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Monday
Nov202017

Top 5 Volcanoes Worth Visiting 

Visiting an active volcano might sound like a death trap, but experiencing the power of nature is promised to be a blast…well not literally we hope! Volcanoes are popular tourist destinations for their mysterious personalities; melting basaltic rock and steam exhaling craters are amongst the most breath-taking features, not to mention photo worthy. So why not live life on the edge and plan a journey to the planet’s most fascinating geological hotspots. There are over 1,500 active volcanoes in the world, but here are the top 5 worth visiting.

Mount Etna, Sicily

It’s crazy to think that this is the most active volcano in Europe, and so close to home! In terms of getting the best experience, there are two ways to get close to the summit, but are you feeling lazy or adventurous?  If you are feeling lazy, a cable car can take you up to an altitude of 2500m, where you can gaze out to the black lava fields, solidified lava flows from centuries ago and four craters. On a clear day, the abundant black lava contrasts with the blue sky, which is so picturesque and 100% picture worthy! From this point, busses can take you up to the craters to explore.  For the adventurous, an approximate one hour hike can take you to 3340m, the highest point visitors can reach. The trek isn’t difficult, but beware of uneven surface!  At 3000m you can stop off at two craters, which differ to each other considerably; one glows with red mars-like lava, while the other is coal-like black. Despite Mount Etna’s continuous activity and unpredictable nature, it is one of the very few volcanoes where visitors can travel so close to the summit.

Flickr | Mike Kirkham
Kilauea, Hawaii

Fortunately, catastrophic explosions are not in Kilauea’s nature due to its shield type. But if you have always wanted to see beautiful lava fountains and huge quantities of slow-moving lava flows, Kilauea is the place to visit! A perfect observatory for this lava spilling phenomenon is the Jagger Museum Overlook, located at the edge of the Kilauea caldera. The views here are without a doubt spectacular as you are far enough away to observe an actual eruption without being in danger! At night, bright orange magma illuminates the whole landscape, again a perfect photo moment! Within the caldera is a bubbly lava lake which changes in appearance and activity from the magma chamber below. In periods of high volcanic activity, the level of the lake will rise substantially, showing off an illuminous glow. This is actually one of the only lava lakes where visitors can view it so close and not by air. Hawaiian volcanic activity is essentially the most fascinating due to the complexity of the tectonic plates underneath.
Flickr | U.S. Geological Survey

Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland

Let’s not even try to pronounce it because it’s quite a mouthful! For those of you who remember, this volcanic eruption caused global chaos in 2010, when a huge pulse of ash filled the atmosphere, disrupting flights to and from northern Europe. For this reason, it was named the ‘eruption that stopped the world’.  In fact, this event put the volcano on the map! It is now visited by thousands of tourists a year, where visitors can reach the eruption site at an altitude of 2,300m for amazing panoramic views of neighbouring volcanoes and the Atlantic Ocean.  So called ‘super jeeps’ take tourists across the most beautiful glacial rivers, past glaciers and lava fields, stopping off at the famous Seljalandsfoss (again a mouthful to pronounce) waterfall . Who said volcanoes aren’t fun! So what type of volcano is Eyjafjallajökull? Well it’s a stratovolcano, the most common volcano for being explosive due to its conical shape and massive magma chamber beneath. 
Flickr | J McDyre
Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

This volcano is a big deal. The 1991 eruption was the most destructive of the 20th Century. In fact, there were considerable global environmental effects for years following the event; researchers have suggested the millions of tons of carbon dioxide that pumped into the atmosphere had the capacity to change the climate. But don’t let this scare you away. Today, Mount Pinatubo is a safe place to visit. Trekking the volcano is popular for tourists as there are many organised tours operated by local guides. The crater is a beautiful 2.7km lake that is filled with crystal clear water. It really is picturesque and considered the most stunning crater lake in the world! It is however advised not to swim in the lake, but perfect for taking photographs! Although the volcano is active, it is monitored and any dangerous activity will be predicted.
Flickr | Yabang Pinoy
Yellowstone Caldera, USA

This differs from any other volcano, appearance being the most obvious reason. Under Yellowstone National Park lies the biggest supervolcano on Earth. This volcano last erupted 640,000 years ago, leaving behind a collapsed giant crater. This sunken delight still provides a unique opportunity for tourism. The electromagnet energy under this hot spot produces a fascinating phenomenon; steam and hot water bubbles out of the earth like a cauldron in a colourful manner. This is the only volcanic location on our planet that produces such a thing! Yellowstone National Park is home to the most active geysers (hot water and steam exploding out of the earth). In fact everywhere you go you will see plumes of steam rising from the fields and edge of lakes. The most famous geyser, “Old Faithful” is located in the same vicinity and erupts every 90 minutes, so don’t forget your camera as this is a once in a lifetime photo moment!
Flickr | Moonjazz
So there you have it, five of the most fascinating volcanoes filled with extraordinary histories of eruptions. Volcano tourism is now really popular and something different than your regular beach holiday or city break. First and foremost, safety is important, so always listen to the tour guides. Be sure to research before you travel so you don’t end up going in the midst of an eruption!

 

By Sophia-Harri Nicholaou - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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