Summiting a mountain creates a feeling of awe and accomplishment, of struggling through difficulty in order to reap the reward of spectacular views from the top. Add the chance of witnessing gorgeous crater lakes or the spew of lava and the reward becomes even more attractive. Here is a list of 5 volcanos that you can climb that provide amazing views and the chance of seeing some volcanic activity.
Mount Fuji, Japan.
Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s most iconic landmarks. While many enjoy the view from afar, few people have made it to the summit of this sacred mountain. The climb is manageable during the official climbing season between July and August when there is little snow on the mountain and the mountain huts are open for business. There are a few hot springs in the area- perfect to soothe tired muscles after the climb.
Mount Bromo, Indonesia.
Mount Bromo is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and stands at an elevation of 2 393 meters. It is climbable in 1-2 hours and accessible to climbers of all levels, although the accompaniment of a guide is strongly recommended. Sunrise climbs are especially popular and August sees the Kasada festival where locals honour the mountain gods by offering chickens, vegetables and money into the crater. Jeeps or horses can be hired to take hikers to the crater.
Ijen volcano, Indonesia.
Ijen volcano is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire and houses a beautiful turquoise crater lake. While spectacular to look at, the lake is acidic and thus swimming here should be avoided. At night one can see the blue flames of Ijen – caused by the burning of the sulphuric gas. The fumes are noxious, making gas masks a necessity to view this impressive phenomenon.
Mayon volcano, Philippines.
Mayon is named after a legendary princess named “Beautiful Lady”. The volcano has symmetrical slopes, earning it the title of the world’s most perfectly-formed volcano. There are a number of different routes around the volcano, making it accessible to hikers from all fitness levels. Mayon volcano is still active and hikers are advised to take the necessary precautions.
Sakurajima means ‘Cherry Blossom Island’, although a recent eruption has connected the island to the Osumi Pininsula. The volcano is still active with mini-eruptions occurring almost daily. The local authorities can advise hikers whether it is safe to hike to the summit. On days where it isn’t the area still offers a number of beautiful hiking trails around the base of the volcano, littered with onsens to enjoy.
Mount Aso, Japan.
Mount Aso, in the middle of Kyusho has one of the largest caldera’s in the world. A caldera is when a part of a volcano falls in on itself- usually because of the emptying of a magma chamber beneath the surface. The caldera of Mount Aso is more than 25 km from side to side and about 129 km around the circumference. This Caldera holds 5 volcanic peaks! There are another 4 peaks on Mount Aso as well as hot springs and the Aso Volcano Museum.
Mount Pinatubo, Philippines
The island of Central Luzon is the home of Mount Pinatubo. After nearly 600 years of lying dormant this volcano saw the second largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century in 1991. The hike up the volcano takes visitors through lahar canyons- created by mud- and debris slides, rocky trails and thick forests. A turquoise crater lake awaits at the top of this volcano, a mere 3 hour drive from Manila.
Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, Japan
Mount Kusatsu-Shirane stands tall over the town of Kusatsu in the Gunma region of Japan. The changes in the seasons is evident here with wild flowers in bloom in spring and summer and snow covered slopes- perfect for skiing in winter. Throughout the year the emerald-green Yugama Crater Lake lays calmly in wait for visitors. Mount Kusatsu-Shirane erupted as recently as January 2018 and climbing is only advised upon checking in and receiving the all-clear from the Japanese Meteorological Agency.
While many people climb these volcanoes each year to witness the beauty and majesty of nature, active volcanoes should be approached with care and only be climbed in ‘safe’ periods and after confirmation of this from local authorities.
*A version of this article first appeared at www.zafigo.com