Active Volcanoes Trips
The world is a wonderful and diverse place and visiting all four corners of it has never been more accessible or more popular. No longer just the remit of the professional adventurer on an ecological or anthropological mission, many people are opting to combine the power and majesty of Mother Nature with their own sense of adventure and are including a spot of “volcano tourism” into their holiday bucket list.
You literally have options across the globe from the USA to Italy, Iceland to Japan. More places currently have active volcanoes than you might ever have realized and the great thing is that they are accessible and can be visited without the need for too much specialist equipment. Granted, some of them are so active that you can’t exactly get up close and personal posting a selfie. However, armed with a good 360 camera and a sturdy and reliable pair of hiking shoes you are going to get some fabulous pictures that will certainly have your friends and family wishing that they’d booked for Costa Rica this year rather than the Costa Del Sol!
You don’t need to have a love of living life precariously and vicariously even to visit an active volcano site. Many are found in some of the worlds renowned beauty spots where you may be sunbathing within the shadows of a formidable volcano, dangerously on the edge of blowing but quite possibly having been just rumbling away like a gentle giant for years. Tourists are getting more and more thrill-seeking and looking to embark on more active holidays than ever before, and the thrill of visiting a brooding volcano might just be too much for you to resist.
Let’s take a look at 13 active volcanoes that right now you can actually visit and some recommendations thrown in along the way of essential kit that it would be a great idea to take along with you. It’s likely to get hot and sweaty reaching your destination, so you are definitely going to want to take a filtered water bottle with you, that much is for sure as well as a good backpack and a solidly reliable and comfortable pair of hiking boots. Although in saying that, many of the bucket lists, must-see destinations on this roundup can be viewed by helicopter, hot air balloon or even reached via cable car. You know that the world is becoming more open to tourist development than ever when there’s a cable car installed up the side of the volcano you are visiting! So grab your travel camera and those new sunglasses you bought in duty-free and let’s take a look at some of the most devastatingly beautiful, accessible but also potentially dangerous holiday destinations that involve an ascent up a volcano for fun rather than a happy hour around the pool!
1. Mount Vesuvius, Italy
We’re getting things started in Europe so pack your sunglasses and a reliable travel camera into your backpack as we head to Italy and discover Mount Vesuvius. As any of the history buffs among you will know, Mount Vesuvius completely buried the ancient and affluent Roman city of Pompei back in 79 A.D. Today it still retains the title of one of the world’s most active volcanoes, erupting on average once every 20 years. Imagine then if you happened to be visiting and missed it because you’d forgotten to pack your travel camera. We say that, but it hasn’t actually erupted now since 1944, so the good news is that armed with your gore-tex boots you can still hit the steep 30-minutes to the summit. For those of you who prefer to view in a more leisurely manner but still want to tick it off your bucket list, there’s a commuter train that takes you from Naples or Sorrento with a convenient tourist stop at Pompeii. From there you can shuttle up the volcano and still be back home in time for a well-deserved glass of Limoncello and a slice of Naples famous pizza.
2. Arenal, Costa Rica
Trust us, you will definitely want a 360-degree camera for this one. Arenal Volcano Park covers some 30,000 acres with the Volcano being its majestic centerpiece, bubbling away at all times with an impressive display of lava flow. By day you get to witness the powerful smoke and ash billowing out of its mighty peak whereas by night, serenaded by the cicada of the many and varied species of Frogs in the area, you get to witness the fiery red, spectacular red lava oozing menacingly down the western slope of Arenal. It’s a life-affirming experience and definitely one that you are going to want to capture in all its resplendent glory. It also provides for the perfect environment in which lush jungle and exotic flora and fauna can flourish. Climbing Arenal is strictly prohibited, but you can still explore the foothills of the volcano and enjoy all the local wildlife and the bubbling hot springs.
3. Hekla, Iceland
We’re dashing all over the continents here, but we’re in Iceland now to witness what was once known as the “Gateway to Hell.” Volcano tourism is big business in Iceland, and it’s become a real go-to holiday hot spot for anyone looking to do something a little bit out of the ordinary on their vacation. You definitely want to pack your Patagonia backpack, don those new water shoes for hiking, and head out to this region which features no less than 30 active volcanoes within its ecosystem. Hekla is one of the most accessible, but you can join any number of hiking and jeep tours and experience craters, mud baths and lava fields, all natural by-products of Iceland’s position by that mid-Atlantic tectonic plate.
4. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Many would argue that of all the US national parks, Yellowstone is the more impressive and the fact that it was created by a huge volcanic eruption a staggering 640,000 years ago makes it all the more impressive. It’s what’s known as a super volcano and sits on a surface area that covers an almost incomprehensible 3-x45 mile radius. Discovering this Yellowstone caldera will definitely require plenty of water breaks so don’t even think about setting off without an insulated water bottle. The heat generated beneath the surface is responsible for all kinds of interesting hydrothermal features including geysers like Old Faithful, hot springs and pots of bubbling mud. Whatever you do, do not forget to pack a good travel camera.
5. Pacaya, Guatemala
You might not know it, but Guatemala has 37 volcanoes only 3 of which are currently active. The most popular and frequently visited of which is Pacaya. It’s a frequent destination hot spot for lovers of hiking and outdoor adventure so be sure to pack your gore-tex boots in your luggage. Pacaya also happens to be one of the nation’s youngest volcanoes too, and from a safe distance of 20 miles, you can also see the Fuego volcano whose deadly eruption earlier in June 2018 decimated a town and claimed over 90 lives. It’s chilling stuff, and the smoking craters are an everyday reminder of the power of Mother Nature. It features a pretty steep but doable two-hour ascent as you traverse lunar-like landscapes and are treated by Mother Nature to sites of active stem vents and flowing lava. It’s quite the spectacle and has resulted in rich surrounding lowlands that are abundant in crops.
6. Colima, Mexico
Like Guatemala, Mexico has plenty of active and frequently fierce volcano’s, constantly reminding the world of their omnipotent and commanding presence. Volcan de Fuego (or Fire Volcano also known as Colima, is among Mexico’s most active and erupted as recently as 2017 sending a colossal plume to smoke and ash into the sky but thankfully not resulting in any deaths. Definitely, one that you will want to take an excellent 360-degree camera with you. You can join a multitude of organized excursions that can get up to four miles away but for an even better view and the ultimate bucket list experience, take to the skies above in a hot air balloon to really view the dramatic scenery.
7. Sakurajima, Japan
Mount Sakura as it is also known as one of Japan’s most iconic and active volcanoes and is a very popular alternative tourist destination. The fertile volcanic soil and the natural hot springs mean that you will definitely want to pack some swimwear in your luggage, even if you’re not visiting the beach. The volcano may not have erupted since 1914 now, but it’s still incredibly active with smoke almost continually billowing from its peak. For safety reasons no-one is allowed within 1.2 miles of the volcano, but you can still appreciate some fantastic views from vantage points like Sakuirjmao so be prepared for breathtaking sights that you will want to capture and record for everyone at home to marvel.
8. Mount St Helens, Washington
Back to the USA and we’re in the Cascade Mountain Range. An impressive 800-mile volcanic chain that extends from British Columbia to California and among its most active is Mount St Helens, close to Washington. When it erupted in 1980, it claimed the lives of 37 people, and there have been smaller lava eruptions since as recently as 2004. It’s a climb that can be tacked by beginners and experts alike so grab those hiking books trusted backpack for some totally different holiday adventure. Note that you will require a permit to trek to the crater and for those among you who like someone else to do the adventuring for them, you can take a helicopter ride over Mount St.Helens instead which might not require a sturdy pair of snow boots but will definitely be an adrenalin-fuelled ride!
9. Mount Teide, Spain
Not Spain as in mainland but rather that incredibly popular tourist destination in the Canary Islands of Tenerife. For this trip, you really can pack all your usual holiday clothes in your luggage and enjoy a day trip out to this natural phenomenon. Mount Teide stands at 12,000 feet and is the highest of all the volcanic peaks associated with Spain. It last erupted back in 1909 but is continually monitored by scientists today. You can explore via a cable car or take one of the varied and interesting hiking trails. You might also be interested to know a little more about the heritage of the Canary islands and where the name originally came from before the disastrous day in 1706 when the international port of Gatachico was wiped out. Apparently, this once coastal town was the location where none other than William Shakespeare’s favorite Tenerifian wine was loaded onto a vessel ready to make its way to Canary Wharf in London. As they say, you learn something new every day!
10. Mount Etna, Italy
More ‘Mounts” this time in Italy and the famous peak of Etna which is smaller than Mount Teide, standing at 11,000 feet tall. Located on the east coast of the isle of Sicily, it’s been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and is well worth a visit. It’s one of the most active volcanoes and has what is referred to as an “exceptional level of volcanic activity” so you are most definitely going to want to take a good travel camera with you to capture the moments. Weather and Volcano conditions permitting, it remains as one of the worlds most accessible volcano’s and is on many an adventurer’s bucket list. You can choose to hike all the way to the summit, hop on the cable car or even take a shuttle bus. This is one Volcano that loves to see a friendly tourist face and will welcome you and your backpacking backpack with a big old Italian style “Ciao.” Mount Etna is certainly very accommodating and regularly treats its visitors to pyrotechnic shows that will blow your hiking socks off!
11. Mount Merapi, Indonesia
Indonesia is a veritable hot pot of volcanic activity with over 120 active volcanoes within its locality. It’s a diverse and interesting landscape which offers plenty of sights and sounds for the more adventurous among you to experience. Sitting at 9,500 feet, when Mount Merapi in Indonesia last erupted in May 2018, it sent a plume of ash that went over 18,000 feet in a column into the air. Luckily it was relatively minor other than that but most definitely one that you would certainly have wanted to capture on an excellent 360-degree travel camera. It’s possible to hike to the summit from the village of Selo so make sure you pack your most comfortable hiking boots with you for a trip to Indonesia so that you can really marvel at the sights of Mount Merapi.
12. Cotopaxi, Ecuador
This is what is known as a stratovolcano meaning that it is a volcano that is built up with alternate layers of lava and ash. The locals live in constant fear of its power, and they refer to it as “the big one” as it’s backdrop it has the Ecuadorian capital city of Quito so this is quite the adventure. If it seriously blows it has the potential to wipe the Ecuadorian capital city literally of the map entirely. Only the most seasoned and accomplished hiker attempt the 19,000-foot ascent to the top of the volcano’s peak. It’s definitely not one to attempt if you suffer from altitude sickness or without plenty of portable water supply on board before you set-off. Known as Cotopaxi, it’s not had a major eruption now since 1903, but it is frequently displaying signs of unrest and is deemed to be active. The issue of concern here, environmentally, is not the damage that either the ash or magma might cause, but the fact that a giant glacier sits on top of Cotopaxi which, if it erupts, will most likely melt and cause potentially catastrophic mudslides in its wake.
13. Mount Stromboli, Italy
Another active volcano to make it onto our top 13 active volcanoes you can actually visit once again can be found in Europe, back in Italy. Stromboli is part of the Aeolian islands, and while it might be small, it’s certainly mighty. Part of Sicily, it been given the nickname of “the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” and we can only assume, having not yet been lucky enough to see it with our own eyes, that’s because it perfectly illuminates the midnight sky. Expect powerful and spectacular views if you are cruising around the island at night and definitely don’t think of heading on a trip without your travel camera firmly stowed in your travel backpack.