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(…. Well, Actually, I Walked Where They Ran – But I Did Do It!)
Recently I attended my photography club’s outing to Kualoa Ranch. This operation has been owned by the same family for the past 150 years, is located in the secluded north east corner of Oahu and encompasses 4000 acres, three mountains, and two grand valleys that open out to the north shore ocean. I’ve driven past the famous Kaaawa valley many times, where several other well-known shows and movies have been filmed, including the Lost series, Hawaii Five-O, and Magnum P.I. I’ve always wanted to see where that memorable stampeding dinosaur scene was filmed in Jurassic Park and it looked exactly like I remembered.
Kualoa Ranch’s website is the best place to explore all the various activities that are offered there, and you’ll have no problem finding something that appeals to you, all taking place amidst the glorious backdrop of the Koolau Mountain Range. The hike that I did is not offered to the general public, but I think it gave me a very expansive overview of what there is to see and do on the ranch, but more so, it overwhelmed me with the astounding beauty of the area, and how any opportunity to be so close to the mountains, in an unspoiled, wild section of the island is worth the extra drive time it takes from other parts of Oahu. I read on their website that you could take a thousand pictures there and still not capture the beauty, and considering I was hiking with other photographers, I think we all agreed that our camera images, while good, just couldn’t do justice.
We hiked a high mountain ridge, deep in rain forest, with thick overgrowth full of native species plants, some actually picking wild guava to eat along the way. As we descended into the valley we could see the landscape and plants change as it got drier. Finally we leveled off in the valley with mountain peaks on both sides of our trail, and encountered the cattle that live there), along with movie sets that are under construction (currently for Journey to the Center of the Earth II)
We proceeded to walk the length of the valley towards the ocean, not even noticing how long it was because it was such a impressive sight, sandwiched between the mountain ridges: one side green and calm, the other craggy, rocky and more violent.
After almost four hours we boarded waiting buses to take us around the bend and back to the Ranch complex where we rehydrated and ate while discussing our fun adventure. Our group chose this more rugged outing, but those who prefer a more passive approach can still see it all through the various tour packages. I hope my pictures can tempt you enough to look into this amazing place. It really must be seen in person and I’m so grateful that I was able to do this.