Majestic. Astonishing. Humbling. Few natural wonders are as breathtaking as a volcano. But, as impressive as might be, they also act as powerful reminders of the unstoppable forces that shape our planet. That’s why you may think that volcanoes do not exactly make for ideal touristic destinations. Well, you’d be wrong! Many of the most emblematic calderas in the world have been dormant for quite a long time, turning into unforgettable and out-of-the-beaten-track destinations for adventurers eager to enjoy such amazing scenery. You in? Then join us on a thrilling (and perfectly safe!) look at some of the coolest volcanos to visit around the world!
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
One of the most famous volcanoes of the whole world and (probably) Africa’s most photographed treasure, it’s hard to beat the raw, wild beauty of Mount Kilimanjaro towering the magnificent fauna and flora that sprawls across the savannah below. This sleeping giant — which is also the continent’s tallest mountain, almost 20,000 feet tall — attracts countless visitors every year to see, even if from afar, its iconic snow-tipped peak. Two of its three cones are extinct, and the other one hasn’t had activity for the last 150,000 years, so that’s some peace of mind right there. But beware: climbing the might Kilimanjaro is no walk in the park! You will need to book a guide, wear proper clothes, and be prepared for the inevitable altitude sickness you will have to endure during your adventure!
Mount Vesuvius, Italy
Forever known among history buffs everywhere for the destruction that engulfed the Roman settlements of Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79, Mount Vesuvius overlooks the city of Naples. Standing at more than 4,200 feet high, this impressive volcano is located at the heart of Mount Vesuvius National Park, a beautiful extension dotted with wineries and farms. Climbing its slopes has been a thing since the 17th century, so it’s not a surprise that it’s still one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. Joining the experience is quite easy, with plenty of buses to take you to a ticket office located at 3,400 feet above sea level. From there, anybody can follow the main trail — no hiking experience required — to the crater, marveling during the 40 minute-walk at such sights as the Bay of Naples, the Apennine mountains, Valle dell’ Inferno, Punta Nasone, and, of course, the ruins of the doomed Pompeii.
Mount Fuji, Japan
A true sight to behold, words fail to begin to describe this evocative legendary volcano located 100 km southwest of Tokyo on Honshu Island. Although it’s still considered active, Mount Fuji has been completely quiet since 1708, and that’s why hundreds of thousands of pilgrims climb to its peak every year. It’s said that Fuji is a very accessible volcano to visit, as long as you take advantage of the trails and facilities that open every summertime — when there’s less snow to deal with — and engage in a trek that can take between 5 and 10 hours to accomplish. Apart from being a true paradise for alpinists, good ol’ Mt. Fuji also serves as a ski resort, a natural shrine, and a paragliding meeting point for plenty of thrill-seekers!
Mount Teide, Spain
The ever-popular Canary Islands constitute one of Spain’s most awe-inspiring and unique territories due to its volcanic nature. Visiting any of them will make you feel like you’re roaming another planet due to their distinct ecosystem dotted with astonishing geological treasures that you will not find anywhere else in Europe. Among all of them, Mount Teide on the isle of Tenerife stands out from the rest. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, we’re talking about the country’s tallest mountain (12,200 feet) and one of its most popular tourist attractions. So, if you want to visit, you better wake up early! Although visitors can enlist a cable car for most of the ascent, they can’t tame this beast without trekking on foot for around 3 more hours (give or take) to reach the summit. Our advice? Give it a try from September to November…you don’t want to make that kind of extenuating exercise during Canary Island’s scorching summer!
You may also like: 6 Places to Visit for Amazing Travel Photos!
Mount Kelimutu, Indonesia
About 7 miles away from the village of Moni, in the Indonesian island of Flores, you’ll find one of nature’s most fascinating and gorgeous displays: three stunning lakes, located atop Mount Kelimutu’s three cones, featuring bright and unexpected colors. Which colors, you say? Who knows! The unique combination of the oxidation level of the water with its rich content of iron and manganese results in an ever-changing and unpredictable pattern of different tones. Throughout the years, visitors have trekked to the top of this compound volcano to find the lakes tinted with green, blue, red, or even black, white, and chocolatey brown! You will not know which colors these “boiling lakes” — which is what Kelimutu means — will display for you until you reach the summit, which makes this adventure a truly surprising one!
We’ll end this exciting exploration with a true spelling bee nightmare located in the Icelandic region of Suðurland. Curiously enough, the infamous Eyjafjallajökull (or “Island Mountain Glacier”) will always be seen by many as an “un-touristic” volcano, given the headaches it brought back in 2012 when it forced the cancellation of most European flights due to dense plumes of smoke coming from its interior. Talk about a bad time to book cheap international flights to Iceland! Apart from this vacay-ruining, one-off event (the glacial ice cap that covers its caldera is so thick that the lava is not able to melt it), this 5,417 feet-tall giant stands as one of Iceland’s most beautiful sights, as well as a good opportunity for hikers from all conditions. Or you can book a jeep tour with a specialized guide to get to the summit without even having to walk. The choice is yours!
Know of any other awe-inspiring volcanos to visit elsewhere in the world? Tells about it in the comments!