Ambrym is the place to go to literally get off the beaten track. From expansive ash plains at the foot of it’s twin volcanoes, to mystery-shrouded traditions and powerful dances, you can easily find yourself lost in a trance when discovering all that this enchanting island has to offer. So what can you see and do while on Ambrym? For starters, organizing a hiking tour to the twin volcanoes Benbow and Marum is something that everyone in Vanuatu should think about doing at least once. To make the climb, you must be reasonably fit as the hike itself is a challenging 4 to 6 hours through a tropical rainforest before reaching the unshaded black and orange tinted ash plains – a surreal sight that will leave you gaping in awe. There are three different routes that you can take. From the north, you can stay overnight in Ranon or Ranvetlam if you’re planning to go up to Mt Marum and back in only one day. From Ranon to the North camp is a two hour trek through jungle, then another three hours to the top. On return, you can continue down with camping options available on the south or east routes.
From the southwest at Port Vatu or Lalinda, 5 to 6 hours of trekking through jungle will take you to the ash plains where you will camp overnight in this surreal surrounding. A steep one and a half hour trek up Mt Benbow can be taken from here or a two and a half hour trek to Mt Marum where you can head back down to the north or east. It is worth noting that bookings must be made in advance and the volcanoes can only be visited with a local guide. During the strenuous but rewarding trek, your guides will share stories about their history and culture openly and you organize to ask your host in advance about any cultural taboos in place as Ambrym requires travellers to have more cultural respect and awareness than some other islands. Lonwolwol Lakeside is another worthy destination to visit on Ambrym. This historic site is a result of a volcanic eruption in 1913. Today a visit to Lonwolwol provides a soft adventure experience and has fishing trips, scenic walks along the lake and bird watching activities. You can get the full lakeside camping experience here with your family or friends, or book a night on the bungalow situated by the Lonwolwol Bungalow located right by the lake. he Rom Dance is an experience that causes people to go to Ambrym just to witness this mesmerizing dance.
Surrounded by tall towering tamtams in the village nasara, the Rom Dance warriors are dressed to represent evil spirits and are adorned in thick cloaks of dried banana leaves and brightly painted head masks. Each part of the dance, each rhythmic step and chant, is a story, a myth, and history combined.
The Rom or ‘Masked’ dance is a distinct part of Ambrym culture and is said to favourably influence the harvests. Visitors who are privileged to witness this sacred dance get an opportunity to be hypnotized by the costume dances as well as listen to the eerie and beautiful sound of the bamboo flute being played. Small displays of the mysterious ‘black magic’ are also performed by a ‘man blong blak majik’. The Rom Dance can be witnessed from the Hawor Cultural village in West Ambrym between the months of May to July or in the Fanla Kastom Village in North Ambrym during the month of August.