Mother nature can be overwhelmingly powerful at times especially when it comes to the eruption of volcanoes. We’ve witnessed many deadly eruptions in the last year alone, Mt Agung in Indonesia, Kilauea in Hawaii and Fuego in Guatemala have all shown their full capabilities and wreaked havoc amongst those closest to them. However, not all volcanoes are deadly. Quite the opposite actually. Many active and inactive volcanoes around the world provide adventurists and hikers with epic physically and mentally challenging experiences that are rewarded with some of the best views on offer. From the deep, lush jungles of Indonesia to the snow capped regions of Iceland, these volcanoes can be found all over the world. Here are the top 5 volcano hikes around the world that are must do’s for all you adventurers out there!
Just a short drive from the colonial city of Antigua in Guatemala’s south, Acatenango can be seen stretching thousands of metres above the Guatemalan highlands and is perched amongst a string of volcanoes in the region.
Acatenango peaks at 3976m and offers hikers an incredible view of its neighbouring volcano, Fuego. Fuego is one of Central America’s most active volcanoes and as i mentioned above, has recently turned deadly with lava exploding onto nearby villages and sending volcanic ash kilometres into the air.
Hiking Acatenango can be tough with the volcano comprising of steep slopes and loose volcanic rocks. The altitude can also be a factor for some but the stunning views on offer make this all worth it. The summit is cold so prepare accordingly- a jacket and pants essential! Once you’ve enjoyed the incredible views and decide it’s time to warm up at a lower altitude, you can literally slide and surf your way down the volcanic rocks for a good 10-15 minutes until you are back onto firm ground.
The total duration of the hike is around 12 hours return and can be done in either one or two day tours. Personally i would recommend the overnight two day camping tour as this will give you the opportunity to see Fuego erupt at night when its most impressive. Be sure to do your research and go with an experienced tour company. This is by far the best hike i completed in Guatemala and one that definitely shouldn't be missed!!
Don’t ask me to pronounce this one as it’s a bit of a tongue twister. Eyjafjallajokull wasn’t a well known volcano until 2010 when it decided to blow its lid and literally grounded hundreds of flights around Europe.
It still considered active and is considered dangerous as its trail to the summit requires some navigational skills and ropes for safety.
This 6.5km trek is considered to be one of the most beautiful hikes in the country and well worth being blown off the mountain for!A round trip will take you around 8-10 hours return and tours generally run from May through to the end of August.
Contact Icelandic Mountain Guides at www.mountainguides.is for more information.
Mt Fuji, Japan
Stretching 3776 metres above sea level, Mt Fuji is Japan’s highest and most prominent volcano giving hikers of all ages and levels the chance to experience the beauty within. It’s considered one of Japan’s three sacred mountains and last erupted in 1707.
I recommend you try to time your ascent to watch the sunrise from the summit. This can be done a few different ways- starting your ascent late at night from 5th station or partially completing the ascent and resting the eyes for a few hours in one of the many huts along the trails before continuing in the early hours of the morning. Guided tours are available but many choose to complete the hike self guided.
There are four different trails to choose from:
Yoshida trail- This is the most popular base hikers start from to reach the summit and the most accessible 5th station from central Tokyo. The ascent is around 5-7 hours starting at an altitude of 2300 and the descent around 3-5 hours.
Gotemba trail- The lowest base of all trails, Gotemba’s 5th station sits at 1400 metres above sea level and therefore is the longest trail to the summit taking hikers anywhere from 7-10 hours. This trail is a lot more exposed with the terrain made up of lava rock and fewer mountain huts than other trails.
Subashiri trail- This 5th station is far less developed than other trails with just a few small shops and restaurants at an elevation of 1950 metres. It takes around 5-8 hours to reach the summit and 3-5 hours on the way down.
Fujinomiya trail- The second most popular trail amongst hikers and the easiest to access from western Japan by public transportation. At 2400 metres, the Fujinomiya 5th station is the highest of 5th stations and therefore the shortest route up Mount Fuji taking 4-7 hours up and 2-6 hours down. The official climbing season starts from early July through to mid September.
Visit www.japan-guide.com for more information.
Set amongst the lush, tropical island of Lombok, this active volcano is one of 129 in Indonesia and second highest overall reaching 3726 metres above sea level.What sets this volcano apart from the rest is the huge 50km2 caldera which sits towards the top of the volcano and has formed a crater lake named Segara Anak (Child of the Sea) . Eruptions within the caldera have created a new mini volcano appropriately named Gunung Bara ( New Mountain)
The hike itself is an enduring one, challenging hikers from the very beginning with steep terrain covering long distances and towards the summit, volcanic rocks become loose as the final hours ascent to the summit will test you in every way. The views from the summit are unbelievable and definitely worth getting up at 1.30am to watch the sunrise from above the clouds.
There are several different tours you can choose from: one, two or three night hikes are available. The three night hike would be my pick of the bunch as you get the opportunity to explore all of what Rinjani has to offer. The campsite just below the summit sits at around 2600 metres above sea level and the sunset views are nothing short of amazing.
If choosing the three night hike, you’ll get to experience camping on the edge of the crater rim which provides insane views of the smaller volcano inside the crater lake.The volcano also provides natural hot springs for those looking for a little r&r on the descent.
If you’re in Indo, be sure to check this one out, it’s an adventure unlike any other!
Check out www.trekkingrinjani.com for more information.
This beast measures a whopping 5897 km above sea level and is one of the world’s highest volcanoes. It has erupted 50 times since 1738 with the last eruption lasting from August 2015 until January 2016. This eruption closed off the mountain to hikers until late 2017.
The climb up to the summit of Cotopaxi is not highly technical, but it does require a pre-climb glacier travel course. You will take part in this course the afternoon before the ascent. Towards the summit, Cotopaxi is exposed to the harsh conditions of mother nature covering it in snow and ice glaciers along with strong winds making your eyes water and fingers sting.
Hikers begin the ascent at 4600 metres and make the 5-6 hour journey to the summit generally in the early hours of the morning to watch the sunrise.
The summit also gives hikers the opportunity to look straight into the massive crater and get some incredible snaps of the surrounding landscapes before making the 3 hour descent down.
There are a few options to choose from when selecting your hiking tour. If you haven’t been in high altitude for long, i would recommend an overnight tour to acclimatise to the conditions before attempting to summit otherwise daily tours from Quito are also available.
Visit www.cotopaxitraveltours.com for more information.
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