Ambrym’s main tourist drawcards (which, Vanuatu being Vanuatu, nevertheless does not draw many tourists) are the volcanoes in the island’s interior, one of the only places in the world where ordinary tourists without training or equipment can view lava lakes. The volcanoes are surrounded by an ash plain that extends for 10km in all directions but the rest of Ambrym is lush, beuatiful, jungled-covered mountain amid which villages huddle where huge traditional carvings of gods and monsters can be found such as those pictured below.

Village idols on Ambrym

Photo by fabvirge on flickr.

The volcanoes can be accessed by several different routes from different corners of Ambrym. The easiest, quickest and most pleasant is from Ranvetlam in the north. You can organise a volcano trek from here – there are some bungalows for tourists and they can find you a guide. Edwin is a good one. The trek takes four hours one way so you could camp overnight at the volcano.

From West Ambrym you can trek to the volcanoes from Port Vato, Lalinda or Meltungon, taking about 5 hours from each through slightly more difficult terrain than the trek from Ranvetlam. There is also an easy five hour trek from Endu in the south east. In two days you can trek to the volcanos by one route, camp there overnight, visit them both and leave by a different route to the other side of Ambrym. Remember though – access to the volcanoes from the north of Ambrym throughout September – December is banned as locals believe it will spoil the yam harvest.

Many coastal villages have bungalows for tourists who will be happy to find you a guide for other treks too, along the rutted truck roads and jungle trails of the interior. They are usually empty so no need to worry about making a reservation, if that’s even possible.

I particularly liked Fanla, an easily accessible village a in the north of Ambrym. They have a particularly impressive collection of huge, colourful, scary carvings and idols in a clearing behind the village. There’s no official accommodation but I was immediately offered a room in a local’s house.

Ambrym has two airfields at Craig Cove in the south west and Ulei in the south east. Both have a couple of flights a week to Port Vila and Luganville on Espiritu Santo. Motor boats occasionally link north Ambrym with South Pentecost (or you can hire your own) and passenger boats running the route Port Vila – MalekulaEspiritu SantoPentecost – Ambrym – Epi – Port Vila also stop in the north of Ambrym.

Click here for my 822 word blog on Ambrym.

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