WORLD`S TOP 10 VOLCANO HIKES
“The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean”- Stromboli is one of the 5 most active volcanoes in the world made it to be one of the most visited. This tiny island is part of the volcanic Aeolian Archipelago, or so called Lipari Islands, not far from Sicily, in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Stromboli is a classical cone-shaped stratovolcano, 926 m above the sea level. It has been active for more than 2000 years, continuously erupting since 1932. Regular eruptions (every 30 min) are visible from long distances, best to enjoy by night. They are typically short, mild but quite energetic outbursts of lava up to a few hundred meters in height. The visitors can watch these “fireworks” from the rim of the old crater, almost directly above the active craters. Believe or not, it is a very safe natural viewing terrace and it only takes 1-2 hours to hike up.
DID YOU KNOW? The word “VOLCANO” comes from Latin. In fact, it is derived from the name of Stromboli`s nearby brother Vulcano. In Roman mythology “Vulcan” was the God of Fire.
Bromo is part of the volcanic Tengger Massif, situated in the middle of a vast plain, so called “Sea of Sand”, in East Java, Indonesia. This huge volcanic complex consists of 5 overlapping stratovolcanoes, pyroclastic cones, lava domes and maars. It dates back to approximately 820,000 years ago. Mount Bromo (2329 m), is the most frequently climbed volcano of Indonesia, also because it is relatively easy to conquer. It is not the highest peak of the complex, yet the most impressive. Particularly at sunrise, visitors can appreciate the magnificent views from Mount Penanjakan, after an early morning 2 hour hike (for those less fit ones, there is a service offering horse rides to the stairs up to the Bromo`s crater). Remember to wake up really early and take some gloves and a warm jacket!
DID YOU KNOW? Old legend has it that once there was a childless married couple who got gifted 25 children by the gods. However, to give them something in return, the last child, Kesuma, had to be sacrificed and thrown into the volcano. To keep the old tradition, during the Hindu festival of Yadnya Kasada, the local people travel up the mountain of Bromo to give offerings of fruit, rice, flowers and livestock to the gods by throwing them to the crater of the volcano.
3.TONGARIRO (NEW ZEALAND)
For Maori people the mountains have always had a huge spiritual importance and played vital role in their history. That being so, Tongariro National Park was given to the nation by Maori Chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV in 1887 and became the first national park in New Zealand and one of the oldest national parks in the world. Emerald lakes, alpine meadows and hot springs are encircled by conical volcanoes and the area was acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Standing at the heart of the North Island, 3 active stratovolcanoes are towering over the 20 kilometre long grassland; Mount Tongariro (1968 m), Mount Ruapehu (2797 m) and Mount Ngauruhoe (2291 m). The major attractions is the in the national park is Tongariro Alpine Crossing – one of the country`s most scenic hikes. Here, in just 1 day, the hikers will get a chance to walk cross a lunar landscape of craters, lava flows, active volcanoes, turquoise lakes, mountain springs and a volcanic desert. On a clear day the views will make your jaw drop!
DID YOU KNOW? In 2000, the great volcanic plateau of Tongariro became a filming location of the glorious Lord of the Rings trilogy. And even today, you can trek deep into the heart of Mordor, wander through the barren landscape and feel the eerie atmosphere of Mt Doom, just like Frodo and Sam did back then..
4.MAYON (THE PHILIPPINES)
Mount Mayon is clearly a very “pretty danger”. Its appearance might not look like much of a thread, yet this ‘innocent’ beauty is responsible for thousands of lives. Just 300 km away from Manila, rising up to 2462 m, it rules the eastern side of the Luzon Island.
Although central summit crater is quite small, it is the most active volcano in the Philippines, with frequent and powerful eruptions, which often have destructive consequences. In 2006, such an explosion triggered a devastating typhoon Durian followed by calamitous floods. the volcano`s restless spirit has repeatedly been a cause for evacuations in this area. In the local language the name of Mount Mayon literally means “beautiful maiden“, based on an old legend of an irresistibly gorgeous young lady called Magayon.
Undoubtedly, there is something captivating about this volcano as it yearly attracts crowds of climbers who join the popular 2 day expedition up to the crater of Mount Mayon.
DID YOU KNOW? Mount Mayon is considered as a faultless exemplary stratovolcano and it surely deserved its nickname“the world`s most perfect cone”. This unbelievably symmetrical mount was formed through quite frequent eruptions, thus flows of lava, which were able to overcome erosive forces that quickly modify the slopes of volcanoes.
The highly active Pacaya (2560 m) is a more than 20 000 years old, large stratovolcanic complex, consisting of three old summits: Cerro Grande (2560 m), Cerro Chiquito (2460 m) and Cerro Chino (2260 m). It is located 30 km from the Guatemala City, in Guatemala.
Pacaya had been dormant for a century until 1965 and it has been regularly spewing since then. On average, it steams every 15 minutes and it is characterised by strombolian explosions. The volcano produces frequent outbursts of lava bombs which look like fire balls ejected to long distances. The major eruption in 2010 resulted in a deadly tropical cyclone Agatha, followed by damaging floods and severe landslides.
Pacaya was declared a national park in 2005 and quickly it became an attractive destination for all adventurous climbers. Even though its powerful blasts and lava flows are most spectacular at night, the best time for setting out on the trip up to the summit is early morning and you should reserve the whole day.
DID YOU KNOW? Strombolian eruptions are relatively mild and short, but very frequent, explosive volcanic outbursts of incandescent cinder, lapilli and lava bombs to altitudes of hundreds of meters. They are named after the Italian volcano Stromboli, the most perfect example of this type of volcanic activity. Incredibly, Stromboli has been producing strombolian eruptions for over 2000 years.
Every year admired by thousands of visitors many of which embark on a daring trip to its summit. Sakurijama, 1117 m tall and 50 km round, is one of the world`s greatest and most active stratovolcanoes with two main craters.
The Japanese call it the “Cherry Blossom Island” – much loved by tourists, yet hated by those whose beloved ones vanished in the raging lava flows of the furious mountain in 1914. Some locals still remember horror of the disastrous explosion in 1914 when 10 billion tons of magma fluid had been flowing out of the Showa Crater for months and created a bridge connecting the island with Osumi peninsula.
Today, the former island is part of the city of Kagoshima in Kyushu. Afterwards, there came years of silence but not for too long; in 1955 the volcano woke up again and it has been erupting almost constantly ever since. Now, Sakurajima is part of the Kirishima-Yaku National Park and the major tourist attraction; after a 15 min ferry ride, it only takes half an hour fairly steep climb up to the observatory station where, if weather allows, you can enjoy the magnificent views.
DID YOU KNOW? Sakurajima radish is the biggest variety of radish in our planet and it has been cultivated in the former island of Sakurajima for years. This popular Japanese delikassy grows up to 50 cm in diameter and its regular weight is around 6 kg but the bigger ones can be as heavy as 45 kg per piece!!
Hawaii is mainly known as a tropical paradise for holiday makers. With its remarkable fauna and flora, magnificent landscape and dream beaches, this marvellous Pacific archipelago hidden at the end of the world truly is a heaven; and hell – quite literally. The Hawaiian Islands consist of five active volcanoes which there is no escape from, for being the most isolated place on Earth.
Kilauea (1247 m) is the youngest but the most active volcano in Hawaii. Looking at it, one would say “what a harmless bump”. Unlike Kilauea`s worldwide cousins, this Hawaiian volcano appears tame and mild. However, appearances are often deceptive. Its gently sloping sides veil immense amounts of fiery magma. Already its name speaks for itself: “much spewing”.
Since 1983 Kilauea has been perpetually erupting and it became the world`s most active volcano. Although its peak collapsed, Kilauea`s high state of activity made it to be Hawaii`s most visited volcano, attracting millions of visitors annually. Kilauea is part of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the best way how to explore the area is to rent a car and drive around, stopping by at the main attractions. Hence, Kilauea is also called “the world`s only drive-in volcano”.
DID YOU KNOW? Hawaiian volcanoes are “shield volcanoes”, gently sloping mountains created from a large number of a very fluid lava flows. They erupt a particular type of rock known as “basalt”, which when molten, it produces liquids of very high fluidity, compared to the conical “stratovolcanoes”, which would typically erupt “silica” rich magma. This fluidity favours the formation of constant lava flows and those are responsible for the “shield volcanoes”.
8.PITON DE LA FOURNAISE (REUNION)
Not far from Madagascar, overlooking the navy-blue waters of the Indian Ocean on the eastern side of Reunion, the king of the island, locally named the “Peak of Furnance”, has been throning here for more than 500, 000 years. Piton de la Fournaise (2632 m) is a twin volcano with two craters and is the third most active volcano in the world.
It is part of the Reunion National Park and one of the World Heritage Sites. This is another example of a “shield volcano’, less majestic, yet with constant basaltic lava flows. The regular explosions offer breathtaking views, especially when the streams of lava reach the sea. It is predicted that due to the volcano`s geographical instability it will eventually collapse into the Indian Ocean and cause a mega-tsunami.
The national park is a paradise for hikers. There are plenty of walking treks around the volcano. The shortest one only takes 45 min and it will take you to the Bory Crater, but it is quite a challenging climb. There is an easier but longer route to the Dolomieu Crater is doable within 2 hours. Driving around the island is a great option to see the unique volcanic landscape of the Reunion Island.
DID YOU KNOW? If you visit Reunion you should definitely drive on the N2 Coastal Highway. The road cuts across the volcano rock and sometimes the rock is fresh or even out-flowing lava. This often wanders over the road and the highway services rebuild the road on the top of the new rock and signpost the year of the eruption.
9.OL DOINYO LENGAI (TANZANIA)
Ol Doninyo Lengai is an extremely fascinating volcano. It is not only as pretty as picture it features a very unique quality; it is the only volcano in the world producing carbonatite lava. This sensational discovery showed that this type of lava has much lower temperatures and it does not emit enough light to glow during the daytime. On the top of that, the scientists found out that this special lava behaves more like water. It has black colour though, and when cooled down it miraculously turns into a greyish powder. As a result of this distinctive phenomenon, the surrounding landscape is completely different from any other in the world and it provides abundant grasslands and succulent pastures.
Ol Doninyo Lengai (2962 m) dominates the Arusha Region in the north of Tanzania. Together with its nearby cousin Mt Kilimanjaro they both occupy the Gregory Rift. Despite its remarkable attribute it is still a classical beautifully coned-shaped stratovolcano and it is possible to reach the summit with some help of the local guides but it is an extremely tough 3 day expedition only suitable for experienced and very fit hikers.
DID YOU KNOW? The majestic image of Ol Doninyo Lengai made the Maasai people believe that it is the “Mountain of Gods”. For generations, the barren married women of the Maasai gathered at the base of the sacred volcano in the hope that the Gods would answer their prayers and give them a child.
10.KLYUCHEVSKAYA SOPKA (KAMCHATKA)
The indigenous people believe that this is the place where the world was created – Klyuchevskaya Sopka (4750 m). The sacred eminence is the highest mountain of Kamchatka and the highest active volcano in Euroasia, declared as one of the Seven Wonders of Russia in 2014 as well a UNESCO Heritage Site.
With its ice cap surrounded by dead valleys, moss forests, mineral springs and geysers, Klyuchevskaya Sopka is a graceful “white lady” and the volcanic queen of Russia. It consists of one central crater (600 m in diameter), which is completely filled with lava and scoria, and more than 90 lateral craters and cones on the lower slopes. Since 1967, she has been continuously active along with her sister-volcanoes of Bezymianny, Karymsky, Tolbachik, Shiveluch and Kizimen.
Because of the typical stratovolcanic shape Klyuchevskaya Sopka can be climbed from all sides. This adventure might not be one of the cheapest ones but it is undoubtedly one of those you will never forget. It can be a fairly dangerous climb even for the most experienced ones. Moreover, not many people speak English in Kamchatka and it is not easy to arrange visa for Russia independently. Therefore, the best way to organise your trip is to book the usual 2 week long expedition on-line, all included.
DID YOU KNOW?An interesting fact about Klyuchevskaya Sopka is that different sources indicate unequal height of the volcano. Almost all atlases figure an altitude of 4750 m. Some encyclopedias mention 4688 m and others 4649 m. Apparently, the conflicting information is triggered by the fact that the volcano has been active during its existence, as a result of which the cone`s breadth and height is constantly changing.
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