Fab volcanoes!

Trip Start Jan 19, 2006
Trip End Jan 19, 2007

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Flag of Chile  ,
Friday, June 9, 2006

Next morning got up at about 5.30 to do the sunrise up at Tongariki. Were told sun rose at 7ish so were there at about 6.20 and sat in the cold in the car. Was really eery in the dark as no lights at all but the stars were spectactular. Occasionally could see something move in the distance and realised it was a horse. Started to get lightish after 7am but sun only appeared after 8 as there were clouds. Still got some more good photos though. Then drove back to the hostel for a few hours more sleep without dogs barking. After lunch of tomato soup (last of our Heinz/Watties delights!) we headed west again to see the moai at Tahai just outside the town. Are 3 sites quite close to each other. One is a single moai with white painted eyes which looks a bit like a graffiti artist has just come along to do it but am sure thats not the case. Then down the coast past the harbours and Chilean navy base up the volcano, Orongo. On the way stop at the side and can walk up the ridge of the crater. Is probably one of the most spectacular things have seen with a huge crater and lake and reeds again and one side of the crater is lower so you can see the sea.

It prompted a debate as to whether the best things we have seen have been natural wonders or man-made. In Asia felt that most of the best things were man-made but felt differently from Oz onwards.

Further up the hill parked up where there were some craft stalls and went into the small hut to pay our fee 5,000 Chilean pesos each. Currency dead easy here - 1,000 to the pound, great for people like me! Helpful man then told us about the site and we wandered around the ruined village with small stone houses and petroglyphs (after ages trying to find out what these were are actually stone carvings!). Out to the sea you can see the bird islets nearby. This is where the birdman cult flourished which we thought meant people tried to fly by various means. There was a birdman competition here each year and whoever won became the leader. Fortunately the ranger here corrected us by telling us the competition actually involved them climbing, not flying (!) down the side of the crater, swimming a couple of km to the islets, swimming back and then climbing back up again. Meanwhile the priests were watching them and judging their performances. Glad we didnīt share our theory anywhere!

Back down the hill for sunset at Tahai which was a bit cloudy again but had a glass of NZ Sauvignon Blanc with it so canīt complain. Walked down to the harbour for dinner at a recommended restaurant where we both had fresh tuna with salad/chips which was fantastic and better than our meal in NZ! Food pretty cheap and wine but is expensive by S American standards.
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