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Picture this. You are standing on the absolute edge of an active volcano in Vanuatu looking down into it’s never ending depth. The earth rumbles beneath your feet as the volcano erupts, shooting bright red rock and flames high into the sky. This adrenaline charged overnight tour was without doubt one of the most insane and surreal experiences i have ever done.
See the most accessible active volcano in the world!
YOUR JOURNEY BEGINS WITH A THRILLING FLIGHT
For this tour we chose Air Taxi Vanuatu which departs from the capital of Port Villa on Efate Island. A personal and exceptional tour, this is also the only tour that flies you directly to Mount Yasur for a closer view.
The hour long flight to Tanna Island on a 10 seater aircraft will circle the volcano in both directions. You’ll be able to grab those impressive aerial shots before heading back to the airport.
Our pilot, Lisa was absolutely professional, with 30 years experience. She made us feel safe and was caring and accommodating. Something that sits well for anyone a little apprehensive about getting into such a small aircraft.
Note: You can fly independently with Air Vanuatu then book the tour from there. Good for those wanting to stay around for a few days.
ON ROAD ADVENTURE
After we touched down we were given salad rolls and water before the hitting the road for the 90 minutes journey in four wheel drive vehicles. Jump in the back if you can as they have seats installed where it’s just you and the open air.
The surrounding landscape is green and lush and it’s already feeling like an exciting day awaits us.
After a short distance the vehicles leave the flat surrounds behind and we begin our descent toward the other side of the island. But not before stopping to take in the views of the jungle that stretch all the way to the ocean. I can feel the dirt building up on my face from the unpaved roads but I’m beyond caring, it’s too exhilarating.
SEEING THE VOLCANO – A SIGHT TO BEHOLD!
It’s not long before we enter a field of volcanic rock that appears in the foreground of Mount Yasur. The vehicle comes to a complete stop and we pile out for a closer look.
The colours of the landscape are inviting as I capture the lava fields on my camera. You too will want to snap as much as possible.
The base we will be ascending from is not in view, placed on the other side where it’s a little higher and closer.
TIME FOR BLESSINGS
The vehicle now heads off again, back through the jungle and into a local village that will take over from here.
Our little group has now grown to over fifty or so people, all anxious to get going.
We are welcomed with a ceremony of dance before the village chief comes forth to bless and give permission for us to visit the volcano.
There is nothing touristy about this procedure.
Everyone is moved into vehicles as we make our way up to the ash laden mountain.
HEAR THE ROAR OF THE VOLCANO
Mount Yasur requires a short but swift climb to the first level of three that we will be utilizing. It’s late in the afternoon and night fall is not far away. The locals have come to gather with us.
It can only be visited when the volcano is classed as either level 1 or 2, the higher the more active is it. We have come on a day of level 2 activity, how lucky for us.
It’s quite a surreal experience upon approach. A loud and solid rumble lasts for several seconds, I can feel the earth beneath my feet gently moving. I’m completely intimidated!
As much as I can sense a fireworks show occurring, I’m yet to see the full impact. It’s still daylight so ash and smoke is really all I can see. The small crowd moves forward, literally metres from the edge.
I’m surprised by the amount of Volcanic activity. Literally every few minutes we experience a burst of discharge..
LET THE FIREWORKS SHOW BEGIN
As daylight fades to dark and the smoke takes on a reddish glow, we have now made our way up the second and third levels. It’s a bit hairy as there are drop offs on either side with not much room to move. Add a bit of shaky ground and feel the elevation in heart rate.
For those who feel a bit uneasy you can stay on the second level where there is more space. You won’t get any less of a view from here.
Bursts of volcanic rock and flames shoot high into the air. It’s mesmerizing and an absolute eye opener. It was hard to believe I was really witnessing all this from the very rim, you couldn’t get any closer without falling in.
No barriers, nothing between you and the mountain.
TAKE A TRIPOD FOR THE BEST SHOTS
Many came with no more than a smart phone but the best pictures can only be captured with a steady hand (especially night shots). You’ve paid all that money to be there so purchase a tripod and save those precious moments forever.
I did see a few other peoples pictures without the use of a tripod and they were not able to capture the real essence of this beast.
MEMORIES THAT WILL LAST FOREVER
After two hours or so we were escorted back down to the waiting vehicles. The drive back had everyone expressing their feelings and our new found respect for this once in a lifetime event.
We moved back to the other side of the island ready for a feed and good nights rest at Rockwater Resort.
The tour is not cheap but how can one put a price on such a surreal experience. For the $700 or so Australian dollars I paid for this tour, I’d happily do it all over again. For those already on the island of Tanna, you can access a tour from there.
Consider how many times can you say you have stood on the edge of an active volcano and how many others do you know that have done the same. It’s simply unheard of for most.
This experience is one that will live on forever and I feel very privileged to have witnessed Mount Yasur Volcano in Vanuatu for myself.