Travel Guide Oceania Melanesia Vanuatu Ambrym

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Introduction

Ambrym is a volcanic island in Malampa Province in the archipelago of Vanuatu. Volcanic activity on the island includes lava lakes in two craters near the summit.

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Geography

Located near the centre of the long Vanuatuan archipelago, Ambrym is roughly triangular in shape, about 50 kilometres. With 677.7 square kilometres of surface area, it is the fifth largest island in the country. The summit at the center of the island is dominated by a desert-like caldera, which covers an area of 100 square kilometres. With the exception of human settlements, the rest of the island is covered by thick jungle.

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Sights and Activities

Ambrym Volcanoes

Ambrym is one of the few places in the world where you can see active lava lakes. The island draws a small but steady stream of trekkers and adventurers to climb its twin volcanoes Mt. Marum and Mt. Benbow and to view the vast moon-like desert which makes of the interior of the island. You'll need a guide to navigate the maze-like ash plain and to keep you safe if the volcano starts to rumble. There are occasionally blue clouds of poisonous gas. Your guide should help you avoid these as well, but you may want to bring a gas mask to be safe (you'll risk getting laughed at since the clouds don't always make an appearance). It is possible to make the trek to one of the volcanoes and return back to your bungalow in one day, but it is far more rewarding to camp out on the ash plain and visit all of the active vents. There are several different routes and it is possible to trek all the way across the island if you want to. The views on-route are breathtaking. A certain level of fitness is required and this trek is not recommended for individuals who are afraid of heights.Some guides have their own tents but you'll want to make sure of this in advance. Good hiking boots are a must as is a sleeping bag since it gets cold on the ash plain at night. There is no shade on the ash plain and you will need a hat and sunscreen.Ambrym often has food and water shortages due to acid rain caused by the volcanoes. In many places digging wells isn't an option due to the risk of striking lava. Be polite and bring plenty of food and water for yourself and your guide.Access to the volcanoes from North Ambrym is restricted from September to December 31st.

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Events and Festivals

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Weather

Ambrym has a warm and humid tropical climate with breezes bringing some relief of the stiffling heat during the afternoon. Temperatures typically are between 23 °C at night and around 30 °C to 32 °C during the day. The rainy season lasts from November to April with occasionaly typhoons hitting the islands. The water temperature ranges from 22 °C in winter to 28 °C in the summer. Cool between April and September, the days become hotter and more humid starting in October. South easterly trade winds occur from May to October. Vanuatu has a long rainy season, with significant rainfall usually occurring almost every month. The wettest and hottest months are December through to April, which also constitute the cyclone season. The driest months are June through November.

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Getting There

By Plane

The island is served by two airports, Ulei Airport in the southeast and Craig Cove Airport in the southwest. Air Vanuatu flies to Paama from Ulei Airport and to/from Luganville and Norsup from Craig Cove

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Getting Around

There are flights between Ulei and Craig Cove airports.

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Eat

Lap Lap

The traditional dish which you will most likely be offered once during your stay is a root vegetable cake called lap lap. Essentially this is either manioc (cassava), sweet potato, taro or yam shaved into the middle of a banana leaf with island cabbage and sometimes a chicken wing on top. This is all wrapped up into a flat package and then cooked in hot stones underground till it all melts together into a cake.

Tuluk

Tuluk is a variation of lap lap with the cake rolled into a cylinder with meat in the middle. It tastes a lot like a sausage roll. You can find these again in the market (usually from mele village people) but they will be served from foam boxes to keep them warm.

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Drink

Kava

Kava is a local drink, made from the roots of the plant Piper methysticum, a type of pepper. Kava is intoxicating, but not like alcohol. Its effects are sedative. Some travellers have experienced a hangover from its consumption. Kava is consumed in private homes and in local venues called Nakamal. Some of the resorts also offer kava on occasion for travellers to try. Kava is served in a "shell" or small bowl. Drink the whole shell-ful down steadily, then spit. It's handy to have a soft drink on hand to rinse with afterwards, as the taste of kava is strong and not very pleasant. It is worth noting that the kava available in Vanuatu is generally a much stronger variety than the kava found in other Pacific islands such as Fiji, where it is comparatively mild. Four or five large shells in a typical kava bar will leave the inexperienced drinker reeling (or worse) after a couple of hours, and it can take a day to recover. Good advice to experience kava as pleasantly as possible is to go with an experienced drinker and follow their lead, take the small shells, and stop after an hour and a half. It's quite easy to find a local kava drinking buddy, just ask around your hotel and you'll find volunteers - maybe at the cost of a shell or two. Kava bars (or Nakamals) are normally dark places with very dim or no lighting at all. This is because bright lights and kava intoxication do not go together well - so be careful with flash photography, which may not be received very well in such venues.

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Sleep

Visitors stay in traditional bungalows, as there are no hotels on the island.

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Ambrym Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Ambrym

This is version 2. Last edited at 11:38 on Jul 17, 17 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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