Bungee Jumping in Vanuatu

On the South Pacific island of Vanuatu travelers can join in an ancient tradition that is quite similar to the modern daring sport of bungee jumping. GoNOMAD writer Aaron Reedy reviews this tradition in his article Vanuatu’s Original Bungee Jumpers.

“Throughout the Naghol ceremony as many as 20 divers, clad only in nambas (traditional woven mats wrapped around the loins) will leap from staggered platforms on the tower with carefully chosen and measured vines tied around their ankles. Precision in preparing the vines is of grave importance. Too short and the diver will swing back into the tower; too long and he will slam into earth in an unchecked freefall.

Undoubtedly, the Naghol has changed since the people of Pentecost have realized that outsiders are eager to pay to witness this dramatic spectacle. It now occurs much more frequently then it had in the past. Despite that, the ceremony itself still remains a stirring experience for its participants. Any preconceived notions of unenthusiastic divers going through the motions just to make a buck are quickly dispelled by the overwhelming intensity of the whole affair.

From the moment the large group of dancers start their enthusiastic singing at the base of the tower, there is a palpable energy in the surrounding jungle clearing. The young boys are the first to jump and each successive diver jumps from a higher platform.The raw emotion on the face of the divers is undeniable. Some strut to the platform while others stoically try to present a calm face to the crowd. With each diver plunging towards the earth from a more frightening height, the knot your stomach grows larger.”