When-Where-Why?

The Solomon Islands is a beautiful archipelago in Melanesia. The main island is Guadalcanal and its capital is Honiara. The Solomon Islands were British Isles until 1978.

We spent three weeks at the Solomon Islands.

We made a stop on Guadalcanal, Gizo, Kolombangara, Munda and Tetepare.

We left in November 2019. It was very hot and humid, and we had nice showers.

Kolombangara is an island located in the “Western Province” of the Solomon Islands. It is a thirty minute boat ride from Gizo. People go to this island for hiking and bird watching. There are crocodiles that roam too! It is very beautiful and people are welcoming. Kolombangaran means “Water King”; this is due to the fact that it rains a lot here and there are many rivers. It is an almost circular volcanic island. The summit of the (extinct) volcano rises to almost 1800m above sea level and is one of the highest mountains in the Solomon Islands. Although some companies cut the trees to sell the timber, the same species are immediately replanted in the same places, thus avoiding too brutal deforestation. There are precious woods such as Tek, Acacia and Eucalyptus. Many specialists come to the island to observe endemic bird and frog species.

The site of the island is very well done, do not hesitate to take a walk to look at the various possible hikes: http://www.kolombangara.org

General Advices

If you plan to spend several days on this island, keep in mind that hiking here is more difficult because of the rain and humidity. You may not see what you want to see and you may have a lot of free time.

So, I advise you to take a book or two, load your electronic devices, take a board game or card game if you are several.

When it comes to clothes, humidity can ruin your stay! So, think about taking a change of clothes if you’re hiking on two days (like socks, t-shirt, sweater and pants). There is nothing worse (in our opinion) than having to put clothes soaked in the rain and sweat the next morning when you wake up! not to mention shoes! Take flip flops elsewhere! A light towel can also be useful if you cross rivers.

For food, if you arrive directly from a foreign country and you plan to cook, take dry foods that you like like Italian pasta, tea, cakes, quinoa etc … things other than dehydrated Chinese noodles , rice and canned tuna!

Internet & Phone

As in many places in the Pacific, the phone and the internet are extremely expensive. Arriving at Honiara Airport, in exchange for your boarding pass, Bmobile will give you a free local SIM card. You will have to activate it and reload it in a sport where it is written “top up”. There is another company, “Our Telekom”, which makes similar offers but the SIM card costs 10SBD. Calls, messages and the internet are three separate things you will have to pay.

On Gizo there is the company “Our Telekom” which has a shop if you have not been able to go to that of Honiara. There are places to really recharge everywhere on Gizo and Honiara but not on this island.

Money

Here we use a currency called SBD, local dollars (1SBD = 0.11euros in November 2019). There is no ATM. Remember to take a lot of cash with you and find out if there is an ATM where you go, and if not, how much would your stay cost, including activities. Banks are BSP and ANZ. There are many ATMs on Honiara and some on Gizo.

Transports

There are not many flights to come and leave from Honiara. There is one flight per week with Fiji Airways and one per week with Fly Solomon.

Internal flights are expensive for the distance traveled. You can easily combine flights + boat to get from one island to another. Take a plane to Gizo and then a boat to Kolombangara.

Airport transfer to Gizo

You will land on an island ten minutes by boat from Gizo. There are taxi boats. Check with your accommodation if it is not included, otherwise it costs 60SBD per person.

Transfer to and from Hambere

You can ask on “Imagination Islands”, “Fatboys resort” and “Dive Gizo” club to organize your stay; they will contact Venti, the owner of the lodge, to pick you up. Other people can also bring you around, ask around and try to pay less than 700 SBD for the boat. Since the “Fatboys” transfer to Hambere costs 700 SBD (whether you are alone or more). The trip takes about thirty minutes because Venti will also take you around some beautiful bays before going to the resort. To leave Hambere you can ask Venti to bring you; he takes 1000 SBD to go on Ringgi.

Fatboys Contacts: bookingssolomonislandsfatboys.com.au / fatboys@solomon.com.sb / 60095/7575705

Contacts Gizo Dive Gizo & Adventure Sports: divegizo@solomon.com.sb / (677) 60253

Contact Tanya Raymond (a desktop girl on Ringgi): admin@kfpl.com.sb

Transfer Hambere – Ringgi

Venti, from the Hambere lodge can bring you there for 1000 SBD. You can also contact Tanya who will book your rooms on Ringgi and Imbu Rano and arrange transfers.

Passing through Tanya the price to join Ringgi is 1000 SBD (this is the normal price, if you are asked to negotiate up to 1000 SBD or less). It’s about an hour away.

Contact Tanya: admin@kfpl.com.sb

Transfer Ringgi – Imbu Rano

No choice, it’s pick-up. There are about thirty minutes to reach Imbu Rano.

Price: For a 4 person vehicle it is 400 SBD one way. For a vehicle of 12 people is 600 SBD one way.

Contact Tanya: admin@kfpl.com.sb

Transfer Ringgi – Munda

Passing through Tanya the price to join Ringgi is 1500 SBD.

Contact Tanya: admin@kfpl.com.sb

Housing

There are five or six accommodations on this island and camping (where you will only go with guides for long hikes). Here are the rates of some that we attended (except the last one).

Housing held by Venti and Nadi. It’s simple, we shower jumping (for the moment) but it’s very good! There is a stilt dwelling on the lake (where there are crocos!). Venti and Nadi are extremely friendly and will make you taste local products. The meals are hearty and very good! There is no wifi or power outlets.

– Accommodation rate: So be careful not to be ripped off (like us!) The fatboys had told us 500 SBD (with meals) double room and without paying attention we paid 450 SBD per person! (double).

– Hiking rate: Guide: 250 SBD per day / Conservation fee: 100 SBD per person

– Camping Price: Tent (hole): 100 SBD per person / Mattress (yoga mat): 100 SBD per person / Meal (rice, noodles, tuna): 100 SBD per day / porter: 300 SBD per day

– Contact: You can ask on “Imagination Islands”, “Fatboys resort” and the club “Dive Gizo” you organize your stay (see contacts section above transports) .Transfert from Gizo.Fatboys resort: 700 SBD by boat .

Small hotel with a few rooms. It’s clean, even though the shower is well aged. Five minutes from a “mini market” (nothing special but they have bread!). Possibility of washing clothes and using the kitchen. There are power outlets.

– Rates: Double room: 400 SBD / Each meal: 100 SBD per person

– Contact Tanya: admin@kfpl.com.sb

An overwater lodge with a magnificent view of the jungle and the volcano. You can see birds from the terrace and in the jungle there are many frogs (there are 13 kinds!) And different spiders! The lodge is very warm. The kitchen is well equipped (no fridge on the other hand). The environment is nice and relaxing. For the record, the lodge was built by organizations and NGOs to protect the biodiversity of the site. There are many opportunities for hikes around the lodge, with or without a next guide where you want to go. There is a guard who is there full time in case of trouble and you have a radio link with Ringgi if needed.

– Accommodation rates: Double room: 400 SBD / Each meal: 100 SBD (unless you cook yourself)

– Hiking rate: Guide: 200 SBD per day / Conservation fees: 100 SBD per person / Bearer: 150 SBD

Fares transfers to and from Ringgi: For a 4 person vehicle it is 400 SBD one way. For a vehicle of 12 people is 600 SBD one way.

– Contact Tanya :admin@kfpl.com.sb

Food

You will generally eat at your hosts because there is not necessarily a place to cook. Some guest houses give access to the kitchen but if there is no fruit and vegetable market your meals will consist mainly of dehydrated Chinese noodles, rice and tuna. Ask your hosts for meal times because they will tend to do them so early that when you eat your meals will be cold. Looks like they’re afraid to bother you and as some things are better hot (donuts and fish & chips for example), try to find out!

* In Hambere: You will be fed at Venti and Nadi. The meals are good but a bit greasy.

* In Ringgi: You can ask the guest house to prepare meals otherwise you can use the kitchen.

* In Imbu Rano: You will have to bring your meals. You can cook in the kitchen available. If you go hiking for the day you can have lunch for 1000 SBD per person.

Activities

I put you here the hike we did. There are several possible. Discuss with your hosts the possibilities and also look on the site of the island.

* Hiking on Mount Rano (from Hambere)

What: Big hike on two days. You will pass in the village, in the forest, in a very muddy path (due to deforestation). The goal, over two days, is to reach the summit to see the crater. Make sure the weather allows you because if it’s gray you will not see anything and the hike will be quite long and tiring. From the campsite there is almost two hours to go big climb in the forest (path not at all arranged).

Duration: 2 days with a night camping. To reach the campsite there is about 5-6h. To reach the top from the camp, there is 1h30-2h of climb. If you went to the summit the next day and go down to the village count about 8h with rain.

Difficulty: Difficult especially if it rains. You will have to deal with humidity that reaches 100%! There are areas in the mud that are not easy because of the elevation, heat and humidity. In the forest you will have to pay attention to each of your steps not to fall.

Rates: You will have to pay the guide (250 SBD per person per day), the bearer (300 SBD per porter per day). If you want us to prepare meals it is 100 SBD (breakfast + lunch + dinner); otherwise you can bring back something to cook (like rice). You will have to pay for tent accommodation (unless you bring your equipment).

Tip: If you have good camping equipment, do not worry about humidity, then take your things because theirs are not waterproof and are not in good condition. If you like sweet in the morning, bring back breakfast for breakfast the day after the campsite otherwise it will be rice and noodles with tuna. Take at least two bottles of water that you can fill with the rivers. Do not neglect the water because you are not accustomed to humidity as the locals are. Basically, you will drool!

Note: If you are not in good physical condition or if you are overweight, forget about this hike right away.

Leave a Reply