We went to Rarotonga having heard about the "across the island" track. We went on the Jungle track with a very knowledgeable guide named 'Pa'. He was just brilliant. He has his own hospital in town that the locals visit - he says he is a herbalist. Other than being a little quirky he was an excellent guide. He could see that I was suffering from the steep 400m ascent in the heat. (He does recommend a reasonable level of fitness - I was substantially slower going uphill than the rest of the group and not overly fit). He recommended a break - water, vitamin c etc. before continuing. He provided lots of knowledge about the local plants and their uses. As nutrients, insect repellants, shampoo etc. When we took a break near Rua Manga (the needle) Pa was happy to take lots of photo's of the group. Often when tramping/hiking - you can be quite rushed - Pa allows plenty of time for you to hike at your own pace and take your photo's at leisure. It rained on the descent from the needle which made it quite slippery. I would probably recommend tramping/hiking boots but we were quite comfortable in sneakers and others within our guided group wore sports-sandals ie. teva's and sandshoes (although the latter had less grip and weren't overly practical once it rained). As the highest points are sometimes in cloud - rain is always a possibility. A beautiful waterfall at the end of the track, nice lunch, and fruit to snack on mid-way. All we really needed to take was a big bottle of water and a camera. Pa has a fairly substantial first-aid kit, but use your common-sense and take whatever you think you may need. My husband and I would say that this track was the highlight of our trip and recommend "Pa's Walk's" to anyone visiting Rarotonga. Having a guide was well worth the money (we tramp in NZ and would not usually have a guide). But he provides a great service - he picks you up from anywhere on the island and drops you home again (or town if you wish). He knows the track, and although the track is marked, it is not as well marked as you would expect in NZ, especially at a few of the water crossings. Great trip with loads of local flavour!!!!!!!
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