Ranvetlam volcano track, Ambrym, Vanuatu
Mount Marum in the rain, Ambrym, Vanuatu
Eroded flanks of Mount Marum volcano, Ambrym, Vanuatu
Marum Volcano, Ambrym, Vanuatu
White-out and wild winds on Mount Marum, Ambrym, Vanuatu
Ash plain orchid, Ambrym, Vanuatu
Gardens and Mount Tovuo, Ambrym, Vanuatu
Mount Tovuo track, Ambrym, Vanuatu
White-out on top of Mount Tovuo, Ambrym, Vanuatu
Mount Tovuo orchid, Ambrym, Vanuatu
Walking Ambrym

Ash plain by Pete

Ambrym's ash plain, volcanos and mountains offer some of the best trekking and hiking in Vanuatu. Ambrym is the second most popular island for volcano tourists (Tanna is first). Updates on the volcanos are available from the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory.

Some visitors to Ambrym travel on specialised volcano tours (larger groups) and a growing number are travelling inpendently. It's getting easier to do it yourself as we provide more complete and up-to-date information.

Trekking the ash plain and volcanos
The interior of Ambrym is an enormous volcanic ash plain with two active post-caldera cones, Marum and Benbow. There are three or four access points to the ash plain and volcanos (refer to the map on our Ambrym page).
Most tourists walk from the west or the north. At Meltungon and Lalinda trucks can drive some distance along dry riverbeds.

The secret behind Lalinda's enduring popularity with scientists and tourists is a spring water source near the campsite on the ash plain. Yes, you don't need to carry more than about a litre of water when walking from Lalinda or Port Vato although make sure your guide knows about the spring first. We're told that most visitors carry water purification tablets to treat the water.

Day walks to Mount Marum are shortest from Ranvetlam and this track passes through the nicest forest. It's possible to do a return day walk to the volcanos from Meltungon but it's a very long day (10 hours) and you will have to leave early in the morning.

From the southeast, access to the ash plain is via Endu. It's a simple climb through forest up to the ash plain and then a longish walk across the ash plain to Mount Marum. Fortunately there is forest cover to block the sun.

It is highly recommended to take two days and walk across Ambrym, camping on the ash plain and visiting both volcanos. All routes meet on the ash plain and variations are possible with a knowledgable guide. You'll need a tent, sleeping bag, a warm top and a light rain jacket. If camping near Marum you'll need to carry drinking water (3 or 4 litres should be enough).

We haven't walked all of the routes yet so please contact us if you can update this information.

Ambrym volcano tracks Difficulty Distance
(km)
One-way Trekking Time
(hours)
North - Ranvetlam Easy 12 km to Marum 4
West - Meltungon Moderate c. 12 km to Benbow 3 to 5
West - Port Vato Moderate c. 15 km to Benbow 4 to 5
West - Lalinda Moderate c. 15 km to Benbow 4 to 5
Southeast - Endu Easy 18 km to Marum 5

Note that access from north Ambrym is closed from the 1st of September to the 31st of December, every year. It is said the yams will go dry if someone visits the volcano during this period. Volcano access from west and southeast Ambrym is always open.

Volcano walking fees listed below are much the same from all access points. Exchange Rates.

Ambrym volcano fees Vatu
Access and Volcano Fees 1000-2500
Guide 2000-2500 per day
Porter (optional) 2000 per day
Overnight surcharge 500-1000 per night

Hiking the mountains of Ambrym
Ambryms forest-covered mountains are enjoyable day hikes. The most accessible peaks are Mount Tovuo in the north and Tower Peak (Wusantepan Leplep) in the south.

Mount Tovuo (1141m) is easy climbing through hill gardens and then cloud forest with orchids and unusual birds. On a clear day, there are great views across Ambrym and to neighbouring islands from the mountain top. A guide from Fanrereo village costs 1000 Vatu. Solomon Douglas Bungalows at Ranon can help.

Tower Peak (999m) is accessible from Lalinda. We haven't climbed it yet and don't know what the forest is like. Expect excellent views on a clear day. A guide costs about 1000 Vatu.

Walking to get around Ambrym
Walking is an effective way to travel on west Ambrym with easy walking along truck roads as far east as Lalinda.

Walking around Ambrym Distance (km) Time (hours) Conditions
Craig Cove to Polibetakevar 8 1.5 Truck road
Polibetakevar to Baiap 8 1.5 Truck road
Craig Cove to Meltungon 10 2 Truck road
Craig Cove to Baiap 8 1.5 Truck road
Craig Cove to Port Vato 18 4.5 Truck road
Craig Cove to Lalinda 20 5 Truck road
Lalinda to Maranata 8 2 Truck road and beach
Maranata to Taveak 15 4.5 Rugged coastline and beach
Taveak to Toak 8 2 Truck road
Toak to Ulei (airport) 2 0.5 Truck road
Ulei to Endu 12 3 Truck road
Lalinda to Endu 26 8 Shortcut across the ash plain

Walking around to southeast Ambrym is sometimes done by more adventurous tourists. It does not look far away on the map but the walking is slow.

Lalinda to Maranata is easy, you follow the truck road and then walk along the beach. Maranata has no village, only a Seventh Day Adventist school. The school principal can arrange a guide. Sunday (the SDA Sabbath is on Saturday) is the best day. Banlenum, half an hour before Maranata is another place you might find a guide. 500 Vatu is a reasonable payment for assistance, maybe 1000 if the guide helps you with your bag.

It used to be a simple beach walk from Maranata to Taveak but coastal erosion has produced difficult obstacles. This walk is impossible at high tide and hazardous at low tide, you must climb around some bad sections.

From Endu most people walk to Ranvetlam across the ash plain. Walking around the coast to Olal and down to Ranon is longer but possible. The coast route will pass a nice creek just north of Endu with swimming holes and a waterfall.

Last updated: April 2009 by Stephen.

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