Here is everything a tourist needs to know about Mount Yasur.
About the volcano
Mount Yasur is a stratovolcano, meaning that it has been built up by layers of hardened lava and ash over hundreds of years of activity. Famous explorer Captain James Cook was among the first to make reports on the volcano's activity, observing eruptions in 1774, although it's safe to assume they have been going on for many years before that. It is located about 361 metres above sea level right outside the appropriately named Sulphur Bay. The volcano is affectionately nicknamed the "Old Man," likely because of its explosive attitude at times.
The west side of the volcano is barren, with little plant life. However, the southern portion is covered in lush jungle. This is the area where tourists are attracted to, and where many of the tours begin. At the top of the volcano, jaws drop over the sight of the 400 metre wide crater, that opens into an abyss of stirring, gooey lava. Inevitably, you'll catch whiffs of the stinky sulphur almost immediately, but tourists say that as they stare down into the molten rock they quickly forget about it.
When to visit
It is always best to check on the volcano's activity before making the trip to the island to avoid unnecessary risk. Mount Yasur's action tends to fluctuate throughout the year, and is more aggressive during the wet seasons. However, when it's calm - and you can only visit when it's calm - there is nothing to worry about. There are plenty of scientists and tour guides monitoring safety. Should activity levels reach three or four, no one will be allowed near the volcano, so it's very important to check this before leaving.
If they had to give a recommendation, locals would say the best time to view Mount Yasur in all its glory is just before sunset, and then into the night. Just imagine the glow of the lava in the dark! That being said, it's a good idea for your family to bring some flashlights when attending at this time so no one takes any spills. Be sure to sport your sturdiest shoes or hiking boots because the terrain is not great for flip flops - this is no trip to the beach!
How to enjoy it
It is highly recommended that anyone who visits this volcano does so with a tour guide. Visitors can either be a part of a caravan to the top, or attend the hiking tour. Be warned before arriving, however, the ground trembles quite often and it's likely that you'll even get to see the volcano showing off a little as it tosses magma shoots into the air. The edge of the crater is not equipped with a railing, so be sure to pay careful attention to your guide, as well as your footing.
Don't forget, the scientists in the area would never allow tourists to go near the volcano if it was in a dangerous mood. This is definitely a sight worth seeing if your family can muster up the courage!
- Posted in Vanuatu