The trip to Vanuatu’s Mt Yasur volcano on Tanna Island is an experience in itself. Travelling in the back of a ute out of town, the bitumen road gives way to fertile dirt tracks that wind through the thick jungle before the trees dissipate and ash and dirt surround you like an apocalyptic mess.
At the base of the mountain is a welcome centre, where we sign waivers, and the chief of the local tribe gives us permission to stand on what is essentially a cliff of fire, the volcano.
A ceremonial horn blasts, singing and dancing begin, and we’re encouraged to join in. All the while thunder breaks around us, until we realise the sound is actually rumbles from the volcano above.
We jump back in the ute and make our way up tracks cut deep into the terrain, along cliff edges where steam vents start appearing on the side of the road. For the final 300m we trek up makeshift stairs and as I reach the edge of the crater, sulphur fills the air, and the volcano speaks.
There’s a crack of thunder and a wave of pressure passes through me; I wonder if I should run back towards the ute. Sparks of magma shoot up, followed by a cloud of ash. As dusk approaches, the red glow of the magma lights the sky, like a dragon waiting until dark before it attacks.
This place is magical, it’s truly humbling. It teaches us to listen to the Earth, and to respect it. Because here we’re given no choice.