We invite you to experience what is quite possibly the most dramatic and stimulating scenery to be found anywhere, either on or off planet earth. Journey to the top of this spectacular mountain in the comfort of our luxury vans, enjoy a hearty meal, watch the breathtaking sunset and stargaze at the heavens.
The trip begins mid-afternoon with a pick-up at one of our central locations. As we drive up the mountain, we learn about island geography, geology and natural history.
While acclimatizing and dining at the Mauna Kea visitors center, you’ll find out why the world’s largest telescopes are located on this spot. And you’ll learn a bit about the lives of astronomers who work there. Before leaving the visitors center we issue parkas and gloves. We then engage our four wheel drive for the steep 1/2 hour drive to the summit area.
On the summit, your guide will point out the observatories as they begin to open and rotate into position. There is plenty of time for photos while the sunset transforms the area into a beautiful and quite unearthly spectacle. When the best of the color has past, we descend to mid-mountain, where the sky is equally clear but the climate and air density is much more comfortable for stargazing.
Almost every night we explore the night sky using our large portable telescopes. Using high power green lasers our guides are famous for their ability to locate the treasures of the night sky and interpret them in a way that everyone can understand. Midway in the evening we serve hot drinks and cookies to help take the chill off. The actual schedule of the trip varies throughout the year according to sunset times.
**The Stargazing component of our adventure depends on natural conditions. Although more than 90% of our trips have fine stargazing conditions; We can not guarantee the weather in any way.**
What are the health risks of Mauna Kea? Mauna Kea has 40% less oxygen than sea level and 40% less air pressure than sea level. This lack of vital oxygen can be a very serious problem for persons with HEART or LUNG disease.
Persons that have been SCUBA diving in the last 24 hours run the risk of getting "The Bends" because of the decreased air pressure and the build up of nitrogen in their bodies.
Pregnant women should not travel to Mauna Kea because of the decreased oxygen available for mother and child.
We do not take children under 13 years of age to the summit because they have a much higher incidence of high altitude problems.
In addition persons whom are obese (Body mass index of 40 or over BMI calculator) should not make this trip.
Because of the long, bumpy road this trip might not be suitable for persons with back injury.
I have had heart/lung problems in the past and I would like to make the trip to Mauna Kea. What should I do?
To go on our tour you will need a letter from your personal Physician saying that a trip to Mauna Kea presents no special risk to you. Our reservationist can email a form for your physician to sign. A call to 911 on Mauna Kea will take about 2 hours to respond and even a minor incident will terminate the tour for everyone onboard.
What will the effect of the altitude be?
Depends mostly on your genetics but if you are reasonably healthy you will probably feel a bit lightheaded and giddy or sleepy. A few people will feel nothing and a few people will have a bit of minor distress perhaps requiring a bit of oxygen (carried onboard). Our guides are trained in the detection of hypoxia and they use pulse -ox meters to help with the diagnosis. There are no after effects and because our stay at high level is fairly brief there is not much likelihood of more serious problems developing. If you are tolerant of aspirin, a tablet every 4 hours for a day before and during may ward off the occasional headache.
A sweater or hoodie, water and your preferred dinner beverage (not provided by tour operator). A sweet munchie for the mountain top helps keep you warm and clear headed. For environmental reasons we do not provide bottled water. Excellent drinking water, snacks and drinks are available at the Visitors Center. Don’t forget fresh batteries for your cameras, the mountain cold can stop a weak set. Your early supper will be served about 1.5 hours before sunset so have an early lunch.
Excessive baggage, large coolers or alcoholic beverages
Our tours begin from various pick-up points that are convenient for our guests. They include:
Reservations are fully refundable on parties up to 4 persons until 24 hrs. prior to departure. For parties of 5 to 7 persons 48 hours prior notice is needed. For parties 8 to 10 persons, 1 weeks notice is required. 11+ parties 2 weeks notice required.
If a tour is cancelled due to hazardous conditions or for other reasons all payments will be refunded. Should you find yourself ill before the tour please call us immediately. We may be able to fill your seat (and save you money) given sufficient enough warning.