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Walking Guide to Mount Etna, Sicily. Notes from our June 2008 excursions

A captivating landscape, beautiful, exciting, and thoroughly frustrating!

It is, perhaps, the ambition of all volcano enthusiasts to get that perfect photograph - to witness an eruption at close quarters, but not too close! And our 2008 excursion to one of the world's most active volcanoes was no exception.

With three visits to Mount Etna under our belt and, fortunately for us, three eruptions, the start of 2008 saw us booking our budget flights to Sicily with Ryanair again.

Ash Eruption from Mount Etna - June 2008

"We really should go somewhere different" we kept telling ourselves, but the allure of Mount Etna, our latest obsession, was just too great to resist! Next, a swift e-mail to Davide, our friend & proprietor of Hotel Corsaro, the highest hotel on Mount Etna: “Dear Davide. In early June there is going to be a nice eruption on Etna. I know this because Mat & Niki are coming to stay. Don't tell anyone until we’ve have confirmed our hotel booking though, because as soon as news gets out, the hotel will be full!” As predicted, the next day saw a suitably amusing posting on the Hotel Corsaro website, and our booking was confirmed. A quick visit to Holiday Autos and our hire car was sorted – with a Sicilian Car Hire outfit called Targarent.

Watching volcanoes from a distance:

The thing about going to visit a volcano, is that you never actually know what it’s going to be doing when you get there. As the time of one’s visit draws near a certain eager anticipation takes hold, and one is overcome by a moderately obsessive need for information on the latest volcanic activity. With Mount Etna, information is remarkably easy to get hold of. The INGV, Sicily’s official body for monitoring/reporting on Etna, Stromboli and the other volcanoes in the region, has a most useful website, with a series of webcams of Etna, webcams of Stromboli and seismic monitoring of the volcanoes available on-line. The regular written reports are also invaluable – especially if your Italian is up to scratch. The Etna Trekking Webcams are excellent offering, at the time of writing, three good views of Etna. Moreover, they tend to adjust them on a regular basis so that they point at the latest activity!

Safe excursions on active volcanoes:

By now we should be able to class ourselves as fairly well seasoned Etnaphiles, but the reports we had received suggested that the latest eruption was less than predictable, and that a guide was advisable for our initial visit ot the new eruption. We chose to hire a personal guide via Volcano Discovery for our first day on the mountain, sharing the (€300) cost with another Volcano Discovery client. Our guide, Marco, was excellent, although his services were perhaps needed more by our companion for the day than by ourselves!

Below are further details of our exploits.


A week's itinerary on Mount Etna