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Volunteering in Vanuatu

Vanuatu Information

Here are some useful links for good general information about Vanuatu:

http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Countries/Pacific/Vanuatu.php

http://vanuatu.travel/index.php/en/discover-the-islands/malekula-ambrym

Visa Requirements

New Zealanders do not need a tourist visa to enter Vanuatu if they are staying 30 days or less. At immigration with two passport photos you can get one month visa – extended to three months if you wait 1-3 days in Port Vila, the capital. Other nationalities may have other visa requirements- check this out before your departure.

Diseases & Vaccinations

Contact your GP around 8 weeks before your trip to check if you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. These countries have malaria, dengue fever, tuberculosis HIV / Aids.  Bring Doxycycline 100mg tablets for malaria – take one tablet daily, starting two days prior to travel & continue two weeks after return. Recommend Hepatitis A & B and update Tetanus & Polio.  Protect yourself when travelling against mosquito bites with insect repellent.  (On arrival, advise Dr Derek Allen of any medical conditions or medication you are taking).

Travel Insurance

"Know Before You Go” the importance of taking out comprehensive  travel insurance   before you go. Remember, an emergency abroad can be extremely expensive. If you need to be returned to your home country it could cost you thousands of dollars, unless you are adequately insured.

Register Safe Travel

Please register your travel arrangements with  www.SAFETRAVEL.GOVT.NZ  - help them find you in an emergency, so they can check on your well-being or send you important information. Volunteers from other countries, please register with your own country.

Travel

Flying

Flights go either from Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Fiji - Air Vanuatu does code-share with the Qantas Airline. Flights can be cheaper in the weekend. Book with Air Vanuatu and get 23kg baggage allowance on domestic flights, as well as a discount on the cost of the fares.

Currently from New Zealand, Air NZ and Air Vanuatu flights fly to and from Auckland à Port Vila on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Air Vanuatu flights from Port Vila to Lamap fly Monday and Thursday and cost about $200 NZ return. This short provincial flight can be booked on line, by phone or you can book at the Port Vila Airport on arrival. See Air New Zealand and Air Vanuatu websites for details and booking. Tourists holding a return Air Vanuatu international ticket are entitled to a 20%discount on these fares. Remember NOT to confirm your flights until you have confirmed plans with Dr Derek Allen. The flight times change frequently and planes often depart earlier than planned so it is always good to arrive with plenty of time.  Air Vanuatu also flies daily (except Saturdays) into the main Malekula airport of Norsup, from both Vila and Santo. There are also regular flights to airports on Malekula at Lamap (Monday and Thursday as stated above) and Southwest Bay, and on Ambrym at Ulei and Craig Cove. Visit the Air Vanuatu  website to check the latest Air Vanuatu domestic timetable to plan routes and connections.

Sea Transport

Comfortable passenger boats servicing Malekula (Lislits, near Lakatoro) and Ambrym weekly are Big Sista and Efate Queen.  Big Sista also services Lamap at Port Sandwich, Lamap-not sure of timetable. See  http://vanuatu.travel/index.php/fr/105-things-to-do/cruises/819-big-sista-company    Ph   +678 23461 or +678 7795362. 


Accommodation

Accommodation in Port Vila

While waiting for connecting flights to Lamap or to rest up en route there is a wide range of accommodation in Port Vila to suit all tastes.

·          Traveller’s Budget Motel

      We stayed here on the way home in January 2014 and found it really good- 5-10 mins walk from the centre of town and a short bus ride to Airport. VERY helpful hosts   http://www.thetravellersmotel.com/                                           

·          Paray Lodge

       We also stayed here on the way over to Lamap and it was a great price even if a bit further from the town centre...... check it out!                                                                  http://www.paraylodge.com.vu/

·          Kaiviti Motel 

Tel 678-24684 Fax 678-24685 Mobile: 678-7744684
Email: 
kaiviti@vanuatu.com.vu    Website:  www.kaivitimotel.com  Ring Kaiviti Motels and book direct in order to receive a discount (local rates).

Transport around Port Vila                                                                                                      

  Buses that most New Zealanders call vans, offer affordable transport around town for around 150 vatu per person per trip. You just flag them down; tell the driver where you want to go and they take you there!

Accomodation Malekula Island

Accomodation In Lamap on Malekula Island

There is some free accommodation behind the Lamap Public Clinic where volunteers can stay. This has some beds and mattresses and a kitchen type area (basic). Last summer we took over some second hand showerheads and installed these onto the existing piping so we had working showers. Lamap village also offered accommodation with all meals included for (I think!) 1000 vatu a day ($12NZ). This would be a great way to have the village experience and support the local people! Some volunteers also pitched a tent in the hospital grounds. The local school may also have accommodation available but we didn’t fully explore this option- will try and get more information on this in the coming summer (2014-2015)

Accommodation elsewhere on Malakula Island

·          Amel Toro Bungalows in Norsup

·          Lakatoro Palm Lodge

·          Nabelchel Bungalows Lakatoro


Transport around Malekula Island

Locally volunteers get around by foot or on the back of trucks. It costs around 100-150 VTU to go into Lakatoro from Norsup and one can travel from Lamap to Lakatoro à Norsup also (not sure of cost). Air Vanuatu flights do connect Lamap with Norsup twice a week.

Currency Exchange

The best rate is @ Vanuatu Airport at the money exchange if it’s open. In NZ you can order vatu via Travelex – can pre order on line and pick up at the selected Airport. Word has it that the National Bank counter at Auckland Airport may hold vatu (VTU). 

ATM facilities are available in Port Vila, but your bank may charge you a withdrawal fee. Visa Card accepted in Port Vila.  Note: No ATM available on Malekula. Cash Only. As at July 2014 exchange rate is $1NZD= 81 VTU.

 

Telecommunications

  You can purchase Digicel Tourist Sim (DO NOT GET TELECOM) at the Vanuatu Airport on arrival – provides 3G coverage on Malekula Island. 1000VTU – includes 1000VTU credit. Able to purchase top up credit in stores on Malekula.
Regarding internet access, Digicel’s 3G service allowed internet connections via the phone, quite inexpensive, too. In Lamap(January 2014) we were able to get internet through our Smartphones. One of the shops in Lakatoro (up the hill) had an internet ‘café’. In Norsup, there is an education building, TVET, that apparently provided internet services for about 400VTU an hour – closed over Christmas/ New Year. Norsup hospital had a free wireless service if you have your own laptop or ipod/ipad etc.

  Useful Items to Bring  

Sleeping bag liner or sheets; airbed if desired, pillow if desired; Permethrin-impregnated mosquito net (buy carefully – some people had single nets that were ridiculously tiny, others of us used double sized ones). Pocket knife, can opener, cutlery, plate and cup. In Lamap last January, we had the use of a one ring gas cooker and a couple of pots plus a kettle. Rope is useful for a clothesline. Clothes pegs if desired. Mosquito repellent and sunscreen – both are vital items and unobtainable on Malekula. Make sure you have enough for your length of stay! Sunhat, swimsuit, jandals, good walking shoes, suitable clothing- should have shoulders covered (cultural). Wearing shorts is alright. Umbrella, torch, snorkel gear and small day packs are great to use to take on clinics.Stethoscope and sphygmomanometer, thermometer, scissors and any other medical gear you may have- dressing supplies are particularly useful.

Food and Other Shopping                                                                                                        

On Malekula the shopping can be limited. You may bring stuff like muesli bars, lentils,cereals, spices and herbs from NZ or ensure that you have enough time in Port Vila to visit a supermarket (Au Bon Marche Supermarkets are well stocked). Food available in Lamap includes baguettes (baked in two bakeries in Lamap every day except Sunday); tins of mackerel, rice, peanut butter, flour, noodles, crackers, sugar, margarine, jam, washing powder and soap. It is quite fun looking through the various stores and seeing what items are for sale- beer was available and one even had ice cream!! Lamap has a fresh fruit and vegetable market on Monday/Wednesday and Friday with sweet kumara, greens, beans, bananas etc for sale.

Lakatoro has a fruit and vegetable market Monday-Friday. You can also buy very cheap meals there at lunchtime. In addition to items sold as listed above, the shops also sell milk, juice (one shop), biscuits, milk chocolate, coffee, tea, Milo, processed cheese, salt, oil, curry powder, marmite, jam, pasta, tinned beetroot, beer. 

Getting Building Materials etc to Lamap, Malekula  

When we travelled to Lamap last January (2014) we installed rain water tanks. The supplies for these were sourced from the large hardware store Wilco situated in Port Vila by way of communication via email. Consequently the materials we needed to complete our projects were there when we arrived(via boat Big Sista).We took some needed tools from NZ as there is virtually nothing in that line able to be purchased in Lamap itself. 

Tourist Activities

There are a number of tourist activities to do in Vanuatu and searching the internet will help with find these..... Some ideas are swimming in the lovely clear warm water, snorkelling especially near Port Vila on Hideaway Island- you can go over by very short boat trip, pay an entry fee to get onto the Island and then hire snorkelling gear or take your own; Tanna Island has an amazing volcano and more.......................

Information provided by volunteers and last updated July 5th 2014.

 


 


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