Matanikau Falls

It was a short bus ride from Chinatown, up the river and to the outskirts of a little village called Tuvali where we met a local guide. We started off walking through the village, waded through the river and began ambling up the green hills (used to film the movie ‘Thin Red Line’), followed by 2 of the mangiest dogs I’ve ever set eyes on – ‘Blackie’ and ‘Smallfela Blackie’. The view behind us, back to Honiara with the ships in the bay would have been enough, but when we hit the top of the hill there was a sudden switch to dense, dramatic rainforest. We had a very steep and muddy descent past rusty world war 2 shells into what could have been another world. Huge leaves, the drip, drip of cascading waterways, logs crumbling underfoot, the most enormous butterflies/moths you’ve ever seen, spiders everywhere and such lush greenery. And just as suddenly there were the waterfalls. And we jumped straight in. It was clear and refreshing – lying in the water, gazing up at the sun filtering through the speckled mist and the towering rainforest may have been one of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever experienced.

It wasn’t long before we attempted jumps off the top of the waterfall into the pool below – frightening and fun… and discovered that the very top of the waterfall came out from a cave you could swim right into. Next time I’m taking a head torch and going for a proper caving expedition up there. The rocks are exceptionally slippery and dangerous and the current strong in some places. I took a chunk out of my hand trying to get out of the cave as the current pushed me up against the rocks… and by the end of the day we were all covered in cuts and bruises, but I think that made it that much more special (It wasn’t until the end of the day we found out that there have been quite a few slips up there with bodies appearing days later in the ocean).

The best part though – was that the road home was the river. Scrambling down the remainder of the waterfall with another big jump into a canyon below, we started to float down the river on our ‘Happiness Shop’ blow up rings – Angry Birds, Barbie and Hello Kitty have never been more useful. Trees cascaded down the rocky banks into the river, their leaves drifting slowly down – a tropical shower of sorts – birds flew overhead and butterflies hitched lifts on our legs. And so it was again – another of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever experienced. Truly awesome!