Tanna

My last holiday week was devoted to Tanna. Tanna is further South, so it gets slightly cooler in winter, and the temperature turned out to be absolutely perfect for me.

Transport is incredibly expensive on Tanna. The 25 kilometres from the airport to the other side of the island where I wanted to stay did cost me about 80 dollars. But that’s not even the full cost of the trip which is more than 100 dollars. Diesel costs about 4 dollars per litre. A Toyota Hilux pickup truck, the most common type of vehicle there, is about 140,000 dollars. And lasts for about 5 years only!!! That’s because of the ash, the sea salt and the VERY rough roads that make vehicles fall apart so quickly.

It’s a very pretty island though, with green lawns and paths cut into them, with bougainvilleas along them. The bungalows where I stayed had a great view over the Port Resolution area:

Port Resolution

I mostly went to Tanna because of Mount Yasur, the famous volcano. What makes it so interesting is that it’s constantly erupting, shooting lava high up into the air and belching thick clouds of ash and smoke:

Eruption

It was a real 3D experience. You go up there in the late afternoon while there is still full daylight. It’s nice, but once it gets dark it’s totally awesome as you can see the glowing lava a lot better.

What fascinated me most was the thunder, earth vibrating, and pressure waves just before every eruption. My first impression was that this must be Mordor! So there was all this thundering and red hot lava fireworks, and once we could even feel the heat. Then a slight change of wind and everyone started coughing because smoke had been blown towards us. Photos and words just don’t do it justice, if you want to know what it’s like, you have to go there! In no Western country would they let people so close to a volcano, that’s for sure.

This is the volcano, seen from the ash plain:

Mt Yasur

Before flying back to Vila, I spent a night on the other side of the island where I did a bit of snorkelling on the reef. The reef was ok, but not really great.

Even though the volcano, food and accommodation were really good, Tanna wasn’t quite as special to me as Torres and Santo had been. They get more tourists there than the other places I had visited. Even though tourism is still on a very small scale, it’s clear that you are not their special tourist anymore, but just one of many. It’s a good place to go to though if you just want to do your tourist thing and be left alone.

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