Vanuatu boasts 4 active volcanoes that affirm the island nation’s place in the Pacific Rim of Fire. 3 of these are in MALAMPA province alone. Two of these amazing natural fire breathers are on the island of Ambrym in the Vanuatu’s central, east of the MALAMPA province’s main island Malekula, and north of Paama island. Mysterious and charming, Ambrym its named derived from the British explorer Captain James Cooks’ interpretation of ‘ham rim” (meaning yams are here in the local Ranon dialect), is less frequented by the luxury tourist but offers one of the most spectacular volcano trekking tours that you will ever experience. If you enjoy going it tough, then you will enjoy the challenge of the trek up to the crater of Mt Marum and Mt Benbow. Black lava plains as far as the eyes can see - evidence of centuries of eruptions and ancient lava flows - are a feast for the eyes and leaves much to the imagination. Most of the island’s interior is covered in lava plains, leaving the coastal areas in lush volcanic-earth-rich rain forest, nestled in black sand coves.
Malekula island accommodates the provincial headquarters on the island’s northeast. MALAMPA province has a population of 36, 724 and of that, 62% live on Malekula. Malekula is the second largest island in the archipelago and as you can imagine, holds traditions, customs and languages of an almost bipolar nature between its north and south. Commonly referred to as “big nampas” and “smol nampas” a lot of villagers still wear the traditional attire of grass skirts (women) and woven penis sheaths (nampas) for the men. Depending on which part of the island you visit, the nampas will vary in size. Malekula is well known for its rich custom dancing and traditional villages, portraying a part of Vanuatu that remains unaffected by the western way of life. Don’t get us wrong, this doesn’t mean they are untouched – however, the villages on the island’s deep interior prefer to retain their traditional way of life, not conforming to western ways of dressing, and living. Malekula should not be missed on your outer island travel itinerary if you want to experience what is the real traditional Melanesian Vanuatu lifestyle. Vanuatu’s biggest cocoa producing estate is also situated on the island and MALAMPA contributes much of the country’s economic growth through its cocoa, vanilla and copra exports.
Paama island plays host and guardian to its off shore Lopevi, the province’s third active volcano. Lopevi rises up out of the sea in the shape of a perfect upside down cone and though uninhabited, provides great farming soil for the people of Paama. Paama island itself only has a population of around 1600 people. Small and often never visited, most Paamese have settled in the two urban centres of Port Vila and Luganville. Paama is famous for its custom weddings and are a Vanuatu tradition that, should you get the chance, cannot be missed. Elaborate, expensive and entertaining, Paama weddings involve ceremony after ceremony of competing relatives, talcum powder, hundreds of dresses, kaliko, beddings, food, singing and dancing. If you happen to be visiting Paama, or one of the Paamese settlements near the two towns when there is a wedding on, you are sure to be swept up and into the festivities.