Paddling down the Sarakata River on Espiritu Santo is a surreal experience The thick rainforest lining the banks of the river is almost primeval and contrasts sharply with the crystal clear waters of the river itself. Occasionally, the river narrows and flows over shallow sections of smooth river rocks, resulting in some fun whitewater action. But most of the time it’s a peaceful drift paddle through hidden valleys, meandering corridors of gently flowing riverwater and the odd deep blue swimming hole. This is river kayaking Vanuatu at its finest!
Kayaking or SUPing down the Sarakata River with Island Time Kayaking is a chance to see a side of Espiritu Santo very few get to see. Not only is this Vanuatu’s longest river but also one of its prettiest! Only a small section of the river is navigable (the upper reaches contain some serious whitewater and waterfalls) but the good news is anyone with minimal kayaking experience can do this type of river kayaking Vanuatu. It takes around 2- 2.5 hrs to paddle the 10 -15 km river leading from the launch point up in the mountains to the exit point just before the ocean. This river is considered one of the most scenic for river kayaking Vanuatu style.
The guided river kayak starts with a 4WD on rough dirt roads through the hinterland of Santo, north of the main town of Luganville. After passing through stunning coconut and cocoa plantations, you eventually start descending into a hidden valley surrounded by thick rainforest.
Once the sit on top kayaks are unloaded and a safety briefing is completed, there is a practice paddle on the river. Then its off down the river, through tunnels of rainforest and past the occasional local spearing for freshwater prawns or fish. This area of Santo is a haven for wildlife – there are lots of birds (including Santo’s wild ducks and goshawks) fruit bats and an abundance of freshwater fish.
The paddling is easy, thanks to the fast flow of the river, and the dozen or so rapid sections are exciting but not scary. There is plenty of time to stop and swim and take in the amazing scenery. The river kayaking Vanuatu tour ends with a picnic on the riverbank of fresh local fruits just before the river meets the ocean. Cost is 6000vt pp including transport. For more info on our river kayaking Vanuatu tours click here