Lamap to Areuv Bridge
MALEKULA HIKING TRAIL
Distance: 7.01 miles
Time Est.: 3 to 4 hours
climbs in a hurry and passes through the Lamap gardens. It certainly
gives you an idea of what most sustenance farmers go through daily to
bring food back to their homes. The climb is not entirely difficult
though and it is rewarded with great views of Port Sandwich. Also, the
higher elevation makes it easier to navigate at wet times. Less soft
mud! You will also pass a few Nasaras marked by to flat stone after
about a mile.
The trail is well marked for the first two miles at regular intervals then heads into the dark bush where the marking are more sporadic. These trails are not walked on everyday like the garden trails and can get grown over very quickly. A bush knife (machete) is essential if you strike out without a guide.
Between miles three and four you will descend a steep bank to a stream and waterfall. The water flow over the waterfall is minimal, but it is an interesting site. If you look up the hill this is where an old bush village used to be located. The waterfall also has a custom story about it where an old woman attempted to throw some bananas off the top, only to be hooked and taken down the falls. It seems like her spirit still lingers to some extent. Two members of our komiti, yours truly included, got minor injuries in this area, so be careful. Do not go too close to the edge because it is slippery!
After this there are a couple more steep areas, but they do not last long. It being South Malekula they are slippery as well. You can take your knife and try to clump up the earth to make traction (if you have a guide they will most likely try to do this for you constantly). If it is too steep don't be afraid to go down on your backside. If you don't like being dirty than you are on the wrong trail.
The last part of the trail before the bridge is picking your way through gardens again. This time it is a bit more confusing. The trail we marked gets down to the truck road about three quarters of a mile before the Areuv Bridge, so we are going to go back and change the route. If you lose the trail, just remember that the truck road, which is big and white, is down and to the North. Don't panic. Most of the time stuff just seems to work out in Vanuatu. Once you hit the road, left goes to Areuv and right goes back to Lamap.
You could walk to the bridge on the white road. This virtually ensures that you can't get lost, but it also virtually ensures a sunburn and surly mood. It is freaking hot! If you wanted to avoid this section all together you could also arrange a truck in Lamap to carry you to the bridge. Most times you can charter one for 1,500 vatu or less.
Eventually the trail will lead an extra half mile or so and finish in a small village near the bridge. The folks there are really friendly, and it is a spot where you could pitch a tent if you asked nicely. It is also the last place where you can get clean water for the next five miles. Ask nicely and offer a small fee for this service as it is rain water that they collect and rely on.