Monday, October 13, 2008
Man Bush Walk
This is another option for hiking on Malekula. The trail starts near the Pankumu River on the Unua side. Our guide was from a village called Tisman, but they could probably be found in Unua as well. It is not recommended to try this entire walk on your own, you could, however, probably hike to Melkin on your own if you got someone to put you one the right road.
After Melkin the road becomes very difficult. There is a huge climb out of the river valley that at points seems straight up. It is, however, very beautiful and the village you end up in, Lambongbong, is spectacular. (It was also very humbling to learn that some villagers from Lambongbong had recently carried a generator over the road we just slipped and slided up and down for 6 hours! That is a pretty amazing feat.)
We had to find another guide in Lambongbong to steer us the rest of the way to Lawa. This is an amazing hike, with a very impressive waterfall when you reach the Matanoi river. There are three climbs, but none as severe as the previous day. The biggest one is right after the Matanoi river crossing. The river is a perfect spot to rest to get ready to head up hill again. After Lawa we took a boat for 1,500 vatu to sleep in a village near Wintua. There is an aid station in Wintua that has antibiotics if you happen to get any infections along the journey.
Here is the basic rundown:
Unua to Melkin
Elevation 94 meters
Walking: 2 hr. 15 min.
Resting: 30 min.
Total 2 hr. 45 min.
Easy walk. The road is good and clear. The village is currently working to widen the road so that trucks can pass. You cross the Paunkumu 12 times, so a lot of river crossings. Most crossings are shallow, rarely over thigh high. Heavy rains could make the road unpassable.
Stayed at the Melken woman's club. Simple. Mats were placed on the floor for bedding, and food was included. Only 100 vatu per person.
Melken to Labongbong
Elevation 840 meters (finish at 540 m)
Walking: 6 hrs.
Resting: 2 hrs.
Total 8 hrs.
Difficult. One very steep climb that gains over 500 meters of elevation very quickly. There are some river crossings early on, and also areas with soft mud. There is a fresh water source after the big climb.
Labongbong to Lawa
Walking: 5 hr. 30 min.
Resting: 1 hr.
Total 6 hr. 30 min.
Moderate to Difficult. Lots of mud. Three climbs, including one steep one after you cross the Matanoi river. Gains 300 meters of elevation in less than a kilometer. There is a large waterfall at the river, which is amazing. After Lawa we chartered a boat (1,500 vatu) and slept in a small village near Wintua.