- TRIP DETAILS & PRICES
- MAPS / PICK-UP SCHEDULE
- PHOTO ALBUM
- Favorite Local Businesses
- Health Risk
- Tour Details and guides
- Equipment and food
Do we get a chance to go inside of any of the big telescopes on Mauna Kea?
No, normally not. At the time of day we visit the astronomers are quite busy and can't be interrupted. We do however see the observatories as they open their domes and swing into position. Some of the observatories are constructed so as to show a lot of the telescope from the exterior when the dome is open.
We are available for custom charters, which could be a day trip. Normally we tour one or two of the observatories during the daytime. If you'd like a quote for a custom charter please write your request to: info @maunakea.com
Can we look through the big telescopes on Mauna Kea?No, modern telescopes are not equipped for visual (eye) observing . Scientists are making digital images that can be frequently found on the internet. Check out the websites of the observatories to see these images.
What are the Health Risk 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. Please do not call our reservationists with a description of your problem. She is not a cardiologist. A call to 911 on Mauna Kea will take about 2 hours to respond.
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 oxygen. 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..
What kinds of plants and animals might we see on a trip up Mauna kea?
As for wildlife, the list is quite long. We see the following feral animals (domestic animals gone wild) frequently: pigs, goats, sheep, donkey, mongoose, cat. We see the following native animals species less frequently: Hawaiian Owl (Pueo), Hoary bat, Nene (goose), Palila, Apapane, I'O(hawk), Wekiu, Golden Plover. We also see many native plants. Along our route we can see Koa, Mamane, Naio, Puakeawe and Ohia trees.
Is the tour fully narrated? Microphone?Yes, Our tours are fully narrated in English. We have a high quality PA system in each van. Our guides have a wide variety of knowledge and special interest in the islands. We try to relate that information in a way that is fun, educational and appropriate to the group.
Do you have Japanese speaking guides?
At this time 10/2012 we do not have a Japanese speaking guide.
Are gratuities (tips) customary for the guides?Many people do show their appreciation by tipping our hard working guides but it is not an obligation. $5-$10 per person is typical
What kind of vehicles do we travel in?
We drive custom built Van Terra micro coaches. They are equipped with 4x4, air conditioning, stereo, PA, phone, first aid and oxygen, parkas and telescope. Each van can hold up to 14. They are the most comfortable vehicles available.
What kind of telescopes do you use?We are equipped with new Celestron CPC 1100 telescopes. They are equipped with Celestron's new Starbright XL coatings for 10% more light throughput than ordinary instruments. These scopes are computer automated and have spectacular optics. Because they are bigger and have better optics they gather about 100% more light than telescopes used on other tours.
What is your warm clothing like?We supply heavy duty arctic weight parkas with hoods. they are made in men's sizes S-XXL. We also provide thick ski-type gloves.
What does our food and drink consist of?
We have improved and simplified our meal. We now offer 3 cheese
vegetable lasagna. It is served hot in a stainless container. The
portion size is 16oz and is quite satisfying. It comes with a big
homemade brownie. There is a meal delete option available for persons
wishing to do their own thing.
Drinks for supper are not provided but a wide selection is available for purchase at the visitor center.
During the stargazing activity we serve gourmet hot chocolate,teas and
coffees accompanied with biscotti.
How often is the weather bad on Mauna Kea?
Statistics show that Mauna Kea is clear enough for astronomy an average of 325 nights a year. This amounts to about 10% unfavorable weather. Most of the really nasty weather is quite predicable and in that situation we will cancel our tours as needed. The final determination for the weather is made 1:15 minutes prior to the Kailua pick-up. On average 1/15 of our trips is cancelled by weather. the months of August, September, January, February and March are the most unstable ; resulting in 80% of the cancellations for the year. The afternoon cloud build-up that is so typical of the Big Island is no reason for concern. Frequently the cloudy moist clouds down below actually signal a good inversion layer for perfect weather on Mauna Kea. The UKIRT telescope has a useful page on the web where you can see what the weather has been at any moment for the past few years.
How do you guys know whether it will be nice on the mountain?We are quite lucky to operate on the worlds most wired mountain. We have several web cameras, live weather stats, logging and a full-time meteorologist that just prepares the forecast for the mountain. In addition to that we have the experience of 4000+ trips up the mountain. Can we be wrong? OF COURSE, WE CAN BE WRONG. Mauna Kea is a high mountain and like all high mountains it has a measure of unpredictable weather. If we make the trip your odds of encountering really ugly weather is about 1/30 according to our trip logs. We do not cancel our trips solely due to a few high clouds or a bit less than perfect stargazing conditions. We do cancel when we think that summit is likely to obscured, there is a low probability of a scenic experience, the conditions might be dangerous or when the road is closed.
How will I know if my tour is going up or cancelled?We make the determination each day 1:15 minutes prior to our Buns in the Sun, Kailua pick-up. Our reservationists can give you the exact time. If the trip is to be cancelled, we will attempt to call everyone in their hotel rooms or cell phones to reschedule. You do not need to hang around your hotel room waiting for this call, go out and have some fun. However, If you are not in your hotel room at that time you should call in (322-2366) to reconfirm the trip from a pay phone. In order to make accurate weather decisions we will almost never cancel a trip early. Ultimately you are responsible for contacting us to reconfirm your tour status.
What happens if the weather is bad on our trip?MKSA cannot guarantee fine weather (nor does any other tour in the world). We do however give our promise to stay informed and to cancel tours when we think the summit appears likely to be obscured or without scenic value. Our goal is a safe, scenic and informative trip. Occasionally if the sky is cloudy on top we will still get a great night of stargazing or vice versa.
How can I make reservations for my Mauna Kea Summit Adventure?
Our reservationists are on duty from 8 A.M. - 6 P.M. Hawaii time x 7 days Kona Time
If you are in the USA please just call our toll free phone at 888-322-2366 a week or two in advance is sufficient.
If you are overseas you can call our office at 01-808-322-2366 or submit an online reservation request.
If you are in the islands just call 808-322-2366.
How far out in advance do I need to make my reservation?Almost 100% of our trips are sold out. If your exact day is important you should reserve at least 1 month prior. For Christmas maybe 3 months prior. Unsecured reservations are taken off the books approximately 1 prior to the trip.
What is your cancellation policy?
We understand that events occur that might change your plans. However, our capacity is limited by State permit and most of our tours are fully booked. Please help us to serve our eager customers by giving ample warning when your plans change. Please make your cancellations directly with our reservation office 808-322-2366.
Within 24 hours no refunds, no exceptions. Note if you are sick or in some other way detained please call us as soon as you think you might not make the trip. We might be able to place someone in your vacant seat save you the expense. If you are unsure about finding your pick-up point or lost, please call our reservation office at 808-322-2366 ASAP.