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Monuments & Mystery on Your Captain’s Choice Tour

Easter_Island,_Rano_Raraku
Easter_Island_Ahu_(2006)
Giza
Giza-pyramids
1_cristor_redentor_2014
Rio
Christ

Monuments & Mystery on Your Captain’s Choice Tour

story by: Anna Sarjeant

With House of Travel offering three incredible Captain’s Choice private jet tours, let’s take a look at some of the world’s most magical, mysterious and monumental destinations that you will visit on one of these bespoke trips:

The Moai Statues of Easter Island
Arriving on the verdant grasslands of Easter Island, you may look around and come to the same conclusion as the Dutch commander, Jacob Roggeveen, four centuries earlier… Where are all the trees? For such a lush green island – one that’s flushed with a mossy blanket of volcanic mountainside and a sweet, damp mist – surely trees should grow ardently?

In fact they once did. Centuries before Roggeveen, a weary group of Polynesian seafarers stumbled across a flourishing (and tree-studded) tropical paradise, made claim to its weather-beaten beauty and began building a life for themselves; thus the Rapa Nui tribespeople were born.

By the time the Dutch descended on the island, the trees had all but gone, replaced by giant Moai statues. Thirteen feet in height and weighing a colossal 14 tonnes, the Moai figure-heads are built from volcanic Rano Rarku rock, with smooth torsos and angular faces. They guard the hillside like a line of battle-impending warriors, fronting their ahu platforms in a united camaraderie of defiance.

The link between these great Moai monuments and a scarcity of trees lies in the sheer enormity of their scale and mass. Some 900 statues litter the island, from the coast to the mountainside, the long flat plains and every pocketed crater in-between. While no one can accurately decipher why the monuments were built, archaeologists have deduced that Easter Island’s once abundant supply of palm trees were used to transport the 14-ton figurines, by rollers and lever-like devices to move and position. By the time the island’s people were erecting their last ceremonial statues, they’d depleted their land of forestry; subjecting the terrain to erosion and diminished crops, which slowly led to starvation and the eventual demise of an entire civilisation.

Or so the theory goes. In reality, we will never truly know why the great Rapa Nui people disappeared, leaving nothing but grand, mysterious statues in their wake. When Jacob Roggeveen found his way to the island, he was met only by barren-land, a memory of livelihood and a legion of huge mason soldiers – and they’ve never uttered a single word.

See it: Captain’s Choice tour, 22 days Equatorial Explorer. 23 August – 13 September 2016

Christ the Redeemer stands over Rio  
Where is he? The first question you’ll ask when approaching Rio de Janeiro. There’s impossibly beautiful beach to your right, favelas to your left but the same question remains. Where is he? Where’s Christ the Redeemer?

He answers of course. Moments later, appearing on Corcovado, heading the peak of a sharp 710 metre granite bluff, arms spread and looking majestically serene across the ​city. As one of the best-known landmarks in the world, Cristo Redentor needs little introduction.

He’s been standing there for the best part of 80 years. Pitched in 1922 and completed by 1931 - in the aftermath of World War I, he was commissioned because the people of Brazil feared their fellow countrymen were forgetting their faith. Designed by Brazilian architect, Heitor da Silva Costa and developed with artist, Carlos Oswald, they construed an idea that was a near-possible feat of creativity and ingenuity.

Standing 38 metres high and 4km from the city centre, Christ the Redeemer boasts 1145 tons of weather-baring sandstone (his head alone weighs 30 tons). Get close enough and you’ll notice the surface of green-grey mosaic, made from 3cm x 3cm x 4cm tiles which were glued to small squares of linen cloth by local female volunteers. Unknown to the 3000 tourists who visit daily, many of these girls wrote their boyfriend’s names on the back of the tiles – forever encased inside the shell of Christ.

Somewhat ironically, Brazil’s most famous icon is regularly struck by lightning. The wrath of jealous gods perhaps? A token from the heavens to keep him in line? Or a simple consequence of having your head stuck in the clouds? Either way, Christ the Redeemer requires regular maintenance, only last year he lost an entire finger in an electric storm. In times of repair, workmen access the monument via a discreet entrance in the hem of the cloak, ascend 12-floors to the shoulder and emerge from a tunnel in Christ’s right arm. He also has an access hole in his head. From here, those with a hardened stomach abseil to his rescue and fix whichever part has been worn, withered or struck away. 

Heading towards his 90th year, Christ the Redeemer’s longevity endures, ​But as for the boys who line his mosaic facade? Who knows?! 

See it: Captain’s Choice tour, 22 days Ultimate South America.  15 September – 6 October 2016

The Pyramids of Giza. Built by Egyptians or aliens?
First things first, don’t believe anything that Hollywood has taught you about Cairo and the pyramids of Giza, because it’s shamefully inaccurate. The pyramids were not built by Egyptian slaves, but rather an apt workforce of Egyptian farmers, on the orders of pharaohs and within teams that were likely ten-thousand strong. Just don’t hoo-har the plausibility of aliens or angels. To this day, the placement of the stones, or more-so, the precise layout of each stone (of which most are accurate to less than a millimetre) still perplexes archaeologists. The formation is so unbelievably meticulous, current technology can’t even replicate it!

Believed to have been built for three pharaohs; Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, it is Khufu’s pyramid that’s the largest. Constructed somewhere between 2589 and 2504 BC, at the time of completion, Giza’s three new-builds would have been startling. As the largest structures in the world, each pyramid was covered in white sandstone and polished to such an extent, they each shone like glass.

It’s deemed plausible that each pyramid was a tomb for its pharaoh; to house their body after death, and yet no remains of any person or mummy has ever been found. Only an enormous granite box was discovered within Khufu’s tomb, but it was completely empty and totally untampered. So where did Khufu go?

Maybe you’ll find him yourself?

See it: Captain’s Choice tour, 19 days Icons of Asia & Africa. 20 October – 7 November 2016. 

To find out more about any of our Captain's Choice tours, pop in-store or give us a call. 

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