The discovery of the Hailiku Village cliff jump in the jungle-cave called ‘Mali Cave’ was all a bit of an accident. It was a strange old day, in which 50 members of the village, young and old, led us through the rivers, caves and watering holes of their community. Strange as it was, it went down as one of the most memorable days of the trip and was just pure fun.
In this blog post, I’ll share a quick story of how it unfolded and publish the photos and vlog of the adventure. The vlog can be found at the bottom of the blog post.
OUR VILLAGE VISIT TO HAILIKU, THE AMELE TRIBE IN MADANG
I’ll give you a bit of backstory as to how we even ended up in Hailiku, to begin with. As part of our tour of Madang, we had island-hopping, scuba-diving and a village visit on the itinerary. Our guides knew we were keen for adventure and organized for us to visit a series of caves. We knew very little about it and when we met them in the lobby at the hotel they told us they were bringing scuba tanks, fins, weight belts, and masks. We were shocked and wondered what they had in store for us. We ended up only taking the fins and masks after telling them cave diving was a bit radical for us as new divers. It would turn out that none of the above was really required except maybe a mask.
We drove out along a bumpy road through the jungle, passing by lots of small villages throughout the journey. Diverting off the main road, our Landcruiser headed up a new path. It was recently cleared by the village to create vehicle access. Once we arrived the locals at the village were all quite curious as to what we were doing. That curiosity increased as the guides pulled out all of the fins, masks, and snorkels. Trust me, Josh and I were equally as curious to see what predicament we were about to end up in.
The kids grabbed the gear and off we went, headed into the jungle with a bunch of kids leading the way with snorkels and masks on. What a sight.
At this point, I was genuinely laughing. Where on earth could we be heading? When we arrived I couldn’t help but smile. These locals must have thought we were crazy. The Mali cave is filled with water but in almost complete darkness. With no way of getting back up from the water other than climbing the slippery rock wall. At this point, many would have looked in and called it a day. With 30 locals waiting for our next move I decided to at least go down for a swim. I managed to lower myself down with a rope and then finally drop into the pool, hoping there was no rock to break my 1m drop.
There were no rocks and we did a couple of depth checks, scanning the entire site for rocks or anything to cause any danger. It definitely would be a crazy scuba-dive in the dark but I thought I’d change the day into a cliff-jump. I checked the landing area, climbed back up and then sent a jump from the entrance. Locals never did that, apparently ever so they all loved it and a few of them joined in.
After the scene at Mali Cave, we continued on through the jungle. It seemed that at every turn we collected five new kids, a dog and anyone else who wanted to join the adventure clan. We made it to the backside of the Mali Cave, which apparently you can traverse through from the water entrance.
The clan continued along through the jungle, stopping at a few small communities, watering holes and anywhere else the guys could grab some fruits, betel nuts, and snacks from the natural kiosk that is the jungle.
Along the journey, we had multiple swimming stops to keep cool and also took some photos of the members of our new adventure clan.
The final point of interest on the tour of the region was to Itanub Cave. It’s a deep cave complex where the locals have built access ladders out of bamboo. A small, narrow entrance opens out into a huge room inside the cave. During the war, it’s said the Japanese used the caves in these regions to hide out when necessary.
Once we completed the loop after a few hours, we had some fresh fruits with the locals and it seemed the whole village was now sitting out in the communal area. I decided to fly the drone, which they called the ‘Chopper’. The kids and the ladies loved it as they screamed when it launched. I flew it around low towards different groups to raucous laughter as the children got scared as did the groups of women sat under the shady trees.
I took a few aerials before the big group of boys huddled around me shouted the directions.
‘Now the other way’
‘There’s the school, keep going!’
It was the first time they have ever seen a drone and also their own region from the air, which was quite fascinating for them.
We thanked them for showing us around and adopting us for the day.
HAILIKU JUNGLE-CAVE CLIFF JUMP VLOG