Saturday 3rd October 2015
By the time we went ashore to meet Werry and Stanley for the trip to the volcano, the weather had deteriorated again. We wore our waterproofs and kept our fingers crossed the trip would not be cancelled. When we arrived at the yacht club, Stanley was not looking too hopeful. The wind was a nuisance but not too much of a problem as it would blow the smoke and ash away from where we would be standing, but the rain, clouds and visibility could pose a problem. We could go up there, and not see anything. He was undecided whether to go.
After fifteen minutes of waiting around, he finally decided we should drive up there, and see what conditions were like when we got to the entrance. If he still had doubts, we would not go in. All we would pay would be the transport costs there and back. If we were happy with that, we would go. We agreed, piled into the truck, and set off. Luckily, it was suggested by a very gallant gentleman from the Dutch yacht ‘Tinkerbell’ that the ladies should sit in the cab, and the men and children should sit in the open back of the truck, so the very bumpy ride was not too bad for me. I felt sorry for the guys perched on a piece of wood across the back. The kids sat on cushions down inside the back.
The journey took about an hour along very winding, bumpy and in some places muddy dirt roads. We arrived at a site where a car park and visitors’ centre were being built, and stopped beside a kiosk where Steve went to buy our tickets. Stanley had decided that conditions were good enough to go to the top. Yippee! Another half an hour of even worse roads winding steeply upwards, and we arrived in a large car park in an ash field. We were all glad to get out of the truck and stretch our legs, and then began the ascent up the steep concrete pathway laid over the ash. Partway up we passed a post box where we believe one can post postcards with singed edges from the top of the volcano. Nice idea if we had any.
This bit of road was not too bad. Steep, but at least there was a bit of concrete for the tyres to grip.
We stopped at the entrance to buy our tickets. 6,700 vatu for 2 – around £40.
The ash-covered car park. Mary admiring the view halfway up the concrete slope.
The post box for your singed postcards. Looking down on the car park.
Just over halfway up, and taking a breather. At the top, on the edge of the crater, Steve talks to Stanley.
Once at the top we walked along the edge of the crater – in fact it was two craters. It would still be half an hour or so until the sun went down, and for now we could mostly see smoke and occasionally some red sparks. It was very windy and surprisingly cold at the top, considering the amount of heat inside the craters. As we walked around the rim, we had to turn away from the wind as it picked up the black grit and whipped it into our faces.
In the last of the daylight, we could mostly see smoke and hear rumbling and minor explosions. Sparks were hard to see.
As the last of the daylight slipped away, the sparks of red hot lava began to give us a wonderful display. Both craters were actively exploding and tossing sparks high into the air.
As the sky darkened we gradually began to see the red-hot lava. Just like a firework!
It was amazing – the sights, sounds and the smell of sulphur. Truly awesome.
Luckily the level of activity was 2-3, so we saw an amazing display without too much danger of being burnt. Here, the two craters.
We spent a couple of hours watching this fantastic natural display, until eventually Stanley came to collect us and herded us back down the slope to the truck. We both agreed it was one of the most amazing things we have ever seen.