For a relaxing weekend away from normality, I flew to Port Vila, Vanuatu and checked into the luxurious Holiday Inn. The resort itself offers many on-site activities to keep guests entertained for the duration of their stay, but I was keen to partake in some of the activities on offer around the island of Efate. So I signed up for the Mele Cascade Waterfall tour and Jungle Safari Buggy expedition.
Here is my account of these exciting activities.
Mele Cascades Waterfalls
The mini-bus arrived promptly to whisk my fellow adventurers and I from the confines of the resort, through the heart of central Port Vila to the beginning of a walking track that would lead towards the famous cascade waterfall. The base of the track has been beautifully landscaped to inspire serenity; there's a picturesque stream flowing effortlessly beside manicured lawns and a bar to quench the thirst of visitors. But I didn't have time to relax just yet - I was on an expedition to see the waterfall and to swim in the therapeutic waters.
Our walking guide introduced himself as Renaldo and we were on our way. The relatively easy walk towards the waterfall is extremely scenic. Ginger plants that boast striking red flowers line the path and along way there's an impressive bamboo cluster where previous visitors have engraved their initials. The water began to flow faster until the group reached the point where the solid path ends; it was time to change into swimming gear because the rest of the path was quite literally walking through the river. With the assistance of a rope to balance, I continued walking through the beautiful crystal clear water until I reached the impressive cascade. It was wonderful to chill in the pools at the base of the waterfall and let the refreshing waters rejuvenate and revitalise.
Jungle Safari Buggy Tour
If the Cascades Waterfall Tour offered relaxation, then the Jungle Safari Buggy Tour is designed to get the heart pumping. The starting point for the drive is down town Port Vila - again a mini-bus took the group from the resort to Buggy HQ. It was Isabel, who first greeted us and handed out the helmets that provided the dual purpose of protecting our heads and also comic value - some had horns on them, while others were just plain wacky. I jumped into the buggy and we off. Luckily a fellow traveller called Jason was my buggy buddy and he took control of the steering wheel.
The dozen or so buggies formed a convey and we headed along the main streets of Port Vila. First stop was a local village where the kids ran out to greet their visitors - as we drove along the youngsters put their hands out, so the passenger of each buggy could high five them. From the villages we headed down to the coastline to admire the impressive harbour and look across to the exclusive Iririki Island Resort. Also on the itinerary was an expansive beach and a local village where refreshments were served. But this was a jungle safari - the most exciting element was saved for last. We headed off road to traverse through tropical forests and farmland - the pace was fast and the mud was flying. I tried to admire the fertile surrounds but kept one eye on the road in case I need to dodge the airborne mud. But this is what made the trip special - fun, laughter and exhilaration.