Articles tagged with "ambrym"

Ulei airport

Ulei airport

The clouds came back in, and although we waited an hour longer to see if they would clear again, they didn’t, so we headed back to the camp. I got up early the next morning to see if it was worth going again, but it wasn’t, so we headed back down to the village of Endu.

In the morning I got a truck to Ulei. Normally there are two trucks, but one of them had gone off the road the previous day and was out of action. It happened that there was a large group of tourists needing to get back to the airport, so some 20 people crowded into and onto the truck. Luckily it went slowly on the rough jungle tracks, and for me clinging onto the outside, the risk of actually falling off was low.

At the airport, a BBC documentary crew was arriving on the island, so I guess Marum volcano will be appearing on British television before too long. It was strange to see a TV presenter with a very familiar face here in this wild place on the other side of the planet.


Marum

Marum

The hike up to the top of Marum volcano was a whole different experience to the short walk to Yasur. It involved 1000m of climbing through thick forest, and it took us about three hours to get to the edge of the ash plains. My guide, Solomon, told me about the fastest people he’d ever gone up with, and told me that a German woman was the record holder. He wouldn’t tell me exactly how fast she’d gone, so I guess I didn’t match her time, but three hours was pretty good going anyway. Another hour or so took us to the East Camp, and it was another 45 minutes to the crater’s edge.

It was cold and forbidding up there, and the summit was in thick cloud when we got there. Visibility was just a few metres. Somewhere unseen far below was a lava lake but it was looking like I might not see it. Solomon was pessimistic. In the murk I could see a large collection of tents close to the crater’s edge. They turned out to be a New Zealand documentary crew who had camped there for a couple of weeks to be sure of seeing the lava lake.

We waited in the cold and the rain, and we got lucky. The clouds began to thin out, and I caught a glimpse of deep red down in the crater. Then suddenly, just for a few minutes, the weather cleared completely and I got to see one of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever seen. To see molten rock frothing and boiling like tomato soup was something unbelievable.


The jungles of Ambrym

The jungles of Ambrym

I got a flight to Ambrym, a much less visited island than Tanna. I could see even from the plane as we descended into Ulei that Ambrym was way more remote, with impenetrable jungle covering the whole of the island as far as I could see. Ulei airport was just a clearing in the jungle, and I got a truck from there to the village of Endu, about an hour away, where I could get a guide to show me the way up to Ambrym’s volcano.