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Tanna Tips

Tip on : Tanna - 5 years ago

Tanna Island lies at the southern edge of the Vanuatu archipelago. The writer Paul Theroux calls it "the oddest island" because of its mysticism, geography and cultural oddities. Black magic is practiced around the village fires, the lush jungle feeds off the fertile volcanic soils of Mt Yasur despite the lava & ash spewing forth to repel it and the locals await the second coming of the American deity, Jon Frum. It is wild, frontier adventure travel at its very best! We lodged in a rustic, though oh-so-romantic, banyan treehouse at the Jungle Oasis at the foot of Mt Yasur on the eastern side of the isle. We wandered around the villages, combed the beaches and played football during the day. Each night, we walked to the volcano rim and watched the best fireworks on Earth. The air would displace and shudder like the bullet in The Matrix. The sonic boom hammers you and sucks all other sound from the air. And then the bombs fly, swirling hundreds of metres into the night sky with a trailing jetstream of molten red. It goes on for hours, mesmerizing, perpetually shocking, a natural show of infinite wonder and humbling power. Lenakel is the dusty, offbeat capital of Tanna on the western side. While waiting for our flight back to Port Vila, we spent a few hours on the town beach. A group of teenage girls welcomed us to Tanna with fresh papaya and stories of island life. A bunch of other kids, who had walked 4 hours to the beach to wash their clothes, skipped their chores to build castles and play tic-tac-toe in the sand with us for an hour (we offered to help with their laundry afterwards but they said we'd be hopeless at it). It’s the kind of gorgeous life experience that leaves an indelible imprint upon your aroused mind. Romanticism aside, some basic tips for Tanna ... The Vanuatu Hotels and Positive Earth websites have lots of info on the local bungalows if you do want to pre-book some stuff (like the Banyan treehouse at JO), it’s pretty easy to get around the island (minibuses, hitching on the back of trucks etc) except on Sundays, your hosts will be able to arrange most tours and activities at whichever accommodation you choose, take a warm jacket when you're climbing Yasur, buy some basic snack supplies in Vila (or bring from home), no ATMs on Tanna so bring cash (bargain on about US$70/couple/day all up - depending on accommodation). And beware the most infectious disease on the island: smileyitis. Symptoms are constant grinning, laughing and feelings of euphoria. And they seem to last for months after exposure, particularly when you're writing posts about Tanna on travel forums. Go figure, eh?

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Aug 31, 2009
Don't go to the guesthouse called banyan treehouse or paradise banyan treehouse (the name is changing but it's the same place) First of all Fred George, the owner of the guesthouse is a F…. thief an obviously one of the best liar in the world. We trusted him and after five days in his guesthouse he decided to steal us…we were supposed to be friends…. It’s the only time in Vanuatu that we saw that! We spent 5 nights there. We agreed on the price before arriving at the guesthouse (2 weeks before). The “housetree” is ok with a nice view of the volcano and quite near from the volcano too but we had every night 2 “visitors”….2 big rats, that can happen everywhere (the only time in Vanuatu) but it’s not a very nice visit, they were trying to steal us our food and making a hell of a noise! The family is nice, his wife is nice and the children too but them father is a burglar. So at the end of our stay, he raised the price of everything and after 20 minutes of negotiation, the prices were as planned except the return truck and the visit to the big banyan tree. He said that we will be alone in the truck and see the banyan tree and really insisted to be paid for that but he knew all along that we wouldn’t see the banyan tree and we will be 6 Europeans in the truck (6000Vatu more). When I saw that in the morning I asked him for a refund, he said yes, we stopped at a market and ran away….We phoned him when we arrived at Vila and when he heard our voice he just hang up! The big deal isn’t the 6000 vatu, but the thing that we were 5 days in his guesthouse, he was friendly and at the end trying to steal us, it’s just not possible. Run away from this place, there are plenty other guesthouse less expensive and very nice near this one! Jean louis from Paris ps:Tanna is beautiful, go to Imayo waterfall it's a pure wonder!
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