Lisa Owen

If the idea of getting close to a volcano appeals to you, you’ve come to the right place.  Across the world lies hundreds of active, dormant and extinct volcanoes – and there are many you can hike up, or peer down into their fiery crater. Here’s a guide to 10 volcanoes around the world you can walk on.

volcano

Concepcion Volcano, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

For a volcano that will test you physically as well as offer great views, head to Concepcion Volcano on Nicaragua’s Ometepe Island.

It’s a steep, sweaty climb but you get great views of the whole island from the windy summit, and can stare down into a sulphuric smoke emitting volcanic crater.

The return hike takes about eight hours including lunch and photo stops.

Masaya and Mombacho volcanos, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a hotbed of volcanic activity, and near the city of Granada lie two volcanoes you can visit.

Mombacho Volcano can be seen from most places across Granada but its peak is often shrouded in cloud. You can get three quarters of the way up Mombacho by a 4WD tour and then there are a couple of trails on the volcano. The easy trail takes you to a lookout over Lake Nicaragua, the water filled volcanic crater of Laguna de Apoya and Granada. You won’t get to see an active crater on this trail, but you will get up close to natural steam vents on the volcano’s slopes.

The more difficult trail to the top of Mombacho is called the Puma Trail. A guide is essential to access this trail.

nicaragua volcano

About 30 minutes from Granada is the Masaya Volcano. The volcano used to be over 3,000 ft high until an eruption collapsed the crater and it now stands at around 2,000 ft tall.

On the way up to the crater, you’ll have a chance to see the lava flow from the volcano’s 1772 eruption. Then you can stand right up close one of the volcano’s craters. On a good day, you’ll be able to see the sides of the crater. But some days, the crater’s sulphric smoke dominates the area and it’s all you can see and it can be hard to breathe. It’s a good idea to bring something to cover your mouth and nose.

After sunset, you may even be able to see lava glow at the bottom of the crater if you’re lucky. Night tours are run from Granada.

Kiluaea Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii

You can hike the lava lake created by the Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawai’i. The Kilauea Iki hike starts in humid forest inside Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park before descending into a flat and exposed lava lake. It’s an easy hike that only takes a couple of hours.

Before or after your hike, check out the Halema‘uma‘u Crater and the Thurston Lava Tube – also inside the national park. It’s worth seeing the Halema‘uma‘u Crater during both the day and night. At night, the crater glows red from the lava flowing inside. The national park is open 24 hours a day.

Haleakala Volcano, Maui, Hawaii

The Haleakala Volcano is best to check out at sunrise – it offers one of the best sunrises I’ve even seen.

You can drive right up to the summit along a winding sealed road – the night sky bright with stars as there’s no light pollution up here. From the summit, you’ll watch the sun rise up from behind the crater and above the clouds. You’re almost 10,000 ft above sea level up here!

The view is even better when the crowds clear out and you get an uninterrupted view over the crater.

You’ll need to get up here early to score a good spot to watch the sun rise. Also bring warm clothes – it gets very cold up here.

haleakala volcano

El Tutomo Mud Volcano, Cartagena, Colombia

For a volcano of a different kind (and an addition to your most random travel experiences), head to Cartagena in Colombia to check out the El Totumo Mud Volcano. Climb inside the crater, and you can bathe in the volcano’s warm, dense mud. The mud is so dense, you easily float. Then you have the opportunity to get a massage from locals while floating in the mud.  

To wash off, local ladies lead you down to the warm waters of a nearby thermal lake to clean the mud off you. You can arrange a driver to the mud volcano from Cartagena.

mud volcano in colombia

Thrihnukagigur Volcano, Iceland

The appeal of this particular volcano is you can go inside it (don’t worry, it’s extinct!) The Thrihnukagigur Volcano (try saying that five times!) is located about a 40 minute drive from Iceland’s capital Reyjkavik. It last erupted about 4,000 years ago and left behind a hollow crater.

The Inside the Volcano tour includes a 45 minute hike from the carpark up to the side of the crater, and then you’re lowered inside to have a look around. A fantastic and unique experience - one for the bucket list.

volcano in iceland

Agua and Pacaya Volcanoes, Antigua, Guatemala

You can see the Agua Volcano from most places in the Guatemalan city of Antigua, looming majestically over the beautiful colonial buildings. Next to the Agua Volcano is the Pacaya Volcano, which is highly active and regularly spews out lava.

You can hike both of these volcanoes for great views of Antigua and other surrounding volcanoes. Sunrise tours can be arranged easily in Antigua.

antigua volcano

Mt Bromo, Indonesia

Head over to Cemoro Lawang on the Indonesian island of Java, and you’ll find Mt Bromo belching white sulphuric smoke amid a valley of lava fields.

Mt Bromo’s last major eruption was in 2010 but it continues to spill sulphuric smoke from its yawning crater. If you dare to stand crater side and look over the edge, you’ll hear a dull roar emanating from the volcano.

You can reach the Mt Bromo crater by taking a sunrise Jeep tour from Cemoro Lawang. After seeing the sunrise from Mt Penanjakan, you’ll be driven to Mt Bromo and then you can take the short but strenuous hike up to the crater.

mt bromo

Things You Should Know:

  • If you’re visiting an active volcano, then you’ll probably want to bring something like a scarf to cover your mouth and nose so you don’t breathe in too much of the sulphuric smoke emanating from the crater. You should only stay up at a crater belching smoke for a couple of minutes.
  • If you’re hiking up a volcano, wear sturdy hiking or trail shoes with good grip. Volcanoes are very steep and often very slippery.
  • On the hiking note, the trails up to volcanos are often very exposed so you’ll want to bring a hat and sunscreen and plenty of water.
  • Be aware that weather changes quickly up at volcano summits and your view may be clouded in. It’s best to head out early on your volcano hike for the best chance of a view.
  • Many volcanoes require a mandatory guide for safety reasons. Check locally to see what is required before you hike.

 

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 60 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.