A mountainous hiking adventure to Halopa Station and magnificant waterfall - Report
16.01.2011 - 18.01.2011 31 °C
Halopa is a Catholic village station within the hinterland of Alexishafen situated due north-west of Madang town. It is one of the most remote areas located towards the tip of the Adelbart Range in the upper higher lands of Madang’s north-coast that passes through St. Benedict’s Agricultural & Technical College at Danip few kilometers away from the main catholic mission at Alexishafen.
It takes almost 45minutes drive from Madang to the agricultural college at Danip on left few kilometers away from Alexishafen. The road from the college to Halopa station is unsealed and takes another 1 and half hour drive (total of almost 2hours drive from town to Halopa) by a four-wheel drive or 10-seater Hilux due to potholes and bumpy areas of the highway. The first half of the unsealed road has been upgraded but the other half of the road towards the station has potholes and ditches along the highway which causes most of the vehicles to turn at Apug Mountain leaving the passengers to walk. However, the highway is accessible with four-wheel drives and mostly frequented by the Catholic Priests and the medical workers transporting aid-post supplies for the station.
It is one of the untouched areas that is potential for hiking and bird-watching as well as other ecotourism activities.
On January 16th 2011 at 0630hrs, I left Kalagom village close to Alexishafen with locals from Halopa to explore the most talk-about waterfall at Halopa station. It took us about 3hours walk to the station.
We followed the main highway from Danip passing through a small wet-crossing, through Darimdau village within Mabonob area and leaving a junction on the left (leads to a Catholic Mission hideout at Baileb village. The missionary hideout still remains and is known as “Maria helpim” by locals which means Mother Mary was the main helper who helped showed the missionaries the hiding spot from the Japanese invasion at Alexishafen mission on September 14th on the eve of the WW2. Today, September 14th is seen as a significant day of worship at Maria Helpim where whole of the Catholic population in Madang come to celebrate and commemorate the missionaries who hid themselves with the aid of Mary (was told by Arnold Sapurie on our way to Halopa) and up to the blue mountains.
The right road leads up to the blue rugged mountains with 3 first small climbs and last 2big climbs before reaching the station at the tip of the mountain overlooking Karkar and Bagabag islands in the north on the Bismark Sea. Also looking towards south, a magnificent view of whole of Madang town and overlooking Astrolabe Bay towards Rai Coast’s mountain ranges which can easily be seen from the station.
The station was founded by the first German Catholic Missionaries with a church built on sight which influenced most of the locals into joining the Catholic religion. The astonishing butterfly shaped-like church building built by the missionaries has its roof built like a butterfly’s wing with its circular basement. It was officially opened coinciding with Papua New Guinea’s Independence Day on September 16th, 1975.
We arrived in time for the service at 0910 with the locals. After the church service, we met up with some of the locals and the resource owners (Paul and Lucia Huwan of Lagraielumba village) of the Wauwap waterfall.
WAUWAP WATERFALL & HIKING
We departed from the station at 1140hrs and arrived at the waterfall at around 1300hrs with a stop-over at Diu village on our way down to the waterfall. The hike starts at a significant lookout to the tropical rainforest with the cool mountain breezes and overlooking blue, cloud covering mountains on the right to the northern side.
The hiking trek has some of the wild flowering plants along the way with fresh, cold water springs that run non-stop out of the rocks that are drinkable by locals which was welcoming to a first-time visitor into the thick jungles. The forest is filled with the sound of the insects and birds with unexplored flora and fauna of the tropical wet jungle with mosses and fens.
On arrival at Wauwap waterfall, I was told by John Sapurie that there is a Cave downstream of the waterfall so we took a quick exploration down the shallow river.
It took us about a 10minutes walk down to the site. Upon discovery, the cave’s entrance was blocked by the continuous erosion of the river with composites and water covering the inlet of the cave. Locals are not allowed fishing to that site and are not allowed to dive into the cave’s inlet with their superstitious beliefs. Along our way, we discovered some of the good swimming location with small branches of waterfall down the small cliffs.
We departed on the other route from the Wauwap waterfall at 1500hrs and arrived at Lagraielumba village where the owners of the waterfall live at 1745hrs. It was below a 2hour walk back.
( Comment 1:
Our hike back from Wauwap waterfall enrooted back on the other trek to Lagraielumba village and I have suggested a brand name for the trek and waterfall as “Wauwap Waterfall & U-Trek”).
At the village, there is a great lookout to Vidar point (Pacific Marine Industrial Zone - PMIZ) with a spectacular view of whole of Madang town looking towards Rai Coast and Astrolabe Bay in the horizon.
I brought with me some store goods and gave to the locals to cook, while I sat and gave awareness and educational information about tourism to the resource owners, their families and the community chairman, Chris Ulul. It was almost a 2hour-discussion when the food was cooked and brought to us for dinner. After dinner, we departed Halopa station at 1900hrs by foot to Kalagom following the main highway back. It was a 3hours hike back arriving at 2144hours.
An authentic cultural attire and performance can be arranged by the community chairman if requested. Also can arrange a traditional fierce welcome (Warrior dance) of the tourists into the station which portrays the locals’ first exposure with the white-men in the past.
Product Status & comment 3:
New discovery, for young, energetic and adventurous tourists. Accessibility: In a remote location of hinterland of Alexishafen, tough road conditions that can only be accessed by 4wheel drive vehicles.
- I recommend that this adventure is an overnight activity and visitors can spend a night or two with local villagers to have a good exploration to the tropical wilderness forest and waterfall.