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Date: 27 Mar 2010 16:41:24
Title: Island Exploring

Hello Friends            "8:55.1S 140:05.9W"
 
Well, stung by criticism of no blogs for ten days and atrocious punctuation, here we go with another update.
 
The partying that I had to rush off to after writing the last blog was in fact Alex's leaving party. After 4 months on Blue Sky, his girlfriend Nicole was getting to the point of desperation at the prospect of further loneliness while Alex was enjoying French Polynesia, so home he flew. The secret was that his homecoming was a surprise for Nicole, which apparently went down well!
 
Since Alex's departure, we've been exploring gently and not overdoing it...
 
We rented a 4x4 - the only suitable vehicle for Nuku Hiva - and went exploring the highest ridge of the island. The mountains around the bay at Taiohae are the inner edge of the crater, the centre of the old volcano being not far from where we're anchored (don't worry, it's been cold for a very long time). The outer concentric edge of the crater includes the highest point of the island and between the two ridges there is a high plateau - the Toovi Plateau - where wild horses roam and cattle are raised. You can probably see a bit of this on Googleearth but unfortunately there are a few clouds in the way...
 
This is the view from the top of the ridge, not far from the highest point, where the road to the airport winds up the crater wall and over the top.
 
 
Note the hairpin bends on the airport road and the pine forests, which appear to have been planted a long time ago; also the area of almost level grassland where cattle are raised. The hills surrounding the bay where we're anchored are at the right edge of the horizon.
 
One of the nice things about driving up here is that it's cool as the altitude is about 1100m, a pleasant change from sea level stickiness.
 
We went for some actual exercise on a dirt track which we think may have been the old road, along the west side of the ridge - here's the view looking west over the 'terre deserte' showing the classic volcanic slope down to the sea, sharply eroded by the river.
 
 
The path followed around the contour quite well so would have been great for mountain bikes. We met some wild horses, the leader of which was sufficiently confident to allow us to touch him when we caught up with them.
 
 
Our 4x4 - a Mahindra - came equipped with a garden bench in the back which made a convenient picnic site under the canvas cover as a little shade was much needed.
 
Last Wednesday, our Panama Canal buddies, Tumshi arrived after a 20 day passage from the Galapagos.  Since then we've showed them our favourite walk along the east side of the bay and yesterday we decided to rent another 4x4 for an extended joint tour around the island.
 
Here's a photo from Baie d'Hatiheu where we had lunch on the last tour - it's just a phone box and on the right you can just see that it has a phone book. The phone book isn't tied down and it's not been graffitied or damaged, come to think of it neither has the phone box. Nuku Hiva is the first place where we've left the boat open, not bothering to lock it and never considered locking the tender - no one does here as it's unnecessary.
 
 
This pic is looking north and from here we drove west on a dirt road along the north coast to the NW corner. The slightly arduous drive was rewarded by spectacular views, though George is squinting in the bright sunlight.
 
 
The road snaked down into each bay and up again over each ridge  as we skirted past the highest point of Nuku Hiva. This is the view looking up to the top and the fantastic precipices - the top, in wisps of cloud, is about 1000m higher than the camera.
 
 
As it was Angelica's birthday yesterday, we all repaired to Tumshi for birthday supper together afterwards.
 
We've enjoyed Nuku Hiva for three weeks already and we're nearly ready to move on to another island. But first we'll return to 'Daniel's Bay' at the SW corner to get some better photographs of that spectaular area for the next blog.
 
Here's a couple of photos of sundry wildlife on the tops - one of the very common butterflies which eventually came into focus and a curious mutant rocket pine tree on the Toovi plateau (showing the road on the R for scale).
 
 
That's about it for this blog, G&M did manage to get up in time for the early market this morning (0600) which seems a tradition here, though there's not much more produce than on weekdays. In a day or two we'll head out and hopefully we'll manage to decide which island to head for next.
 
We hope life's good wherever you are.
 
Best Wishes
 
George, Michael and Simon
 
 
 
 
 
 

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