As its name suggests, Cross Island Rd connects one side of the island to the other. It's the fastest way to make it across to the southern coast and the multitude of beaches and hideaways on it. Along the way however are dotted a number of sites of interest. Robert Louis Stevenson's old house Vailima, Papapapai-tai waterfall (say that three times quickly!), the Baha'i temple and Lake Lanoto'o are all found along the road. Today I travelled to Lake Lanoto'o.
Lako Lanoto'o is a pea-green body of water in the crater of an extinct volcano in the middle of the 'Upolu highlands. It's a fair way off the beaten track however; after our taxi deposited us a few kilometres down the off-road from Cross Island Rd, we spent the next hour and twenty minutes hiking through lush tropical jungle to the lake.
Whilst we didn't have a guide, it's not that hard to find the way. First you pass the paddock full of cows. Keep that to your left as you go and pay attention so as to avoid the occasional cow pat that marks the way. Eventually you'll reach a fairly high wall of dense foliage. A small sign tells you that's where you need to go.
The track gets a little muddy here and steep quite rapidly. It's advised that you have long pants and good shoes for the hike but a couple of us managed with thongs today. If it had been raining, I'd have definitely worn shoes. Your mileage may vary.
Pick your way along the track and gradually ascend the mountain ridge. You'll eventually reach a part of the track that provides a pretty spectacular view north-north-west out towards the ocean. Don't rest here though because you're not even halfway to the lake. Keep climbing!
You know you're almost there when you stumble across the crumpled remains of a telecommunications tower. The tower is situated on the eastern ridge of the crater. The track heads downwards pretty quickly and as you make your way, you're afforded your first peek at the lake. It really is pea-green!
Once we arrived it didn't take long before we were in the water. You'll be in the drink in a flash too. The water's definitely cool but not freezing cold. Look underwater and it's a lush green colour, deepening in tone as the lake's bottom drops away. It's very refreshing and very necessary; the hike through the jungle will leave you sweaty and dirty.
We stayed at the lake for just about an hour before we turned around and made our way back to Cross Island Rd. Along the way I snapped a few more photos, including this one of some moss on the side of a tree. It's such lush jungle.
We called our cab driver on our way back (there's mobile phone coverage for much of the hike) who was waiting for us at the end of the dirt road. A quick stop in at a supermarket on the way home for an ice cream capped off a fantastic day's trekking. It's a bit out of the way but Lake Lanoto'o is definitely recommended!