Ancient Bird Man Competition on Easter Island and Fresh Guava

As recently as 1867 there was a bird man competition on Easter Island. The competition took place for several hundred years. The purpose of the competition was to crown the new king but in order to do that you had to prove yourself worthy.

The competition consisted of 36 men and started at Orongo, a dormant volcano.

The 36 men competed for title of king and had to retrieve a particular type of bird egg – the first egg of the season that is laid by this bird. They had to climb down a huge, steep, and treacherous cliff, then swim to Islets off the shore – there were 2 islets, but they had to swim to the farthest one called Islet Nui (Nui means “big”).

Below is a photo of the shelters the competitors and their assistants stayed in to shelter them from the wind and weather on top of the dormant volcano.

Above is a photo of the smaller islet they had to swim past to get to Islet Nui.

Then they had to crawl up on the Islet and find this bird egg, then bring it unharmed, back to Orongo – so that means, swim back to Easter Island and climb the treacherous cliffs back to the top. It was a grueling and deadly competition and the men had assistants with them who helped protect them from the other competitors. Just looking at the cliff they had to climb and the strong current of the ocean where they had to swim made me exhausted.

On the way to Orongo, our guide stopped on the side of the road and we picked fresh guava from a guava tree and ate them. It was not what I had expected, and I’ve loved guava ever since I visited Brazil in 2014, but it was good and fresh! We ended up seeing guava trees every where we went on the tour, and it was even a fresh juice option at many restaurants.

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