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Can I go independently?

Traditional customs are still at the heart of Ni-Vanuatu way of life. We recommend always walking with a local guide or two to be sure not to make a faux-pas. Moreover, Vanuatu has three official languages (French, English and Bislama) but locals in rural areas mostly speak their local languages specific to each island or even their community.

Your guide will be your interpreter, help you gain the best understanding of the village life around you and make sure you respect cultural etiquette. As much as possible, we recommend planning and booking your Vanuatu hiking trips beforehand with local tour operators.

How fit do I need to be?

Hiking in Vanuatu can be challenging, especially if you are not used to tropical heat and humidity, but it certainly isn’t boring! Each trek has different degrees of difficulty and can include river crossings, soft sand walking and ash plains, undulating terrain, steep muddy slippery tracks and unstable ground.
Our featured hikes will generally be enjoyed by hikers with a good level of fitness who hike regularly.

Please check our difficulty level hike key guide to give you an indication if your abilities match with hike ratings. We strongly recommend you check with your tour operator and guides to decide if you will require the support of porters to carry your baggage.

Do I need to worry about village etiquette?

Have a look at our Cultural Etiquette article.

Is it safe to hike in Vanuatu?

Yes, Vanuatu is a safe country to hike to but we recommend you always hike with a guide to prevent any risks. Women are advised to not hike alone, and to exercise caution at night. Moreover, when staying in villages, we recommend not showing off your valuables and wearing modest outfits.

Can I bring my phone and camera on a hike?

Make sure your electronic equipment is fully charged before the hike. You will be able to charge from hotels and resorts in Port Vila and Luganville (current is 230 V or 230/50 V/hz using standards Australian plugging outlets). When walking, turn your phone to flight mode to save power. There is very limited connectivity on many of our hikes. Switch off and enjoy the moment.

Most outer island villages depend on solar energy and fuel generators for their electricity. If you need to recharge equipment during the hike, you will need to ask your local hosts and offer a small contribution for the fuel. Ask your guide to negotiate with the community.

You may cross some rivers during the hike or you may have to walk in pouring tropical rain. Make sure you pack plastic bags or dry bags to keep your equipment safe and dry.

Can I take photographs?

Most communities are happy for you to take pictures. However, you should always ask before taking any pictures in the villages, and especially of children.

Are there any dangerous animals or plants?

Vanuatu is a true paradise: no deadly species of animals or plants on land. You may encounter spiders and snakes but they are not venomous. Centipedes are not common but bites can be very painful so it is always good to check your bedding at night and your shoes in the morning.

You can be annoyed by mosquitos. There have been few recent cases of malaria in southern Vanuatu but it is still common in some parts of the central and northern islands, particularly around swamps. There are also occasional outbreaks of dengue fever. We highly recommend you bring a mosquito net for overnight stays, and use insect repellent.

The pristine marine environment is also generally safe but reef shoes are recommended to avoid coral cuts and the occasional stonefish. Also be cautious handling seashells as some have venomous stings.

What if I have a problem during the walk?

If you have to take special medication on a daily basis, bring enough medication for your entire Vanuatu trip. We recommend to pack first aid supplies like antiseptic and antibiotic cream, peroxide to wash cuts and bandages, rehydration powder, gastro medication and headache tablets.

We recommend you always hike with local guides so that in case of emergency, the tour operator will arrange to evacuate you to the nearest medical centre. In extreme cases, helicopter or plane evacuation from outer islands to Port Vila and then out of Vanuatu to New Caledonia or Australia are the only solutions. Make sure to always carry your medical insurance details and emergency contact numbers.

Before your arrival in Vanuatu, check that your travel insurance will cover you for an emergency evacuation out of outer islands and Vanuatu (New Caledonia or Australia) if necessary. Arrange for appropriate coverage and notify your friends or family about your hiking dates and tour operator’s contacts.

Main emergency contacts:

ProMedical Vanuatu for International standard emergency evacuation and ambulance servicing: Call 115 in Vanuatu

Port Vila Central Hospital, Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu: Call 112 in Vanuatu
Northern Provincial Hospital, Luganville, Santo, Vanuatu: +678 36 345 / 774 2448
Lenakel Hospital, Tanna, Vanuatu: +678 710 0156
Norsup Hospital, Malekula, Vanuatu: +678 48 410
Vanuatu Private Hospital, Port Vila, Efate, Vanuatu: + 678 22 255/22 254

French Embassy in Vanuatu: +678 28 700
New-Zealand High Commission in Vanuatu: +678 22 933
Australian High Commission in Vanuatu: +678 22 777

Police: Call 111 in Vanuatu
Fire: Call 113 in Vanuatu

What clothing is best for hiking in Vanuatu?

We recommend light fabrics t-shirts such as cotton, linen and viscose that dry quickly and walking trousers to protect you from high grass and mosquitos. Women are advised to also bring a sarong to tie around your shorts or to cover your shoulder when entering villages (see our Cultural Etiquette article). A lightweight raincoat is also a good ally against tropical showers.

The evenings and early mornings can be chilly in winter so pack a long-sleeved sweater and socks.

What shoes are best to wear for hiking in Vanuatu?

We recommend comfortable shoes to walk in with good grip as trails can be slippery and muddy especially after rain. You might also get them wet crossing rivers so any quick-dry fabric is recommended or trail shoes that let water in and out. We do not recommend you change in and out of shoes before crossing a river or go bare foot.
Bring sandals or thongs to wear after the walk.

What accommodation should I expect at our overnight stays during multi day hikes?

During multi-day hikes in Vanuatu, you will stay in traditional housing at the heart of local villages. Thin mattresses laid on top of traditional mats will be available but bring your own sleeping sheets and mosquito net. Some villages have separate houses for guests but you might have to share the floor with the other hikers. Cold bore, river or rain water will be used for the toilet and shower. Please be mindful about how much water you use during your stay.

What about meals & drinks?

Most villages on outer island in Vanuatu are self-sufficient and meals generally consist of local produce from the surrounding gardens. Local Mamas will cook your meals the traditional way, sitting on the floor and cooking over wood fire.

During your multi-day hike, you will eat very simple “island kae kae” mainly composed of rice, cabbage, tubers (sweet potato, taro, manioc) and fresh fruits. Canned fish or meat are sometimes added but you can ask your guide not to.

Rain water tanks are generally available in villages but it is recommended to pack a hiking flask with you and boil water first. You might be offered some fresh fruit juices or squeezed bush limes when visiting villages. You can also pack water purification tablets.

In the afternoon, you can be asked by locals to share a “shell’ of kava, the traditional drink of Vanuatu. Made of dried grated Kava tuber, be aware that this drink has relaxing and anxiolytic effects but that it should be consumed with moderation if you are not use to it. It is recommended to bring your own coffee and tea.

Do I need to bring any money with me during the hike?

Bring lots of small bills and coins for your hike so you can buy local handicrafts or a shell of kava in the villages that you come across, as well as pay any village fees and accommodation costs.

Will my guide speak English?

Many Ni-Vanuatu people speak more than four languages: English, French, Bislama and local languages specific to each island or even community. Bislama is universally spoken (a Pidgin English) and most people will speak some English. Francophone hikers should always request a French speaking Ni-Vanuatu guide.

Can I fly a drone during the hike?

Licenced operator may fly drones over Vanuatu must register before arrival. Learn more here: https://reg.drone.vu/

Can I have a porter during the hike? 

Yes, your guide will always be keen to find someone to carry your bags, as they will also accompany your guide on their return home. A porter is good idea if you are not used to hiking in the tropical heat and humidity, for challenging treks or if you want to bring a lot of specialist gear. All hiking operators in Vanuatu can organise porters. You might incur extra daily costs. Estimated price per porter per day will vary from community to community but you shouldn’t pay more than 1,500vt per day.