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wojtekd Port-Vila - A travel report by Wojciech
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Port-Vila,  Vanuatu - flag Vanuatu -  (( Efate ))
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wojtekd's travel reports

Forgotten Archipelago - Vanuatu

  17 votes
Page: 1 2

Port-Vila travelogue picture
There are a lot of people dreaming about travel to the tropical islands hidden in the Pacific Ocean. Many know about Polynesia. But there is also other, less known, peaceful place I want to recommend: State of Vanuatu lies some 2000 kilometers east of Australia and consists of 82 islands of different size. During the colonial period - until 1980 it was Anglo-French New Hebrides Condominium. Traveler should not expect here monuments or archeological sites. What Vanuatu has to offer is beauty of the unnature and folklore. How to get there? If it will be your single destination Australia is the best point to jump from. If you want to visit more Pacific countries there is another solution... It is now not a time of sailboats going from one island to the other. between the islands is special inexpensive air ticket that allows you to jump from one island country to the other with no obligation of coming back to the point of origin: Visit South Pacific Pass.
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Favourite spots:
Port-Vila travelogue picture
Capital city Port Vila acts as a gateway to the whole country. Almost all foreigners arrive by air to the Bauerfield airport - just 5 km from the center of Port Vila (shared taxi cost 400 vatu). Charming, free of skyscrapers town, inhabited by 15000 people only lies at the end of picturesque bay of Efate Island. The capital isn't large place- still possible to visit on foot. Main attraction Cultural Centre with museum is located opposite to the interesting parliament building. In the museum you will find extensive artifact collection. On the slopes of the hill you will find nice samples of the colonial architecture including old Court House with nice view over the bay. It is worth to stroll along the main street - Kumul Highway, packet by duty-free shops, galleries and restaurants. Don't miss here the market - open Thursdays to Saturdays mornings. I enjoyed rows of tropical fruits, vegetables, shells and flowers. Souvenirs like grass skirts are also on sale.

What's really great:
Port-Vila travelogue picture
Tour around the Efate. It is possible to rent a car for approx. 60 USD/day and to take round-the-island trip. Going west the first attraction are Mele Cascades (12 km). Locals charge 500 vatu for entrance here, then leave your shoes and walk up the cascades. Guide will help you to cross most difficult parts. It is nice place, it reminds me Dunn River Falls walk in Jamaica but Vanuatu case is longer and wilder. There is picturesque waterfall at the top. Further on 132-kilometers loop there are nice beaches, caves, viewpoints, villages, excellent diving and snorkeling places. All you need to remember is that local behavior is to ask for permission to enter somebody's land. Permission is always given, small fee sometimes is requested. Keep in mind that the round-the-island road is in bad shape - full of holes, broken bridges and mud. The choice is to take a minibus tour organized by agency... I recommend also evening tour to the village for tasting of local food, music and dancing...

Sights:
Port-Vila travelogue picture
Tanna is second most popular island of the archipelago. It is famous for its volcano Yasur, custom villages and cargo cults that have grown here. To get there you can take one-hour flight on a liitle 18-seater. It is advisable to prearrange island tour if you are coming just for a day or two... Do not expect paved roads and a/c hotel rooms on Tanna. It is real adventure... We started with the visit in the custom (traditional) village where the people still dress and live in traditional ways. Thatched houses, wandering pigs, kava trees, abundant nature around - all seems like hundreds years ago. On the nakamal - central place of the village under huge banyan tree the villagers performed for us traditional songs and dances. And it was something I never saw anywhere in the world.

Accommodations:
Port-Vila travelogue picture
If you are wealthy there is conveniently located Melanesian Hotel (walking distance from city center). Apart from the resorts and three stars hotels you will find inexpensive lodges and guesthouses on the islands Efate, Tanna, Santo, Malekula and Ambrym. But do not expect luxury there – usually they have share facilities. Motels are slightly better (and more expensive). Twin room with fan in the inexpensive guesthouse - 2500 vatu, a/c room in budget hotel - 9000 vatu.
1 USD is worth 133 vatu.
Other sample prices: Full day tour by 4WD car - 8000 vatu. Can of pepsi – 120 vatu, can of beer – 350 vatu, bread 1 kilo – 120 vatu, lunch in the bar - 1000, taxi ride in Port Vila – 200, postcard – 40

Other recommendations:
Port-Vila travelogue picture
The flag attraction of the Tanna island is 361-meters high Yasur volcano. They call it the most accessible active volcano anywhere on Earth. 4WD landcruiser took us to the lava field on the slopes. Then there was 20-minutes climbing up the poor path marked with bamboo poles. Once we reach the rim of crater spectacular show started: every few minutes we watch of smoke and gas that shoot glowing ash and stones into the air. Fortunately for us stone bombs were falling down back to the crater. Crater itself was full of smoke so we did not see the bottom. Tanna hotels offer also night ascends which allows seeing glowing lava and fire in the crater.


Published on Friday October 17th, 2003


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Sun, Feb 26 2006 - 02:06 PM rating by ehs1193

This is one of those places where you might not even know it exists until you hear about it from someone.

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 09:43 AM rating by miguelmarchi

I thought that I was a traveller, but now, after reading your reports I realize that I am not.

Mon, May 30 2005 - 12:15 AM rating by rangutan

Magnificent!

Thu, May 13 2004 - 01:50 PM rating by whereisliz

Do you look to see where no one else has gone, and then go there? I certainly admire your spirit of adventure, and deeply appreciate your sharing your interesting stories and beautiful photos with us!!

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