the dent in the rim is called Kari Kari. From here the competitors had to climb down for the 2 km swim to Motu Nui
Motu Nui is the islet in the back.. Note the Birdmen on the rock
the last building was for the priests
one of the restored buildings has an open roof to see the modest inside
it sure is a scenic spot
more Birdmen
the rocks around Orongo are all sculptured with Birdmen and Make Make symbols
Orongo
The freshwater crater lake of the  Rano Kau volcano sits 100 meters above sea-level but also 200 below the crater rim.
On the westside of this rim are ruins of the ceremonial village of Orongo. It excisted already during the Moai bulding period but grew in importance with the advent of the Birdman Cult with its worship of the god Make Make.
 
This cult was based on the annual Tangata Manu competition. The tribe of the winner would rule (and harash) the island for one year. This unique system was introduced to stop the endless violent clashes between the Matato’a  warriors.
 
The competing tribe leaders appointed brave men, so-called hopu to do the actual work, which meant scaling down the crater rim, swim to the nearby islet Motu Nui and wait there for the Sooty terns to arrive and lay their eggs. He who found the first egg signaled this to the waiting dignitaries at Orongo. He then had to swim back, climb the 300 m high cliff and present the egg intact to his master, who in the meantime had shaven his head and painted it red because he now was the new Birdman, the Tangata Manu.
 
Orongo and the Rano Kau crater is one of the most scenic spots of Rapa Nui.
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the information center at the park entrance
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the (restored) buildings gave shelter to the wind. They were only used as sleeping quarters
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the waters around Motu Iti and Motu Nui are said to be shark infested. Bad news for the hopu swimmers
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the Rano Kau crater lake, 200 meters down it has its own micro climate
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Make Make is watching you
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an overview of the Orongo houses. The one upfront was for the priests.
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