Mount Garet Volcano, Gaua, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
Siri Waterfall and river, Gaua, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
Camping on Mount Garet, Gaua, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
Mount Garet Volcano, Gaua, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
Dead crater, Gaua, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
Downstream of the waterfall, Gaua, Banks Islands, Vanuatu

Walking Vanuatu on Gaua, Banks Islands
Sunrise on the summit, Gaua, Banks Islands, Vanuatu

The main objective for most visitors to Gaua is Lake Letas and the Mount Garet Volcano. Access is by walking. Updates on the volcano are available from the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory.

If you are want to climb Mount Garet, you need to cross the lake and there are two canoes on the lake for this. Most visitors camp overnight by the lake and paddle across to the volcano in the morning.

Walking Routes
From East Gaua there are basically three trekking routes to Lake Letas and they all take about three hours up to the lake:
1) The track from the airport is most often used by tourists (from Wongras Bungalows). The distance is about 12 km and easy walking.
2) The walk from Kaska Bay, about 10 km, is difficult only between the waterfall and the lake, the rest is easy. The waterfall detour is hazardous and mist limits your opportunities for taking photos. Anyhow, the waterfall is a remarkable sight. Allow one to two hours for the waterfall detour.
3) The walk from Namasari village is easy, only a little steeper than the track from the airport.

Summit panorama, Gaua, Banks Islands, Vanuatu

Camping
There are many places to camp around lake Letas. There are few flies or mosquitos and it's cool, but not cold, at night. The lake is good for swimming and the water is OK for drinking (better to stick a purifcation tablet in when you refill your bottle).

Camping on top of Mt Garet can be done (has been done) if the weather is fine. You just need to carry some water up the mountain. The view from the summit on a clear morning is absolutely breathtaking: you can see the Torres Islands, all of the Banks, Maewo, Ambae, Pentecost and Santo.

Mount Garet
Crossing Lake Letas is about 2 km and takes about 1 hour by canoe. If there's a wind blowing it will take longer or may even be impossible. The new fibreglass canoes are very sturdy and can take 6 passengers.

Gaua panorama, Banks Islands, Vanuatu

There are many walking routes up Mount Garet, most of them involve bashing along wild bullock tracks and getting lost. There is one good track, discovered by Wongras Bungalows, and it's easier if your guide knows this route. During the low season (December to April), the track may be overgrown with ferns.

It takes about 1 to 2 hours to climb Mount Garet, depending on how clear the track is. Wear long pants to save your legs from getting scratched. The upper section has loose ground and gravel so take care.

The "smoke" emitted by Mount Garet is rich in Sulphur Dioxide. It is acidic and you will get a shock if you stray into the gas plume. Stay upwind and uphill of the vent and you will be fine.

Detours
If you like to explore more, and have time, there are some worthwhile additions to your volcano trek:
- Boiling mud pools, these are at the northwestern end of Lake Letas, not far inland.
- Duck island, this is where the White-eyed Ducks (Hardheads) lay their eggs (seasonally).
- Siri Waterfall, it's huge!

Sunrise over Lake Letas, Gaua, Banks Islands, Vanuatu

Guides and fees
You will need a guide to show the path and point out the Nangalat trees (stinging trees) along the way. 1000 Vatu a day is the standard rate.

There are kastom fees but sometimes it's not clear that these are passed on to the landowners. Fees can be different, depending on where you stay. The best bet is to go the Tourism Office next to the airport, Onless Island Tour, telephone 38596. It's open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, when there is an Air Vanuatu flight from Santo. You can pay your fees at the tourism office and they will give you a receipt. You don't need to book any tours there if you don't want too.

Attraction/Activity Fee (Vatu)
Volcano 1000 per person
Canoe hire 1500
Boiling mud 500 per person
Duck island 500 per person
Siri Waterfall 1000 per person

Last updated: June 2009 by Stephen.

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