Vava’u – Mt Talau National Park

So, it’s Sunday in Vava’u and like everywhere else in the Kingdom of Tonga, Vava’u shuts down and everyone goes to church. I decided to have a partial relaxing day and just hang out in the backpackers for most of it. There’s a nice common room, I know a few of the people, so I grabbed a book, my phone and just hung out on the couch.

By lunchtime, I felt terribly lazy and decided to get out of the place and do something a little physical. Since I’ve not hiked on Vava’u, I decided to go for a walk. At the end of the harbour, Mt Talau stands quietly in all its mountainness. I’d say splendour, but at barely 132m from the base to the top, there isn’t any. But it’s close to town, so why not. It’s actually a fair walk to get to through the sometimes steep streets of Neiafu. By the time I reached the base of the mountain, I was sweating. A good start. I located the sign along the dirt track and kept following it.

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The track grew thinner and led into the bush. I kept walking until I ran out of track. Had I gone the wrong way? Instead of heading back, I chose to climb up the side of the mountain. It had mildly rained for the last few days, so the side of the mountain was a little slick and soft, but I went up anyway, hanging on to trees and roots as I went. It wasn’t difficult going and I soon spied a track when I reached the top. Heading in one direction for about 5 metres and I found another track that went to a set of steps leading down. I had obviously missed a track leading up the mountain. Nevermind.

I continued along the track and it lead around the top of the mountain to a small building with a satellite dish and then on to a lookout: a fantastic view of the harbour

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I walked on and found a track leading to another path down the mountain, this one with ropes to help with the climb. I guess I missed that one too. Ignoring it, I continued on to another lookout giving a view of the town:

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Then on to a third lookout at the end of the track on the north side of the mountain:

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I retraced my steps back to where I had climbed up and headed back the other way. I was hoping to find a lookout to the west, but the track petered out. So I headed back. (I came back again on Tuesday and redid the climb with my Canadian female friend. We pushed on into the bush and eventually found a lookout on the west side:)
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I headed back to the steps near where I had climbed up and headed down. The steps lead to a roped section of path that leads to a split in the rock that you climb through. Again the dirt was a little wet and soft, but I went down anyway.

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I have to say that the climb was more difficult than I expected. There were only a few places to hold on to and many places to slip. I took my time and came out of the bottom of the split in the rock to a short rock scramble down to the ground. I walked through some trees and came to a wire fence. On the other side was the original track I’d walked along.

I was heading past the Mt Talau sign when I heard voices on the side of the mountain. This must be the other way up. I headed into the bush and found the path, it actually starts about 10 metres before the sign. The good ole start the trail before the sign trick. So I decided to climb it. It was roped the entire way to the top and took me all of 5 minutes to get up. I then climbed back down – another 5 minutes – and then back to town.

Tomorrow, I’m off on a Kart Safari!

The Trail Wanderer

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