Exploring the volcano on Tanna in Vanuatu

We’ve put together a video that shows our adventures in Vanuatu when we amongst other things go visiting a Volcano on Tanna. Press play and watch it 🙂
Under the video we’ve written a bit more about our stay in Vanuatu, that gives you more details.

Who would have thought that the World’s most dangerous country was located in the South Pacific? Vanuatu is a group of islands that lies west of Fiji, east of New Caledonia and south of the Solomon Islands. We sailed there from Tonga and looked forward to a good week of exploring Port Resolution and climbing Mount Yasur, the ferocious volcano on the island Tanna.

What makes Vanuatu so dangerous? It certainly isn’t the friendly people living there. We can hands down say that out of all the islands we visited on the trip, Vanuatu had the most smiling and friendly population. This is incredible, because Vanuatu is one of the poorest countries in the World coming in as the 32nd poorest country in the World.

What makes Vanuatu dangerous is its location. In the week we were there, there was a strong earthquake, with an ensuing tsunami warning on a neighboring island. There was also a big volcano eruption, which forced 11,000 people to be evacuated. The island chain lies on the fault line between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates and this causes nature to be volatile. Having said that, cannibalism existed up till the 1960’s, so I’m happy we didn’t get there 60 years ago, because then it truly could have been the World’s most dangerous country to visit. You might get shot or robbed elsewhere, but eaten???

We anchored in Port Resolution the entire time we were in Vanuatu. Port Resolution was named after Captain Cook’s ship when he landed there in 1774. Tanna is known for the volcano Mount Yasur, which is a n active volcano that you can walk up to and stand on the rim looking into the caldera. We’ve never been anywhere you can get this close to lava shooting up in the air.

In Port Resolution we struck up a friendship with one of the local families. They invited us to their village, showed us their way of life and allowed us to get a glimpse into a World very different from ours. They live in small houses made of wood and palm trees, where they live in one house and have a separate house for the kitchen. The kitchen is comprised of an open fire that they cook over, as well as an area to prepare the food. They don’t have any means to keep food refrigerated, so every couple of days they make the journey up to their field and vegetable gardens, where they pick the food and vegetables they need for a couple of days at a time. The volcanic soil is very fertile, so while they are poor, they don’t suffer from hunger, because they are able to grow a variety of fruit and vegetables, ensuring that they have a varied and healthy diet. Chila took us to her garden filled with bananas, papaya, cucumber, tomatoes, salad, cassava, yam, sweet potatoes, watermelon, plus more. The cherry tomatoes were the best we’ve ever tasted. Luxury products for them are meat of any kind, rice, pasta, sugar, salt, etc. which are things that are expensive and they have to save up for.

The village we got to know was comprised of a cluster of houses on a hill, where all the sons of a family lived. An interesting tradition is that when they marry, the wife moves in with the husband and their first born daughter goes back to the family of the wife, to compensate for them loosing their daughter. Any child, except for the first daughter stays in the village, until daughters marry and move out, while the boys stay and ensure that the village grows.

We really enjoyed their company and donated some things that we hoped would help them. Top of the list was a solar panel to charge their cell phones. They may lack a lot of things, but a cell phone isn’t one of them, but because they don’t have electricity, they have no way to charge them, except by asking sailboats to do it, or go to someone with a generator that they have to pay to charge it. The solar powered Luci lights we gave were also very appreciated, because a few of the houses in the village had no lights at night. One lady was nearly in tears with happiness when she realized she would now have light. In addition we gave them some of our food stores and clothes, all which was very appreciated and we were happy to see it put to proper use.

In return they gave us lots of fruit and vegetables and invited us to come and have dinner with them in the village. Both them and us made dishes of food that we shared, having a cultural food exchange. Maggie’s pumpkin cake seemed to be a big favorite.

Our stay on Tanna was amazing. We really enjoyed the people, whose smiles and friendliness will stay with us. The visit to Mount Yasur was spectacular and is also something we’ll never forget. Vanuatu is definitely a country that embraces you and leave you with lasting memories. Incidentally it was my second visit to Vanuatu and I was equally impressed then with the Volcano on Tanna the last time.