An epic sea journey got underway this past weekend in South America, where a team of sailors from around the world have set off on two rafts made of balsa wood in an attempt to sail from Peru to Easter Island. The crew hope to explore possible migration patterns for early Polynesian cultures, which may have migrated to the remote South Pacific islands on similar craft centuries ago.
The two rafts – dubbed Rahiti Tane and Tupac Yupanqui – were built from wood that was gathered in Ecuador. They’ll now attempt to follow a similar journey to the one that was famously completed by Thor Heyerdahl and his team back in 1947. Heyerdahl had hoped to prove that his theory of early sailors setting out from South America to the South Pacific was true, and in the process he sailed more than 8000 km (5000 miles) from the mainland to the Tuamotu Islands. He later wrote a bestselling book about his adventure entitled Kon Tiki, which was the name of his raft, and the inspiration for this modern journey as well.
The crew of the Kon-Tiki2 expedition left Lima Peru on Sunday and are now making their way across the Pacific Ocean. They’ll sail more than 3757 km (2334 miles) to reach their destination, but unlike Heyerdahl, the plan is to also sail back. This will make the journey even more perilous, as no one has been able to successfully complete a return voyage as of yet. The entire round-trip is expected to cover more than 10,000 km (6200 miles).
The research opportunities go beyond just studying possible migration patterns in the Pacific however. The team also hopes to survey the amount of pollution and waste that is found in the water as well, and observe the population levels of certain species of Tuna too.
Heyerdahl’s expedition took 101 days to complete, but the Kon-Tiki2 will likely last longer. Not only are the two rafts traveling longer distances, they are also making a return trip in very different wind patterns and ocean currents. How long the crew will be at sea remains to be seen, as some days they will probably cover long distances, and on others they’ll drift more slowly.
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