Vanuatu wasn’t a destination I’d ever thought about until I read the Cash Peters book Naked in Dangerous Places. The author paints a very self-deprecating portrait of himself as a non-adventurous sort of character dragged deep into world travel by his heels. One chapter revolves around the South Pacific volcano called Mount Yasur.
Right then, Vanuatu forced its way onto my travel list. It’s one of many destinations in the South Pacific that offer cheap holiday deals. But its famous resident volcano set it apart. The chance to see volcanic landscapes was a huge part of the reason for my trips to New Zealand and Iceland – and neither disappointed. And its just one of many Vanuatu holiday ideas for adventurous travelers.
Vanuatu shares the volcanic allure, but with a few other interesting bits I cadged from Peters’ book. He depicts it as having just that right amount of development: Western travelers will have the basic amenities, but they won’t drown in touristy kitsch. At the moment, it seems like travel bloggers are overlooking it. So if you get there before I do, tell some good travel stories and watch curious volcano-and-tropics seekers roll right in.
As for Mount Yasur, I discovered a few tidbits that set it apart from any garden-variety volcano:
- The glow from one of its eruptions brought it to the attention of Captain James Cook, who was the first European to visit.
- Mount Yasur is central to the beliefs of the John Frum cargo cult. Never heard of a cargo cult? Imagine a pre-industrial civilization meeting an industrial civilization for the first time, the influx of manufactured goods and the deification who brought all this wonderful new stuff. There are at least three other cargo cults scattered across Vanuatu, and many others throughout the South Pacific.
- Mount Yasur is easily accessible. But heed the local warning system, which ranges from 1-4 (the most dangerous).
What you have is a South Pacific holiday destination that’s cheap, interesting and adventurous. And since it’s still an up-and-coming destination, the odds are good that you’ll be one of the few people at any gathering telling travel stories about Vanuatu.
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