Top 3 Vulcanos to Visit for an Adventurous Holiday


Here is another beautiful and detailed travel article by my talented mom! Being a big fan of adventurous holidays, I cannot wait to start climbing these vulcanoes! You can find the original version, in Romanian, below and the translated English version after. Hope you'll love it as much as I do!


ROMANIAN


Putine lucruri sunt mai impresionante decât sa vezi cu ochii tai un vulcan. Daca îti doresti sa pleci într-o vacanta deosebita anul acesta, afla ca unii dintre vulcani pot fi admirati nu doar din fotografii sau clipuri video, ci chiar de aproape, fiind deschisi pentru explorare. Astazi v-am pregatit top 3 cei mai impresionanti vulcani pe care trebuie sa ii vezi macar o data in viata!


Personal am reusit sa vizitez doar primul din lista, Vulcanul Etna, dar, dupa cum veti vedea in articol, itinerariul este deja pregatit si pentru ceilalti doi!


1. Vulcanul Etna - Sicilia, Italia


Dintre toate punctele de atractie din Sicilia, Vulcanul Etna este cel mai fascinant. Frecventele eruptii pot face uneori imposibila vizitarea craterului, Etna fiind unul dintre cei mai mari si mai activi vulcani din Europa.


Numele provine de la cuvantul grecesc 'Aitne', care inseamna „a arde” si era considerat de catre grecii antici ca fiind fieraria lui Hefaistos (Zeul Focului). Chiar si astazi, Etna produce o dara de fum vizibila cel putin pana la jumatatea insulei.



Vulcanul Etna se ridica la 3350 de metri altitudine iar pentru a ajunge in varf sunt trei segmente de parcurs: drumul pana la refugiul Sapienza (1923 m - cu masina proprie sau cu autobuzul), se ia apoi funicularul pana la 2500 m iar mai departe, drumul se strabate in autobuzele 4×4 pana in zona craterelor aflate la peste 3000 de metri altitudine.


Deoarece am avut o masina inchiriata la dispozitie, am inceput urcarea catre refugiul Sapienza dinspre Zafferena Etnea. Drumul este incredibil: cei 20 de km pe care i-am parcurs pana la refugiul Sapienza te conduc de la nivelul marii pana la aproape 2000 de metri trecand prin zone de clima si vegetatie diversa, incepand cu cea mediterana si pana la zona alpina. In aceasta parte a vulcanului, efectele eruptiilor recente sunt vizibile pe masura ce drumul urca. Dovada ca lava de la ultimele eruptii a ajuns pana aproape de baza vulcanului se observa prin padurile tinere si tufisurile care inlocuiesc acum vegetatia mai veche. Dar pe masura ce urci si te apropii de refugiu, dispare orice urma de vegetatie, totul in jurul tau transformandu-se intr-un peisaj selenar.



Refugiul Sapienza este locul pana la care se poate merge cu masina sau cu autobuzul. Aici este amenajata o parcare generoasa, sunt cateva restaurante si magazine si cel mai important – statia de funicular care te duce la 2500 de metri in cateva minute. Unii mai aventurosi urca pana la 2500 de pe jos, urmand o poteca aflata in apropierea stalpilor funicularului. Odata ajuns la 2500 de metri, sunteti imbarcati in masini 4×4 si insotiti de ghizii vulcanologi va indreaptati catre conurile vulcanului, la peste 3000 de metri.


Cand ajungi sus ti se va schimba tot ceea ce stiai despre vulcani. Cine se asteapta sa vada un con vulcanic, realitatea ii va oferi altceva: o culme muntoasa, aproape plata si din care apar conurile vulcanice. Da, Etna are patru cratere active: Bocca Nuova, Voragine, Nord-Est si Sud-Est, chiar daca de jos se observa doar unul.


Pretul unui bilet de funicular este 27.50 € iar daca se include si transportul cu 4×4 si ghizi, pretul este de 57.50 €.


2. Vulcanul Fuji (Muntele Sfant), Japonia


Fuji este doar denumirea stratovulcanului din topul muntelui. În realitate, el mai este compus din înca doi vulcani activi numiti Kofuji si Komitake.


Acest vulcan conic este inzapezit în cea mai mare parte a anului, si, prin urmare, greu de vizitat. Cu toate acestea, în lunile iulie si august, muntele este deschis tuturor celor care vor sa mearga sus, pe 3776 de metri de roca si cenusa. Pentru a ajunge în vârful muntelui Fuji, poti urca pe oricare din rutele: Yoshidaguchi, Subashiri, Gotemba și Fujinomiya. Dintre aceste patru cai cea mai populara este Yoshidaguchi si urmând-o poti ajunge în vârful muntelui în aproxmativ 12 ore.




Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Shojiko, Motosuko si Yamanakako sunt cele cinci lacuri ale muntelui Fuji. Fiecare din ele reprezinta un loc excelent pentru a admira muntele Fuji, iar pentru o experienta turistica formidabila si o masa delicioasa la un restaurant cu specific pescaresc, zona lacului Kawaguchi nu ar trebui sa-ti lipseasca din itinerariu.


Cea mai buna perioada pentru a urca pe Muntele Fuji este in sezonul de vara in lunile iulie si august. Pe parcursul acestor 2 luni, muntele este de obicei fara zapada, vremea este relativ blanda si cabanele montane sunt deschise pentru turisti. Atunci când orasele se sufoca la 40°C, temperaturile din Muntele Fuji ating pragul de înghet. Vizitarea in afara sezonului nu este recomandata. Din octombrie si pana la mijlocul lunii iunie urcarea pana la varf este extrem de periculoasa datorita vantului si a conditiilor meteorologice.


Din fericire, exista optiuni si pentru cei care nu îsi doresc sa se aventureze pâna la cota 3776. Traseele de la baza muntelui sunt mai puțin abrupte, fiind potrivite unei excursii pe jos, în orice moment al anului.


Venind dinspre Tokyo, ajungand in gara Shin-Fuji luati autobuzul spre gara 5 pe Mt. Fuji.

Din acest punct, se incepe excursia pe jos sub un cer plin de nori. Pe munte exista 10 statii, acestea fiind cabane montane, in stil japonez, cu cazare. Daca doriti sa dormiti într-una din cabanele montane, trebuie sa faceti o rezervare în avans.



Pentru a prinde rasaritul, se porneste devreme la drum. Personalul va serveste micul dejun in cabana si mancare de luat ”pentru mai târziu”. Puloverele de lâna, o haina de ploaie, caciula, manusile si lanterna sunt lucruri care nu trebuie sa va lipsesca din bagaj. Ajunsi înainte de rasarit veti avea parte de o priveliste spectaculoasa, parand ca intreaga lume este la picioarele voastre!


3. Vulcanul Kilauea, Insulele Hawaii


Acesta este unul dintre cei mai activi vulcani din întreaga lume, iar cea mai veche lava expusa are peste 2800 de ani. Exista în zona numeroase hoteluri si locuri de picnic, de unde poti admira vulcanul, iar daca ai noroc poti vedea chiar si o eruptie a acestuia.


Vulcanul Kilauea, considerat de hawaieni resedinta zeitei Pele, are o „activitate eruptiva”, constanta înca din ianuarie 1983. Kilauea este cel mai mare vulcan activ de pe planeta.



Lava se prelinge pe sub crusta neagra, iar in unele locuri, de-a lungul mileniilor, s-au format tuburi prin care te poti plimba ca printr-o galerie de mina. Varsandu-se in ocean, lava fierbinte da nastere unui spectacol uimitor: jerbe de aburi, zgomot infernal, valuri, spuma…


La inceput, in fata ochilor ti se dezvaluie un peisaj obisnuit: panta verde la dreapta, spre ocean, iar spre stanga, inaltimile celui mai mare masiv muntos din lume: Mauna Kea, mai inalt decat Everestul, insa cea mai mare parte a lui se afla sub ape. Spre ocean, un loc marcat ne spune ca acolo a fost un sat distrus in intregime de tsunami, valul ucigas care a urmat dupa un cutremur. Treptat, peisajul devine tot mai sarac in vegetatie iar pamantul aproape negru, parca arat, de lava. Incepe sa apara si lava argintie si proaspata, inca neintarita. Panta muntelui are carari de lava printre care, scapati de la dezastru, isi fac loc putini arbori piperniciti. Pe marginea craterelor sunt depuse ofrande: flori, scoici, pietricele, zeita vulcanului, Doamna Pele, trebuie imbunata. Se spune ca zeita vulcanului, Doamna Pele, nu-ti permite sa iei nici o bucatica din lava ei, pentru ca te va pedepsi.



Legenda spune: “Candva, Doamna Pele s-a indragostit de Ohia, frumosul sef al insulei mari. Cu diplomatie, Ohia i-a spus ca el o iubeste pe gratioasa Lehua. De suparare, Pele l-a transformat in arbore. Degeaba au incercat alti zei mai mici sa-i redea lui Ohia infatisarea omeneasca. Atunci, au facut ca Lehua sa devina o floare rosie pe crengile arborelui numit Ohia. Daca rupi o floare, vei provoca ploaie. Cerul plange.”


Vulcanul Kilauea, craterul de sus, in varful muntelui, poate fi vazut din elicopter, nu de jos, de la poale; acolo lava se scurge in ocean. Lava a provocat chiar o ruptura in saoseaua insulei. Se paseste cu atentie, cand mai pe sus, cand mai in jos, peste aglomerari de lava si se sare peste crapaturi. O fasie rosie de lava iesita la suprafata, scoate aburi si fum si devine repede argintie. E lava pahoehoe, dupa numele ei. Intr-o crapatura se vedeau firicele aurii, ca matasea, formate de lava: parul lui Pele.



ENGLISH


There are very few things in life that are more impressive to witness than a volcano. If you are looking for an adventurous holiday this year, you will be excited to find out that some volcanoes can be admired not only online, but also in person, many of them being open for exploration. Today I’ve prepared for you the top 3 most impressive volcanoes that you need to visit at least once in a lifetime! 


I’ve managed to experience only the first one from the list, the Etna Volcano, but as you’ll notice, my itinerary is already in place for the other two! 


1. Etna volcano, Sicily, Italy 


Out of all the touristic attractions in Sicily, the Etna Volcano is the most fascinating one. Its frequent eruptions can make the visit impossible sometimes, with Etna being one of the biggest and most active volcanoes in Europe. 


The volcano’s name comes from the Greek word ‘Aitne’ which means ‘to burn’ and it was considered by the ancient Greeks to be the blacksmith of Hephaestus (Greek God of Fire and Metalworking). Even nowadays, Etna creates a trace of smoke that is always visible halfway through the island. 



The Etna volcano rises to an impressive 3350 m altitude and the way to get to the top is divided into three sections: the road up to the Sapienza (1923 m - with the car or bus), then you have to take the cablecar up to 2500 m and then you explore the craters (3000 m) in the 4x4 cars. 


Because we rented a car, we started our journey to the Sapienza from the Zafferena Etnea. This journey is incredible: for 20 km we drove on a beautiful road that took us from sea level up to almost 2000 m altitude, going through diverse vegetation and climates, starting with a Mediterranean climate and ending with an Alpine one. On this side of the volcano, you can see the damages created by recent eruptions as you get higher. As proof of recent activity, there are deforested areas going down the mountain like ribbons. But, as you go up, any form of vegetation disappears and it’s replaced by a lunar landscape. 



Sapienza is the final place that can be reached by car or bus. Here you can find a big parking lot and a few restaurants but the most important, the cable car station- this will get you to 2500 m in just a few minutes. The more adventurous type will go up on foot, following a pathway around the cablecar’s pillars. Once you reach the 2500 m altitude, you’ll be taken by guides in 4x4 cars and be driven to the volcano’s craters that are at a 3000 m altitude. 


When you get there, at the top of the volcano, everything that you thought you knew about volcanoes will change. If you expect to see a perfectly shaped volcano cone you will be surprised to find an almost flat mountainous summit from which more volcanic cones emerge. Indeed, Etna has four active craters: Bocca Nuova, Voragine, North-East and South-East - although it seems like it's just one from the bottom. 


The ticket price for the cablecar is €27.50 and if you want to include the 4x4 cars with the guides it is €57.50.


2. Mount Fuji (Sacred Mountain), Japan


Fuji is the name of the stratovolcano that can be found at the top of the mountain and it is composed out of two other active volcanos named Kofuji and Komitake.


This conic volcano is covered by snow for most of the year and, therefore, very hard to visit. Nonetheless, during June, July and August, the mountain is open for everyone who wants to go up at an altitude of 3776 m on land covered by rock and dust. To get on top of Mount Fuji, you can go on any of the followings trails: Yoshidaguchi, Subashiri, Gotemba and Fujinomiya. Out of these, the most popular one is Yoshidaguchi and by following it you will reach the top in about 12 hours.




Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Shojiko, Motosuko and Yamanakako are the four lakes of Mt. Fuji and each of them offers a perfect view of the top of the mountain. From these locations, you can also enjoy a delicious meal at one of the traditional seafood restaurants. When you visit, make sure that the Kawaguchi lake is not missing from your itinerary! 


The best time to visit Mt. Fuji is between July and August. During this time, the mountain is without snow, the weather is mild and the cabins are open for tourists. Also, while the cities are struggling with a hot temperature, around 40°C, Mt. Fuji remains cool, having a temperature of around 0°C. Visiting outside the summer period is not recommended, as from October to mid-June the climb is extremely dangerous due to very intense wind and snow. 


Fortunately, there are also options for people who don’t want to adventure up to 3776 m altitude. The trails found at the base of the mountain are less steep and are appropriate for on-foot excursions any time of the year. 


Coming from Tokyo and arriving in the Shin-Fuji train station you need to take the bus towards the stop 5 on Mt. Fuji. From here, you’ll start the on-foot adventure underneath a cloudy sky. On the mountain, there are 10 stations which are also mountain cabins, in Japanese style, with accommodation. If you want to stay overnight in one of these cabins, you will need to book before hand.



To catch the most perfect sunrise, you need to leave early in the morning. The host will prepare breakfast for you and some take-away food for later. Jumpsuits, raincoats, hats, gloves and a flashlight are essentials and they shouldn’t be missing from your suitcase. Reaching the top before sunrise will offer a spectacular view and you’ll feel that the entire world is resting at your feet! 


3. Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii Islands


This is one of the most active volcanos in the world and the oldest exposed lava is more than 2800 years old. In the area there are many hotels and picnic places with a perfect view of the volcano and if you’re lucky you can also witness a fascinating eruption. 


The Kilauea volcano is considered by Hawaiians the home of the Pele deity and it has a constant ‘eruptive activity’ since January 1983. Kilauea is the biggest active volcano on the planet.




The lava flows beneath the black crust, and in some places, over the years, lava tubes have formed. You can walk through these as if you are walking through a mine gallery. Pouring into the ocean, hot lava gives birth to an amazing spectacle: steam, infernal noise, waves made of lava and foam.


In the beginning, everything seems normal: a green slope on the right handside that abruptly ends in the ocean and to the left, the heights of the largest mountain range in the world: Mauna Kea: taller than Everest, but most of it hides in the heavy waters. Towards the ocean, a marked place lets you know that there was a village there destroyed by the tsunami, the killer wave that followed an earthquake. Gradually, the landscape becomes more precarious, without vegetation and the ground turns black - ploughed by lava. Then, the fresh, silver lava starts to show. The slope of the mountain has paths of lava among which a few new trees are trying to survive. Offerings are placed on the edge of the craters: flowers, shells, pebbles - the goddess of the volcano, Mrs Pele, must be pleased. It is said that Mrs Pele does not allow you to take any piece of her lava, because she will punish you.



The legend says: “At some point in time, Mrs Pele fell in love with Ohia, the handsome chief of the big island. Politely, Ohia told her that he is in love with the graceful Lehua. Angry, Pele transformed him in a tree. Pointless were the attempts of other gods to give back to Ohia his human form. Instead, they transformed Lehua into the red flower of the Ohia tree. If you’ll ever take one of these flowers, you will provoke rain. The sky will cry.” 


The Kilauea volcano can be seen only from a helicopter and it’s not visible from the bottom of the mountain which is covered in fresh lava, draining in the ocean. The lava made a tear in the pavement so you’ll have to step with caution, sometimes jumping up and down, around it. A red strip of lava spilt over the surface removes steam and smoke and quickly becomes silver. It's pahoehoe lava, named after the godess. In a crack, the golden strings of lava can be seen that look like silk, said by locals to be Pele's hair.

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