Volcanoes, from sleeping giants to extremely “violent” volcanoes which erupt on a regular basis. You would think that you can only find volcanoes in Asia, but nothing is less true. Even in Europe there are volcanoes and also there, these ticking time bombs regularly cause sparkling fireworks. Some of these samples are not accessible to the public because of safety. But some volcanoes can certainly be seen and experienced from close by. Walking around the top of a sleeping volcano or on the crater rim of an active volcano, with the lava literally flying around your head. Join JustGo.Travel on a visit to 10 hotspots!
The Vesuvius in Italy, Mount Saint Helens in the United States, the Thrihnukagigur and Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, the Kīlauea on Hawaii, the Mt. Bromo and Mt. Merapi in Indonesia, Mount Yasur on Vanuatu, the Arenal in Costa Rica and the Mount Tongariro in New Zealand.
The 10 volcanoes in a glance!
1. Vesuvius | Italy
In August 79 AD, this giant caused the destruction of the Roman cities Pompeii and Herculaneum and resulted in the death of thousands of inhabitants.
Since the last eruption in 1944, Mt. Vesuvius is “sleeping” again for a number of years. Nevertheless, he can awaken again at any moment and thus forms a big danger for the city of Naples and its inhabitants, which lies at the base of the volcano. If you are traveling around near Naples, do not forget to take a stroll to the top of the 1281m high strato volcano Mt. Vesuvius.
From the ticket office it is a fierce 15-20 minute climb to the top. Unfortunately, no sparkling fireworks at the top, but you can peek into the crater and enjoy the view of the city of Naples and the Gulf of Naples.
2. Thrihnukagigur | Iceland
Iceland, the land of fire and ice. The island consists of about 140 volcanoes, of which about 30 volcanoes are active, and are regularly erupting. Often they are not breaking news because they do not directly endanger the environment. It is therefore often very special to experience a volcanic eruption from up close, let alone descend into a volcano. But in Iceland it is possible!
On about 30km of Reykjavik’s capital you will find the Thrihnukagigur, a volcano that erupted more than 4,000 years ago. After a 6 minute descent with a window cleaner platform you will be in the middle of a huge magma chamber and can you see the beautiful colored walls.
After walking around for about 30 minutes and dozens of pictures later, you will stand safe on top of the volcano again and with a very special experience richer!
3. Mount Saint Helens | United States
In the state of Washington in the United States lies Mount Saint Helens. Until 1980 a 2950m high strato volcano, but since the top collapsed during the well-known devastating eruption in May 1980, the volcano still reaches “only” a height of 2550m today.
As soon as you take the exit from Seattle or Portland, you will see Mount Saint Helens in the distance. When you are driving across the Highway 504 you will pass through the “blast zone”, past various viewpoints and you can still see a part of the massive destruction. Trees are lying against the hills like matches and remains of the devastating lahars (mudflows). If you want to learn more about the history of the volcano, eyewitness reports and volcanic activity measurements, do not forget to stop at one of the information centers: the Mount Saint Helens Visitor Center, the Forest Learning Center and / or the Johnston Ridge Observatory.
At your end point, the Johnston Ridge Observatory, you can watch the giant yourself from nearby and during a walk over the Eruption Trail you can see with your own eyes how the environment is still recovering from this large eruption. Enjoy the beautiful views of the crater and the valleys around it!
4. Arenal | Costa Rica
This 1670m high strato volcano is located 150km northwest of the capital of San José. And until 2010, this stratovolcano was even the most active volcano of Costa Rica: the Arenal.
For years, every night a true spectacle took place at this volcano. Thus, with a little bit of good luck and bright weather, you witnessed an eruption almost every day. Since 2010, the volcano is in a so-called “resting phase” and no eruptions have occurred. Nevertheless, you can still view this volcano from all sides. While you are walking through the rainforest of the Parque Nacional Volcán Arenal, hanging on a zipline, while visiting the nearby town of La Fortuna, or relaxing in one of the many hot springs that can be found in this volcanic area.
5. Eyjafjallajökull | Iceland
Who still remembers the enormous ash cloud above the European airspace? The E13, as this volcano is also called, became world news in 2010 because of the eruption that caused a huge ash cloud and halted a large part of the air traffic in Europe for days.
In the meantime, the volcano is no longer active visibly, but it is still possible to catch a glimpse from this monster from the top of the Valahnúkur in Thorsmork National Park or when you cross the Route 1 along the Eyjafjallajökull Erupts museum between Hella and Vik. The 1666m high volcano is covered by the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, and now it is waiting for the next eruption. Just like the Icelanders.
6. Mount Tongariro | New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, a 1967m high volcano located in the Tongariro National Park on the northern island of New Zealand.
Most volcanoes only have one top and a crater. However, the Mount Tongariro is really the champion. Together with the Mt. Ngauruhoe (2287m) and Mt. Ruapehu (2797m) the volcano is part of the enormous Tongariro Volcano Complex. Consisting of at least twelve tops and multiple craters.
The red-colored Red Crater, the brightly colored Emerald Lakes and the Blue Lake. During the 19.4km long Tongariro Alpine Crossing you can enjoy the view of this volcano and its many craters.
Do you still have some time and energy left? Then take the turn to the Mount Tongario at the Red Crater. Or climb the Mt. Ngauruhoe from the South Crater, the mountain which was used as Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies!
7. Mt. Bromo | Java, Indonesia
Despite that a visit to the the 2329m high Mt. Bromo is very touristy and you will need to share the magical moment with dozens of other travelers, you may not miss a sunrise at Mt. Bromo.
In the very early morning you leave by jeep from Yogyakarta to Mount Penanjakan. From this 400m higher mountain than Bromo, you will have a good view of the crater. On arrival, it is a small walk up the mountain, among other sellers of warm clothes, and do you need to wait for the sunrise. As soon as the first sunrays start to show, the caldera and volcanoes will slowly become visible in front of you. With the constantly changing colors, definitely a a beautiful view!
After that it is time to hop into into the jeep, which will take you to the sea of sand at the base of Mt. Bromo. As soon as you get out of the jeep, you will have the idea that you are in the middle of a huge moon landscape and in the distance you can already see the crater. On foot or by horse you follow your way to the stairs which will lead you to Mt. Bromo. After climbing the steep staircase, your effort will be rewarded with a glimpse of a huge bubbling crater. Welcome to Mt. Bromo!
Ask the guide if he / she takes you to a place where it is not so busy and you where you have a view of the volcanoes. The sun is rising exactly on the other side of the volcano, and before you know it, you are looking at the “wrong” side, to the rising sun instead of at the volcanoes.
8. Kīlauea | Big Island Hawaii, United States
A bubbling lava lake, steaming holes, the smell of sulfur, old (and new) lava flows and a landscape like you have just landed on the moon. In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Big Island you will find it all!
The largest island of Hawaii does not only consists of 5 volcanoes, but here you will find one of the most active volcanoes in the world: the Kiluea. Since 1983, this volcano is erupting continuously out of 2 craters, and regularly provides a spectacle which you can witness as a traveler (if you are lucky).
Surprise yourself about the huge amounts of old lava while you are driving along the Crater Rim Drive and the Chain of Craters Road, walk over the only 50-year old lava lake in the Kilauea’iki crater, visit an old lava tube , take a look at Kapalana village which was flooded by lava in 1990 or jump into a helicopter for a flight over the Pu’u’ō’ō crater and devastating lava flows. Be sure to visit the Halema’uma’u viewing point at the Jaggar Museum twice. During the day you will see tonnes of ash being shot into the air from the Halema’uma’u crater and at night you can enjoy the red glow above this active crater.
9. Mt. Merapi | Java, Indonesia
On the island of Java in Indonesia you can find the most active volcano of this country: the 2930m high active strato volcano Mt. Merapi, otherwise stated “mountain of fire” and from which smoke is rising from the top about 300 days a year. Despite the last eruption in 2010, the environment is really green again and only the bare fallen trees are the silent witnesses of this eruption.
But with an experienced guide, you can take a walk through this vastly green and reforested area. Walking along the ancient lava flows and remains of devastating mudflows, you try to imagine the enormous power and destruction that can be caused by an eruption.
For the real adventurous people among us it is also possible, provided that the activity of the volcano allows it, to climb Mt. Merapi together with a guide. Since the last eruption in 2010, the climb has become even more difficult and it is no longer possible to reach the actual top without the use of ropes. This fierce tour ends just under the top and takes about 4-5 hours, depending on your level of fitness. You are leaving just after midnight, so you will be underneath the top to see the spectacular sunrise. The descent takes about 3 hours, depending on your level of fitness and how much energy you have got left.
After your walk, visit the seismological center in Kaliurang village. Here you can see how they measure and monitor the “heartbeat” of Mt. Merapi!
10. Mount Yasur | Tanna, Vanuatu
Have you always wanted to stay on the crater rim of a very active volcano and where the lava literally is flying around you every few minutes? Then this is the place to be for you! The 361m high Mt. Yasur, a strato volcano on the island of Tanna, located on the Vanuatu archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.
From your guesthouse at the base of the volcano, all day long you will hear the rumbling and you will see all kinds of liquid rock being launched into the sky. Then, after a 4WD ride along the flanks of the volcano, you will be at the top of a very active volcano. Immediately you are standing face to face with a huge ash cloud which is rising from the volcano in front of you. Together with your guide you will climb the last meters to the first viewpoint, where you can see the violence of nature from a slightly larger distance.
After that, i is time for the real job, and if you want, you can search for a spot along the crater rim. And then …… a huge roar below your feet, followed by an explosion and a fountain of flying rocks! For hours, full of excitement and adrenaline and just tens of meters away, you are looking at 4 craters which erupt separately or simultaneously. Shockwaves, pieces of lava which you hear falling into the crater and rising and rising ash clouds. Nature at full force!
As soon as the sun has set, watching the eruptions is even more impressive and you will be treated to a true fireworks show by fountains of extremely hot red rocks! An ultimate experience!
Visiting an active volcano is absolutely a unique and amazing experience. But keep in mind that it is an extremely dangerous undertaking. To avoid accidents or worse, it is very important to do some homework and find out in advance:
- what the current activity is and
- how to visit the (active) volcano in the most secure way as possible.
In some cases, it is therefore very wise to plan a visit with a local guide. He is aware of the current activity of a volcano and can keep, if possible, stay in contact with the local seismological center during the climb / walk. This allows him or her to evacuate directly at any increased activity.
Would you dare to visit one of these volcanoes?