Sulphur crystals, Vanua Lava, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
Red Creek, Vanua Lava, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
Camping above the volcano, Vanua Lava, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
Water supply, Vanua Lava, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
New solfatara viewed from Sola Airfield, Vanua Lava, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
Bush, Vanua Lava, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
Sasara Waterfall, Banks Islands, Vanuatu
Walking Vanua Lava, Banks Islands

There are volcanos and waterfalls to visit on Vanua Lava and walking can simply be an interesting way to get around.

Mount Sere Ama Solfataras
The solfataras along the Selva River can be seen in a day. There are smoking fumaroles and the in some places the river is scalding hot.

Lalngetak village on northeast Vanua Lava is the place to find a guide for Mount Sere Ama. To get to Lalngetak, you either charter a speed boat or walk. From Sola, a speed boat charter costs about 6000 Vatu, return. From Mota Lava Island it's about 5000 Vatu.

To walk, Lalngetak is three hours from Sola along level ground. Follow the road, go past the airport (30 minutes), along the beach, cut across Port Patteson and then walk parallel to the coast for one hour more.

The Selva and Alket rivers may present a hazard. First, you can only wade across the Selva River at low tide. Second, there's a shaky footbridge over the Alket river. At low tide you are likely to meet villagers walking along the beach and they may help you. In Sola your hosts can arrange a guide.

There are two or three crocodiles and they most often hang around the Alket river. It's not known if they are breeding. Sometimes, at high tide, they swim around to the Selva River. The locals infrequently see them as they are shy and avoid people. It is said the crocodiles will only bite you if you done something bad. One man was attacked a few years ago and escaped.

Safely arrived in Lalngetak, you can meet Presto, he represents the chiefs and you pay the 1000 Vatu per person volcano visitor's fee to him. Guides are 500 Vatu (or 1000?). Usually they will be two and you pay both of them. You need strong shoes and they are going to get wet.

The walk to the solfataras on the Selva river is around 5 km and takes about 2.5 hours, more if you take time to enjoy the surroundings. The track starts through the forest, climbs up hill and then plunges down into the Selva river gorge. Here there is a small creek and waterfall with good drinking water (carry a water bottle and fill it up here).

You then follow the Selva River, jumping on stones and wading as required. The stones are not slippery. At the solfatara there is a steep climb over loose ground.

There are limited possibilites for camping at the solfatara and nearly all visitors return in a day. If you do want to camp, it's OK in the forest near the drinking water source, about an hour downstream from the volcano. Camping near the solfatara is not comfortable because the ground is rocky and the fumaroles expel sulforous gases.

Lalngetak is a friendly community and home-stay accomodation is possible. There are nice streams to bathe in, rain water to drink and lots of kava. About 1000 Vatu per night, per person is a reasonable payment. The only annoyance is sand flies, depending on the tide, and millions of mosquitos if there has been lots of rain.

The more active solfatara on the southern flanks of Mount Sere Ama and is probably best approached from Sola. Ask in Sola for a guide.

Updates on the volcano are available from the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory.

Mount Sere Ama crater lakes
In 2011 we cut a track up to the summit, where there are two crater lakes. The summit track passes through the forest above the Selva River and emerges at the last solfatara. From here there is a steep climb up a scree slope and then through "snake rope" (ferns) and "wild cane" (cane grass) to the summit. We also cut tracks to both crater lakes.

There are campsites near the last solfatara and another on top near the summit viewpoint. The tracks to the summit are expected to become overgrown before long. Visiting the crater lakes is more an expedition than a tour. It could take a week, depending on the weather and to allow time for finding and clearing the tracks.

Walking to Vureas Bay and Waterfall Bay
There's no need to carry a tent if walking to Waterfall Bay since there are bungalows to stay in. The walking is fairly easy but the distances are long, so pack lightly.

It is a good three or four hours walk from Sola to Vureas Bay (about 12 km) passing coconut plantations, several small villages, crossing one river and walking through several smaller streams (plan to get your boots wet). Nerr Bungalows is a good place to stay. It's quiet and the food is good.

The walk from Vureas Bay to Waterfall Bay takes another three to four hours (about 12 km), crossing three rivers before descending to the coast and following the beach (plan to get your boots wet again). At Waterfall Bay there's Malau Yacht Resort.

From Sola, your hosts should be able to organise a guide. Alternatively, you can start walking alone and meet someone on the way. Follow the truck road and go past the turnoff to Mosina.

Quite a few locals walk the route between Sola and Veutumboso every day but you will see less traffic on the Veutumboso to Waterfall Bay leg. If you stay at Nerr Bungalows they can send someone with you to Waterfall Bay.

Last updated: April 2011 by Stephen

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