8 of the world’s most spectacular volcanic landscapes

Date Posted: 20/08/2014

Pictured: Emerald Lakes, New Zealand.

Volcanic activity can create some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes - we discover eight volcanic sites; some extinct, some dormant and others still very active.

1.    Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

Mount Tongariro, part of Tongariro National Park, provides one of New Zealand’s most popular tracks for hiking.  

With sites such as the Red Crater and Emerald Lakes, you’ll find beauty here difficult to match.

With the coloured lakes, moonlike terrain, and tiny alpine plants hardly visible, you begin to see why producers cast this area as Mordor in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

2.    Thrihnukagigur Volcano, Iceland

Have you ever wanted to venture inside a volcano?  If you do, the Thrihnukagigur volcano is for you.

This is currently the only known volcano in the world where you can climb down inside.  

After you’ve hired one of the approved guides, you hike up to the mouth of the crater, then harnessed in, you walk the plank into a window-washing type lift where you are slowly lowered through the hole to the magma chamber almost 400 feet below.

Illuminated with portable lights, you will be able to see the chamber in its full glory.

3.    Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, Bora Bora

The islands of French Polynesia all have a common origin, submarine volcanism, and the island of Bora Bora has one of the oldest volcanoes of the Polynesian archipelago.

Twin-peaked Mount Pahia, standing 2,158 feet tall and Mount Otemanu, with its highest peak at 2,385 feet, are the main remnants of this extinct volcano.

When the basaltic slopes collapsed into the sea by the phenomenon of subsidence, it initiated the creation of an incredible lagoon all around Bora Bora.  

It is the crystal clear blue waters, overwater bungalows, and natural privacy that draw many travellers here each year.  

Pictured: Mount Pinatubo.

4.    Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

Mount Pinatubo last erupted in 1991.  While there was horrific damage and its effects felt worldwide, it also created the beautiful crater lake named Lake Pinatubo.

You’ll start your journey in a four-wheel drive vehicle, but then it’s up to you to hike in tropical rainfalls and cross knee-deep streams.  

Once you’re there, a refreshing swim in the lake and the views promise to make it all worth it.

5.    Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island, Africa

Reunion's active volcano, the Piton de la Fournaise, looms above the southern part of the island. It is one of the world's most active volcanoes and erupted as recently as 2010.

There is a road that takes you right up to the edge of the caldera surrounding the volcano's active cone, which tops out at 8,600 feet above sea level.

The caldera is a few miles wide, and you can hike down into it and up to the volcano's summit.

A helicopter tour is also an awe-inspiring way to experience this amazing sight and such tours are readily available for those who fancy a ride over this bubbling cauldron.  

Piton de la Fournaise bursts orange and yellow lava all day long and at night, the site is said to be as amazing as the best fireworks show.

6.    Mount Stromboli, Sicily

Mount Stromboli, just off the north coast of Sicily, contains one of three active volcanoes in Italy.  

You can take a day cruise out to the island to watch it erupt. Once on the island, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike up the volcano - although if it is active, the summit will be closed.  

Alternatively, take a stroll along the beautiful long black beaches and explore the quaint traditional villages on the island.

Pictured: Cotopaxi.

7.    Cotopaxi, Ecuador

At almost 20,000 feet high, Cotopaxi is the second highest mountain in Ecuador and popular with climbers looking for adventure.  

Many operators offer guided climbs and for those seeking an even greater thrill, night climbs are also available.  

Halfway up the mountain is a climbers’ hut, Refugio Jose Rivas, where many climbers start their journey. From here it takes about five and a half hours to reach the summit, which offers amazing views. 

8.    Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Maui is best known for its beaches but like all the Hawaiian islands, is able to offer a lot more than sand and the ocean.  

An exciting aspect of Maui is Haleakala National Park, a place full of eerie volcanic landscapes, with peaks stretching above the clouds and 10,000 feet above the sunny beaches.

Haleakala last erupted in 1790 but is considered an active volcano and is still monitored.

The road to Haleakala climbs quickly and soon you'll find yourself above the clouds, looking down on fields and beaches.

With the crater in view, you’ll be able to see streaks of red, yellow, grey and black that trace recent and ancient lava and ash flows.  

This list of group holiday ideas and inspiration was compiled by VirtualTourist.com, a resource for travellers seeking an insider’s perspective.

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