Hidden Treasure Bungalows
Beautiful gardens, lovely people
At the airport the guy on the desk said he new of a place we could stay, some new bungalows so we booked that for one night, then we got talking to the owner of one of the 2 expensive resorts on Tanna and a photographer that was going to take pictures of the volcano for a new tour they were setting up. They told us how there were no tourists at the moment, talked about the tour and somehow it ended up that Andy invited us along. The owner Huey kept saying we should stay at his place but we knew the price (about 300 AU per night plus), were we booked was (we thought) 40. In the end he said he would match our current price just to get people there, so we agreed to go there for the second night.
When we got to Tanna it was quite an eye opener. It was beautiful but the whole island only had a few dirt roads, the town was a couple of tin huts and the main shop did not even sell bottled water, you could have fanta, lemonade or beer. Fruit, a few lollies and minor other basic supplies
but very little was there. Other than that you could buy fuel from another hut or produce from the local market.
The first night, place great, but again very basic, non mossie proof palm leaf bungalows, tiny room, cold water but lovely gardens and on the coast. Very rough water and same issue with lava / coral. People were lovely but had no supplies. Food was included and turned out to be a nice meal of steak and rice. (most of the places that are run by locals food is included, you get whatever they cook, kind of put luck). They could only find us (after going to town) 1 600 ml bottle of water between us to take up the volcano for 8 hours.
Andy and his Ni-Van driver/guide Seth picked us up at 2.30am. (most volcano tours leave from Vila, you fly there, go up volcano for ½ hour in the evening and then sleep and fly back.) We had flown as we had worked out it would be much cheaper to do it independently. In the end we did not even have to pay to go to the volcano (normally about 120AU). Seth was great, good
Best to take it with you, don't rely on the shop
English (he had got a scholarship and spent a year in Birmingham) and knowledgeable. The aim was to watch the volcano and then the change as the sun came up - it was fantastic and if it had been sunny instead of cloudy it would have been really something.
Going up in the dark, we had no idea where we were going, only that it was a very rough 4 x 4 road and at times quite challenging. At one point we could see big flashes of orange in the distance, at other times we could smell and taste the strong sulphur. We seemed to get near and then went away again, quite fascinating. When we finally arrived at the bottom of the main volcano I was astounded to see a post box - it is a new tourist idea - they also have an underwater on one Hideaway island. Pity we had no postcards. We were lucky that morning as the wind was on our backs meaning the sulphur cloud was away from us - easier to breath and not much smell. Climbing up you could see the orange and hear the bangs. We sat at the top
Not self service
and watched, it seemed that the rocks this morning were consistently landing on the other side of the crater so walked up one side but Seth suddenly said we could not stay and to go back down and up the other side - this is were you can normally look right down into the centre but the wind was wrong and it was all sulphur could - while we were this side some rocks landed the side we had been before. This sounds bad but unless it gets more active and many come in the same place at once you can see them coming and avoid them - they don’t fall as fast as you would expect. Still some of them are massive and you would not want to be hit by one as just the weight could kill let alone the heat. Seth showed us how to tell if the rocks were new (no ash covering them). The glow when they land only lasts about 20 mins to the naked eye but days to really cool down. Andy took this picture of a rock that was new but did not look hot - one with the flash and one
without, when we got back to the hotel we plugged his camera straight into laptop to look at them and the picture taken without flash shows the inside glowing. We were all astounded and spent the next few hours trying to work it out - it had not looked red to us but obviously the camera must also pick up intense heat - or something. The kind of thing you would not have believed if you had not been there.
On the way back we went to the ash fields - very thick, fun to run down - they are thinking of doing ash-boarding for tourists. It was fascinating now to see the scenery and be able to place things from the way I up - I personally thing it was more interesting this way than going in daylight and then taking less notice on the way down in the dark.
We moved from first place to other resort, and in the end the first one turned out to be 40 each - very odd there it is a real mix of price per person and price per room and it is hard to be clear whatever you ask
which it is. Tanna lodge where Huey had said he would match there price ended up 30 total and it was a great place. 2 room bungalows, big ensuite and luxury of hot water. A kind of black sandyish beach but also lots of large lava boulders and rough water so still no swimming. The volcano was a level 2 when we were there - 3 up people are not allowed up. A few days before it had been a 4 and the pool at the lodge miles away the other side of the island was covered in black ash on the bottom when we got there. It was clean later that day.
Off to Espiritu Santo island next - sounded like more beaches and a bit cheaper.
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