ancestors placed here to watch over it. You can also see the remains of boat-shaped houses from that settlement.

This site was restored by the American archaeologist William Mulloy between 1968 and 1970 – we were to hear a lot about him during our two days on the island as he was one of the first to recognise the immense archaeological richness and significance of Rapa Nui. He led many restoration projects here and can be largely credited with turning this half-forgotten spot into the amazing “open air museum” that it has become. He was hugely respected by the islanders as his work also opened their eyes to the potential of Rapa Nui to become a significant tourist destination which in turn changed the fortunes of was at the time a very poor and resource-deprived place. He died in 1978, soon after being awarded honorary citizenship of the island, and his ashes rest under a small carved stone on this site.

Our guide here was very informative, and also organised the group well. At first he gathered the Spanish speakers and left the English speakers to wander around and take their photos, then we switched and we got his detailed explanations. Finally there was a bit more time for photos (useful as is talk had opened my eyes to details I had missed) and also shopping at the row of craft stalls set up here by some locals. One guy was especially colourful and happy to be photographed, so I bought a bracelet of wooden beads from him as a thank you, as did several others in the group.

Photos here are best taken in the morning or at sunset. I make no apology for including rather a lot with this review, given how stunning the sights and how perfect the conditions we had here!
Ahu Vai Ure and Ahu Tahai
Ahu Ko Te Riku and Ahu Tahai
Ahu Ko Te Riku
Ahu Tahai
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Toonsarah says:
Thank you Holger :-)
Posted on: Feb 09, 2017
HORSCHECK says:
Excellent review with out standing photos here. Well done.
Posted on: Feb 09, 2017
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