DAY 84 – March 29th

Written by Safarigal
March 31, 2017

Hilo, Hawaii

We had booked the volcano hiking tour, which I discovered was a rather over optimistic plan when I read the small print that stated that the hike was into the bottom of the crater, and then back out again. I had thought it would just be a nice little stroll around the rim. To be fair, the print wasn’t that small, but I just did not read it.

When we were waiting in the Queens Room for the tour to leave, in walked several young couples, all kitted out in hiking gear, looking very fit and healthy. My heart sank as I thought that they would be our hiking companions. Things were not going well. Then it was announced that the Helicopter Tour was leaving, and they all jumped up to go on the helicopter. I was so relieved to see that the passengers left behind were older couples who looked somewhat like us. So apart from one young Swedish/Norwegian couple we all looked like we had the same hiking abilities.

The port of Hilo is very unimpressive – just a large shed and loads of containers, but as we disembarked we received a warm welcome from a trio playing traditional Hawaiian music. I do like ukuleles!

It was pouring when we walked to the tour van, and it rained on and off all day, but there were occasional periods of sunshine.

As we drove from the port of Hilo to the Volcanoes National Park, our tour guide, Angelique, pointed out all of the places of interest that we were passing, and talked a lot about her life on the island. She had an impressive knowledge about the volcanoes on the island, and filled us in on all of the details.

Our fist stop was at the Thurston Lava Tube, which goes for about 40 miles, but we only walked through a small portion of it. It is amazing. To get to the entrance to the tube you walk though the jungle. Only this jungle doesn’t have snakes and large biting insects, unlike the Amazon, and I bet that the streams don’t have piranhas either.

It was still raining, and I was soaked by then despite wearing my rain jacket. I then remembered something else in the not so small print. It stated that you have a walk through the rain forest. Yes, I suppose for the forest to look like a rain forest jungle you need a lot of rain. And there was poor Brian carrying a multitude of tubes of sunscreen in the backpack. Still, my sun hat was good protection from the deluge.

After the walk thought the lava tube, and a very tasty granola bar, we commenced our descent into the crater of Kilauea Iki – which is one of Kilauea’s smaller pit craters. It last had a full-blown eruption in 1959, and the crater is now 400 feet less deep than it was prior to the eruption, due to the accumulation of lava. Angelique showed us photos of the eruption. It was spectacular. John Brinkley in his talk on volcanoes had discussed shield volcanoes and what their eruptions looked like, so it was great to see photos of a relatively recent eruption, and see the features before us in the crater.

We walked around the rim for a short while, and then started our gradual descent into the crater floor. It was still raining, and initially there was mist obscuring our view into the crater. Gradually it cleared up, and we caught sight of the crater floor below us, looking just like a moonscape.

Finally we reached the crater floor and walked on the cracked lava, past steaming vents, to the other side of the crater. There was absolutely no soil there, but nevertheless there was scattered plant life, providing color to the otherwise barren landscape. It was totally amazing, I could have stayed there much longer just marveling at the wonders of nature, but all too soon it was time to start our long ascent back to the rim.

We then went to the Jagger Museum where you have a fantastic view of the Kilauea Caldera, and sat on a wall eating our sandwiches, watching the glowing lava fires in the crater. The weather had really improved by then, so although it was windy, it was very pleasant to sit there and watch the lava flow below us. Then it was time to get back in the van and head to the ship. No time for shopping today!

The rest of the ship seemed to have been shopping however. Everyone was over laden with shopping bags as we were all going back on the ship. There was no official Cunard shuttle bus, but Walmart had provided buses from the ship to their store in the main shopping center. It seems like the majority of passengers and crew had taken advantage of it.

I had hoped that we would sail by Kilauea to see if there was lava flowing into the sea from the flank eruption, but alas we headed off in the opposite direction, so no more lava sightings for us.

We really had had the most wonderful of days – we were tired after all of that strenuous walking, but to actually be inside the crater walking on the lava was very well worthwhile.


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I love to share my adventures with others, and hopefully give them some insight into what to expect on their own exciting travels. I hope reading my blog will be a useful resource, and inspire others to follow their travel dreams. As a travel advisor, I get great pleasure out of being able to help folks fulfill their aspirations by translating my experience in safari adventures and ocean voyages into memorable travel experiences for them.