Tanna, you are so hot like a vulcano
And faster than we could look we sat in one of the smallest airplanes of Vanuatu Air, which we ever flew with. After 45 minutes flight I would say we arrived in Tanna with almost a crash landing. And the word airport was a bit exaggerated as well. I was a small shack with a warm welcome of 7 headed Vanuatu String Band. Nice.
We were in another world at once. And if we would have the chance to make movies instead of fotos (fortunately we don´t have otherwise we had no time for nothing else) you would feel like in a report in the TV.
Everything started with the crossing of the island in a 4x4. For the almost 40km gravel road we need almost two hours. There is no public traffic and so you need to organise your transport, driver included, by your own. We always sleep in small tourist bungalows which are provided by the small villages. The villages own these bungalows and so get the money directly.
The different bungalows are mostly small bamboo huts with an own small terrace. Sometimes they have an own cold water shower and a toilet, sometimes these facilities are shared. But one they have all. They lie in beautiful sceneries and stunning gardens. Or you´ll find them close to the beach or close to the rainforest, or both.

Our first trip the next day brought us with two guides to Port Resolution.

This is a small nature harbour with small villages, but without ships. (always in this season). All huts are made out of bamboo and the roof is covered with huge palm leaves. Childrens are playing in front of the huts and observing us with great, curious eyes. It is so idyllic. We use the opportunity to have a quick snorkeling at the White Beach. Nobody else is there and we can enjoy the exciting underwater world. Small reefs and a neverending variety of different colourful fishes.
On the way back our guides disappear in the bush and come back a few seconds later with either a Guava fruit or a coconut or something else. By the way they are incredible fast with climbing a coconut palm and back to the ground. At the end we buy a bundle of bananas in the village, this is almost our main food supply beside coconut during the day for the following nine days. In the evening we both want to try Kava the traditional ceremonial drink (or drug) of the Vanuatuan men which they drink in the Nakamal (gathering place for men in every village) traditionally.

The next highlight a few days later should be a riding trip. For that we walk to our next accommodation. We have nothing reserved but we know that there is another bungalow in the middle of the bush near the road. By chance we met on the way to the bungalow the host of another small bungalow and decided to stay there at first spontaneously. Though he attracts us for his main activity: horse riding. And he is the best guide for the vulcano and the best hunter of Tanna Island as well. So we must be in good hands. And the the best of all is, his for bungalows have even a flush toilet (shared like we see later, probably shared with the whole village). And his absolute highlight is the 1 hours trip to a certain cave, the real home of the volcano how he emphasizes it ten times (whatever he means with that?!!?)

It is not that he wants to convince us with his bungalows and persuade us to stay with him, he is more surprised when we say: OK we stay with you for a night and want to do the horse riding. His eyes become great and we recognice a kind of panic. At once he tries to convince us to make the trip to the cave, because that ist he real highlight and we are there for only one day and it is raining and and and. We like to do the horse riding, we say again. Bu first we walk to the bungalow, which are not exactly like that he described maybe a bit more dodgy. The toiles is 30 meter away and it is not exactly a toilet where you want to sit down, same with the shower. But we are not that sensitive and decide to stay, the scenery is beautiful. The rain starts again and Joseph comes at once and says: If it rains more we cannot do the horse riding. It is to boggy for the horses and they could fall. Souldn´t we rather go to the cave?“ „Yeah“, we say, „let´s wait for a couple of hours maybe the rain will stop.“ A few minutes later, we sit on the door to our bungalow and a young man from the village comes over and introduces himself. During our chat we ask, how many horses they actually have, because we haven´t seen one yet. He looks to the ground and asks very soft “Horses? We have a small problem with the horses because they all died.” OK, now we know what Joseph´s problem was. On the road he was telling fairytales because he never reckon that we would stay with him. After there is still rain after two hours we look for Joseph and tell him, that we can do the cave as well, because we think it is not good for the horses as well, with all the rain. ; - ) I heard a bang and thought it was the stone which fell from Joseph´s heart but it was the vulcano in the background. You will hear about that a bit later. First we go to this magic cave, the real home of the volcano like we learnt five times again. It was not exactly exciting there it was a very muddy entry, it was pitch dark and smell like guana. The reason for that were the amount of bats which were flying in that cave when we enter and watched them within the spotlight of our torch. Bats – rabies. Don´t care about that, is the most friendly volcano in the world, and bats though would never be infected with rabies, we suppose.

For the evening Joseph organizes a Vanuatu String Band just for us. 8 young guys from the village plays different instruments and singing traditional songs for about an hour. They played just for us in the small bamboo hut and it was really great. You can see they have fun with it. We paid almost nothing for it, and it was almost kind of embarrassing. If you want to hear an example of these bands just try Youtube with a “Vanuatu String Band” Funny music which makes you happy. During the dinner, by the way, Joseph starts talking about all the activities he offer again. And really he says again:„We hav da vulcanotours, we hav da cave and we hav da horses wis se riding tours“. We don´t know by know what was wrong with him. It couldn´t be too many super hero movies, because they have no TV. But something like this, maybe too much Kava or so. Almost another half an hour he talks about his adventures and we are not able to go, because he takes no breath when talking. He talks about his plans with the bungalows in the future, all the advertising he wants to do and his big experience in the hospitality sector. It was the most funny experience we had and we can only recommend these bungalows (but only for people who don´t want to ride) Mountain Breeze Bungalows is our very special super secret tip.

Next day we walk to the next bungalow, in the Jungle Oasis we have a small tree house in a huge Banyan tree. From there I make another day trip to the Ferkan waterfall with two guides.
It is a 6 hours walk through the tropical forest, through meter high grass, through rivers and up on mountains. It was like you imagine a real tour through the jungle. I bet, I lost about ten litres of sweat. But the trip was worth to go. The waterfall is not exactly spectacular, but it is remote and you don´t share it with hundreds of other tourists, so it gorgeous in its own way.
In the evening we experienced that why most tourist come to Tanna. The Yasur volcano. You can go with the 4x4 almost to the top, just the few last metres you have to walk through the ash of the volcano to reach the caldera.

The vulcano is a strombilion one, that means it has regular lava explosions and small eruptions, which reach different height (if there is Level 2 you can watch them from the rim quite safely, if Level 3 you can only do it from the car park and when there is Level 4 you should try to get the next plane to fl from the island). If you are at the bottom it sounds all like a big thunderstorm, if you are on the rim you can feel the power of the explosions because they make the earth shaking and red-hot lava is flying out of the volcano. If you are looking in the caldera from the rim it is about 150 meters under your feet. The darker it becomes the more the rising sulphur steam is glowing red and from time to time there are new shots of lava on the slopes of the crater. This was an absolutely unique experience. And you can be sure to feel the power of the elements no where more tha here (in almost safe conditions). You can spent hours there.

Before we went to the other side of the island on the day after tomorrow wem ade a night stopover at the other side of Mount Yasur at the sea. It was one of the most beautiful unfortunately one of the most expensive bungalows as well.
It lies in an absolutely beautiful scenerie on a black sand beach. And we did not know that there were white financiers as well. Unfortunately when it starts with the profit neurosis of some financiers everthing got a bit too perfect and disproportionately expensive, too. Too late for us, there was no chance to change it. They leave nothing out to make a few notes more from the tourists. Next morning the 4x4 of this place brought us to the other side of the island again. For the last two nights we booked an affordable accommodation in a regular bungalow which is managed by a local village and where the money they earned comes directly to that village. From there we made a visit to a traditional village a so called “kastom village” which means these villages live still very traditionally.

They showed us games, dances and how to make fire without matches (not with a lighter, instead with two different kinds of wood).No other tourists were there.

Tanna was an insight into a culture which is still living more happy than we do. They are more content with less things. We did not meet so happy and open hearted people like there. And they were naturally friendly and curious about you without an ulterior motive to make the next deal with you. We hope that these people will be spared with mass tourism which is not willing to make a step back. (Marc)