October 29, 2013

The ash river in Ambrym, Vanuatu

My host booked the car for 5:00AM, again the local pigs removed any need for my alarm clock. When I say the car, I mean literally “The Car”. West Ambrym has one taxi (and I believe East Ambrym may have another one, which makes for only 2 cars on this island). This could make for a problem if it ever broke down, but that was not something I thought of at this time.

The Blue ute arrived on time, and for 1000 Vatu (approx $10 US) drove me from Craig Crove to Yaotille, an even smaller village about 8km away.The roads were wonderful. Muddy, rutted, and criss-crossed by streams coming down from the Volcanoes, but surrounded on both sides (and on occasion overhead) by lush vegetation. I was glad I was in the cabin, as this afforded a little more comfort via the seat and stabilizers. In the open back of the ute, where we had already gathered 2 locals off to other villages, the bouncing would have made life somewhat difficult.

I got out at Yaotille, grabbing my one man tent and backpack, and waited by another Tam-Tam, as the driver went off to find Bae Willpen. Bae was a local guide who would take tourists to climb Mt Benbow, if they were mad enough.

A tall, thin man emerged from a hut and shook my hand. We quickly agreed a price (12,000 Vatu, about $120 US) and then went to a small hut near the centre of the village. This was the community shop, packed full of bananas, yams, and various other root vegetables, and a very few packaged items including biscuits and water. We loaded up on supplies and jumped back in the ute for a short 4km drive to a black volcanic stream.

Grabbing our bags and tents we jumped out, and started to walk on the volcanic ash river, created by flash floods coming down from the Volcano. The fine black ash of the dry river bed contrasted vividly with the lush green vegetation all around. Apart from ash getting blown everywhere, the walk was straightforward. I was already thinking this was easier than expected…

Far Flung Travel Tips

* For  an excellent guide, contact Bae Willpen from Meltugon Village on 5413026

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