The waterfall behind Iba Bay is not the biggest in the Tufi area, but it’s the most magical.
I had visited friends at Tumari village and was getting ready to return to Tufi when Emmanuel came and told me about this special waterfall. He knew a place like this would be something I’d like to see, so he sent his son Ambrose along to guide me and my friend William. After an hour in our outriggers we rounded the point by Iba Bay and made a little stop at Kinaru hamlet, one of the many picturesque places along this coastline. Just a couple of houses and shelters under the coconut palms on a small white beach by the turquoise sea – the iconic image of the South Pacific.
Refreshed with pineapples and coconuts we moved on into the fjord, now joined by some young men from the hamlet. It was a sunny and still day, and the sound of the paddles of our little convoy breaking the surface was all we could hear. There are only a few houses and gardens that can be seen going into this bay, and as it narrows down the rainforest and mangroves take over completely. Just where the fjord transforms into a creek we heard a Raggiana Bird of Paradise calling its characteristic “wau-wau-wau” from the bush right inside, but he managed to hide from us.
We parked our canoes and from there it’s only a few minutes’ walk along the creek up to where the small valley narrows down and stops like a dead end. Here we could hear the waterfall, but it was hidden behind a crack in the steep cliffs ahead of us, and to get in there we had to cross the pool of water by the base of the cliffs. This was going to be special! It was almost like swimming into a cavern, with only a round window of blue sky high above us, lined by the forest branches reaching over the top of the steep, black walls of volcanic rock. At the end of the pool there was a meter-wide opening in the side wall, a small cave with a jagged, rocky frame, and in there, we could see water come flushing down as if coming from the inside of the earth.
While we climbed up next to this ‘shower window’ fifteen or twenty flying fox were alarmed by our appearance and took off, making a couple of circles around the opening before disappearing into the forest. We were now standing in this small, dark, chamber-like place with the waterfall coming down from ten meters above us. What a place! Mystical and magical, and strangest of all: the water disappeared into the ground. As if falling into a sink, the water made its way into a circular drain in the lava rock floor, and through this natural pipe flushed further down to the ‘cave window’ below and so ended in the pool before finding its way to the bay. Our companions said they didn’t know any old stories about this spot, but I’m sure there must be some. A place like this must have affected both people and spirits in the olden days, just as it made a monumental impression on us.
There is a waterfall, or several, in every bay around Tufi, and every one of them is worth a visit. They make a natural destination for a rainforest walk, whether a short one as at Barabara, or a long one, as up to the great falls behind Marasa. Their mystic appearances, surrounded as they are by dense forest, won’t leave you untouched and then they all offer a good pool for a wash, if you don’t prefer the shower. Or why not try both?
See more Tufi waterfalls: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29122604@N05/sets/72157625870835891/