This has got to be in everyone's bucket list. Nowhere in the world can you sit on the rim of an active volcano and watch it continuously throw out red hot rocks in the air without the safety police breathing down your neck. I can't believe this is just less than 3 hours flight from Australia! So glad we decided to stay in Tanna several days so we can make sure to get to the volcano at nighttime. It is as everyone has posted, a trip of a lifetime, a truly mesmerizing, awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping experience. Never mind the 2-hour bone-shaking ride through lush green scenery and local villages over the top of the mountains and down again, it is worth every minute and cent to be up there, gazing down at the angry crater, waiting for the pressure wave cut the air above, just seconds before the terrifying blast which sends molten rocks sky high accompanied by plumes of smoke and volcanic ash. Our favourite memory though was the approach to the volcano, from the moment it came to view, framed by the jungle, it was so King Kong-esque and primeval, then we entered the ash plains, wow, wow, wow, suddenly we were in another world. Like a lunar landscape as far as the eye could see, the volcano looming ahead, much closer now that we can hear (and feel) it's ominous rumblings, it actually feels more terrifying from this distance. Pascal our driver proceeded to drive through the ash plains, tracing tyretracks of other vehicles before us, we all felt like adventurers in an Indiana Jones movie! Pascal also stopped at the base and said we can play for awhile on a windblown ridge of ash that formed on the side of the volcano. Oh this was sooo much fun! Climbing the steep ash dunes higher and higher, our prints disappearing behind us as the wind blew more volcanic ash over them, then sliding down to the bottom on our bums (the boys 'surfed' down), really really awesome. Our pictures show the whole activity to be more scary than it felt, such was the thrill of the moment! After another half hour rattling and rolling in Pascal's truck we reached the carpark, the closest access point to the rim. We all felt like Frodo and Sam as we walked up the short concrete path, getting closer and closer to Mt Doom! And then, there we were, staring unblinking at this huge crater belching smoke and spewing red hot lava. We were the only ones up there for a while and it almost felt like a religious moment. Never have I felt so small in the realms of nature! Even when other tour groups joined us, it felt like being in church. Everyone was in quiet awe, just staring at this open pit of angry earth. I can wax lyrical about our time up there, especially when the sun went down and the red hot colours became more spectacular, but really, the experience is beyond words. It is incomparable to anything I have experienced in my life.
ps pack headlamps when you visit, it will make the walk down the volcano at night a lot easier than holding on to torches. And yes, it does get chilly up there when the sun goes down, a fleecy would be handy.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.