The Kon-Tiki Raft

The balsawood raft Kon-Tiki was built in Peru in 1947 using logs from Ecuador.

Were the early Polynesian Islands (in the Pacific Ocean) settled from the West or the East? Many said that it was impossible to settle from the East due to the distance. Thor Heyerdahl said otherwise and decided to prove it was possible by using technology available to the early settlers (i.e. not a lot).

A crew of six (five Norwegians and one Swede) sailed her from Callao in Peru to the reef of Raroia in Polynesia. In 101 days the Kon-Tiki put behind her around 5 000 miles of the Pacific Ocean. The expedition proved that Polynesia was indeed within the range of balsawood rafts from South America. A documentary of the voyage won two Academy Awards (Oscars) in 1951, and the book about the expedition has since been translated into 66 languages.


Bellwood, P (1987). The Polynesians: Prehistory of an Island People. Thames and Hudson Ltd, London.