The weather is absolutely wonderful today, although for several hours we didn't see much of it. About eight of us went on an "underworld rafting" trip. To condense the four hour trip (not counting 1/2 hour each way from the hotel) to a few paragraphs, here is the short version. (You can see more details on their website, www.caverafting.com.)
We picked up our individual duffel bags and rode a mile or so through the rain forest on a small tram railway. then we donned our wet suits (leaving dry clothing behind) and headed toward the caves. Along the way, we picked up our inner tubes. As we entered the caves, we donned our helmets with lights. We walked about a mile through the upper levels of the Nile River caves, and then got in the water and floated through the last part of the caves. This was the most incredible part -- there are large grottoes, and on the ceilings are tens of thousands of glow worms which appear as tiny points of light. It is like looking up at the starriest night that you have ever seen. We continued floating to the end of the lower level of the cave where we hit the Nile River. We then floated down the Nile, passing through a small rapids, and then finished our adventure with the tram ride back.
The glow worms are small insects that attach themselves to the roof of the caves. They emit light, much like the lightning bugs we are familiar with at home. The drop "fishing lines" (thin filaments) which catch other very small insects that they then eat.
The operators took several pictures which are they will post to the internet and I will be able to retrieve them later. It was a great way to spend our rest day.
We stopped at the town's pub for lunch and walked the remainder of the way back to the hotel. As I type this, I am also doing my laundry. When that is finished, I shall get my cameras and walk back up the hill to the pancake rocks (magnificent layers of limestone) and the blowholes (where the ocean rushes through holes in the rocks and then spurts upwards) that this town of Punakaiki is famous for.
Tomorrow we get back on the bicycles.
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