Tribal daredevils in Vanuatu
If you thought bungy jumping was extreme, then perhaps you haven’t heard of Nagol, which means ‘land diving’. It involves local men and boys on Pentecost Island in Vanuatu who jump from a manmade tower with a vine secured around their legs, aiming to touch the ground with their shoulders. An annual ritual, you need to see to believe, travellers can witness this jaw dropping event between April and June each year on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Nagol goes back nearly 15 centuries, long before the world’s first commercial bungy operation opened in 1988. Each April, when the first yam crop is ready for harvest, the people on Pentecost Island begin building towers from branches, vines and tree trunks. It takes five weeks to construct a suitable 20-30 metre tower.
Local men carefully select a vine, knowing that a few centimetres can make all the difference, tie the vine to their legs and dive headfirst from the tower platform at 72km per hour. The aim is to land close enough with their head curled under so that just their shoulders touch the ground. It is believed that this feat will make the ground fertile for the following year.
Land diving is reserved for the locals but travelling to Pentecost Island to witness this awe-inspiring ceremony is an incredible experience. Prepare to be swept up in the excitement as the entire village gathers together in song and dance to watch these tribal daredevils tempt fate.
Pentecost Island, which also boasts pristine beaches, reefs, untouched forests, mountains and jungles as well as exotic wildlife, is within easy reach for travellers.