The Asicen Cliffs
The Asicen Cliffs
If you would like to have a glimpse into the soul of Guahma, you can’t beat Jo’on Peu’s benevolent assistance. He offers a keen vision of his country; a chance to get to know the bird songs, the shapes of the rocks, the sound of the wind rustling the leaves and the voices of the people who make their home there.
Maré is an ancient atoll, which gradually rose out of the ocean over a long period of time. It is composed of imposing limestone formations of coral origin, marked by a turbulent geological history. The great central plateau lies at the end of the lagoon and a ring of cliffs connected to the coral reef.
Jo’on Peu is the guardian of the « padoku » (chiefdom’s lands). The path here runs along the base of the « crown », leading through a maze of grey and black rocks. This is a place of surreal, unspoilt beauty, with masses of plants, which have cropped up in the most unlikely places. Banyan tree roots trickle over and imprison the limestone cliff faces. Around a bend, we spot a budgerigar, sitting on a twisted branch, keeping eye on us as we slowly make our way through the forest. The trees which lie, die and sometimes tumble down here, give way to glades full of blooming flowers.
Scanning the white veil of the La Asicen Cliffs, Jo’on tells us about the history of his land and the distinctive, almost carnal relationship that he maintains with it. His discourse leads us to the outer limits of the collective imagination and reality. His ancestors are here: behind every rock, inside of every hole. From time to time we encounter piles of wood on the ground, indicating the entrance to mysterious hollows, guarded by ancestral spirits. Jo’on halts in front of a heap of dead branches, bends closer to us and, in a whisper, confides: « Here is Paa Gutinic (Granny Gutinic), watching over her children ». He looks for the right words to reflect, search, dream. And is capable of the bluntest language to cry out, denounce and shake up our Cartesian convictions. During New Caledonia’s « hot » years, Jo’on was fully committed to the Kanak struggle. You can still sense the rebelliousness in his fierce expression. Sometimes, when he is speaking about certain matters, his words burst like gunshots. But this is always immediatly followed by a cheerful grin.
Practical Information :
The route is easily walked and suitable for families.
Guide: Jo’on Peu - GSM: 84 06 37
Distance: 4 km
Time: 2 h 30 à 3 h 00
Access: From Tadine, head north, bypassing Mebuet. Around 1.4 km after the junction for the Nece chiefdom, take the left to the intersection (just before a big, abandoned dock), where you can find Jo’on’s place, located near the Asiceni Beach.
Bring water, a hat and sturdy walking shoes.
With a total area of 650km², Maré (Nengone in the local language) is half the size of Lifou. The island shelters wild and breathtaking landscapes that will undoubtedly leave their imprint on you.Maré is made up of 5 layers of coral strata that stack up 130 meters high on the south coast. Rugged cliffs, intricate basaltic rock formations, deep forests, charming creeks, powdery sand and rocky promontories that run along immaculate beaches: Maré has it all. The central plain, carved out by the lagoon, counts numerous caves and natural pools of freshwater and seawater. These exceptional habitats attract fish and turtles alike. In Maré you will contemplate hues of blue and green that you won’t encounter anywhere else.
Day 1 – Northern Tour
|arrival at La Roche|
|Breakfast at Peune (Marcel Wayaridri's traditional accommodation facility) and accommodation facility for the night.|
|walk along the beaches of Céné and Ekure with Nöel Wiako.|
|picnic on the Ekure Beach or lunch at Nöel Wiako’s (a traditional in-tribe facility).|
|Back at the Peune (Marcel Wayaridri’s traditional accommodation facility) tour of the vanilla plantations and visit of Marcel Wayaridri’s orchard.|
|tour of the tribal village of Roh ( historical monument) and snorkelling at Gîte Seday ( Jacques Wadehnane's accommodation facility).|
|contemplate the sunset while staying in the charming Padawa tribal village and back at Peune for the night.|
The island that speaks to your heart
With a total area of 650m², Maré (Nengone in the local language) is half the size of Lifou. The island shelters wild and breathtaking landscapes that will undoubtedly leave their imprint on you. Lifou is made up of 5 layers of coral strata that stack up 130 meters high on the south coast. Rugged cliffs, intricate basaltic rock formations, deep forests, charming creeks, powdery sand and rocky promontories that run along immaculate beaches: Lifou has it all. The central plain, carved out by the lagoon, counts numerous caves and natural pools of freshwater and seawater. These exceptional habitats attract fish and turtles alike. In Maré you will contemplate hues of blue and green that you won’t encounter anywhere else.
Maré is divided into 8 districts that regroup 29 tribal villages: Guahma, Tadine, Wabao, Eni, Médu, La Roche, Tawaïnedr and Pénélo. The island counts 6,900 inhabitants whose main activity is market gardening. The tasty fruits and vegetables they produce are sent all over New Caledonia. Maré’s delicious avocadoes have become so famous and sought after that a yearly festival celebrates them!
Captain Raven, a British explorer, came to Maré in 1803. At first, the island was named after his sailboat, the Britannia. For years Maré was influenced by British merchants, missionaries and sailors. Even the local language, Nengone, has been permeated by English words and pronunciation. In1800, Captain Butler was actually the first European explorer to reach Maré aboard his ship, the Walpole. But it is only about forty years later that true contact was established between locals and white settlers. In 1841, Reverend Murray began spreading the Protestant faith. His Catholic counterpart, Reverend Beaulieu, started preaching and converting too. Incidents and unrest ensued until 1883. The people of Maré have always gladly integrated foreigners to their community, thereby fostering ethnic diversity. You will love meeting these friendly locals: open-minded but strong-willed!