(Relaxnews) - For hikers seeking challenging terrain, breathtaking natural beauty and a sense of adventure, there is nothing like hiking up an active volcano. Below is a selection of destinations around the world where thrill-seekers can climb impressive fire-breathing peaks.
Hikers can head to this French-speaking country, part of the Mascarene Islands, to climb the Piton des Neiges, which is considered to be the highest peak in the Indian Ocean (3,070 meters). Those who make it to the top are rewarded by a panoramic view over the entire island. Next stop: Piton de la Fournaise, literally 'Peak of the Furnace,' an active volcano surrounded by a moon-like landscape.
One of the oldest of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote was created by volcanic activity and is made primarily of solidified lava. The island includes some 140 volcanoes. In Timanfaya National Park, home to an area known as the "Fire Mountains," adventurous hikers will find a rough landscape where access to certain areas is strictly controlled. Several guided hikes are available through the Spanish National Parks service.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Santorini Caldera is an attractive destination for hikers of all levels of expertise. Its two main volcanoes, Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni, are relatively small (less than 150 meters), which makes them ideal for hiking with kids. Several archeological sites acquaint visitors with the geological history of Santorini, which was formed through the Minoan volcanic eruption around 3,500 years ago.
The colossal Kamchatka Mountains are located in Eastern Siberia, between the Bering and Okhotsk Seas. The active volcanoes in this mountain range spew tons of lava each year and were only opened to the public in 1990, so tourists are still a rare sight. Between 1,500 and 5,000 meters high, the peaks in this region can be climbed only when the snow and ice have melted, which is the case only two months per year during the summer.
This nation located near the Arctic Circle is home to over 200 craters, including around 100 currently active volcanoes. Hikers can expect to climb through ochre-colored landscapes in the summer or through snow and ice in the winter. One volcano not to miss is Askja, which has two lakes within its crater, one hot and one cold.
In the heart of Maasai territory stands the Ol Doinyo Lengai, or "Mountain of God" in the tribal language. Hikers will find a surprising monochromatic landscape, as the black lava from the volcano turns white as it hits humid air. The Ngorongoro, another of Africa's most impressive active volcanoes, also offers a thrilling hike.
Created by volcanic activity, the Hawaiian Islands consist of five major fire-breathing mountains. Less experienced hikers will enjoy the relatively easy climb up Hualalai, while those who are more advanced can head to Luamakami and Puhia Pele, some of the deepest craters on the island. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities for relaxing after your hike, whether by admiring rivers of glowing lava from afar or by kicking back on the black sands of Hawaiian beaches.
Located around 1,000km from the Ecuadorian coast, this archipelago is home to around 40 volcanic islands. Thrill-seeking hikers can head to Isabela Island, where the volcanic activity is the most intense, to climb the 1,124m Sierra Negra ("Black Mountain"). Less ambitious climbers can opt for a trip to San Cristobal Island, with its 730 meter peak. Throughout the island, visitors can admire the wildlife the Galapagos Islands are known for, including marine iguanas, tortoises and a wide variety of birds.
The diversity of landscapes in this Central American nation is one of the factors that have made it a tourist hot spot. The volcanic peaks, which offer unparalleled views over the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, are nestled within the nature reserves and national parks that occupy around one third of the country. Poás, Rincón de la Vieja and Turrialba are among the active volcanoes awaiting hikers.
Part of the "Pacific Ring of Fire," Indonesia is home to around 150 volcanoes, including some of the world's most active. In particular, the island of Java is where hikers will find some of the most active fire-breathing mountains, many of which have a reputation for being dangerous. The island of Sulawesi also boasts several impressive volcanoes, including Soputan, Lokon and Mahawu.
Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's islands, is home to several volcanoes, including around 40 which are still active. Particularly eager hikers can also opt to climb the 2,300 meter Mount Fuji, Japan's highest peak and among the country's most famous landmarks. In the winter, outdoor sports enthusiasts can even enjoy cross-country skiing on the mountain.