This was my second time and Belinda’s first time in Vanuatu, so I knew what to expect when it came to haggling for a tour guide. Or at least I thought I did.
We were one of the first groups off the cruise ship as we planned on spending the whole day abroad. After being channelled through the makeshift markets, we were greeted by a barrage of taxi drivers and tour bus operators.
Due to the location of the docked ship, it was five or so kilometers from the main streets of Port Vila, which left us little choice but to negotiate a ride. So we negotiated a rate for the day and told the driver that is all we were prepared to spend. It was a very fair rate compared to what we could have booked online.
Upon our first stop, and now miles from anywhere, our driver tried to renegotiate the terms of our deal. We decided that we now really didn’t have much of a choice but to continue on his route, which seemed to be a fairly common route that everyone else was following also.
Being able to get a small insight into the culture of this tribe was fascinating. From how they welcomed their guests (scaring them) to how they caught their food and preparing it was very interesting. We enjoyed the dancing and music at the end.
Our next stop was for lunch and a swim. We walked up through the forest to a small platform near the waterfall. We had the option to swim in under the waterfall which was pretty amazing. The power of the water was pretty intense and took a bit of effort to get under the waterfall. There was a small ledge, for one or two people to sit on, once under the waterfall.
Around lunchtime, as they didn’t provide us with the promised lunch, more broken promises of our expectations we decided to ask our driver to head back to Port Vila as we were not happy with his continual extortion. After much heated discussion we managed to convince him to drive us back to town. Once we arrived back in town we kept up our promise and paid him the money we agreed to, even though he’d only shown us around for half of the time he promised.
We continued on foot round the town looking at various shops and bought a few gifts. After some time we succumbed to another taxi driver showing us some more of Port Vila (thought we would have learnt our lesson right). We figured that with the little money we had left over we may as well spend it rather than take it home.
Fortunately, this driver was much more accomodating and friendly. We took a bit of a back street tour, which was a little unnerving at first, thinking we might be slaughtered and left to die someone in the scrub land of Vanuatu. Especially when he kept talking about how easy it was to kill someone and how knowledgeable he was on cannibalism in his culture.
We ventured out to a coffee factory, where we got to see their process of manufacture, try some of the cooked coffee beans and had a cappuccino. We bought a bag of their medium roast coffee which was pretty good, considering the process they had just shown us was fairly primitive.
With a few hours left before we needed to be back on the ship it had started to rain, so we decided to beat the rush and head back early. Overall it was still a great experience but not likely that we will go back again.