Guest blogger Peter
Our first full day on Easter Island started (after a substantial breakfast) with a visit to tbe volcanic crater of Orongo, one of the largest of 70 extinct volcanoes on the island. The crater itself is beautiful, filled with a patchwork of islands and pools – our guide told us how her aunts would hike down into the crater to do tbe laundry while the kids swam and ate wild fruit – but the cliffs nearby are also the site of the Birdman cult.
Until well into the 19th century, the young men of the island competed in an extraordinary contest, descending the huge cliffs with floats, swimming across to the offshore islets and awaiting the first eggs of the sooty terns that migrate here in September.
We continued in the afternoon, visiting one of the many caves on the island, where the inhabitants hid from Peruvian slavers, and the moai commemorating the seven Polynesian explorers who first came to the island from the distant Marquesas.