Volcanoes are one of Earth’s most terrifying—and exhilarating—spectacles. These vents in the ground issue lava, ash, and poisonous gases at temperatures as high as 2,100°F (1,150°C), are the closest we can ever get to the churning engine that keeps our planet running. What causes them to erupt?
Magma, or molten rock, collects in chambers beneath Earth’s surface. As magma accumulates, pressure in the magma chamber increases. If the pressure gets high enough, overlying rocks break, allowing the magma to escape as lava.
1. Mount Etna
This is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The explosive activity on Mount Etna is no exception. Etna is breathtaking, whether viewed from afar in a bar in Sicily’s picturesque town of Taormina, or up close and personal after a somewhat strenuous climb up one of its lung-busting inclines, Etna is breathtaking. Going up the brooding volcano during the day is one thing, but going up at night is entirely different. Etna is ideal for daytime exploration when she is quiet. One of the best times to visit Etna is at night when it’s rumbling when the crater provides an impressive natural firework display as lava spews and spurts into the midnight sky.
2. Mount Tongariro
Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand attracts visitors from all over the world. The route is graced with ancient lava flows, billowing steam vents, and emerald-colored lakes loomed over by unfathomably vast mountains. The area is known as the volcanic mountain range, considered New Zealand’s most igneous area. In the movie Lord of the Rings, clouds and jagged volcanic rock formations from here can be seen. Lakes so spectacularly green they could be mistaken for grass until you reach Mount Tongariro’s central crater, with its steaming fumaroles and sulfur-scented air. Mount Etna is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful volcanoes to visit, and it is the ideal location to appreciate the raw wonderfulness of the Earth.
3. Pacaya Volcano
The gentle plume of smoke plummeting from Pacaya’s peak can often be seen for miles across Guatemala; beneath the plume is a fiery pit of molten magma, bubbling and brewing and heating the surrounding lava fields. Although the volcano is impressive, the Pizza Pacaya Pizzeria catches the interest of most visitors. Head into Guatemala City to explore its many museums and unwind with evening drinks in an authentic old bar where you can rub shoulders with locals when your legs are tired after walking the ashy mountainside.
Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the tallest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain on Earth. Although it is not actively spewing lava like many of the world’s explosive volcanoes, Kilimanjaro is one of the most spectacular due to its bucket-list-worthy reputation. Every year, approximately around 35,000 people attempt to climb this incredible volcano, but only one-third reach the cloud-topped peak. Hike up the lofty flanks draped in exotic flora and hardened lava until you reach Kilimanjaro’s inner crater. When you reach the summit, a beautiful, brilliant white blanket of stratus clouds hangs over Earth like an ethereal tablecloth, giving you a true top-of-the-world feeling.
5. Kawah Ijen
Kawah Ijen in Indonesia is a blue lava volcano. It is home to one of the most breathtaking and thrillingly elemental volcanic phenomena. When the Sulphur found at this dazzling spectacle reacts with the fiery volcanic temperatures, it burns, creating the illusion of electric blue lava. There is no other place like it in the world. You can hike to the crater’s edge to explore the Jurassic-like terrain and catch a glimpse of the milky aquamarine waters of the otherworldly crater lake.
Travel the world and enjoy life. These places are a must to visit in one’s lifetime!