About Lololima Waterfalls
The Lololima Waterfalls were lesser known than the famous Mele Cascades even though both were close to the main city of Port Vila. Perhaps as a result of it being less well known, the experience somehow felt intimate. However, our experience at this waterfall was nothing short of fun, and it also was very photo friendly to boot (as you can see from the photo at the top of this page). This waterfall was really comprised of a pair of large sloping drops over limestone surfaces with a few smaller plunging tiers offering plenty of opportunities to have a swim or a refreshing dip. Our tour of this falls not only included seeing it, but we also climbed it, explored the gorge upstream from it, swam beneath and behind it, took a dive from a rope swing in front of it, and we even explored an impressive cave behind one of the waterfall’s main drops. When Julie planned our Vanuatu trip, she made sure to visit this falls based on favorable TripAdvisor reviews, and after having done it ourselves, we could see why.
We booked our tour through Ecotours Vanuatu, which was guided by Pascal Guillet (who also seemed to run this tour company) accompanied by his son Dimitri as well as a local ni-Van guide from Ambrym Island named Bosco along with five other tour guests (two from France and three from Sydney, Australia). I believe Julie arranged for the tour via email, then our accommodation aided us further by confirming our booking as well as relaying to us when to meet at the lobby. From there, we were driven around in a pick-up truck where the trunk doubled as an open-air sheltered taxi. The roads through Port Vila were smooth, and they stayed that way as we climbed higher up into the hills backing the town where we briefly made a photo stop of the nearly birds eye view towards Port Vila.
After this photo stop, the ride then became unpaved and bumpier as we drove into a large cattle farm run by some Catholic School. The ride lasted nearly 60 minutes (from the time we were picked up from around downtown Port Vila) at which point we got off the truck and walked the short five minutes or so to the Lololima Falls. The walk was mostly flat on grassy terrain before we had to descend steps providing us with the view of Lololima Falls that you see pictured at the top of this page. From up here, we could see the whole context of the main part of the falls, including the clear plunge pool with rope swing beneath the bottommost tier. There was also a shelter between the two main tiers of the falls, where we were told that a freak flash flood that occurred three months prior to our visit (shouldn’t it still be Dry Season at the time?) wiped out the previous structure, which was said to be a full-up house or building.
Anyways, the Aussie tour participants went straight for the rope swing. Meanwhile, the remainder of the group (us included) followed Pascal up the upper tiers of Lololima Falls then waded in the river further upstream. Given the amount of getting wet that was anticipated, I had left my DSLR behind (under Dimitri’s watchful eye) and we stuck with capturing the experience on Julie’s iPhone since we also had a small dry bag that was made specifically for it. It was also good that we were wearing reef shoes since our walking included scrambles on rocks and other submerged objects in the river like twigs and branches. As far as climbing the falls was concerned, the footholds carved into the slope of the falls made climbing it much easier to accomplish with care.
As we continued wading upstream in the tranquil river gorge, we saw one small split waterfall (possibly 10ft or so) where it was possible to go up to a “hidden” drop in a small “cave” then go beneath it and out an adjacent waterfall from its backside. Aside from that the rest of the exploration was a combination of walking along the river’s banks or in the river itself for about 60 minutes. When the river wading part was done, we then bush walked through a small bit of jungle before making it onto a private road, where we quickly backtracked our way to the main drops of Lololima Falls again. This time, we emerged by base of the falls by a deep pool and rope swing, which some of us gave that a go.
Finally, our ni-Van guide Bosco showed us to an interesting cave that was hidden on the far side of the upper tier of Lololima Falls. Inside that cave, we saw a calcified tree that was stuck in there (said to be a petrified tree at this point), some stalactite and stalagmite formations, a few swallows calling the cave home, and even some small bats further inside the cave. It looked like the cave could keep going, but Bosco told us that crawling further inside would require scuba gear because of low oxygen levels in there.
When the short cave exploration was over, we then enjoyed a large platter of refreshing fruits provided by Pascal that consisted of very sweet pineapples, papaya, bananas, brown coconut, and grapefruit. And all this fruit was accompanied with cups of lemonade. So we had some more time to explore the main area at leisure while socializing and just enjoying the place. Eventually, we started walking back to the parked truck roughly 2.5 hours after we had first arrived at the falls. And nearly an hour later, we were dropped back at our accommodation near Port Vila. So overall, this tour took us about 4.5 hours (pretty much a half-day tour), which we did in the afternoon.
Although it was possible to hire a car on Efate Island, I don’t think most tourists would consider coming here on their own given how bumpy the road to get here was. In any case, we let Ecotours Vanuatu pick us up from our accommodation in Port Vila, and it was almost an hour drive to get to a point where we could start walking to the falls.
Our tour costed Julie and I 5900VT per person, which included the 1000VT kastom (landowner) fee per person. This was basically a half-day tour, and our half-day took place after lunch starting at 1pm and returning back to our accommodation at about 5:45pm (nearly two hours of which were transport).
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