We’re on our way from the tiny township of Tanna Island passing small villages and markets along the way. Mostly shy people but very friendly and happy to sell you their truly fresh ‘organic’ vegetables. You have to see the dark-chocolate brown earth to realis just how tasty and delicious the food in Vanuatu really is.
After a rather arduous 4 x wheel-drive adventure through unsealed roads, island villages, deep pot holes, flowing rivers and desolate ash plains, finally we arrive at the base of Mount Yasur. Upon hearing all the rumbling, you’ll be amazed to see what’s inside this big bubbling hole in the earth’s surface … The drive took about one hour and twenty minutes in fine weather conditions.
Thankfully there’s a guide to advise visitors which way to go around the rim …
This is the most famous volcano in the world for its constant activity and is the most easily accessible – bringing thousands of tourists to Tanna Island each year.
While the walk is a little rough and steep in parts, the climb only takes about 15 minutes. Then when you’re there, right at the mouth of the crater, it’s the most amazing experience to feel the rumbling earth beneath your feet.
I didn’t take this photo, our guide Mr Song took it for me as I was feeling quite heady, especially from the wind blowing ash and smoke our way. I couldn’t sit for fear of being unbalanced when standing again.
2010 has seen an unusual level of high activity from Mt Yasur and is being monitored constantly each day by authorities.
Always go with a guide and follow their directions at all times, they are trained and experienced to know the safest places for you to stand and watch the activity. They will have torches and clothing suitable for the conditions. It can be very cold on occasion – so rug up, keep with your guide and do as they say – which means staying in the boundaries which are meant to be safe.
Three people have been killed over the years because they wandered to lower, unsafe areas. In one incident, both a guide and tourist were killed because the tourist had insisted on going to a dangerous part and the guide accompanied her. Both were hit by erupting pieces of lava and died instantly.
Kerrie making friends with the school children who are all at different stages of learning. When visiting these more remote islands, don’t forget to clear out your stationery and text books which might be useful for the schools and take it along for them. They’ll be greatly appreciated.
Coconut Palms Resort has a variety of apartments for different budgets. The Palm Deluxe Apartments here are spacious and top of the range. Single rooms are available as well and the property is only a few minutes walk to the main shopping areas.
Now back at Port Vila Bauerfield Airport where I’m making my way to Tanna Island with Air Vanuatu as it’s only a 35 minute flight. Air Vanuatu has Air Passes available for island hopping which can be much cheaper than purchasing separate air fares. Be mindful for each and every domestic departure there is a fee of 200 Vatu (approximately A$2.50 per person) regardless if you are only transiting through to the next island. This must be paid at a counter for collection after you’ve checked in.
The domestic and international airports are located adjacent to each other. Transfers are available with companies such as Atmosphere and Adventures in Paradise to your hotel and offer a variety day tours.
Simply enjoying the view and peaceful nature of the area. From the beach, you can visit dolphins, also turtles and whales can be seen, or coconut crabs being Tanna’s non venomous reptiles they can be observed by walking into the Lodge’s own protected rainforest and caves.
Delightful Stella (sitting) – laughing at us having a bit of fun. Lisa is a pilot with Air Taxis and her colleagues are giving us a rendition of what it’s like flying small aircraft. Glad we’re not going anywhere right now …
Ned grabbing an ice cream from a local shop, now we’re going to chat about our afternoon’s trip heading off to Mount Yasur. Tanna Lodge also offers tours to the volcano which is handy if you’re already a guest staying at the there.
Stay tuned – Part Three Mount Yasur
After arriving in Port Vila it’s interesting to walk around the township and see how the locals are coping after Cyclone Pam. However, it’s warming to see people are still smiling and the artwork depicts a resilient, strong culture who refuse to be flattened.
Moorings Hotel is located close to the main shopping areas with a brisk ten-minute walk along the foreshore. The bar’s roof was damaged during the cyclone, but that didn’t stop us drinking from under it!
Vanuatu’s national dish is a root vegetable cake called ‘laplap’. It is made from manioc (cassava) grated or shaved into a banana leaf with wild local cabbage and coconut, wrapped into a flat parcel and cooked underground. Generally has a chicken piece laid on the top.