South Pacific 5 Week Summary, June 26 - July 29, 2019

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South Pacific 5 Week Summary, June 26 - July 29, 2019

Postby Sbooker » Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:41 pm

This is a major thread hijack - sorry Tony S.

Tony C. Your comments are noted and we really liked Grand Targhee on our one day excursion there a couple of years ago. The view of the Tetons from the top was worth the price of admission.
Now that we’ve come this far in thread drift perhaps I could ask about your recent jaunt to the Australian outback. Separate thread maybe?
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South Pacific 5 Week Summary, June 26 - July 29, 2019

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:47 pm

I will post TR's for a few of the spots we visited over the past 5 weeks. There are well over 3,000 pictures from 5 different cameras and only yesterday did I get them all on my home computer. Going through them to pick highlights and write TR's will not be on "Patrick time" but it won't be immediate either.

The high level summary;
1) Paul Gauguin cruise part 1: We got on the ship late afternoon of June 26 and did not get off until 3 hours on the morning of July 5 in Rangiroa. As mentioned before Pitcairn was a FAIL, eclipse was a FAIL and there was no scuba diving or snorkeling from the ship on Rangiroa either. The Paul Gauguin has great food and service, the astronomy and anthropology lectures were great and it was a fascinating group of well traveled eclipse chasers. But the bottom line is caveat emptor for "adventure travel" on a cruise ship, because the cruise captain will always make port call/shore excursion decisions on a lowest common denominator basis.
2) Society Islands: We drove around the island of Tahiti in car rental before boarding the ship June 26 and also spent 1+ day in Papeete after the cruise for the Heiva music festival. We had two scuba dives and a 4x4 land tour on Bora Bora, vanilla and pearl tours on Tahaa and Huahine and finally catajet/snorkeling and e-bike tours on Moorea.
3) There are no direct flights from Tahiti to Australia, so we had to go through Auckland. Rather than have a lengthy airport layover, we made it 24 hours and drove to Rotorua to hike the Waimangu Volcanic Valley and visit the Maori settlement in Whakarewarewa.
4) On July 14 we finally made it to Australia's Red Center, landed Yulara ~2PM and drove the 300km to King's Canyon before sunset. We hiked the 6km King's Canyon loop in a brisk wind the next morning and there will definitely be a TR for that.
5) Uluru will close for climbing forever on October 26, so naturally we were motivated to do that. No surprise there were a lot of people, including some young kids as it was an Aussie school holiday week. There were strong SE winds on top, but the steep part on the chain is low on the NW side so the climb was open. We also saw two sunsets and one sunrise on Uluru and hiked to its two sheltered waterholes.
6) We hiked through Kata Tjuda on our last day in Yulara. On July 18 we arranged a 7 hour layover in Alice Springs and so rented another car to see Standley Chasm and the Central Australian museum.
7) After an overnight in Darwin we drove to Kakadu July 19 via the Litchfield swimming holes.
8 ) July 20 we started early with the Yellow Water billabong cruise, visited the Nourlangie and Ubirr aboriginal rock art sites and took the Bardedjilidji walk through sandstone outcroppings, 3 short walks totaling about 6km.
9) The only full day guided tour we signed up for was into the aboriginal reserve of Arnhem Land. As its art center is closed Sundays, we spent that day driving to Gunlom Falls. Gunlom has several swim areas at the top of the steep 1km hike to its falls, justly touted as the "The World's Finest Natural Infinity Pool."
10) We got the Arnhem Land tour, which has rock art comparable to sites in Kakadu and generally less forest and more open floodplain. Liz bought a large artwork which is being shipped home.
11) One day in Darwin: we visited Crocosaurus Cove and the Flying Doctor museum, which also has shows and VR exhibits on the Japanese bombing of Darwin during WWII.
12) It took 3 flights and 20 hours to get from Darwin to Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. The big attraction there for divers is the President Coolidge, a cruise ship converted to troop transport which hit a mine close to shore and sank in 1942, losing only two out of 5,000 men but a lot of supplies.
13) For our non-dive last day on Santo, we hiked to Millennium Cave, a real adventure, definitely will have a TR on that one.
14) Air travel logistics forced us to spend 21 hours in Vanuatu's capital Port Vila before flying home via Fiji. This proved fortuitous because we found out in May that we could take a daytip to Tanna Island and see the world's longest continuously active volcano.
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Re: South Pacific 5 Week Summary, June 26 - July 29, 2019

Postby EMSC » Wed Aug 07, 2019 1:09 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:we visited over the past 5 weeks. There are well over 3,000 pictures from 5 different cameras and only yesterday did I get them all on my home computer.


Ahhh, such first world problems, lol.
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