Tour leader: Katya Belykh

States: California, Hawaii.

Dates: November 4-18th 2017

15 days, 14 nights

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Los Angeles — Kona — Volcano National Park — Mauna Loa — Puna — North of the island — Pololu Valley — Kona — Kona’s west coast — Mauna Kea — Los Angeles

Big Island is the largest and youngest island of the Hawaiian archipelago. It is still growing, at an average of 30 square feet per year. Here you can see everything from the tropical jungle in the coastal areas to the snow covered deserts in the mountains. Also located here are the highest mountains in Hawaii and all Pacific region: the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes.

The island’s landscapes are amazingly diverse, including snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, deserts, and jungle. Big Island is also an island with a rich local history and cultural traditions. This amazing, stunning world is what will be surrounding us on every day of this journey.

This tour will be more physically active than our usual trips to Hawaii. Those who partake will not only become acquainted with the island’s wonderful nature and culture, but also will get a chance to ascend Polynesia’s highest active volcano: Mauna Loa (4 170 m.) The views during the trek are fantastic! The program also includes trekking in nearly all of the climate zones existing on our planet, beaches, snorkeling, an introduction to the hawaiian culture and traditions, and, of course, lots of the famously delicious island food.

November 4th, Saturday. Meetup at the Los Angeles airport, check-in at a 2.5* hotel, a walk along the famous Venice Beach.

November 5th, Sunday. Travel from Los Angeles to Kona, HI 5 hours. Shopping for items needed for the trek: food, gas, etc. D. Accommodation in a 3 * hotel, rest, walk around the city, beach time.

November 6th, Monday. Drive from Kona to the Volcano National Park, about 2 hours. Along the way, a stop on a black sand beach that is famous for being a turtle resting spot. Trekking in the Volcano national park. After sunset: viewing of the glow coming from Kilauea Volcano crater — the most active volcano on the planet. Night in a hotel or a B&B in the Volcano Village.

November 7th, Tuesday. Trekking in the Volcano National Park. In the evening, preparations for the ascent. Тight in a hotel or a B&B in the Volcano Village.

November 8th, Wednesday. Beginning of accent on Mauna Loa. Departure at dawn, an hour-long drive to the trailhead. Start of the trail at about 2000 m. elevation. Ascending 1060 meters (about 12 km uphill hike). Night at the Rest House hut at 3100 m. altitude.

November 9th, Thursday. The ascent is continued. Departing at dawn; on that day we will climb from 3060 to 4040 meters and hike about 18 km. to the summit. Night in the Mauna Loa Cabin hut at 4040 m. altitude.

November 10th, Friday. In the morning, exploring Mauna Loa’s summit. At the group’s request, we can go to the absolute summit at 4170 meters. The path is around 3.3 km long. Descent lies along a different route, on the north side of the mountain. Stunning views of the entire island, the volcanoes and the neighboring island of Maui. Descent from 4170 to 3370 meters, the overall distance to be traveled this day in 10 km. A drive to the tropical part of the island, to a B&B in the jungle.

November 11th, Saturday. Exploring Puna: jungle, an exotic lava terrain, beaches, hot springs. A tour of a tropical garden on a farm and tasting the fruits that grow there. Swimming in the warm springs of Ahalanui Beach Park. Kalapana village that was almost entirely covered by lava, a walk on the new land that was formed after the eruption began. Night at a Puna B&B.

November 12th, Sunday. The city of Hilo and surrounding areas, Hilo Botanical Garden, a tour of the town, souvenir shopping. Drive to the top of Mauna Kea, trekking to the sacred Waiau lake located nearly at the top. Sunset at the summit. Night at a Puna B&B.

November 13th, Monday. Hike to The Aka-Aka waterfalls, trekking into the sacred Waipio Valley, beach time. Night at a 2.5* hotel in Waimea town on the north side of the island.

November 14th, Tuesday. Trekking into the sacred Pololu valley. Beach time. In the evening: snorkelling with giant manta rays. Night at a 2.5 * hotel in Kona.

November 15th, Wednesday. Introduction to the Hawaiian culture, gods and goddesses in Puuhonua O Honaunau (Place of Refuge) — a traditional Hawaiian temple. Hookena beach. Optional exploring of an underground lava tunnel nearby. Night at a 2.5 * hotel in Kona.

November 16th, Thursday. Free time in Kona. Additional excursions if desired, beach time. Night at a 2.5 * hotel in Kona.

November 17th, Friday. Travel from Kona, HI to Los Angeles, Ca.

November 18th, Saturday. Travel from Los Angeles.

Included in the trip’s cost:

  • Guide and driver service
  • transport
  • hotels, B&B’s and mountain huts
  • continental breakfasts in some hotels and hot breakfasts in hawaiian B&B’s.
  • food during the Mauna Loa summit trekking: hot breakfast and dinner, snacks during trekking
  • entry tickets to the national parks
  • manta ray snorkeling
  • shared camping gear: stoves, pots, propane, water filters

The cost does not include:

  • international flight
  • domestic flight
  • USA entry visa
  • traveler’s insurance
  • any meals other than the ones included
  • personal expenses
  • expenses for any additional activities
  • a night in a Los Angeles hotel on November 13th (We can help to book a room if you choose to spend the night there)

The cost of renting a tent and personal camping gear is not included in the price! Travelers are encouraged to bring their own gear, as the selection in stores on the island is very limited.

We will need things for any kind of weather or occasion. In addition to light clothes we will also need warm ones for going to Mauna Kea and hiking in the Volcano National Park. Any questions about the equipment can be sent to ebelykh@yahoo.com.

Each participant must have a working phone and the ability to contact the trip leader, as well as a watch adjusted to the local time.

Every person must bring all the necessary things with them. During the trip there will be some time for souvenir shopping, but none for the purchase of equipment — the tour’s itinerary passes through places with no large specialty stores. Please do not forget spare camera batteries, outlet adapters, etc. During the tour, we will be able to buy only the most basic things. If you are taking any medications, do not forget to bring them with you as most medications are different in the US.

For the whole trip:

  • A small comfortable backpack for day trips. It should be able to hold a camera, water, a snack for the road and other useful stuff.
  • A headlight. Hawaii is fighting light pollution, so they have very few streetlights. It is necessary for the mountain climbing and is useful in many other places around the island, since the streetlights are truly scarce.
  • Insect repellant. Hawaii doesn’t have too many mosquitoes, but if you consider yourself a «tasty» individual that gets bitten a lot, it may come in handy.
  • A sunblock lotion with a minimum of 30 SPF. Anything under 30 SPF is not strong enough for the tropics!
  • Sunglasses
  • A rainproof jacket or poncho: Hawaii has a tropical climate, so it can start raining anytime and anywhere.
  • A swimsuit/trunks

For the Mauna Loa ascension (4170 meters):

  • The weather in the mountains is unpredictable, rain or snow can fall at any time throughout the year. Zero temperatures and strong winds are also possible.
  • Waterproof trekking shoes
  • Warm jacket, rain poncho
  • Fleece sweater
  • Thick wind- and waterproof pants
  • A dry change of clothes
  • Gloves and hat
  • Trekking backpack, 60-80 liters capacity
  • Sleeping bag that can withstand -5 -9 C temperatures
  • Personal dishes/utensils (cup, bowl & spoon)
  • Trekking poles, if you’re accustomed to using them

For trips on the sea level:

  • A light shirt with long sleeves (for those who don’t like insect repellent)
  • Insect repellent, if needed
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • A hat/bandana
  • Sunblock lotion
  • Light, comfortable shoes for walking

There will be no porters, so everybody will have to carry their own backpack on Mauna Loa. The average slope of the mountain is 5 degrees, which is not steep. The main difficulty will consist of walking on the uneven lava that can crumble and break under your feet. Each participant will be asked to carry a portion of the “community” equipment — food, water filters, pots, etc.

It is crucial that you bring all the equipment with you. Sleeping bags, mountain trekking boots and warm puffy jackets are not sold in Hawaii, anything else can be found if needed but isn’t guaranteed.

Both nights on the mountain will be spent in huts that have beds and mattresses, but zero amenities besides bio-toilets.

Overall, this three-day ascent can be classified as «easy», but is slightly complicated by the fact that we will have to carry backpacks and walk on lava for three days.


Ursa Travel Corp.

2449 Bryunswick Rd Wallkill, NY 12589 USA

E-mail: katya888belykh@gmail.com

Skype: katya.belykh

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