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There aren’t many places in the world where you can sink your toes into black-sand beaches, hike through dense rainforests, and walk around the rim of two active volcanoes, all in less than three days. But on Ambrym Island, you can do all this and more, accompanied by the affable locals.

Mt Benbow and Mt Marum aren’t the only sights to behold on this little island. You’ll be treated to an array of both adventure and culture on Ambrym. Witness the work of the woodcarvers who create spectacular art out of breadfruit trees and huge tree ferns, as well as local displays of black magic and kastom dances.

Don’t Miss

  • Balancing on the rim of an active volcano

  • The sea of black ash

  • Lush rainforest below, black sand above    

How To Get There

An hour’s flight from Port Vila, Ambrym can be reached by flying into Craig Cove. Check out the flight schedule at www.airvanuatu.com. If you’re up for some adventure and a challenge, head to Port Vato from Craig Cove via a 4WD – it takes about an hour. From Port Vato, you’re perfectly positioned to head off on a 3-day hike to explore Ambrym’s volcanoes. It may be helpful to get in touch with the good folks at the Visitor Information Office for travel advice. Send them an email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Useful Tips

  • You can visit Ambrym and its volcanoes any time of the year, but it’s good to check for the latest volcanic activity updates before you set off. It’s important to remember that Ambrym’s volcanoes are active and have seen the evacuation of the island in the past. The volcanic activity, combined with the weather forecast, can restrict access on any given day due to safety, so it’s wise to pay attention to advice.

  • Aside from the villages on the island, Ambrym is very much untamed. Be prepared for slippery trails, ash underneath your feet and plenty of tricky navigation through wild rainforests.

  • Bring your own snacks! Meals will be provided and cooked by your guides but if you’re prone to getting peckish, bringing your own stash of food is essential. It’s also important that you pack a first aid kit, mossie repellant and snorkel gear. Make sure you charge your electronics before you get here as there’s no power on Ambrym island (other than the occasional generator).

  • Due to the volcanic ash cloud from the two volcanoes, it’s not uncommon to experience acid rain, so make sure you bring sunglasses to protect your eyes. Your guides will be equipped to provide advice if it’s unsafe to set out. 

Day 1: Port Vato – Benbow Volcano – West Camp

At Port Vato, you’ll meet your guides and porters. These men know their island like the back of their hands, so you know you’re in the best possible company as you start to ascend to the West Campsite on Mount Benbow’s ash plain.

This hike starts off fairly easy as you make your way through gardens and coconut palms, before a steep incline to the West Camp. It’s less than 700m elevation, but the terrain means that it can take you up to 4-5 hours to reach West Camp.

After a short break at West Camp, the next leg is a little easier as you enjoy walking a few kilometres across the ash plain before a very steep climb up to Mt Benbow’s rim. Before 2018 earthquake, it was possible to see the lava boiling in the crater, however this is no longer the case. The trip from West Camp to Mt Benbow and back should take about 1.5 hours, with your guide setting the pace.

On your hike, you’ll be staying in the traditional huts in the campsites on Ambrym’s volcanoes. They’re basic, so don’t come expecting the comfort of the bungalows you might be used to elsewhere in Vanuatu. If you have your own tent, it’s possible to make your own setup. You’ll need warm clothes and a sleeping bag – the nights can get cold, especially in winter.

Day 2: West Camp – Marum Volcano – East Camp

Day two of your hike will take you up Mt Marum, Ambrym’s second volcano on the island. From West Camp, it takes approximately two hours to reach the crater of this active volcano, which soars over 1000m above sea level.

Your trek begins with an easy walk across Mt Marum’s ash plain, followed by a walk through a creek carved out by lava floe over millennia. You’ll finish up with a climb to the peak of Mt Marum. At the top, it’s time for lunch with a view. Much like Mt Benbow, the lava is no longer visible after the 2018 earthquake, but you’ll follow the pathways of ancient eruptions through the eroded rocks.

After you’ve had your fill of ancient geothermal activity, it’s time to head down to the East Camp for your second night of rest.

Day 3: East Camp – Endu

It’s your third and final day of roaming through this island of active volcanoes. Today your trek takes you across rocky and mountainous terrain, so be prepared to face steep ascents and descents. Soon enough you’ll be re-entering the familiar rainforests. Be sure to turn around and snap a picture of Mt Marum before it slips behind the trees.

For all the steep climbing you did on your first day, you’re rewarded by an extremely steep descent on your way out on the opposite side of the volcanoes. Be cautious, however, as it’s very steep and you’ll need to watch your footing. We recommend bringing hiking poles for this – your knees will thank you!

You’ll arrive on the south-east coast of Ambrym where you can take some time to relax before walking along the coastline to Endu village, where you’ll end your journey.

4WDs run from Endu to Ulei where there’s another airport that can take you back to Craig Cove and straight on to Port Vila, if you’re ready to leave the black shores of Ambrym.