The skies around Yasur volcano are pumped with adrenaline and certainly a sky and an experience that you wouldn’t forget — ever. Particularly if you were a strapping Scottish lad who had flown in for an overnight stay at our resort on the island of Tanna Vanuatu. The tour started as normal – we explained the dangers they would encounter from the pieces of flying lava and then happily the group joined the driver of the tour vehicle. Some chose to ride in the cabin others on the tray at the back. This was something that was not permitted in their countries of origin and our guests seemed to want the experience, the first rush of adrenaline. The first view of the volcano is spectacular as you reach the top of the mountain range which divides the island in two. Enough to make you almost forget the adrenaline that is pumping in plenty at the hairiness of the road on which you are travelling.
Once off the mountain range you find yourself on the ash plain. Lake Siwi is no longer there. A cyclone dumped an amazing amount of water carving a channel through the plain and emptying the lake into the sea destroying a village in the process. The gorges left in the old lake floor are reminiscent of the Grand Canyon. But when the Scot visited us the lake was still a lake.
You felt as though you were on another planet. No life seemed to survive here.
Until you saw the lone horseman.
Even on the ash plain you could smell, taste, see and feel the force of the volcano as it exploded frequently sending plumes of chemical laden ash high into the sky and you knew that before too long you would be standing on the rim, looking into the cauldera.
A bamboo rail fence shows the way up. The heat could be felt as you passed rocks. Some still glowed red.
The plan was to arrive near dusk so that you could see the action during the day but also by night when the burning colours of the molten rocks and the explosions were constrasted starkly against the pitch black of night. Note the terrain. The fence only went to the top of the volcano. The best viewing point was further to the right. Once up the top there was no guide rail to show you the way or fence to advise that this is as close as you should go.
I was always amazed that people stood right on the edge of the rim. The explosions shook the earth. Did they not consider that they were merely standing on compacted ash and one huge explosion could see them landsliding into the bowels of the earth?
The wait for night gave a fantastic sight. However, for our Scotsman, who wandered a bit further away from the group and with a guide that had forgotten to take the torches that night, it turned into a night of terror. The group left the volcano leaving him alone on the edge in the smelly darkness. Absolute black is disorienting. He had no idea how to get down. There were no stars to guide him. The terrain was conducive to stumbles which could send you hurtling headlong either down the steep side of the volcano or worse into it. The tour group had returned to the other side of the island before they realised one of the party was missing. They returned to the volcano and found a man petrified with fear. His adrenaline had all but run out.
Back at the resort our adrenaline was starting to pump. Why were they so late back? Some of our fears on this occasion were unfounded but for the Scot I know he will never forget his night on the volcano.
In response to Paula’s guest bloggers prompt adrenaline in unusual places such as the sky.