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“Basic conditions, memorable experience.”

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Tanna Lava View Bungalows
Wigan, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Basic conditions, memorable experience.”
Reviewed December 28, 2013

A belated review, only just finished travels.
Stayed overnight at Lava View as a couple, mainly to see Mt Yasur volcano. It offers a combination of home stay and backpacker-standard accomm'n, and the hosts do their best in very difficult conditions.
Met at the airport by cheerful guide, Robert and driver Senga for two-hour drive in 4x4 pickup. Road good at first, progressively deteriorated to a very rough 4-wheel-drive condition, for experienced drivers only. Riding on the flat back was a challenge !
Arrived at Lava View at midday, hot and dusty, needing a shower, but the communal shower was not connected. Water supply was needed elsewhere, and only connected later in the day. Cold water shower, and only a trickle, but no real problem in this climate.
Bungalow was simple and basic, but quite clean and private, and the double bed comfortable. No question of air-con here, but the lattice-work in the walls allowed some ventilation.
A permanent feature was the grey volcanic ash dust which covered everything. Whilst there, the breeze blew from the volcano towards Lava View. The ash was not 'dirty' but gritty, like sand, under feet, in hair etc. Volcano clearly visible from Lava View, continually rumbling and blowing off black/grey/white ash clouds.
Hosts at Lava View Daniel and Martha did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable. Martha presented simple and adequate meals in the dining room/living quarters.l
As darkness fell, another tortuous drive, to the volcano. Ten minute walk, guided by ever-helpful Robert, up to the crater. Torch essential in the darkness, crater edge only metres away ! Then ....impressive, scary and terrifying in equal measure. The crater would 'blow off' every minute or so, with frequent fireworks, and clouds of gritty ash all the time. Experience of a lifetime.
Following morning, entertained to colourful dancing and fire-making in the adjoining village, and a visit to the primary school of an impressive standard.
Take enough cash, in Vatu - no ATMs on Tanna. Costs can be 'flexible'. Lava View accomm'n and meals were as per website, but transport from airport up to 2,500 Vatu per person each way, and transport to volcano 1000 pp. The volcano entrance fee had increased from 2,250 to 3,350 Vatu pp. We spent approx 30,000 Vatu altogether for the overnight visit for 2 people, excluding flights, and only including essentials. ( nearly 200 GB pounds/ 340 $Aus ).
Final verdict: Memorable experience, welcoming hosts, challenging conditions. One of us would certainly be happy to return, the other probably not.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
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1 Thank Tyke_in_Exile_9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Helsinki
Level 5 Contributor
51 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed December 26, 2013

I was a bit taken aback when I first arrived and saw how basic the accomodations were, but was quickly enchanted by the views of Mt. Yasur and the hospitality of Robert and Martha. The nearby village is nice for a walk and a glimpse to Tannan lifestyle.

I would like to come back and spend a longer time in the treehouse Robert is courrently building.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
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Thank boxfishlover
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chongqing, China
1 review
Reviewed December 17, 2013

First of all, I want to say sorry about this late comment. caz I just finish my travel around south east Asia and back to China. and I'll print Robert's photo out and sent to him soon. Daniel, if you see this comment pls tell him:) Thx
Lava view bungalows is the best experience for me in Tanna. I will never forget the amazing volcano and all the friendly people in Isaka village. I wish to come back if I have another vacation.
There is a sun power board in bungalows so u can charge ur cellphone or ipad, but not recommend to bring ur charger to Tanna, use ur eyes ears and heart to feel this land. u can enjoy ur ipad anytime after u come back home.
I spend 4 nights in there, didn't met Daniel but his nephew Robert is very very friendly and helpful. Thank you very much Robert! and ashboarding is awesome!!!

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Willa0708
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paekakariki, New Zealand
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed December 4, 2013

We highly recommend a trip to Tanna to see the amazing Mt Yasur.

We went in August (only just getting around to posting a review now – my apologies)

It was the awe inspiring to stand on the rim of the volcano and watch, hear and feel the mountain exploding right in front of you. We planned the trip to visit the volcano twice and we are very pleased we did the second night. The second time we knew what to expect and took more in. Also the first night you are so busy snapping away that the second night you tend to chill out a bit more and just enjoy it.

It is no small thing to get there. The roads are only suited to 4 wheel drive vehicles and makes travel so much slower, and expensive.

We were met at the airport without any problems and after a short stop in Lenakel we headed over the hill to the east side. The trip took two hours.

We stayed at Lava View Bungalows which we don’t regret.

No rats in sight. We saw pigs and other village animals but luckily no rats.

The huts were basic wood frames with mattress’s, blankets and a mosquito net. It was exactly what we expected for village accommodation. The main village is down the hill and the guest rooms, shower/toilet and kitchen/dining area are on an elevated site up the hill with views of the volcano 3kms away. We were the only guests that time and so it was really quiet and peaceful in amongst the trees and we enjoyed being able to sit and watch the smoke and rocks exploding out every minute or two. But Daniel or one of the others was always not far away and looking out for us.

On the Saturday night the village entertained the children with video clips of local singers using a generator. It was projected onto a sheet of corrugated iron which distorted the image somewhat but it was delightful seeing the joy and pleasure that the kids got from it.
They have recently put in a solar panel so could provide basic lighting and battery charging.

The food was basic but plenty of it. We would have loved to have had the opportunity to eat what they would normally cook themselves, but we guess that the majority of tourists would prefer the western type meals they provided – Rice with meat and vege. For breakfast they give you several doorstop slices of bread with butter and margarine. My suggestion to Lava View would be to find a way to toast it. .

We strongly suggest you take a lot more Vatu than you think you will need. We had emailed and included a request for confirmation of costs. Daniel emailed back but didn’t confirm the costs so we based the amount we took, on their website prices which at that time hadn’t been updated. The site has been updated now. This meant that we were short.

Daniel from Lava View was really good about it. We suggested that we have the guide on the mountain the first night, and we could manage without the guide for the second night but Daniel said he would give us the guide for the second night without any cost rather than take that risk. We didn’t think this was fair and we ended up only a few vatu short of the total cost including the guide for both days. We did this by declining the ladies doing their traditional dance and as we had taken plenty of bananas, nuts and crackers, we didn’t have the lunches. We definitely didn’t go hungry but it would have been nice to provide the village with the extra income by watching the ladies dance.

Anywhere you go is going to cost just to get there from Lava View. We were keen to walk down and explore the Ash fields at the base of the volcano after lunch on the second day. Robert the tour guide, suggested we go in the afternoon and the truck would pick us up on the way to the Volcano. This was a great suggestion as it saved us a long walk back.

We would love to return to Tanna and visit the volcano again but also have more time (and money) to be able to do so of the other activities available on Tanna.

Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Clareville575
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed November 23, 2013

First of all, the place is pretty basic, don't expect a resort.
A bed or two with mosquito nets, and a candle, in my bungalow. Toilet
and shower in a common shack outdoors. Be sure to bring a flashlight!!

I have read that many people in simpler dwellings on Tanna have problems
with rats and stuff. I did NOT have ANY problem with any kinds of animals
at this place, neither rats not mozzies. Clean and nice. It was perfectly nice to shower
in the shack. It is simple but clean and perfectly fine if you don't expect
high standards.

Then ... the owner Daniel was away while I was there, but his nephew Robert was a fantastic
guide/everything. Honest, friendly, really tried (and succeeded!) in making my trip
a really great trip. Thanks, Robert, for a great stay!

Another thing is that the people of the neighboring village of Isaka received me really well when I joined for kava-drinking evenings (and other things), which really made my trip.

You can indeed see the volcano from the Lava View, and in particular, you can hear it pretty well. The bungalows are shaking somewhat when the volcano erupts; cool!

The owner's sister Martha serves decent breakfasts (toast with jam/peanut butter, typically, and tea/coffee) and lunches and dinners (typically chicken with rice). She, and the rest of the family, were very friendly with me during my stay there.

Would I go back to Lava View? I would be very happy to go back to Lava View! Clean and friendly environment, no rats or mozzies, OK food, a really nice time at the nearby village. A great stay!

Practicalities:
- Their web site was somewhat inconsistent with reality when I got there: transportation from the airport to the place costs 5000 VT, or 2500 VT per person if there are more than two tourists. This is standard fare, and is not run by the bungalows (although they will of course organize the transportation and met you at the airport, and accompany you back).
- There are no stores or restaurants or anything like that nearby, so buy everything (!) you need before coming to Tanna. This could include biscuits or similar to complement the toast-with-jam and chicken-with-rice food at the bungalows.
- You can probably swim/snorkel somewhere on the coast, but it seems that this is not high on the agenda, so you can leave your snorkeling gear at home if you come for shorter stays.
- The owners have some electric power using a solar cell, so you can charge your laptop (no Internet, of course) or camera there.
- Bring a flashlight!
- My understanding was that the water (coming from a hose from a catchment somewhere in the mountains of Tanna) is safe to drink. I drank it and am still alive.
- Mosquito net and towel provided, so no need to bring that.
- The volcano is of course nice and impressive. If I remember correctly the drive there and back was 2000 VT (per tourist), and the entrance to the volcano is 3350 VT or so. Clearly a must-do while at Tanna.
- As mentioned, no stores or banks on Tanna, so bring ALL the vatu you will need for the stay from Vila. (In principle, there are some small "stores" and a "bank" at Lemakel close to the airport, but I don't know if they can help you; Lenakel is also 2 hours and 5000 VT (one way!) from Lava View.)

I had a fantastic vacation based at Lava View, and I am happy to recommend the bungalows.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank csaba10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
wellington
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed November 14, 2013

Bungalows simply build out of bamboo, wood and coconut leaves with no power, but beds comfortable, food plentiful and owners nephew very helpful guide. Bungalows 2500 per night, guide 500 per day, transport to airport for 1 person 5000, (2 people is 2500), breakfast incl in price, lunch is 500, dinner is 800.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled solo
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank cjsw2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charbon
Level 1 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed September 16, 2013

My family and I recently returned from an amazing Vanuatu holiday of which Lava View was a definite highlight. We stayed for 5 days and I was worried it was going to be too long but we could have stayed much longer. It doesn't take long to fall under the spell of the spirit of the local people, the impressive active volcano and all sorts of other interesting experiences. My daughter cried the whole flight back to Villa because she didn't want to leave. The kids were always happy and safe. The drinking water is spring and beautiful. Nobody got sick....all the usual travelling with kids worries never happened. It is very basic but it doesn't take the kids long to remember how to live without electrical entertainment. The only recommendations I would make about kids would be to make sure you have warm clothes, the volcano can be very cold especially at night. Also I took a few snacks and 2 minute noodles sorts of things. They saved the day for me a few times, its a long way to the shops. For our family though the best part about was getting to hang out with Robert and Martha. Robert, our guide was fantastic. Everyday he went with us everywhere and translated everything that was going on. He was brilliant with the kids, always good humoured, helpful, informative and just plain nice to be around. Martha is also lovely, she is the cook for all the yummy meals. I loved being able to get to spend some time with her and learn a little about the village way of life. The kids all had a great time, getting down to the business of play with the local kids within minutes of arriving. They loved all the excursions we did, checking out the volcano (twice), waterfalls, John Fromm village, the river, walking in the jungle. Especially the volcano, it does not get much cooler than that. Daniel has created a very special opportunity for travellers to experience a little bit of Isaka life. If you looking for a family holiday that is a life experience rather than a holiday destination Lava View is for you. Thank you everyone at Lava View, We hope we get to come back and visit you all again soon.

  • Stayed September 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Alice W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tanna Lava View Bungalows

Property: Tanna Lava View Bungalows
Address: Isaka Village, Tanna Island, Vanuatu
Location: Vanuatu > Tanna Island
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #14 of 28 Specialty Lodging in Tanna Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2 star — Tanna Lava View Bungalows 2*
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Experience Real Village Life at an Eco-Friendly Bungalow, Lava View Bungalows is an integral part of Isaka Village. The gentle rhythms of authentic village life surround and welcome you. Dawn breaks to the sound of children playing, roosters crowing or the echoing music of ceremonial shells. The rumbling of Yassur, the volcano seen from your bungalow verandah, is a constant soundtrack to the day. We are a sustainable, locally based small community enterprise. We think globally and act locally: your bungalow is made of local materials, very basic and is powered by solar energy 24 hours a day but no power plug is not available. Please bring spare batteries for your camera. Meals feature fresh organic local vegetables, fruit and meat. We are committed to supporting the development of our community. Your stay helps to fund school fees and other community projects. Our deep knowledge of the culture and customs of the local area means we can customize your stay to suit your interests. At Lava View Bungalows, our family looks forward to welcoming you to our world ... a unique experience you will never forget. Note: Airport to Bungalow transportation is available. Please send email to ask any question, however, we can only check email every few days. We do not sale alcohol, and no refrigerator at our bungalow, you can bring your own drinks such as red wine and spirits if you wish to consume alcohol. We are surround by the village and forest, so there could be flies, and insects. Please bring Insect repellent. If you have any problem with height, we do not recommend you to stay at the Tree House but we also have bungalows on the ground. We built the bungalow from scratch again since the Cyclone, devastated our bungalows so it might not be the perfect but we will do our best to make you feel it's home. ... more   less 
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