We sailed north from Lamen Island to Ambryn Island. Ambryn is known for its black magic and active volcano. We arrived in time for the second day of the annual festival in the village of Fanla, supposedly the oldest village on Ambryn. The famous Rom (“mask”) Dance was held on the second day.

Village elder supervising the dancers

Chief making sure they're doing it right

Mask Closeup

Dancer closeup


The Rom Dance is an important native tradition in which men participating in the ceremony are granted additional status based on the masks they purchase. One mask went for 20,000 vatu (~$200), while others were purchased from their traditional owners for between 10,000 and 4,000 vatu (~$100-$40). Men are allowed to participate in various ceremonies across the island based on their status level. Some men have several masks and significant status on the island.

Villagers watching the performance

Local kids looking at their own images on the screen of Malcolm's camera

After the performance, there are some handicrafts available

The festival also corresponds to Yam planting season
Village elder

Village elders with gifts given to the village by Captain Cook

Village elder

 Several boats were anchored off Ranon village, we anchored closer to nearby Ranvetlam village. We took a long walk to Ranvetlam and along the way we met John Willy from Fanla. He said he was a trained guide and we arranged an overnight volcano tour for us and 4 other cruising couples for the next day. Unfortunately, when we contacted John Willy the following morning, he requested 16,000 vatu (~$160) more than what he had quoted the previous day.

Fortunately, another cruiser, Nancy on SV Second Wind, organised another guide for the same price we had originally agreed upon.  Before noon we were off to see the Ambryn volcano with 3 other couples.  After a very arduous hike up steep jungle trails and along narrow ridges, we arrived at the cabin. Calling the cabin rustic would make it sound nicer that it was; it had curved bamboo floors, woven mat walls and a thatched roof. There were no table, chairs or designated outhouse.

After eating the lunch we brought, we continued on towards the rim of the volcano crater. About 2 hours later, as darkness was falling, we still had not reached the rim of the crater. It was raining, cloudy and windy. Our guides, two 16 year old boys (one of which had never guided before), told us there was no point in continuing as we would not see anything in this weather. They were also very concerned about the windy conditions and asked those ahead of us to crouch down for safety.
We slowly made our way back down the rocky, steep terrain by the light of our headlamps.

Back at camp, we ate a soggy meal and two couples went to sleep in tents while we spread our sleeping bags over the lumpy bamboo inside the cabin with another couple. Our two young guides were unsuccessful in building a rain-proof lean-to, so by 2 AM they were up, getting food out of the cabin, cooking and chatting. Needless to say, no sleep was had by anyone!

A four hour hike down the mountain in the morning brought us to a truck that took us to the beach and our dinghies, and the end of our Ambryn adventure.

Anchorage at Ambryn