THE CEREMONIAL VILLAGES OF ORONGO AND AHU AKIVI
Ancient legends of birdmen, ceremonies that challenge the elements, ancestral stone monoliths erected with astronomic precision - an excursion in the worlds of Orongo and Ahu Akiv.
What we will see
- Orongo village
- Vinapu platform
- Ahu Akivi platform
What we will do
- We set off to discover Orongo, a small village overlooking the ocean and some charming islets. The partially restored site is located on the side of a cliff dropping into the ocean.
- A ceremonial village only frequented on special occasions, Orongo is populated by masonry houses with a curved roof covered in grass. The small doors enabled warriors to monitor the arrival of enemy tribes.
- Orongo was the hub of an ancient cult followed by the entire island - the birdman cult. The defining ritual was an annual race to obtain the first sooty tern egg. Each local tribe was represented by a young athlete in the competition.
- After climbing down Orongo's cliff, athletes would swim to the islets with the help of a small raft facing the strength of the ocean waves. The athlete who managed to find the egg and take it back intact after tying it to his forehead acquired the honorary title of “birdman”, while the tribe chief acquired the prestige among his tribe and the entire island. The last competitions are said to have occurred between 1866 and 1867.
- Our next stop is the yet to be restored Vinapu platform. It is made up of carefully carved blocks held together without mortar with a technique similar to that used by the Incas. According to archaeologists, this is striking evidence of the connection between the island’s first inhabitants and the populations from South America.
- Various moais, among which an example of female moai, are scattered on the grass.
- Our excursion ends with the Ahu Akivi platform, the only one to support seven magnificent moais facing the ocean. They are all identical and arranged so that they face the sunset directly during the Spring Equinox and have their backs to sunrise during the Autumn Equinox. An astronomic characteristic observed only in this part of the island.
- The site was restored in the 1960s with what are believed to be the original lifting techniques. The architects involved in the restoration calculated that it would take 30 men a year working 8 hours a day to carve a single moai. It would have taken 90 men to transfer the statue from the quarry to the site along a purposely prepared road and it would have taken these 90 men three months to erect a moai.
- Whatever the truth, figures and technique used, all we can do is admire this site in all its beauty and mysterious charm. Its memory will remain forever in hour hearts.
What you need to know
- Do not forget to bring a hat and sun cream, bearing in mind the latitude.
- We recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes and to bring a waterproof jacket in the case of unexpected bad weather.
- The itinerary may be subject to change.