DU_78/79 DOWN UNDER TRIP
Date of travel: Dec 14, 1978 – Jan 7, 1979
Flight from Los Angeles, California via Honolulu, Hawaii to
FIJI – (3 days, Nadi, Lautoka with sightseeing of the Viti Levu island, a day by boat on Molololailai island), flight to
NEW ZEALAND (13 days, bus tour through the North and the South Islands visiting: North Island: Auckland, Waitomo / Glow-warm caves, Rotorua / flight above volcanoes, Palmerston North, Wellington, ferry to Picton on South Island: Greymouth, Haast, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Omarama, flight above Southern Alps, Christchurch), flight to
AUSTRALIA – (5 days, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, all with sightseeing trips and flights between cities), flight to Tahiti via Auckland (New Zealand)
TAHITI (France) – (2 days, bus tour around the island) and flight to Los Angeles and San Diego, California.
Travel office: Brandon Tours (through May Company Travel in Oceanside)
Who took part: 20 travelers (incl. Aramis), Brandon Tour leader, bus drivers, local guides
SP-93 SOUTH PACIFIC (Florida, CHILE, Easter Island, Pitcairn Island, French Polynesia)
Date of travel: Mar 17 – Apr 6, 1993
On Mar 17, 1993, early in the morning a fellow employee drives me to San Diego airport. Delta Airlines plane takes me via Dallas Ft. Worth to Jacksonville in Florida where in midafternoon. I spend the evening with the sales personal of Monitor the company we are all working for. Next day a drive with the sales person along the eastern coast of Florida with a stop at “St. Augustine Fortress.” At noon, we are in Melbourne. In the afternoon, a visit to a Monitor customer. At night, a dinner with Monitor representatives.
In the morning on Mar 19 a visit to 3 customers. That finishes my work for Monitor. At noon, I rent a car and drive to Orlando. Later in the afternoon, I visit “Epcot Center” with pavilions of various countries. Overnight in a hotel.
On Mar 20, I drive to visit “Kennedy Space Center” on Cape Canaveral. Then I continue freeway 95 south to Miami. When there I take a causeway to Miami Beach. After the sunset, I return the rented car to AVIS at the airport. Later I board a Lan Chile plane and fly via Caracas to Santiago de Chile.
The following morning the plane lands in Santiago de CHILE. With a local guide by bus to our Hyatt Regency Hotel. In the afternoon, there is a bus tour of the city. In the evening, we board a plane and after 5 hours flying we land on “Easter Island.” . There are 18 tourists in our group.
In the morning on Mar 22 a trip in two minibuses. Before we see any of the real statue we notice statues built from chicken wire for Kevin Costner’s new movie. Then we pass the long runway built here by NASA in case a Space Shuttle needs landing in this part of the world. Easter Island looks like a right-angle triangle having the right angle to the north. It’s only town Hanga Roa is on the southwestern side. This morning we explore the southwestern corner of the island. After seeing a platform on the shore with all statues lying on the ground, we drive to deep Rano Kao crater and places where so called Bird Culture was celebrated. There is a movie village with the artificial moai (statues) here. After lunch, there is an individual sightseeing of Hanga Roa.
The second day we go around the island counter-clockwise visiting more platforms on the shore with the moai lying on the ground. On the beginning of 19th century no moa was standing and moai culture was dead. The island is of volcanic origin with some 70 volcanoes. The island is devoid of the original higher vegetation. At one point the movie people built a whole Polynesian village. The name of the movie will be “Rapa Nui,” which is the Polynesian name of the island. Later we climb Rano Raraku. From its basalt, the giant moai (statues) were carved. We see moai in various stages of carving. In midafternoon, we are in Anakena on the north coast. Thor Heyerdahl reconstructed the platform and the moai were erected here. Late in the afternoon, after returning to Hanga Roa we board small boats and despite large waves we climb on to the ship “Explorer.”
Next 3 days our ship sails to the west. Our time is interwoven by getting to know our ship, interesting lectures, talking to other passengers, and eating. There are 33 passengers. With our group of 18 there are 15 who boarded Explorer in Valparaiso, Chile. There is a lot of space, because our ship has space for 96 travelers. There are 64 crew members including the hotel personal. Explorer has displacement 2,500 tons. It is 72 m long and has 4.5 m draft.
On Mar 27, Explorer puts anchor at the small “Ducie Island,” part of the PITCAIRN GROUP. It is a typical atoll with a lagoon inside. Pieces of corals and bushes cover its dry land. Nobody lives here, but there are many nesting birds everywhere. After walk on the island we are snorkeling near its shore.
On Mar 28, a visit to “Henderson Island,” also part of the Pitcairn Group. This is a coral reef pushed above the waves. There is a jungle on its shore. Nobody lives here either. In the morning, a walk along the shore of the island looking for its endemic birds and snorkeling in the afternoon.
On Mar 29, Explorer drops its anchor at “Pitcairn Island.” Morning is spent on this 4.5 sq. km island where the descendants of Bounty mutineers live. We visit Adamstown with its post office, courthouse, school, church, Adams’ grave, and cemetery. I am surprised to see a computer in the school. There are 58 people living on the island this time. In the afternoon, people of the island come to have lunch on our ship, sell their souvenirs, tell us about their history and life and sing their songs.
After a sea day, our ship enters FRENCH POLYNESIA on Mar 31 and anchors at the “Mangareva Island” in the Gambier Group. On the shore, we are welcomed by local inhabitants with music and dancing. In the church, we get explanation about island history. There is snorkeling in the afternoon.
Two more days on the ocean, with more lectures. The second day PM we come to “Marotiri Islets” and do some riding on zodiacs around them. Marotiri are sheer rocks rising from the waves. On Apr 3, we reach the Austral Islands and anchor at “Rapa Island” (still in French Polynesia). There is a sightseeing walk around the village. Back on board I see a large shark near the ship. My first. At noon Explorer leaves the island.
At noon on Apr 4 we come to “Raivavae Island” (also Austral Islands). A school buses take us around the island with stops at various places. One of which is at a rock statue of a godlike figure, tiki. The local people put up a show for us. Before the sun is out we are back on our ship. The whole next day Explorer is sailing north to Society Islands.
In the morning on Apr 6, we are in TAHITI (part of the Society Islands). Soon we leave Explorer and a bus takes us to the airport. There we board an Air France plane for 7.5 hours flight to Los Angeles. In a rented car I drive home to Vista where an hour before midnight the same day.
Travel office: Abercrombie & Kent
Who took part: There were 33 passengers on the ship Explorer.
MMP-03 Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia
Date of travel: Sep 9 – Oct 29, 2003 (48 day trip)
Early on Sep 11 in a rented car from Vista to Los Angeles Airport, flight via Honolulu to GUAM , where in the afternoon Sep 12 (due to the Date Line). Next day sightseeing the island by bus and later boarding the ship “World Discoverer” for an expedition sailing through Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. Days on the ocean covered by interesting scientific lectures.
Between Sep 14 and Sep 22 our ship was wandering among islands of the FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA visiting their inhabitants and allowed frequent snorkeling of its passengers. In the State Yap the ship stopped at: Gaferut Island, Ifaluk Atoll and Satawal Island; in the State Chuuk: Pulap Island and the famous Truk Lagoon where the Americans in WWII destroyed 60 Japanese ships in two days; in the State Pohnpei: Ororuk Atoll, Pohnpei Island, Nukuoro Island and the Island Kapingamarangi.
Sailing south and crossing Equator we encountered islands of PAPUA NEW GUINEA (PNG) between Sep 23 and Oct 4. The first was the Tatau Island in the Tabar Islands Group, then Tingwon Island. On the larger New Britain Island with volcanoes Tavurvur (still smoking and erupting) and Vulcan (quiet at the moment) we visited the town of Rabaul partly devastated after 1994 eruption of both volcanoes and with number of traces of the Japanese occupation during WWII. Japanese had an important military base here. Next was Kitava Island in the Trobriand Group and Watts Island in the Engineer Group. Then our “World Discoverer” anchored in the capital of PNG Port Moresby on the Iarge New Guinea Island. There was a sightseeing tour of the city and part of the passengers left the ship while new passengers came on board.
During the second leg of our expedition trip we visited the following PNG islands: Kwato, Wagifa, Nabwageta (this one part of the Amphlett Group) and Punawan (from the Calvados Chain). At the last island we spent more time in order to fish out from the ocean our lost anchor (its cost is about $60 thousands) and we were successful.
After two full days sailing east we reached the island country VANUATU (it was called New Hebridies in the colonial era and the chain was shared by Britain and France). Between Oct 7 and Oct 10 we visited Loh Island in the Torres Islands, Ambryn and Malekula Islands followed by Makiro and Aniwa Islands.
A day on the ocean brought us to FIJI . On Oct 12 our ship made stop at Sawa-I-Lau Island in the Yasawa Group (here I drowned my digital and video cameras). The following day we anchored in Lautoka on the Fiji biggest island Viti Levu (I bought a new digital camera here. Also some passengers left and new came on board).
Between Oct 14 and Oct 16 we visited the following Fiji islands: the Kadavu Group, the Fulanga Atoll and the Ono-I-Lau Atoll. There was great birding on these islands.
From Oct 17 to Oct 19 we were on islands of the KINGDOM OF TONGA . On the island of Tongatapu we visited Tonga capital Nuku’alofa. The next day we landed on two islands Lifuka a Uoleva a the last day on islands Neiafu and Nuku.
Due to a large storm with more than 10 feet waves we could not land on island of Niue (belonging to New Zealand) and Palmerston Island, which is part of Cook Islands (belonging also to New Zealand).
However we were able to land on the COOK ISLANDS (administered by New Zealand) on Oct 22 and Oct 23. The first day on Aitutaki Island, where a sightseeing tour in an open bus around the island. The second day on Atiu Island, where also a tour but on a truck.
Between Oct 24 and Oct 28 we were in FRENCH POLYNESIA specifically in its part called Society Islands. The first island which was accounted was Mopelia with an excellent birding trip. The following day the famous island Bora Bora, where a bus tour.
On Oct 26 many passengers left the ship in Tahiti and I was among them. (The last leg of the ship continued to the Easter Island without me). Those who left the ship in Tahiti had 3 full days on this island with accommodation in a hotel. First day bus tour around the island as part of the expedition. The second day I visited the capital Papeete by myself. The third day I took a ferry to the Moorea Island and a tour of that island in a van with a small group of English speaking travelers.
On Oct 29 we left our hotel very early and flew from Tahiti to Los Angeles where at noon local time. After renting a car I drove home to Vista.
Travel office: Society Expeditions from Seattle, Washington State
Who took part: From about 70 passengers during the first leg of the trip to about twice as many in the third leg of the trip. Good 2/3 from Germany and some other European countries and only 1/3 from North America.