walking & hiking
From half hour walks along marked trails winding through lush rainforest and coral beaches to multi day guided hikes around jungle clad volcanic peaks, we can help you explore the real Melanesia and some of nature's richest ecosystems. A day spent walking Gatokae with a dip in a cool mountain stream along the way, followed by a snorkel on a spectacular coral wall - you'll really feel alive.
A typical days' walking takes you through many different types of rainforest, ancient ngali nut and sago palm groves, along cliffs with views over the reef and ocean, visiting skull shrines, ancient ceremonial and village sites, mountain streams and waterfalls. The terrain varies from the level raised coral terraces that rise to approx 300 feet to the steep hillsides of the volcanic peaks, cut by precipitous river valleys.
There are a host of day walks covering all sorts of environments and habitats - our guides can advise the best options subject to fitness, weather and photography considerations. Many of the local footpaths wind alternately through rainforest, coconut groves, pandanus forests and along the rugged raised coral coastline. Options of camping deep in the rainforest or villgestay at remote Weather Coast villages.
Listed below are some of our longer organised hikes. If there is a specific place or habitat you wish to visit we can get you there.
Kavolavata River Valley
Untouched tropical rainforest in a remote river valley in the interior of Gatokae Island. Approx 3 hours mostly level walking each way, some muddy, slippery sections, moderate level of fitness required. Option of camping overnight next to the pristine jungle river. Wild, remote, and utterly peaceful -a very beautiful place. As a day trip it can be done in the morning with an early start and late lunch back at Wilderness, or alternately in the afternoon leaving Wilderness after an early lunch and returning just before dark (recommended), or as a full day trip with picnic lunch and plenty of time to explore.
The 2900 foot peak of Gatokae Island.
Mariu is typically a 2 1/2 day / 2 night trek, departing Wilderness after lunch and spending approx 3 hours walking through the subsistence gardens and lowland rainforest, the first night being spent camped in the pristine Kavolavata River Valley (described above) by the river. A morning start on the 2400 foot ascent, lunch on the ridge with spectacular views across Marovo Lagoon, and summiting late afternoon to enjoy the sunset over the Mt Vangunu caldera.
The mossy montane or 'cloud' forest occurs at much lower altitude (thanks to eminent Solomon Island botanist Myknee Sirikolo for pointing this out) than normal at this latitude due to the oceanic aspect of the peak and the clouds scudding in off the warm Pacific Ocean.
Spectacular views across Marovo Lagoon and the myriad islands during the ascent and across Peava and Borokua as the summit nears. Hike time from the River valley campsite is typically 8 hours, allowing for time to enjoy the sunset on the summit.
This a long strenuous hike that involves frequent scrambling through cloud forest over the last few hours. A good to high level of fitness is required. Expect very warm and humid conditions through the gardens and lowland rainforest on the first afternoon with slippery sections, and the morning of the second day. As altitude is gained during the second day the air becomes progressively cooler and drier, conditions on the summit very between hot (circa 25C) and dry when clear and sunny to cool (circa 16C) and very damp when clouds move in. Night on the summit is very cool, hence the need for warm clothing, temperature can drop to 10C during windy, rainy weather.
Due to the proximity of the ocean and the high peak, the summit is often cloaked in cloud. Mornings and evenings are typically clearest, and seasonal prevailing weather plays an important role. For this reason the mid-June through mid-October southeast tradewind season (refer to 'climate' page for full description) is avoided unless you specifically want to experience the full, dripping wet, cold, oceanic cloud forest experience!
Biche Village Walk and Tour / Villagestay
Approx 3 hours walk each way, through the subsistence gardens then down around spectacular Maggotu Lagoon and white sand swimming beach, following the coast around to Kele River and swimming hole with the wild surf of the boulder beach - several skull shrines and kastom sites along the way - then on along the rugged coastline to Biche Village. An excellent two hour tour organised by the village showing the headhunting sites, skull shrines, waterfalls, tame eels, and epic oral history of Biche Village. Options include the 5 hour roundtrip hike to headhunting fortress ruins of Mategele, 2000 feet above Biche, and also overnighting villagestay in Biche. Return can be by boat (in fine weather) or return walk. Half-day tour of Biche by longboat available in most weather - refer to tours page for more info. The Biche walk is mostly level with brief climbs/descents each side of the peninsula that are slippery after rain, and passes through an enormous variey of habitats and scenery.
Gatokae Weather Coast Trek
Epic 3 day, 2 night hike around the entire Gatokae Weather Coast. Each day a guide from the respective area will show you the remote, rugged beauty and headhunting history of this never-visited coastline. First day follows the route outlined in the above Biche Walk, staying overnight villagestay in a traditional leaf house with village people looking after you. The second day walking follows the coastline with the rainforest clad 2900 foot mountains plunging down to jagged coral and surf, through the tiny settlements of Vao and Moe, stops along the way to look at waterfalls and kastom sites and many kastom stories - the oral history of the Gatokae people, staying overnight villagestay with the people of Beu Village and their ancestral sites. Day three walk leaves Beu, following the coast through Sangiona and natural and cultural sites to Penjuku Village where our boat picks you up for the trip back to Wilderness. In addition to the known scenery and culture of the coastline, the mountain valleys along this coast are unexplored, and rumours of secret jungle pools and headhunting fortress ruins abound. From Biche onwards you have front row seats should Kavachi Submarine Volcano be erupting, and its night time lava fireworks.
- quality 'Teva' type sandals - well worn in
- light, fast drying shorts and shirt (long nylon pants if you really want to bush bash)
- light, fast drying, foldable cap or hat
- camera (preferably weatherproof, or in waterproof bag) with plenty of memory
additional for overnight walks
- comfortable backpack, pref waterproof, large enough to carry your gear and 5L of water (Mt.Mariu)
- compact camping mattress - mountain campsites may be rugged
- light, waterproof raincoat - very handy everywhere you go here
- spare shirt and shorts
- large snap-lock airtight plastic bags (to keep it all dry!)
- Ibuprofen tabs for aches and pains
- notepad and pencil
- strong adhesive band-aids and any medication you take
additional for overnight at altitude
- polar fleece jacket or jumper (light & easy to pack - roll and squeeze into snap-lock bag to save room)
- lightweight long nylon pants
- warm socks
- light sleeping bag
- binoculars for birding and other species ID. (strongly recommended)
- field guides ( Birds of Solomons, Vanuatu and New Caledonia)
- quality hiking boots - well worn in (some people prefer boots despite the wet)