The island of
Ambrym owes its
name to Captain
Cook who anchored
off there in 1774.
It means “here are
yams” (ham rim in Ranon
language). Ambrym is
first and foremost the
“black” island because
of its volcanic ash and
because of its 'black
magic' steeped in
Ambrym : volcanic sand
and black magic!
The more striking dance is the Rom dance. It is held every year in Northern Ambrym and is followed by a pig-killing ceremony.
It is exclusively a male event and kept very secret. The masks which are made specially for this event are superb.
The outfits worn for the dance are destroyed immediately it is finished so the spirits won't haunt
the dancers. Other local dances are more open to the public eye, e.g. Hipipur, Welele or Roplar, to celebrate the new year or marriages.
When you go inland, you will be struck by the greenish vegetation (a sort of moss) which covers the ancient lava flows.
In the villages, the ancient customs play a significant part in day to day living.
The “Man blong Majik” are treated with the utmost respect and
practise sorcery and magic beyond all imaginings. In addition to the two volcanoes which you can visit by helicopter in one day, taking off from Port Vila, Ambrym prides itself
on some unique characteristics, such as the sculpted tamtams, sanddrawing, fern masks and local dances.
The sculpted tamtams
(or slit gongs)
Ambrym is famous for its magnificent tamtams sculpted out of tree trunks. They are the most impressive items of art in Vanuatu.
The dancing areas in the traditional villages are decorated with these slit gongs, planted in the ground, which can measure several metres high. They are used to beat the rythm for the singing and dancing during ceremonial rituals.
Some are used for decorative purposes in hotel reception halls or gardens, in private residences and in some offices or gardens of the Government.
There are no hotels on Ambrym, but you will find island bungalows built in the traditional style. Please contact local Tour Operators.
Mt Benbow (1160 m) and Mt Marum (1270 m) volcanoes are constantly making their presence felt. They are located in the middle of the island and form a huge caldeira some 10 to 12 km diameter.
Successive eruptions in 1913, 1929, 1937, 1946, 1950 and 1979 caused a lot of damage.
The villages to the south were evacuated and the people settled on Efate (at the village of Melemaat).
The lava flows and ash dust which surround the two volcanoes give the landscape a moon-like aspect.
And the sight is breathtaking (you need a guide and permission from the custom chief).
Organize your stay with ...
• Wreck to Rainforest
• The Malampa.travel
Ph (678) 48888,
• Vanuatu Tourism Office
Ph (678) 22 813