We chased two other kid-boats from Pentecost back down to Ambrym and jumped into their excellent plan to hike up Mt Murum; one of Ambrym’s twin vents. Murum had been upgraded from level 2 to level 3 due to a recent increase in activity. Officially, we weren’t supposed to go but our guide seemed happy to break the rules and take our money…
It was a crack of dawn start to the day….
Above left; the family from S.V Excallibur making the sunrise dinghy trip into the beach to start our trek
Above right; we loaded into a utility rearing to get to the trail head before the heat of the day got too intense.
The truck drove us through the village and dropped us at the foothills of basaltic Murum. Our trek started with a tramp through grassland and along a near-dry river bed where we clambered over rocks and scrambled up steep banks into narrow paths through the jungle. An hour and a half later we entered the hot, dusty ash plains….like a wide, black, ash highway cut by erosion valleys, the open plains were flat and dry and landed us at the steep, barren mountain range of cooled lava rock.
The terrain up to the crater was steep with a moon-like landscape, but still manageable. After 3hrs of walking we were surprised to find we were approaching the summit- we were expecting a 6-8hr walk in total and our guide was also impressed with our speed. It seems us yachties are fitter than the average tourist. Having said that, I was happy to have my hiking poles for the steep climb up the ridge
Ambrym Island is is one large (12km wide) shield volcano with recent lava flows and two active craters- Murum and it’s twin Mt Benbow. It is the most active volcano in Vanuatu (and one of the most active in the world) and has erupted 48 times since 1774.
Our first glimpse into the caldera was breath-taking. We were very lucky to have a clear morning; clouds would sweep in and briefly obscure our view, then blow on through revealing the terrifying, 300m drop into the bubbling, broiling, molten lava lake. On our last visit to Ambrym, when we were anchored off Nopul, we found orange stains on Tika’s decks- acid rain. It can be a problem for the locals when the mountain is particularly boisterous; burning skin and contaminating waterways. Another reason we were grateful for a sunny, clear day.
Murum is (generally) not explosive like the Tanna volcano, but standing on the edge and peering into the fiery pit is significantly more daunting. Picture a sheer drop into a cauldron of splattering, writhing lava. Exhilarating. Hot steam and foul gases fill the air and when the wind picked up, our guide got very testy about us standing on the edge. I have heard of guides tying ropes around their clients in case they slip and plummet. There are of course, no guard rails…
Top left; another steam vent hisses away next to the main lava lake of Mt Murum.
The Mt Murum hiking team- SV Invictus, SV Tika and SV Excallibur.
Above; Kai’s marshmallow toasting shot
Satiated by our experience, we started our descent…
What an incredible day!
Ever wanted to see a snippet of a live, satantic cooking pot of bubbling magma soup through the eyes of a super grimy lens? click below!
Next post; swimming with Duggie the Dugong in Lamen Bay on the island of Epi…