Taking The Wheel On A Vanuatu Jungle Safari

27 November 2014
Read Time: 1.8 mins

Splat! As I tore through the rugged terrain of the beef plantation, my passenger suddenly dissolved into a fit of giggles and squeals. I looked down to discover a sizeable cow patty had whipped up from the buggy’s wheels, right onto my leg. Cue a second set of squeals – mine.

A stroke of bad luck; I can’t imagine this is a common occurrence driving a motorised buggy around Efate.

Kudos to the tour company for recommending to bring a towel.

 Ready to go!

Earlier that day, our group were shuttled to the Port Vila offices of Buggy Fun Adventures to begin our on- and off-road journey. Operating since 2006, the company was the first established buggy business in the South Pacific.

We were instructed to follow the guide, drive on the right side of the road, maintain speed and stay a safe distance from the car in front on our exhilarating 40-kilometre adventure.

Donning Viking-style helmets complete with studs and horns, we buckled ourselves in, turned on the ignition and listened to the roar of the engines as we waited to set off on our guided Jungle Safari.

One by one, the two-person, open-air buggies formed a speedy convoy as we zipped and zoomed around Port Vila. Fortunately, there is little traffic in town, so navigating the wrong side of the road isn’t too tedious a task for any right-side-driving rookies.

 Pit stops and photo ops

We got a chance to stretch our legs and enjoy the views of Iririki Island before making our way towards the water through some local villages.

Children of all ages came running towards the buggies, sporting grins from ear to ear, hands outstretched to grab the strawberry-flavoured sweets that we had purchased earlier. If only we’d brought more!

 The gorgeous kids of Port Vila

Their smiles were infectious. High-fives, laughs and lollies were exchanged as the kids ran alongside the vehicles and we slowly made our way down to the black-sand beach.

The cool water offered much relief from the scorching afternoon sun. We joined some of the kids in the ocean as they splashed around and posed for photos with their cheeky grins.

After another stop at a village for some refreshments, the adventure really began.

 Cooling down

Getting off-road, pedal to the metal, the group traversed dunes, scaled inclines and crossed jungles.

With hearts racing, we reached our final stretch – the cattle farm and site of my unfortunate ‘incident’. Speeding along the tracks through sprawling pasturelands past grazing cattle and chicken coops, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were back in Australia.

Whoops and screams of delight bounced off the rolling hills and down the procession of buggies. On arrival back to base, it was obvious from everyone’s huge grins that this was an experience no one would forget in a hurry.

Many were curious as to why the biggest squeals at the farm came from our buggy. In between hysterics, my driving partner had no qualms about regaling exactly what had happened to me.

The guides guaranteed we would get dirty and dusty. ‘Free’ mud is included after rainfall, but thankfully the weather gods had blessed us with sunny skies. Mud may be one thing, but no one said anything about the cows!

Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.