AMBRYM is first and foremost the “black” island due to its volcanic ash and because of its ‘black magic’. In the villages, ancient customs still play a significant and powerful role in contemporary life. “Man blong Majik” are treated with the utmost respect and continue to practice magic. The word, Ambrym, is from ham rim in Ranon language meaning “here are yams”.
Mt Benbow (1160 m) and Mt Marum (1270 m) volcanoes are constantly making their presence felt. Located in the middle of the island they have formed a huge caldera some 10 to 12 km diameter. Devastating eruptions have left their mark on this island and its people. Successive generations have been evacuated from Ambrym - many settling on Efate (Melemaat) and the along the south east coast of Malekula. The eerie moon-like lava flows and ash plane surrounding the two volcanoes commands a certain reverence with it's sheer enormity. Visitors must have permission and a guide to visit this sacred space. In addition to two active volcanoes (you can visit by foot) AMBRYM prides itself on it's unique art forms and rituals.
Tam-tams (or slit gongs) are sculpted out of tree trunks and used as percussion instruments during ceremonial dances and singing. You will find them in traditional villages throughout Ambrym. The most striking Ambrym custom dance is the Rom dance. It is held every year in Northern AMBRYM and is followed by a pig-killing ceremony. Traditionally it has been an exclusively a male event and kept very secret. The masks, which are made especially for this event, are superb. The outfits worn for the dance are destroyed immediately after the ceremony so the spirits they have awoken won’t haunt the dancers. Other local dances are more open to the public eye, they include: Hipipur, Welele or Roplar, which celebrate the New Year or marriages.
Adept artisans of sand drawing are also found here. Originally used to illustrate a story, sand drawing drawings today are also used to leave a message. The most skilled artists can complete a drawing using one continuous line without lifting their finger.
PAAMA is the smallest of Malampa Province's main islands just south of Ambrym and rarely visited by tourists - as yet! It's surrounding waters are home to an abundance of marine animals including turtles, and dolphins. During the day, all of PAAMA's neighbouring islands are clearly visible from various locations on the island including Ambrym and furious Lovpevi - a now uninhabited volcanic island that is constantly spewing smoke and lava. At night the red glow of Lopevi and Ambrym's twin volcanos can be seen clearly from the island. This will be a fantastic island to visit in years to come.
Malampa Travel is a locally based non-for-profit booking agency. We rely on your support! By organising your trip with Malampa Travel you’ll have a unique holiday experience that directly benefits our local community.