Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lava Tour

Hello everyone. Yet another beautiful day in Utah today. There's a Fiesta de Mayo taking place at the club house of The Falls so we'll be going there today. Should be fun. 
Well, today's post is about LAVA! :D 

While we were staying at "At the End of the Road B&B," Ray hooked us up with this lava viewing tour company. We were leaving for Hilo that morning, but the site was about an hour and a half away, so we figured we would go to Hilo, check into our hotel, grab some lunch and then drive down to this lava viewing area. 

Call them if you want more information or if you want to book a tour.
This company is called Kalapana Cultural Tours, which runs about five tours a day from Uncle Roberts Ava Club and Cafe. They are able to run this tour, which is over private property, because their family owns all that land. All the other tours are trespassing, and they are gradually being shut down. So it was kind of nice to know that we were all there legally. We were told that tourists that trespass here are charged a fine of $2000 per person so make sure you go with the tour. They charge $100 per person for the tour. Seems a bit steep at the beginning but once you are there and you see all that you do, it'll all just seem worth it.

Address: 12 Kalapana Kapoho Beach Rd, Pāhoa, HI 96778
Phone:(808) 936-0456
Timings: Monday-Friday - 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM,
Saturday-Sunday - 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

This is the pick up point - Uncle's Ava Club

We had the option to do boat tours or helicopter tours (which were more expensive) but then we thought, it would be way way cooler to see lava a few feet away from us. So we chose to do the hike instead and we were so glad we did.

They were on time and picked us up in white mini vans. From the pick up point, we were driven to the site from where we were to hike to get to the lava.

Before starting off, the tour guides gave us a short speech about the place, the people who lived here, when the last eruption took place and took away many homes, what kind of plants thrive here, animals, etc.. We were to hike in a single file so no one ended up in places where they shouldn't be. Because we were going to be hiking on solid lava, it was important to follow the guide because they knew which part was strong enough to walk over. It was sunny, but the wind was cool. We did get thirsty and ran out of water, but the guides had extra water bottles, flashlights (for the hike back) and ponchos in case it started to rain. The tour guides are mostly all native Hawaiians who were once part of the village of Kalapana (now wiped out by the volcano). It's interesting to listen to their stories and hear about how they watched their homes burn down. After everything, they all are happy-go-lucky and really chilled out.

It took us over two hours to get to the site and I was really exhausted. The hike was not hard, it was just very tricky because the terrain was uneven with too many cracks and waves. But the moment we got there, the guides got a message on their walkie-talkie that there was a lava flow and it was flowing into the ocean. So we first decided to check out the ocean flow.

Zoomed-in picture of lava flowing into the ocean

It didn't look that amazing in the day time because the glow of lava had to compete with the sun. 

Zoomed-out pic of the lava
This is how far we were standing from where we could see the lava. The smoke that the lava created was huge. By the way, all these picture were clicked by me so none of them are fake (in case you're wondering).

After we saw this, we hiked up a little bit to see some lava flow from up close.

Ankit and I, a few feet away from lava. I am super exhausted so I look pathetic.
Here we are. The lava was flowing very slowly so we could walk around it and click pictures.The Hawaiians consider lava to be sacred because it is what gives them their home. The reason why Big Island is so big is because it continues to grow everyday. The lava flows down and cools and continues to create land. The locals don't like if you disrespect the lava, if you poke sticks into it or throw things into it. The guides believe that if you poke sticks into the lava, it won't flow on the surface the next day. They also don't want you to do anything to make Pele furious because she will bring her wrath upon everyone. 

A piece of the volcano
The locals say that it is bad luck to take a piece of the lava or the sand home. Some people have had their houses burned, lost their jobs, broken marriages, etc. etc. and have come back to the island to put the pieces back where they belong. Crazy to think that a piece of rock can ruin your life but they strongly believe this to be true. So I decided to click a picture of it for memory.

As it got darker, the glow of the lava became brighter. And before we knew it, there was another eruption and fresh lava began flowing faster. We all filmed this phenomenon from a distance.

It was so beautiful. We weren't scared for even a minute. The entire time we were there, we felt safe and we felt blessed to be able to see this sight of a lifetime. It looked just like what we see in movies. I must have taken about 10 videos. I just couldn't get enough of the sight. It kept flowing faster and it looked beautiful in the dark.

I just love the textures. I love the colors. I would seriously love to paint this. 

My eyes get bigger and bigger as it flows down closer to me!
Many people have asked me if it was hot. It wasn't hot. The weather was great. The wind was cool and we had a little bit of drizzle between the day. If you walk up really close to the lava, it'll just feel as if you're standing too close to a bonfire. After a while, you'll want to move back as your face begins to get hot. The temperature of the lava is an average of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. If you wear contact lenses, don't worry. Both Ankit and I were wearing lenses and didn't feel even a little bit of discomfort the entire time we were there. Also, I had heard that the camera batteries drain out faster than you think. Honestly, nothing happened.

We spent maybe an hour and a half just soaking the place up and continuously clicking pictures. On our way back, we stopped to click pictures of the lava flowing into the ocean again. This time it was cooler because the lava was glowing.

Take plenty of water with you. Don't worry if you run out. It would be great if you have a headlamp. It gets really dark on the way back. Like pitch black kinda dark. The guides provide torches and mine was almost running out of battery. So I kept wishing I had brought my headlamp. Do take some snacks because we did get really hungry and we got back from the hike around 9:30 PM or so. The restaurants nearby were closing. I think the whole trip took us about 5-6 hours to do. It will take longer if you are with a slow group. 

I would strongly suggest doing this hike if you are planning a trip to Hawai'i. This is something everyone should have on their bucket list. We can't explain the joy we felt when we saw this. It felt unreal for a moment. It felt like we were in a movie and everything was fake. But to think we were standing on a volcano, watching lava gush out of it and flow out into the ocean, Oh-My-God. What an experience. This is something I'll remember for a lifetime. 

Thank you, Kalapana Cultural Tours for this phenomenal experience.


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