Visiting Easter Island (Land-Based)

Caves of Ana Te Pahu

Standing in the depression where the cave starts, looking into the entrance. The ceiling looks low but the cave was very large with plenty of headroom.   Standing just inside the entrance, looking back out into the depression where the cave starts. What looks like a pile of rocks behind the left-hand tree is actually a stone stairway leading to the surface.

Deeper into the cave, looking back towards the entrance. The foreground looks illuminated, but only because of the camera's flash—it was very dark inside the cave.  

The next stop turned out to be quite spectacular: the caves at Ana Te Pahu. At a number of places on the island, there are sizable caves that were once used by the ancient Rapa Nui natives for living quarters, shelters, or hideouts. The caves are actually empty lava tunnels that once contained rivers of molten lava. Once the lava drained out, the hollow tunnels remained. At this site, there was a large tunnel, probably hundreds of feet long (I didn't walk the whole length).

Inside the tunnel it was dark and damp, with water dripping from overhead and occasional stringy spider webs. Frankly, it was pretty creepy but it was such an interesting and amazing underground complex that I explored quite a bit of it. At one point, overwhelmed by darkness and unsure of my direction, I had to fire the flash on my camera to provide a flicker of illumination.

The ceiling was high enough to provide several feet of headroom, so I never had to stoop over. The ceiling arched downward at each side to meet the relatively flat floor. No doubt in ancient times the rocky debris you might expect to find on the floor had been removed; there were rectangular piles of rocks here and there. In some places, there was standing water on the floor of the cave but since I was walking in such dim light, I couldn't tell where the puddles were until I stepped into them and splashed. From time to time, fat drops of water would splat down on me.

This part of the cave would be nearly pitch black without the camera's flash.   This part of the cave was very dim but I didn't use the flash. Instead I put the camera on a rock and took an eight-second time exposure. The long exposure enhanced the dim light from skylights ahead of me and behind me.

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