The Clinging Cave of Mt Otemanu

How many, JUST HOW MANY have stared in wonder at the cave clinging to the cliff-face of Mt Otemanu & dreamt of the views that it would offer, the excitement of discovery, how good it would be to just be there & said:  “I want to go there!”

Well, dream no more………..it’s yours!

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TRIP OVERVIEW

  • Far & away one of the best (& certainly the hottest) adventures on Bora Bora;
  • Great sence of achievement (& of relief) on reaching the top;
  • Sensational views overlooking some of the world’s best hotels on the world’s best lagoon;
  • Fantastic location to use for a lunch stop-over just taking it all in – mind-blowing!

The Tetuanui family have long lived on the land afoot Ana o Pea (the cave of the swallow deemed to be the representation of the goddess of the air) where legend holds that a couple gave birth to a child with the body of a human & the head of a centipede. In 2006, Azdine, an adventurous guide with the same dream, approached the elders of the family for permission to climb. The family said there was no track & spoke of the fact that few had ever undertaken the climb as it was widely held that tupapau (ghosts) inhabited the cave & the terrifying screams of a child could be heard at night. Only one living family member was known to have climbed to the cave & he spoke of the fear engendered by the screams.

Permission obtained it would take Azdine 2 days, sleeping one night in a tent half way up, to cut a path through the jungle. Arriving at the cave too late to undertake the descent, the determined climber pitched his tent for a second night. He speaks of the terrifying ‘screams of a child’ & of his determination to come to terms with them; of the hours to find the inner peace to be able to rest.

Today the climb with this same guide will take around 2–2.5 hours up & slightly less down climbing at a steady pace whilst taking time to capture a few photos of the wonderful scenery. So steep is the final assault that those lucky enough to undertake this exceptional adventure pull themselves upwards via a series of strategically placed ropes. It is a rewarding ascent through wooded cover with vantage points along the crater’s edge offering outstanding panoramic views across the fabulous turquoise waters surrounding Bora Bora’s major hotels & over to Tahaa & Raiatea:

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A little higher, whilst skirting impressive monoliths, views are to be found over the the heart shaped atoll of Tupai & the ever-present, the daunting Mt Otemanu with it’s cave of legends clearly visible:

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The rope assisted sections – both up & down – will set your heart-beat racing:

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A heart stopping moment on first seeing the cave, made all the more impressive as the final assault is ‘heads down’ until the last moment when the marvel suddenly confronts you in all its glory:

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Towards the rear of the cave is a level area reportedly used as the final resting place in days gone by for certain elevated tapuna (ancestors). Throughout the cave a series of post-box like cavities in which frigate birds nest:

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One can sit on the mountain stonework for hours admiring the stunning spectacle that unfolds before one’s eyes; yes the views are mind-blowing; did I say MIND-BLOWING!

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Take plenty of water; it can be exceptionally hot  especially on a windless day (so a great outing for a windy day). Take (a light) lunch with you – this is THE best site to have lunch & you will certainly wish to stay up there enjoying the exceptional views, learning of the caves history, just congratulating yourself on having undertaken this exceptional adventure. The oldest person to have undertaken the climb was 66 year’s old, the youngest 8; it is a demanding hike requiring a good level of fitness.

So returning to the screams – climb today with the same guide that opened the track & learn what lies behind the terrifying screams……the clue is in one of the photos above.

Contacting the guide direct gives you significant savings on the cost of the tour when compared to what you would pay should you book through an ‘agent’. If you need assistance register on-line & send us an email. Please note that this site operates as a service to visitors to Bora Bora & takes no commission for arranging such introductions.

This outing is simply SENSATIONAL!

TIPS

  • Take as much water as you can carry (& some more);
  • Wear shoes fit for climbing;
  • Pack lightly but take something reasonably substantial to eat once reaching the cave;
  • Book directly with your guide & save a fortune.

 

CLIMB UP-DATE

This is a truly irresistible climb; there’s a true sense of achievement in reaching the summit, a great feeling of well-being after a successful conquest. How good is it to be back!

It was another somewhat cloudy, even overcast day when we set off; a weather pattern influenced by the impending full-moon. It took the punch out of the sun, something one appreciates in climbs such as this. Amongst the climbers, Mal Lyons, a professional photographer from Sydney who kindly provided the attached photos. So good are the photos I’ll leave it to the images to do the talking.

The team makes their initial approach, Ana o Pea clearly visible in the imposing Mt Otemanu where legend holds that god descended on Bora Bora on a rainbow.

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The ascent is through at times quite thick vegetation & at a constant gradient; there’s wisdom in taking one’s time (& wisdom in having a guide):

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Things are looking good from the very first plateau – the initial photo below shows the coconut trees where Azdine stayed the first night when opening the passage upwards; great spot to pitch a tent!. The views are ‘360’ from here – ahead lie Bora Bora’s legendary over-water bungalows with Tahaa forming the background, behind is the imposing Mt Otemanu & the grotte that awaits you:

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The last few steps up (& first few steps down) & the stonework that awaits you:

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Ana o Pea in all its glory & from every angle, outside & in! Images below of the sight that greets you – “grotte greetings”, & then from the “lookout” looking out:

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The views, amongst other things make it all worthwhile:

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Ana o Pea is a special place, held to have been used in times gone by as the final resting place for royalty. It has a certain impact on all who visit as the following 2 photos show:

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A geocache (something – usually a pen & log-book – hidden in a special place & tracked down via GPS or Smartphone) was ‘planted’ in the cave on 13th October 2013, just after the climb initially covered  in this report. The last person recorded to have found it was on 13th November 2013 (see:  www.geocaching.com  “Sacred Cave of Anau”).  Of interest here is that the outing is rated ‘Difficulty’ 3/5 with a ‘Terrain’ (difficulty) rating of 4.5/5 – this gives an indication of the difficulty of the climb, whilst the small number of people recorded as finding the cache is perhaps explained by the difficulty reaching the cave without a guide.

The cache is there & at the time of our climbing in late 2014 had all of 4 signatures………………………… see if you can track it down!!!!!

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Comments

  1. Jayna Rubin says:

    How do I contact a guide about this hike: The Clinging Cave of Mt Otemanu. My husband and I are going to Bora Bora in December and we’d like to arrange to do it. Please let me know.

  2. We’re in Bora bora now, just wan ting to know the contact information and pricing. Thank you!

  3. Tim Bennett says:

    Roderick, will you please email me contact info and pricing for Azdine, my wife and I will be there in 3 weeks and this looks amazing. Thank you.

  4. Is a guide necessary? What’s to stop someone from just hiking this trail on their own? You can see on Google Maps/Google Earth where it is and the route it takes.

    • Mark – there are many reasons why you need a guide amongst them:
      1. You will be trespassing as the access crosses private land in its entirety;
      2. You will not be ‘known’ to any dogs patrolling the area;
      3. The climb can be dangerous – your guide is fully qualified to assist you even to ‘rescue’ you should you meet with an accident. Futhermore your guise will know the best route to take depending on weather conditions, know which places & which pieces of equipment (ropes, for example) are ‘at risk’ & requiring attention…..
      4. Your guide can give you the cultural & historical background to both the cave & the climb you undertake giving you a better understanding of what you are undertaking.
      Trust this helps.

  5. Hi, we’d like to make a reservation to climb with Azdine on July 6th. Would you please send this on to him and let me know if that date is available and pricing information? Thank you!

  6. Roderick, my wife and I are arriving in Bora Bora in September and would like to book Azdine for a hike. Would you mind sending me his contact information so that we can select a date?
    Thanks.

  7. Elizabeth Davis says:

    Hi me and my daughter are going to Bora Bora from New Zealand in April 2017. We are both Māori indigenous natives and we would like to have contacts to the guide and cost. Also what level fitness does this hike require? Please let me know. Thanks. Liz

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