Ambrym, Marum, Benbow Volcano
April 23 - Mai 15/2012
Hian & Arnold Binas, M.Rietze, Th Boeckel
Map by Google Earth
Sydneys skyline, roofs of the
Opera House and the imposant Harbor Bridge
What would probably James Cook
thought if it would have 1772 passes with his ship
Resolution the mirrored facades of Sydney. In short,
the contrast of two worlds was made to me clear once
again, with the realization: modern against rustic.
But latter is even more fun. The over long flight
found its preliminary end in
the capital Port Villa on the island of Efat. The next
day belongs to the organization. It was important to
establish contact with the guides in Endu on Ambrym
and obtain potable water tanks (explanation below)
Arrival at the air field Ulei/Ambrym,
Easy handling with baggage. Houses in the village of
Endu. The national flight on the Vanuatu Islands are
exclusively be approached with twin-engine propeller
aircrafts. The airport consists of a grass track,
which turned out for the later take-off as a water
trap. The baggage claim area was quite manageable and
everthing runs none hectically and calmly.
Why the airport of Ulei? Graig Grove on the Ambrym
island is normally the landing point. But a bitter
land dispute exclaimed a taboo of the two tribal
chiefs. However a meter high grass sprouts already on
the landing strip. When this dispute finds an end is
From Ulei we took the truck to the 10 km
distanced village of Endu.
Preparation of the volcano tour
for seven days. Most important. The tanks were brought
from Port Villa.
After we cordially received by the village people-and
Chief Moses we were embrased in a classic Southsea
style " flowersaroundtheneck. The tanks were filled
with village spring water. Walking along the black
sandy beach, we turned left in the jungle to the old
caldera. OK it was murderous hot, but the coolness of
the jungle was on our side. Generally, it can be said
that the way was in a good shape. On the upper ash
platteau on the so-called Ashplain, the terrain was
well manageable and relatively easy to pass.
Drinking water was obtained from small rain-water
lakes near the camp, and was boiled. The water was
very clear, however you cannot exclude bacterial
contamination (animal droppings, etc.) during a week
of staytime. Disinfection with Micropur was
successfully been applied as a security precaution. We
also desinfected the village spring water. But
this works only reliably in tanks!
Crater edge of Marum. Partly
strong winds on the ash platform at Marums crater can
break down tents.
Strong winds in the upper crater plain maltreated
Arnold's tent till the top pole
broke. Challenging tinkering an hour at the camp inspired
Dense fog in and over the crater. Sunset between the
volcano gases of Marum
night the same procedure. Just in time before for the
onset of dawn the fog suddenly appeared. The free
night view in the crater was barred until the end of
our observation time. Only the first night there was
temporarily a clear view on the lava lake.
The mighty crater of Marum. Very
steep crater walls requires steady carefullness. The
lava lake of apprx. 40m in diameter in a depht of
When it comes to the rare event of a completely clear view,
you are overwhelmed at first by the dimension of the 2km
wide main crater. On the bottom a centric lain apprx.40m in
diameter wide lava lake is positioned. Despite the depth of
250 meters, enough details could be captured at the crater
edge. Attention with wind gusts! You should have a safe
stamina and a good sense of balance. And if not, it goes
right down because the first 150m of the crater walls have
partly a near-vertical down grade, and you'll enjoy the free
So far, such extremely steep walls I've seen very seldom.
First view in the underworld. A wild bubbling lava
lake from both view positions.
crystalline basalt the mighty walls rise above 100m
(Andesitic?). Peles Hair was found in a somewhat coarser
structure like at Erta Ale. Faded or eroded sand bars adorn
the area around the crater.
On the fourth day it
came to a clear view on the lava lake without steaming.
Remarkable was that the silver lava crust reflected strongly
in the sun.
Detailed structures of the big lava bubbles.
structures like a net are shown in the lava bubbles which
had a diameter up to 20m. This free sight on the lake was
activity fluctuated within 10 minutes from quiet phases to
wild bubbling. Ejecta and lava bubbles were observed during
the entire residence for seven days
Landscape of the upper
area of the volcano plateau. Walking to Benbow crater
to the Benbow volcano. The eroded ash canyons and ridges are
partly covered with a thin layer of bright green moss. In
the ravines and on the basis of often small ferns and
orchids can be discovered.
Down roping into the Benbow crater. The steeper
walls/slopes can also made without a rope, but you
should be experienced with descending difficult rocky
. If you have doubts, always fix a rope! The lava
lake at Benbow crater was very deep and could not be
seen from the inner rim. In the eastern direction a
small side lain crater had a little spattering.
Daredevil acrobatics over the crater rim had indeed
shown the vent, but the flight ambitions into the
interior would have made this action not worthwhile.
the fourth day. The boiler action at Marum on a clear day.
The vent in front of us was not visible from the SO
position, but the lava fountains 'jumped' out behind the
rock scenery in a fantastic colour.
on the NW-position, the sun was standing slightly against
us. This change had its own light colour effect. Again the
silver lava crust reflected. Tumbling crater walls were not
uncommon, and underscore the vitality of the activity. The
dense fog returns just in time.
The story of Marum. This handwritten strory from
Solomon our guide explains the spirit of the volcano.
For more Infos write him. Address:
Solomon Johnson, c/o Ulei Airport, Endu Village,
South-East Ambrym - VANUATU.
Daylight impressions of the crater and our camp.
The days were passing and the visibility was again
modest, board games in volcanic ash can shorten the
waiting time to clear view. In 'Five wins' white and
black stones were abundant. Chess pices, we have not
Carlo is carving eating sticks for Hian. This mades
the first Vietnames women on this island more than
happy by handling the instand noodle dish.
Base camp 30 minutes down from the crater. Back view
from to the Marum caldera while leaving the volcano.
Traditional Kastom dance of the people of Endu village.
Middle. A Tiki for may stopping the rain?
Also a very traditional
Melanesian/Polynesian happy music style. The string
band. The name of this bands results from the string
fixed with the wooden box and a stick. This instrument
presents the bass part.
The church of Endu with its
unique clock tower. A gas bottle and an iron bar as a
bobbin announce you the full hours. Right the
Endu village are preparing the traditional main dish LAPLAP.
The essential part is Maniok and Coconut, you can also take some
fish or meat in this well tasty " big
rain falls after returning from the volcano were flooding
the grass runway in Ulei and the starts were probably not
possible. This was caused by the change of the weather
current. Now, the southerly flow brought a lot of moisture
with it. Heavy rains on the islands were the result, and so
we come on to speculate how long we 'can stay' in future.
There was also no way to leave the island by boat. The cobra
boat that collects the coconut oil on the islands returns
one time a month and resembled according to descriptions
more like a trash container. Only after the energetic phone
call by Arnold (respect!),
Air Vanuatu sent an eight-seat
replacement aircraft one day later, the launch was
spectacular, but when the plane took off the R. Crusoe
feeling disappeared rapidly.
would like to thank the community for the enduring
extraordinary warmth and hospitality. Being on the tour as
well as a stroll through the village, there was always a
helpful person available your side. Rarely I met so sincere
and honest people.
Over-flying the coral reefs. Market women in Port
Jump to Yasur
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