This is a long day tour. Pick up was around mid day, we travelled through a lot of the island, stopping off along the way for some sight seeing, and at a super bakery for some yummy snacks etc. Our tour guide Fran, was very knowledgeable, and really bought into volcanoes and Big island culture, This made her narratives interesting and understandable. We met some super folk on this tour, all of whom enjoyed it. Walking through a lava tube was interesting, as was the cheeky stop at some macadamia nut trees along the way. We stopped off at a golf course for some tea, which was nice and comfortable. The welcome was pleasant too. Towards the end of the tour, we returned to the previously visited visitor centre, right at the side of the volcano. The sun had set at this point, revealing a bright red glow for the distant volcano active spot. We could only get within a half mile or so from the active part, and didn’t see any live flowing lava which was a let down, but on the whole very enjoyable trip. The small group made the tour much more comfortable and fun, I think we all enjoyed this fact. We had plenty of time to look around at our own pace and direction. The tour was slightly hampered in full enjoyment by the VOG, which is volcanic fog. This coupled with a large mist cloud did spoil things, but hey, this is nature at work, so we cant really grumble at that. A long drive back to Kona, tired and sleepy. Thank you Fran for your efforts, and good luck in the future.
Breathtaking views on top of Mauna Kea, disappointing Star Party. Full moon was blamed for washing out fainter objects, though there is ample interesting points to see on the moon for most people. Telescope used was not fit for purpose, needing lots of TLC and wasn't complete either. Being an astronomer myself, I found the info given by the tour guide to be misleading and happily corrected this information to my wife. The road up to the top is long and very bumpy. Stopping at the visitor centre for a brief time allowed to acclimatise to the upper heights and lack of air on Mauna Kea, where you could quite easily feel less certain on your feet - I did!!
For me, this trip is the only reason I wanted to go to big island of Hawaii, I feel quite let down, by a poor presentation. Looking around the outside of the observatories though, that was interesting. The sunset was OK, not as good as I hoped, being so high in altitude mind.
If I were to return to Big Island in the future, I would not go on this trip, rather rent an appropriate vehicle myself. My Nokia Lumia 800 had the full Hawaii road maps on it which I downloaded in UK, so navigating the island was so easy, even down to shops, restaurants and points of interest!
For the cost of this trip, I don't think it was good value, against what was delivered, it could have been a whole lot better without much more effort. Added to this, no hotel pick up from Kona, you have to make your own way to the meet point and back.
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