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bungee jumping
bungee jumping
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Pentecost Land Dive

Thursday, June 20, 2002
On this lush and lazy island in the Pacific, your heart will race when we give you the original bungee jump.

When Captain James Cook landed on this island on Whitsunday in 1774, he named it Pentecost, which is the seventh Sunday after Easter on the ecclesiastical calendar. The island is part of the Republic of Vanuatu which has a population of mostly Melanesian and Polynesian, with a tiny sprinkling of French, Chinese, Pacific Islanders and Vietnamese.

The people are among the world's friendliest and they have been blessed with a homeland of extraordinary beauty. Its beaches, mountains and jungles are sublime. Divers lust after the pristine waters, vulcanologists adore the many smoking peaks and naturalists are in awe of the island's untouched forests, reefs and exotic birdlife.

Pentecost Island is a place of diverse cultures. In the north, the people are Anglican, while in the centre they are Catholic, and in the south, where customs and culture are totally different, the people practice the centuries-old ritual of naghol.

Naghol, a kind of primitive bungee jumping, involves men and boys leaping from a great height, with only a vine tied around their ankle. Young males are encouraged to jump before they can walk and they learn by jumping from rocks into the ocean, or off small towers. Boys can only take part in the naghol after circumcision, which occurs when they are seven or eight. After their first jump, the boy's mother throws a baby blanket into the air, signaling her son's childhood is over. It'll come as no surprise Pentecost Island is where AJ Hackett got the idea to introduce bungee jumping to the world.

Each April, when the first yam crop is ready for harvest, the people in the south of the island begin building enormous towers from lianas, branches, vines and tree trunks.

After about five weeks, when the tower is 20-30 metres high, local males very carefully select a vine. Its size is of utmost importance. A vine just 10cm too long could mean death or serious injury.

In April and May, when the vines are strong and elastic, the men make many jumps. As they near the ground, the jumpers curl their heads under themselves and let their shoulders impact with the earth. Their belief is this will make the ground fertile for the following year.

Another interesting custom of the island is sand drawing. What makes this art unique is that symbolic figures hand-drawn on the sand are done in one uninterrupted movement, without lifting a finger.

Just 30 minutes along a beautiful coast road from the Lonorore Airport is the village of Salalp. It has three bungalows run by Chief Willie. They are simple but attractive with coral walls and pandanus leaf roofs. Each has a little verandah, three beds with mosquito netting and shared bathing and toilet facilities.

The village has no electricity. They use kerosene lamps. Meals are cooked by village women in a little shed with a thatched roof. Food is simple but fresh — chicken, fish, pork and prawns accompanied by locally-grown vegetables.

You can drink spring water which has been boiled, but there isn't a bar in the village for alcoholic drinks. There is kava which is made from the peppery roots of a local plant. It is very strong and tends to numb the mouth, lips and throat. It is taken in the late afternoon and is used in ceremonies.


A 45 minute flight from Port Vila in Vanuatu.


Island Safaris offer three-day packages from Port Vila to Pentecost Island starting at around $845 per person. Included is domestic flights, twin share accommodation, all meals and entry to land diving.
Qantas flies to Port Vila eight times a week on code share services with Air Vanuatu starting at $683 from Brisbane; $819 from Sydney; $971 from Melbourne; $1186 from Adelaide; $1379 from Perth and $1394 from Darwin.
Fares are per person. Conditions and surcharges apply.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Island Safaris
Box 133 Post Office
Port Vila Vanuatu
Ph: 0011 678 23 288
Fax: 0011 678 26 779
Vanuatu National Tourism Office

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