"We were welcomed at the horse riding place by the Australian family that runs the establishment.
"They used to live in Sydney and have been in Port Vila for about four years, so it was interesting to talk to them about their life there.
"We were matched up with horses according to our size and experience. I'm an intermediate rider, not a beginner but not an expert either.
"They cater for all levels; the people who ran the tour were so nice and were really helping out those who hadn't ridden before.
"There were 23 of us in the group and we rode through some plantations and farming land outside Port Vila, then we got to go to a tiny village of only three or four houses.
"We rode up to a lookout and it had the most amazing views.
"I was so glad that we had a panoramic camera with us, because you could see clearly in all directions. The ride up to the lookout was a gentle trail ride and very beginner-friendly, but when the ride was finished we had the opportunity to ride bareback in the lagoon that the property is situated on.
"That was incredible. The water was lukewarm and you don't have the restriction of a saddle or anything else.
"You can go in as far as your horse will let you go; I went in up to my waist and another girl went in almost to her shoulders.
"It's a lagoon so the water is fairly still - until the horses get in it!
"Once they see the water you can't stop them; they love to get in there and cool down.
"It's a little bit scary because the horses make a strange grunting sound, but it's just them breathing and getting the water out of their noses. It was really exciting to be in the water with them."
Value for money
The three-hour "Rainforest and Plantation Horse Riding" excursion cost $79 a person and Rachel says it was money well spent.
"You couldn't otherwise go to the area we visited; we got to see and experience a different part of Vila," she says.
"We saw some beautiful scenery, but also some of the hardships of the people who live outside the city.
"I thought it was a really cultural and worthwhile experience."
WHO Rachel Boxshall of Werribee, Melbourne, on her fourth cruise; her second to the South Pacific.
WHAT Horse riding adventure in Vanuatu.
WHERE Near Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu.
THE SHIP Rachel cruised with her partner, Benn, and her family to celebrate the 21st birthday of her younger sister, Deborah. They cruised around the South Pacific on Pacific Pearl (pocruises.com.au) but only Rachel and Benn did the horse riding excursion. Rachel had previously cruised with P&O to celebrate her own 21st.
As told to Jane E. Fraser
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