Of all the hikes in and around Honiara, Tenaru Falls seems to be the one that most people rave about. Needless to say, I was pretty keen to get there except for one “slight” problem that made me hesitate – threats to my life from machete-wielding locals.
You see, the four-hour hike along the riverbed to the falls, passes through two communities. Generally, you pay a kastom fee and guide fee at the start of the walk, which means only the first community benefits, making the second community a wee bit upset. I have heard stories of hikers having machetes waved in their faces by drunk angry men, threats to the life of their dogs, and so on. However, they all came back alive and with limbs intact, so I decided to bite the bullet and just do it.
Naturally, on the morning of the hike, the Chief didn’t turn up at the designated meeting spot. Nor did he have his phone switched on. So off we went, driving around random communities trying to find Nestor. Surprisingly, we found him.
He lent us his kids to be our guide and off we drove to the starting point. Fortunately, for us, Nestor has now worked out a new route. Instead of a four-hour flat hike through two communities, we were now led up into the foggy and muddy hills of a logging enterprise. From there, it was a “mere” two-hour hike to the falls, down an incredibly steep and muddy slope, before multiple river crossings. We made it!
The sight of cool water plummeting 60m down into the Chea River was too tantalising for our hot, sweaty bodies. We headed for the falls, as far as we could go, before being belted with little tiny bullets of cooling, stinging spray. We forged forward so that we could, at least, submerge ourselves into the pool below. The force of the falls was too much to stay there for too long, so we clambered over the rocks to the other side where peacefulness was a welcome contrast. There we stayed…for a long time.
Of course, as Newton Isaac said, what goes down must come up. After a few hours, it was time to head home, back up the steep and muddy sleep, where the foreign sensation of being cool in Solomon Islands vanished as quickly as it came. However, the memory of that tingling freshness, and that knowledge that it can now be attained without dodging machetes, will remain in my memory for a long time to come.