To avoid mental meltdown after staying on the boat for too long, Zac and me got out to climb a mountain. The Mont Aorai with its 2070m should be a very beautiful hike and it has two huts in convenient locations to spend a night there.
So we took the bus around midday and arrived at Pirae at 13h. We walked past the village and asked our way through towards the Belvedere, a small restaurant at 700m where the actual trail will start.
It took us quite some time to get there and the walk on the paved road was quite exhausting but once on the trail I removed the shoes and we finally walk through nature. One of the better things is to walk barefoot and feel the moist, stony, muddy ground. The beginning of the trail follows along the side of a valley until it reaches the ridge on which it stays for quite some while. Actually most part of the trail is right ON the ridge with both sides being quite steep and usually leading a few hundered meters down.
Just before nightfall we reached the first hut on 1400m and we had a nice dinner with Couscous, vegetables, soup and coffee. The night was chilly and windy and we were glad that the backpack Zac got from the SY Ustupu would fit perfectly into the empty windowframe. That way it was much more comfortable and after having fun with our headlamps and the long-exposure mode of the camera, we slept until eight in the morning.
On the second day we continued our way up through the clouds and a wild, dripping wet rainforest full of fern trees and with everything covered with moss and lichen (old man’s beard). The air is damp and completely saturated and the scene might change on the next corner after which we might find ourselves out of the clouds and surrounded with pine trees and walking on dry grass.
After a short stop at the hut on 1800m we leave our backpacks and continue towards the summit. The path gets slightly more difficult and we reach the peak shortly after midday. A little snack and a few photos later we’re already on our way down where we soon again find ourselves surrounded by the clouds. Unfortunately those are now over-saturated and it starts to rain around us. It will continue to be wet until we reach the end of the footpath.
That of course means that a big part of the hike downwards is quite slippery and gets very tricky as much of the ground is composed of red clay. But we reach the Belvedere just before sunset and are very lucky to get a ride down to the village. And as we already know the polynesian way, we’re not surprised as one of the guys who is riding with us in the back of the pickup truck offers to get us to the marina. He just has to get back home and get his own car. The local people are extremely friendly and helpful and are not shy to drive two dirty, sweaty aliens around the island.
All of the above photos were made by Zachary Shane Orion Lough. You can find more pictures on his website.
The first island we sat foot on after crossing the Pacific Ocean was Fatu Hiva. The island is quite small – about seven miles in north/south direction – and extremely green. When doing landfall in the Galapagos, we could smell the volcanic rocks far out on sea. Here, the breeze was carrying the scents of flowers and fruits. The way up along the west side of the island was long and tiresome as there was no wind and without engine, we had to relay on the little wind we had. But it even got worse when we had to enter the bay. There was either no wind or strong gusts falling down from the mountains. It took us nearly three hours to get to our final position.
When going towards shore for the first time, we took a bottle of rum and exchanged it for a big bag of fruits. Fantastic grapefruits, oranges, lemons and bananas. Finally – after many days without fresh food.
Next day we made friends with Zac from the SY Panache and took a little stroll through the village and into the forest, in search for a waterfall. Unfortunately we couldn’t find it. But we still had a bath in a small river, we encountered.
One day later the SY Red Sky Night arrived and together we made a second try. This time we found the waterfall and had a nice bath in the pool at the foot of it. This island really is one of the most beautiful ones we’ve ever set foot on. No wonder nearly everyone who does the pacific crossing stops here.
After three nights at anchor in the bay of Hanavave, we lifted up the anchor to sail to Hiva Oa, the main island of the Marqueas. Details on that exciting trip will follow in the next post.
Yesterday at 4pm we stood in front of his door for the first time but he was ‘in a meeting’. At around 6pm we gave it another try but again: meeting. Today we got up extra early to maybe find him free for us. After a boat-taxiride and a 15 minute walk into the village we again found him in a meeting. Well. So we spend our time travelling back and forth in between the village and our boat. Or we roam the beach and watch the iguanas and crabs.
The island is quite different from San Cristobal. The streets are unpaved and the houses much nicer, the nature is even more meager. The Iguanas are much smaller and the nice and bright beach is interrupted by black lava rocks. Those are the same rocks that we found in the entrance to the anchorage. It’s quite interesting to navigate in between those obstacles and I guess at night it’s quite dangerous. The anchoring is not that nice here as there is quite some swell entering and the weather is mostly misty – bad for our energy input.
Continuation of the above entry at 7:30pm: Finally in the early afternoon the port captain found some time for us and we could present our case. He told us to get going as fast as possible and repeated everything all the other people of the office already told us. Thereafter we found ourselfes in a small office where another officer took about two hours to type the protocol, make a copy of our passports, ask stupid questions while we studied a copy of the ecuatorian maritime law that lie on a table. In the end we were back at the Rancho Relaxo around 3pm and I could finally fix the engine. (Replace the fuel filter again.) So it’s working now but noone knows for how long. But for sure long enough to exit the harbour.
Tonight we’ll have the crew of the SY Red Sky Night from Australia aboard our ship and we’ll have a drink or two. They will also start towards the Marquesas in a few days and as they got a faster ship than ours, we’ll probably arrive around the same time. Tomorrow after the breakfast we’ll be going….
Oh ! And I nearly forgot: Today we also saw Penguins !! Unfortunately we didn’t have a camera with us.
Last thing: During the voyage our satphone wll be turned on every day at 18:00 UTC for one hour.