The Original Bungy Jumpers
Bungy Jumping, as we know it today, has its roots from the most unusual place in the world. It’s been practiced for way longer than when AJ Hackett invented the adrenaline-pumping experience that many people come to know. Bungy jumping did not come from New Zealand. The original idea can be traced from the Melanesian islands of Vanuatu (formerly called New Hebrides).
The tropical islands of Vanuatu is renowned for its magnificent diving, very friendly people and the more than a dozen active volcanos that dot its country. Most tourist visit the islands for its rugged mountains, tropical forest and well-preserved and rich marine life. But there is one unique thing that only few people have come to know – Vanuatu is home of the land divers (called Naghol or N’gol in the local language).
I was fortunate enough to have been in Vanuatu when they are doing the land dives. Only a limited number of tourists are allowed to view the ritual, which happens only on a Saturday from April to June each year. This is when the vines are at their most elastic. Land diving happens only on one place in Vanuatu, and only in the southern part of Pentecost Island.
Land diving is thought to have originated from the legend of a woman who ran away from her husband and climb up a banyan tree to avoid him. When he chased her up the tree, she leapt. In horror, the husband went after her and leapt, not knowing that she tied some snake vines on her ankles to break her fall. She survived but he didn’t. To remind the men of this incident so they don’t get fooled again, men started throwing themselves over makeshift platforms with snake vines tied to their ankles.
These days, land diving is performed to pray for a good yam harvest. Divers wave a yam plant at the top of the platform and throw it out before jumping. It has now become a tourist attraction, but despite this, tourism numbers have been restricted and limited on the island for this event.
There are twice-weekly flights from Port Vila to Lonorore Airport with Air Vanuatu. Lonorore Airport is the closest place to the land diving site, which is in fact a 5-minute walk from the airport. The other way is to take a charter flight/day tour with Air Taxi Vanuatu or Unity Airlines during the Nagol season (every Saturday from April to June).
To get to Port Vila from overseas, Air Vanuatu has daily flights to Sydney (Aus), Brisbane (Aus), Auckland (NZ), Noumea (New Caledonia) and Nadi (Fiji). Virgin Australia also has direct flights from Brisbane to Port Vila.
More Images of the Nagol (Land Diving)
Land Diving Tower
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