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Thinking of a Rarotonga holiday? If we advised you to delve into the deep, dark undergrowth of Rarotonga's thick rainforest with a man called Pa – a 70-something hippy with yellow dreadlocks and a cheeky twinkle in his eye – would you take heed?
Perhaps not. But we bet we can persuade you in 500 words, so we’ve had a fictitious debate with the world’s most sceptical holiday-goer. Here’s our rock-solid argument for embarking on Pa’s Cross Island Trek:
Okay, so what’s the big deal?
Carved from centuries of twisted vegetation, vines, jungle and a carpet of sprawling roots, the Cross Island track weaves from the north to the south, from open fields to mountainous jungle, steep inclines and muddy trails. Culminating a few hours later at The Needle; a sacred Polynesian rock formation that hasn’t changed all that much since 1000 A.D. It’s both strenuous and stunning; taxing but rewarding.
That’s nice, but Rarotonga’s more about beaches, right?
Sure, the beaches are fantastic, but the Cross Island trek provides you with the opportunity to dig an intrepid route through arching palms and a canopy of native trees - using only vine roots for leverage. You’ll traverse streams and scramble the mountainside, pass frisky wild fowl and balmy waterfalls.
For breath taking views across the island, at a height of 413 metres, with cascading panoramas across a pristine mass of chestnut and shampoo trees, with the sapphire ocean shimmering somewhere in the distance.
Heights and scrambling? Sounds perilous.
Hardly, you’re guided all the way by Pa, possibly the coolest man with dreads you’ll ever meet.
You don’t know how many cool people with dreads I’ve met.
No, but we’ve met Pa and he’s old-school groovy. With a wicked sense of humour and a fitness level to put an Olympic athlete to shame. Pa’s crossed this route over three thousand times and there’s nothing he doesn’t know about Rarotonga’s botany; as a distinguished herbal healer, he knows the name and medicinal use for every plant.
Sounds like he’ll make us eat grubs for lunch.
Nope. But he does provide it. You’ll be hungry after your ascent and descent from The Needle. At Wigmore's Waterfall (aka Papua Falls), Pa will prepare lunch while you take a refreshing dip in the natural pool. It’s often a delicious homemade ensemble of smoked tuna sandwiches, fresh coconut and papaya. No grubs in sight.
I have a sore toe. I can’t possibly do it.
Not at all. The trek at times can be steep and arduous, but as long as you have moderate fitness and no physical impairments, it’s more than achievable. Pa will set a realistic pace and you can stop to rest as much as you like.
I don’t think I need Pa. I’ll go alone.
We don’t advise it. Although there are orange triangles posted on various trees and stubs, there are very few clear markers and those who go it alone often deviate off track. The path can also be muddy and eroded, so it’s wiser to follow a sure-footed expert.
I’m travelling during the wet season, it’s too risky.
The trial is open year-round and Pa’s 3000-plus hikes have covered all seasons. He’ll adapt the approach to suit all weather and track conditions.
This must be getting expensive!
Pick up and off, lunch and a three-hour round trek comes in at $89 per person. Depending on your Raro itinerary, including all that beach-time we know you’re craving, the trek with Pa is available Monday, Wednesday and Friday - an easy add-on to all your other activities.
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