Since we were delayed a day on the Isle of Pines due to a cancelled flight, our tour guide had to amend our trip at the last minute. We did not have enough time to see the northeast of New Caledonia, but instead we drove a few hours from Noumea to the middle of the island in the mountains and rainforest. We stayed the night at a privately owned hotel in Sarramea, deep in the forest at the foot of a mountain.
We arrived after dark, checked in to our bungalow and dined at the hotel’s restaurant. Another marvelous dinner of French Cuisine and French wines satisfied all of our senses. Flank steak, lasagna and appetizers of carpaccio and cheeses, we ate like royalty next to an indoor waterfall of natural boulders.
We started very early the next morning since we had missed a day with our delay. We set out on a four hour hike up the mountain through the rainforest hoping to be back, showered and on to our next destination by noon. Uphill the entire way and moving quickly to keep to our schedule, the frigidness of the morning quickly burned off and we could feel the heat and humidity of the tropics once again.
Our guide explained to us that the Plateau de Dogny trek is a pilgrimage for many Natives. Their custom is to leave pieces of cloth tied to trees for good fortune. Being deep in this rainforest with no one around we understood why it is such a special place, if only for its serenity and beauty. When we finally reached the top and the clearing, we could see for miles. One side was very mountainous while the ocean was on our other side. Looking out to the ocean you could see the adjacent reef which created the lagoon surrounding New Caledonia.
Our next destination for the day was to visit a cattle ranch in Bourail, on our way further up the west side of New Caledonia. The cattle ranch was hosting a celebration that day to let the community see the work they do along with music, vendors and local foods. We met with the owners and workers of the ranch as we hopped on their four wheel drive vehicle to go to the back fields where the cattle were grazing. Here we parted ways as they mounted their horses and began the show, wrangling the herd of cattle to a pen for their yearly bath.
How to bathe cattle is a thought that has never crossed my mind, but once the cows were all in the enormous pen, I began to wonder how the crew would execute this task. We had front row seats to observe the “cow wash”. The crew moved the cows repeatedly through a small shed which had sprayers of water and anti-flea solution; just like a car wash! After the wrangling and the wash, we enjoyed some of the local festivities and Native music. At the end of the day, I was surprised with how interesting and fun it was to experience a cattle ranch.