Ahu Tongariki

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Easter Island, Chile

Ahu Tongariki Easter Island Reviews

Toonsarah Toonsarah
566 reviews
The largest ahu Nov 12, 2016
Tongariki is one of the must-see sights on Rapa Nui. This is the largest ahu ever built – 220 metres long, and with 15 moai (albeit long enough for quite a few more). As in other locations, the moai here were toppled, and further destruction resulted from a tsunami in 1960, the result of a major earthquake off the coast of Chile. Waves of nearly 11 metres hit the shore here and dragged some moai up to 100 metres inland, causing additional significant damage. The ahu and its moai were restored in the early 1990s through the support of a Japanese company, Tadano, and the Japanese government. During this process, it was discovered that the ahu had been constructed using material from earlier destroyed moai.

It is perhaps here more than at any other ahu that you can appreciate the physical differences between the moai, clear evidence that each was carved to represent a separate individual ancestor. Some are taller and some short; some rather pot-bellied, others slimmer; some have snub noses, others more pointed; and so on. Only one still has his pukao or topknot, but a number of others are scattered around the site – these were considered too damaged to safely replace without causing further irreparable damage. Their distribution gives you a sense of how far inland the waves of the tsunami carried these massive stones.

A little way in front of the ahu a large moai lies on its back. We can see from the fact that its eye sockets were not carved out (which was always done once the moai were in place on the ahu) that it was never installed; instead it seems likely that it was damaged while being transported from the quarry at Rano Raraku and never used.

Near the entrance to the field where Ahu Tongariki stands is a single lone moai, sometimes referred to by islanders as the “travelling moai” because in 1982 it was loaned to the Japanese government to be shown in exhibitions there, as a thank you for the support for the restoration project. You can get some good photos here, with the travelling moai in the foreground and the 15 on the ahu beyond.

The light here is best for photography in the afternoon. We made our main stop in the morning when the sun was still behind the moai but our guide helpfully stopped here again briefly after our visit to Rano Raraku and lunch break so that we could take some photos in better light.
Ahu Tongariki
Ahu Tongariki
Three very different characters, T…
Travelling moai, Tongariki
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Toonsarah says:
It is indeed!
Posted on: Feb 09, 2017
odiseya says:
Amazing destination!
Posted on: Feb 09, 2017
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andrejav andrejav
751 reviews
Largest Ahu on Rapa Nui Jan 20, 2012
Ahu Tongariki is the largest Ahu that I have seen on the island and it is restored with the help of Japanese government. There is total of 15 Moai’s on the Ahu, and some of them very large (I believe that few of them are over 50 tons, which is more than impressive). On the plateau in the front of the Ahu there are few petroglyphs and few “hats” that are not placed on the head of Moai’s. Watch where you are walking because those petroglyphs have just a circle of stones around them as an indication that they exist.

Story that I heard is that all Moai’s were overturned during the island tribal wars, and then in 60’s, huge tsunami made even more damage to the Ahu and statues. They are really stunning, and perfect place to go for sunrise. This place is around 10km from the city, but you can get there easily if you rent any kind of vehicle, or go horse riding. Right next to it you can also enjoy in Rano Raraku quarry.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy

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