5 BEST PLACES TO SEE A VOLCANO ERUPT
If you have not yet heard of volcanic tourism, here are the best places to safely experience the fascinating power of volcanic eruption in person
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: Asa Rodger, Piermanuele Sberni
23 October 2019
About 1,500 active volcanoes exist worldwide. Most of them are found at the meeting point of tectonic plates as volcanoes remain the natural phenomena that perhaps reminds us best that Earth is alive. If you’re planning a visit to any active volcanoes, be mindful of the local culture as some peaks are sacred to the native population. Others are overwhelmingly dynamic, so be sure to track the volcanic activity and to follow the local rules.
Volcanic tourism is an exciting experience and often an unpredictable force of nature. To avoid dangers travellers must always follow the rules and warnings of authorities and stay safe. Remember that when it comes to volcanic eruptions not all dangers are visible. Volcanic hazards include unstable ground and toxic gasses release. Make sure to book a trip with registered tour guides and avoid the plane tours that disregard the authorities’ rules to make profit.
If you follow the rules and avoid dangers, volcanic tourism can take you to very dynamic destinations. These are some of the most popular locations to witness a volcanic eruption.
1. Italy is the home of some of the most visited volcanoes in the world including Mount Etna and Mount Vesuvius. NOMADSofORIGIN Magazine shines light on the 924m Mount Stromboli, located north of Sicily on an island known as the “lighthouse of the Mediterranean”. A three-hour guided tour leads travellers to the peak where they are greeted with frequent mild eruptions illuminating the sky. We recommend going at sunset and making a stop at the safe platform that allows a peek down at the bursting lava fountain.
2. Costa Rica is a country with vivid natural beauty, where the Arenal volcano attracts the interest of many travellers. The explosive cone is located at a three-hour car ride from the capital, San José, and its aesthetics are often compared to the globally renowned Mount Fuji. Arenal was dormant volcano for centuries until it erupted unexpectedly in 1968 bringing devastating destruction to the small town of Tabacón. Today guided tours lead visitors through trail tracks, across the lava fields from past eruptions. The diverse rain forests are filled with exotic flora and fauna, waterfalls and hot springs.
3. Japan easily comes to mind when thinking of volcanic tourism. Around 60 miles from Tokyo visitors find the iconic, 12,388 feet tall Mount Fuji. The fascinatingly symmetrical stratovolcano has been dormant since its 1707 eruption. UNESCO proclaimed it a World Heritage site describing it as a “sacred place and source of artistic inspiration”. Alternatives to Fuji are the Sakurajima volcano or Mount Aso, accessible through a designated road and via cable cars. Mount Aso is an active volcano with one of the largest calderas in the world, visited by tourists from all corners of the world every year.
4. New Zealand is where travellers find another easily accessible volcano in the Bay of Plenty. Whakaari (White Island) is active but a bit more stable and safer to visit. It has been heavily monitored since its last eruption in 2013 and proclaimed as ‘restless’. The gaps in its crater walls allow travellers to visit straight inside the volcano without doing any climbing. It rises to 321m but measured from its submarine base the number peaks to 1,600m above the sea floor. Whakaari offers tourists views of hot rocks and springs, bubbling mud, acid pool and steaming fumaroles.
5. Iceland hosts 30 active volcanoes and intense volcanic tourism despite the warnings of authorities. The largest recent event that sparked global interest was the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull eruption. This volcano has an area of over 100 km² completely covered by an ice cap and has been frequently erupting since the last glacial period. Iceland is where a third of the global lava output occurs. Other notable volcanoes on the island include Bárðarbunga, Hekla, Grímsvötn, Krafla and more.
NOMADSofORIGIN Magazine urges volcanic tourists to prioritise safety. Whichever volcanic site on Earth you may choose to visit, follow the rules, respect the locals’ sacred beliefs and remember to take a moment to admire. Seeing volcanoes up close tends to be an overwhelming experience so take your time to just be present in the moment and take your time to let the sight sink in.