Hiking the Peaks of Tahiti
07 July 2008 | Tahiti
We went to the farmers market this morning. You can find a huge selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and other meats here. We purchased some freshly ground beef, pork, corn on the cob, pamplemouse, oranges, bananas, dill, parsley, spring onions and much more.
The markets here are also fully stocked. I love French countries for many reasons but the food is certainly one of them. We have fresh milk for the first time in a while, lots of yummy cheeses, good steaks, etceteras.
After a lazy morning we finally piled in the car at around noon ready for a repeat of our search for the Belvedere. With the help of various folks on the street and a sign here and there we finally made it. The drive is incredible. You spend quite a bit of time winding along a single lane road going up at a fairly steep angle with sheer drop offs on either side. The vistas are fantastic. We had to back up once for a quarter mile to find a spot to pull over to allow another car to pass. The road was so steep that Nobu and Pablo had to get out and push to get the little Citroen going again. I was in first gear for the entire last half of the drive.
The restaurant is situated high above Papeete and provides breathtaking views of the lower areas of Tahiti and her reefs and lagoons as well as a lovely outlook on Moorea. If you get lucky and visit on a day without clouds on the horizon you would no doubt be able to easily see Huahine and Tetiaroa.
Hideko and I shared a wonderful lunch of cheese and steak fondue. The food is a little expensive as you might expect but if you order the right things it is also very tasty.
After lunch we decided to explore the mountains above the Belvedere. The Belvedere marks the base of the trails that lead to the tops of three progressively higher peaks, the last of which, I believe, is the tallest on Tahiti.
This is not a hike to take lightly! You first make your way up to a French Military training facility with lots of obstacles and physical training structures, a sight in and of itself. This leads you to the trail head and things are all dirt, rock and roots from there on. We passed a three cable bridge over a deep ravine (part of the French training setup) and, bearing right followed the trail up into the hills. Shortly thereafter you confront two hillsides with ropes hanging down to assist you in mounting the rise. This would be even more tricky to navigate if it had rained heavily recently.
We hiked on for about three hours. We weren't even close to the first peak. At point where we decided to turn back to ensure that we would have enough light to get down we were still a ways off of the first of three vistas. It was still well worth the effort. We hiked across ridges with stunning views of both the interior valleys and the waters around Tahiti. As we gained elevation we could see the bands of habitat change from hardwood to pine forest and then on to ferns and moss in the upper elevations where the clouds shroud the hills in moisture most days.
This hike would be my number one recommendation for sights to see on Tahiti. Not only is it great exercise but you will not see more of the natural beauty of the island any other way. This hike has it all, vistas of the lagoons and sea, waterfalls, sheer peaks and pinnacles as well as all of the varieties of plants and trees.