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A delicate balance

At first glance, the people of Ambrym seemed to live a very simple and basic life but after spending just a short time here we have learnt that this isn’t the case. This is a land of magic, bushcraft, politics, innovation, creativity, complex culture, traditional agriculture, spirituality and deep connections between people and their natural environment. There is also an underlying desperation to generate income to pay for essentials such as kerosene, rice and school fees. A recent blow to the community has been the fall in copra price, the main source of income for many families. The locals hope that an increase in tourism will bring valuable dollars into the community.

Everyone surveyed wanted more tourists to come to the island but also identified the need to preserve island culture and the natural environment. Ecotourism is a great option for maintaining the delicate balance between tourism development, the environment and cultural traditions. We have become aware of how important this is because when the balance is disrupted, there can be a domino effect of consequences.

For example, tourists visiting the volcanoes during yam planting season (Sep – Jan) could cause spiritual upheaval to the community. Locals can recount many occasions when this tabu has been broken causing increased volcanic activity with large amounts of ash and acid rain damaging crops and water supplies.

The yam is not your average garden vegetable! They’re a major food source, a long standing tradition and a major status symbol. The competition to grow the biggest yam (up to 2 metres long) is on the scale of AFL football in Australia. The family that can grow the largest yam gains prestige throughout the community. Families vie to purchase this special yam to share this increased status.
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(A proud man showing off his yam plant)

Although it is important to respect the tabu on visiting the Volcano during yam planting season, vital tourist dollars are missed. As part of our project we are working with counterparts including the Lolihor Development Council (LDC), tour guides and bungalow owners to develop alternative ecotours to keep tourists coming all year round. Tours being developed include forest adventures, garden tours, musical displays, village walks, canoe tours, and trips to view the ancient and spectacular Rom dance.
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(Matt exploring the forest with tour guide John)

pippa and ..an tree.jpg
(Pippa and Matt inside a bunyan tree)

pippa and .. crater.jpg
(Pippa and John inside an old volcano crater)

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(One of Ranon's chiefs playing a traditional musical instrument)

We will also be trying to build the capacity of our counterparts to organise, market, promote, manage and evaluate the tours. We are also developing brochures, websites, flyers and writing media releases about what Ambrym has to offer. If you are interested in coming to this amazing place, please get in touch!

Posted by pippamatt 15:43

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Hi Pippa and Matt

Great to see you are enjoying your Ambrym adventure!

Bailey and I have google earthed Ambrym and were impressed with the twin volcanoes! Bailey is right into volcanoes at the moment - If it was possible I'd jump on a seaplane and bring him out for a few days! (not that we would climb volcanoes during yam growing season!).

Keep up the great work!


by cjcharter

Hi Matt and Pippa,

Really enjoying your adventures unfold on this site. Kell, Finn and i eagerly await your next instalement. Glad your both going well. Kell & i wonder if Matt will atttempt to boost Australia's credibility by participating in the local yam comp? Lets go Matt, Aussie, Aussie Aussie, oi, oi oi!
Anyway, take care. Paul, Kelly & Finn

by pp11

Hi Matt and Pippa,
"WOW MATT" I was blown away when I heard Where you were, It sounds just amazing.We went to your Mum's today for a Chrissy meal and she filled me in on your adventure. Look after yourselves. Oh Yeah, we have also moved back to the country.

Tony, Mia, Brittany and Sharni.

by Tony Muir

Hi again Matt, If you are able to could you send me an email, would love to hear from you. "HAPPY NEW YEAR".

by Tony Muir

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