This is my first visit to Vanuatu: a four-day holiday to the tropical island in the South Pacific. While Vanuatu boasts some great tropical trekking on the less developed islands, the main island of Efate is not really a hiking destination. Keen to explore the island, I manage to find a local guide who promises a challenging walk across the island…
Starting at Ulei on the north-western side of island, the hiking track ascends through the thick jungle. The Vanuatu rain forests are tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests; deforestation is relatively low and large tracts of jungle remain even on the most populous island of Vanuatu.
The trail reaches a Vanuatu Telecom tower (392m asl) at Paopakoa, which the guide tells me is fine to climb to get a nice view over the coast, to the north and west.
Moso Island lies just off the coast to the west, separated from Efate by Namoso Passage, which is only 200 metres wide at its narrowest point.
To the north is Nguna, the outer island bisected by two extinct volcano craters (the highest being Mount Taputoara, at 593m asl).
The track then continues along a narrow trail through jungle – the guide referred to it as a “blue path” cut by army.
The track follows a wide ridge between Mt MacDonald (647m) and Paonapokas (485m, ascending gradually through thick jungle. Along the way, my guide points a Vanuatu Flying Fox in the trees above us – it’s Vanuatu’s largest native mammal. There are four flying foxes found in Vanuatu, of which three are endemic: the Vanuatu Flying Fox (white or waet flying fox), Banks flying fox (smol waet flying fox), and the primitive flying fox or Fijian Mastiff Bat, which exist only in Vanuatu and the Taveuni island of Fiji.
As the track gets closer to Port Vila airport (our destination), it descends fairly steeply, with more open forest towards the end. It’s an exhausting but rewarding walk, starting at 10am and walking fairly much non-stop until 6pm. We don’t see a single person on the way, and see some of the “real” and untouched Vanuatu.
When’s best to hike in Vanuatu?
Vanuatu has a subtropical climate, with warm and humid weather year-round. Summer tends to bring more rain, while winter is a bit cooler and drier. If you’re planning some hiking in Vanuatu, the best time to visit is July to October.
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