Finding the waterfall, Daniel's Bay

Tue 13 May 2014 00:00
Daniel's house, on the beach where we left our dinghy .

Following a lovely music filled evening on Scotia, Brenda, Hugh, Phil and I set off next day, soon after day break, to walk up the ravine and find the waterfall. It's reputed to be the third longest single drop waterfall in the world so was a must to see, but the walk there was even better than the waterfall at the end of it.

We left our dinghy on the beach and walked the path along the shore line, around the promontory to the valley where the river flows. Wading through the river we found ourselves in a stunningly beautiful valley, filled with gardens, ringed by mountains.

There are about 10 people who live here now, mostly extended family, but at one time 20,000 people lived in the valley, so there are the stone remains of house foundations everywhere. Every now and again an old, lichen covered tiki leered out at us from some green shaded corner.

The path is simply delightful. We picked the right time to go, before the heat of the day and when it wasn't raining, and enjoyed the cool of the shady route which took us through all sorts of undergrowth and twice across the river.

Almost like bluebell woods in the UK? 

Hugh and Brenda braving the rapids and Phil and Brenda wading through ferns.

For a while the path runs quite high up the side of the ravine, following but above the river. From here every now and again you can catch sight of the wonderful rock formations along the ridge, and eventually get a glimpse of the waterfall:

You can just see a white streak running down the middle of this picture, that's the waterfall - it was easier to spot in real life.

Here's a close up of the waterfall and  snap of part of the ridge along the way.

Every now and again we'd get a little unsure of the route so would scout around until we found a small cairn that previous walkers had helpfully left. Reassured we'd set off again and eventually we found the rock walls closing in overhead as we climbed deeper in the ravine and finally we reached the base of the waterfall.

This picture doesn't do it justice, it was so much greener and less washed out in real life!

As you can see from the photo one can't actually see much of the waterfall from the base, so it was a good job we looked up now and again as we walked or we wouldn't have realised how big it was. The bit of fall you can see peeps out behind two overlapping walls of rock. To get there we swam to the rock in the middle of the pool, climbed under it and entered the pool beyond. Around the first wall of rock there is a beautiful huge cavern hewn out the the hillside - but a little dark and scary, I thought something slimy and big, probably with one eye, may have been living there for centuries and I didn't want to find out! But we could swim further in, towards the waterfall itself, and go as far under it as we dared, feeling the heavy drops splat on our heads and our lungs filled with the mist of the spray.

In the outer pool we discovered many fresh water shrimps, some as big as 6 inches, which Phil tried to catch for a while. Then, after a snack and a drink, we turned back to retrace out steps. The journey back felt much shorter but we were a little weary, hungry and our knees were feeling the down hill work when we arrived back amongst the gardens in Hakatea Bay. Happily we'd been invited to eat with one of the families on our return so we sat down to wild goat cooked in coconut milk, coconut rice, plantain and provision whilst talking Franglais with our host.

Natives trying to look fierce! 

We had a superb day. It was stunningly beautiful and what with the ruins  and tikis we kept coming across we really felt we'd had a glimpse of what the valley must have been like when 20,000 people had lived there. Definitely a highlight of the voyage so far!