The Tiare Anei flower grows uniquely on the foothills of Mt Pahia in Bora Bora; a flower strongly anchored in Bora Bora legend. Fortunately the flower was spared in the devastating fires which ravaged Mt Pahia in September 2013 & prevent to this day the ability to fully climb this magnificent mountain.
The Tiare Anei is the emblem of Bora Bora & the flower taken to name a new event held 19th July this year – the Raid Anei – a 15km hit-out for nature & adventure lovers run in teams of two (male, female or mixed) that, in fact, brings together 3 exceptional outings covered separately on this web-site & detailed in the body of this report.
The event was established by a group of crosstraining enthusiasts operating under the patronage of the Bora Bora Town Hall who were eager to see greater awareness of & greater recognition given to Bora Bora’s majestic mountains, the stunning views that can be found along the higher ridges of the island’s central mountain system, the island’s sometimes unique flora & the island’s archaeological & historical sites.
To give readers a feel, here’s a map published by Raid Anei. The map does not, alas, strictly follow the path set for the Raid Anei by organisers. That’s ok for competitors as the course will be properly marked for the competition but for those wishing to avail themselves of this exceptional outing outside the time of the race they will need to consult the associated links appearing in this report:
Although it is not a course for the unfit it can be handled with relative comfort for those with a good level of fitness, even walkers in under the 3.5 hours allocated for the race.
The course starts with a relatively long & steep climb along a road implanted by the Americans during WWII to reach their radar centre & lookout atop Papoti. (NB: the access road does not climb where indicated on the above map, so read the link at the end of the next paragraph). The reward is the absolutely exceptional views of Mt Otemanu, Faanui Bay, Teavanui Pass & Motu Tapu, the major hotels on the motus as well as extended views to Tahaa, Raiatea, Tupai & Maupiti.
An extensive coverage of the climb & what’s to be seen can be found here: Bora Bora Road Trip. It’s pure magic!
If you can draw yourselves away from the 360 degrees of stunning panorama the course will take you back down behind the Protestant Temple which marks Faanui Bay via a narrow path cut through dense vegetation, past a number of ammunition bunkers used by the Americans in WWII before climbing slightly to a spectacular plateau at the very foot of Mounts Pahia & Otemanu.
This is a magical area in a spectacular setting rich in history, archeology & legend. A Comprehensive Coverage of this area can be found in the report headed Valley of the Kings.
The path returns to sea-level then follows the island’s main road passing Marae Taianapa, a marae dating back to around 1400AD unusually associated with a Chieftess & linked to certain mysterious massive human footprints that appeared without explanation nearby in 1981.
After passing the marae the climb starts again reaching two spectacularly set American WWII cannons established to protect Teavanui Pass, Bora Bora’s only pass & offering great views down over Vaitape. The best available coverage of the American cannons can be found here: Locating the American WWII Cannons.
A shot of the majestic mountain scenery on the way up followed by a photo of one of the Cannons with Motu Tapu in the background:
From the cannons the trek follows the mountain ridge down towards Vaitape – Faanui Bay to one side & the waters suurounding Vaitape on the other – via a narrow path cut through thick purau (local hibiscus tree) offering wonderful views out across Motu Tapu to Maupiti as well as over over Vaitape.
The jungle clears after a few hundred metres before a steep descent – slippery when wet – descending beside QBB hardware shop to the village itself (the descent is not where indicated on the map).
Here a shot taken from the mountain ridge showing the impressive Faanui Valley followed by an image of wild vanilla growing from a branch tagged with the red & white tape that marked the way for competitors:
The starting line saw 206 competitors, many of French Polynesia’s most elite, gathered at Vairupe for this, the first ever, Raid Anei. It was a HOT field as the times attest & the interest in the event augurs well for future editions as the mountain race is to be conducted annually each July. First home took 1:20:01, an exceptional time & almost 9 minutes ahead of the 2nd place!
Here’s the official list of the first 30 home – a nice spread of prizes with Tahiti first, then two runners from Raiatea/Tahaa followed by Bora Bora’s first home :
The course was cleared, secured & properly marked for this year’s event & it is hoped that the efforts made will reward mountain hikers – locals & visitors alike – with an exceptional outing that can be used throughout the year.
The foliage here, however, grows quickly & those wishing to undertake the trek at a later date should seek the services of a competent guide.