November 07, 2013

The easy way to climb a Volcano. Mount Yasur, Tanna, Vanuatu

Not all volcanic climbs involve multi-day long treks across difficult terrain to view into a crater. Most do, but not all. Mount Yasur in Tanna is probably the easiest Volcano to climb in the world. It is as simple as paying for a trip in a 4WD car across the ash plains and then a drive up a muddy track to a car park just below the rim of the crater.

The local owners ask for a 2250 Vatu admission fee, and then you climb thirty steps to the rim and look down at the lava lake beneath you. There is even a post box up there so you can send postcards to your friends that you are standing on top of a Volcano.

Mt Yasur is active and erupts continuously so a guide is still necessary. Yasur's activity is measured on a scale of one to four, if it reaches four then it is closed to tourists. When we visited it was rated at Level two, erupting regularly but not deemed too dangerous. The sight of lava debris, some the size of the car we had just traveled in, on the short walk up the crater rim is a reminder that, easy access or not, volcanoes are dangerous.

Our guide carefully moved us as the wind changed direction. When the Volcano erupts, as it does in small but explosive bursts, the shower of lava bombs and debris covers the windward side of the crater. You do not want to be standing there, as happened to some Japanese tourists a few years back, as death would inevitably result.

It is all so easy that the whole process resembled a trip to the cinema, entertainment, explosive action and thunderous noise. After standing on the rim viewing numerous explosions sending lava shooting into the night sky, our guide gestured for us to go back to the car. When we arrived back at our hotel we still had time for dinner.

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