Volcanoes of Sicily. Etna and the Aeolian Islands - GSEE
Sicily’s Volcano Route
The archipelago of the Aeolian Islands, situated in front of the north coast of Sicily, is a place of overwhelming natural beauty, made all the more special by its particular volcanic nature. The islands of Lipari, Stromboli, Vulcano and Panarea, to name but the most noted, are home to tiny fishermen’s villages hiding under tall imposing volcanic cones, some of which are amongst the most active of the world. Here people and forces of nature have co-habited for centuries, often resulting in tremendous loss. But as well in a spectacular landscape, where man 6 nature have lived together for thousands of years, reason why the area is listed as UNESCO World Heritage. The volcanic earth also rewards with extra-ordinary fertility – testimony are the very good wines produced on the islands!
Moreover, the development of a responsible and ecological ‘volcanic’ tourism, recently has seen an increment of the presence of ‘walking tourists’ from all over the world on the islands, always in utmost respect of the natural resources of the area. When visiting the Aeolian Islands, you will discover vast ebony beaches contrasting with light coloured shorelines, where inaccessible and winding rocky coasts alternate with beautiful beaches and large barren areas lay alongside beautiful lush gardens.
On ‘mainland’ Sicily you’ll discover Europe’s tallest still active volcano, Mount Etna. With its imposing mass over 3350 metres high, it dominates the baroque city of Catania, and the whole of eastern Sicily. The black flows of lava and the vast plains of black sand on its top make the luxurious vegetation on its lower slopes all the more surprising. The summit crater area of the volcano is constantly reshaped by explosive activity and massive lava flows, erupting into incandescent fountains of ashes and glowing rocks. Walking in the midst of these impressive forces of nature, observing the gasses erupting and the lava flowing down the slopes, makes one experience a sense of true exploration, delivered in abundance by this tour!
During the first half of your tour you will stay on the islands of Lipari and Stromboli, exploring the archipelago’s wild nature and ever changing geological aspects. You will hike on the black beaches and ebony slopes of Vulcano, observing its ‘fumaroles’ constantly erupting hot gasses, and be able to bath in its thermal springs and sulphuric mud. On Stromboli you will take a guided walk up the volcano proper to experience its brute force. You will also have plenty of time to discover the tiny villages stretched out along the coast, where time seems to have stood still and the friendly locals will always greet you with a smile. Meanwhile you will have the opportunity to sample genuine Italian cuisine, based on sea food and locally produced wines.
After transferring to Mount Etna you will have the opportunity to walk on the slopes of Europe’s tallest volcano, witnessing the scars left by its past eruptions and watching the actual making of a new landscape. You will have the opportunity to hike up to the very summit of the volcano with a certified volcano guide for an unforgettable experience while watching eruptions and lava flows mould the earth into shape. After your stay on the slopes of Mount Etna you will then transfer to the bustling city of Catania where you may end your tour by admiring some of the splendid baroque architecture in the historical heart of the city, or tour the remains of the Greek ‘polis’.
Please note: this is a moderately easy tour which is suitable for those who have some experience with walking and a good general physical condition. Most of the walks are on good paths, sometimes on steep terrain. People with respiratory problems may have discomfort in sulphurous areas with fumes. Average walking times: approx. 3 to 6 hours each day.
Day 1 Arrival – Catania
Arrival in Catania. Catania International Airport can be easily reached with daily flights from many cities in Europe and other cities in Italy, like Milan, Rome and Naples. You will meet with the rest of the group and your guide at 7 pm at the hotel in Catania, placed in the very heart of the city centre. In case you arrive early you have the possibility to pay a visit to the bustling city of Catania, dominated by the imposing mass of the Etna Volcano. After meeting with the group you will attend a short briefing on the trip’s programme and then have dinner together.
Accommodation: Catania – Meals included: 1 dinner
Day 2 Visit to Vulcano
After breakfast we first transfer to the Milazzo harbour from where we then take the ferry to the island of Vulcano. This island, dominated by the spent crater of Vulcano della Fossa, takes its name from the Roman god ‘Vulcanus’. The Roman name for the island has then contributed the word for volcano in most modern European languages. Famous for its black beaches and thermal springs, the island is an important tourist destination during high season, while retaining its quiet and laid back character during spring and autumn. Our hike on the island will take us to the Vulcano crater where we can admire the ‘fumaroles’, openings in the earth’s crust which emit steam and gases, created when superheated water turns to steam as its pressure drops when it emerges from the ground. After our hike we will have plenty of time to lounge on the beach and visit the thermal springs where we can enjoy bathing in sulphur mud baths. In late afternoon we will then take the hydrofoil to Lipari, the largest of the islands of the Aeolian volcanic archipelago. After dinner you may take another stroll through the Marina, and why not, enjoy a ‘gelato’ before turning in at the hotel.
Accommodation: Lipari – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Approx. 3h hiking, +390m, -390m
Day 3 Visit to Lipari
In the morning we make an easy walk to the southern side of the island to the old Roman spa near San Calogero which offers a wonderful view of the crater of the nearby island of Volcano. In the afternoon you are free to visit the isalnds natural and cultural treasures at will. You may want to visit the remains of the Greek tombs and the Greek theatre, as well as have a look at the site of a prehistoric village near the castle. Also the interesting Archaeological museum of the little town merits a visit. After freshening up in our hotel you can then wander through the Marina’s little streets in the evening and stop for a pre-dinner ‘aperitivo’. We will then have dinner all together again.
Accommodation: Lipari – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Approx 3h hiking, +250m, -250m
Day 4 Visit to Stromboli – afternoon walk to the ‘Sciara del Fuoco’
In the morning we will take the hydrofoil from Lipari to Stromboli, the most northern of the Aeolian Islands and one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It was here that the heroes of Jules Verne’s ‘A Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ find themselves after having been ejected from the earth by volcanic activity. After checking in at our hotel, you are free to take a short hike around the little village where we will be staying, and possibly relax on the islands volcanic black beaches. In the afternoon we will pay a visit to the ‘Sciara del Fuoco’, a big horseshoe shaped depression in the summit area offering a wonderful view on the craters. After turning back to our hotel in the evening you are free to explore the little fishermen’s hamlet of Stromboli some more, after which we will have a nice pizza dinner together.
Accommodation: Stromboli – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Approx 4h hiking, +400m, -400m
Day 5 Visit to Stromboli – evening walk
Today we will have the time to visit some more of the island, including the lovely village of San Vincenzo. After lunch we will leave for a walk to the active crater accompanied by certified volcano guides. They will take us up to the very top of the volcano, 924 m high, from where we will have the opportunity to admire – at night-time! – the ordinary, daily volcanic activity of the island, including intermittent explosions of ashes and incandescent rock, reaching up to 120 m high. Larger events including the expulsion of large lava streams are observed regularly, last in 2002-2003 and 2007. Watching an active volcano at work is a dramatic and extremely thrilling experience. You should be aware however, that in case of adverse weather conditions and extra-ordinary volcanic activity due to safety measures the volcano guides may retain it impossible to walk up the volcano. After eating our picnic dinner during the excursion near the Stromboli crater we will return to our hotel.
Accommodation: Stromboli – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Approx 5h hiking, +924m, -924m
Day 6 From Stromboli to the Sicilian mainland and Mount Etna
After breakfast at our hotel you can go out for one last stroll in the Stromboli village, after which we will hop on the hydrofoil to Milazzo again. From the harbour of Milazzo a private transfer takes us to the mountain hotel – located at no less than 1900 m a.s.l. – on the southern slopes of Mount Etna. The Etna reaches up to over 3300 m a.s.l. and has a diameter of around 45 km, making it the largest and tallest active volcano in Europe, dominating most of the eastern half of Sicily. After our arrival at the hotel we will have time for a short walk over the so-called ‘Crateri Silvestri’ track for a first approach to the Etna activity, characterized by regular explosions and eruption of gasses and ash, followed by lava flows that constantly remodel the mountain slopes. Some of the main eruptions of the last 10 years have even caused the airport of Catania to close down. In the evening we will eat a hearty dinner based on local specialties at the hotel.
Accommodation: Etna – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Approx 2h hiking, +150m, -150m
Day 7 Visit of Mount Etna
Today we will visit the main body of the Etna volcano, arriving at an altitude of 2100 m a.s.l. Here you will discover the line of craters that opened during the eruptions of 2002 and 2003. These events were among the most explosive of the last 100 years, erupting up to 160 million cubic metres of volcanic ash and lava. From here we have an amazing view over the Ionian Coast with the cities of Messina, Catania and Siracusa. During our walk we will explore the edge of the ‘Valle di Bove’, an immense caldera measuring 1000 metres deep and 5000 metres wide resulting from the collapse of and old crater. Today it is also possible to take an optional trip with a certified guide to the summit at the central craters (3350 m a.s.l.), arriving at 2900 m a.s.l. by cable way and 4WD and then trekking to the top. From the summit we then walk back to the hotel. Please note that the price for this optional trip is 60 euro per person. After returning to the hotel, a private transfer will take us to our evening’s hotel at Catania where after our arrival, you have plenty of time to explore this bustling city. You may visit some of the Greek remains or choose to admire the many baroque ‘palazzi’ and churches located in the heart of the city centre.
Accommodation: Catania – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Approx 4h hiking, +200m, -200m; including optional walk: 6h hiking, +1000m, -1000m
Day 8 End of tour
The tour ends in Catania after breakfast today. You can easily reach the airport by bus. A taxi transfer to other destinations can be arranged on request.
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
All nights are spent in characteristic hotels and family-run pensions. All rooms have en-suite facilities.
Accommodation is on Half Board basis, in all accommodations. On day 4 you will have a pizza dinner, while dinner on day 5 is a picnic during the evening walk.
No picnic lunches are included in the tour price, but these can be prepared for you by the accommodation holders, or materials for picnics can be purchased in the villages where you stay.
Night 1: The first night you are staying in nice 3-star hotel in Catania’s city centre. All main monuments are at walking distance, within easy reach.
Nights 2 & 3: These nights are spent on Lipari, the largest of the Aeolian Islands. Your cosy family-run hotel is located near the small harbour of Marina Corta.
Nights 4 & 5: These two nights you stay in a friendly hotel at Stromboli. The hotel is centrally located, at walking distance from the seashore and the main shops of the village.
Night 6: Tonight you stay in a mountain hotel located at 1900 m a.s.l. on the slopes of Mount Etna. You will have a hearty dinner based on local dishes in the hotel.
Night 7: Your last night is again spent in a comfortable hotel in the centre of the city of Catania. From the hotel the city’s main monuments are easily reached.
- Private English speaking tour leader for 8 days
- Accommodation: 2 nights Catania, 2 nights Lipari, 2 nights Stromboli and 1 night Etna
in good *** hotels
- Meals: 7 breakfasts, 7 dinners (1 pizza dinner & 1 picnic dinner)
- All private & public transfers as indicated throughout the entire itinerary
- Entrance fees of all sites along the itinerary
- Special activities as outlined in the day by day itinerary
- Guest experts for special places
- Luggage transport
- All gratuities for baggage, porters & hotel service
- Departure taxes
- Travel Insurance
- Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
- Optional walk on Mount Etna (65 euro)
- Optional additional tours or activities
- Items of a personal nature
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Moderately easy (2/3): Mostly easy to moderate walks, with some walking uphill, especially on days 5 and 7.
Fitness: High standard of fitness is not necessary but you should be able to walk for up to 5/6 hours a day in hot sun on dusty or stony tracks. Please note that people with respiratory problems may have discomfort in sulphurous areas with fumes.
Luggage: We advise you to bring a day pack (30 litres) in addition to your ordinary luggage. Sometimes you will have to carry your luggage for short distances.
Equipment: good and solid trekking shoes, wind and water proof jacket, hat and gloves, head torch with batteries, bathing suit, sun glasses and sun cream, alpenstock and gaiters for volcanic ash paths
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
Arrival: The tour starts in CATANIA, a city with an international airport, served by daily flights from Milan, Rome and Naples. The minimum number of participants is 4.
Departure: The tour ends after breakfast on day 8 in CATANIA. A frequent bus service or a taxi can bring you to the airport. Taxi transfers to other destinations are available on simple request.
AVAILABILITY & CONDITIONS
There are no scheduled departures for this tour yet, but on request a tour can be planned at any date for private groups. Just contact us!
We can then also personalise the tour with respect to duration and lodging. We can offer you a large selection of ‘Premiere Inns’, very good hotels, many among the world’s best hotels, as acclaimed from Condé Nast Traveler, Travel+Leisure and many others. Genius Loci Travel, as the leading adventure travel company in Italy, can book your room in any hotel you could dream of!
N.B. For this tour tailor-made private departures (for groups of minimum 4 persons) can be planned on any date. Availability & prices on request.
|Places available. You can book this tour with a minimum of 1 person.|
|Guaranteed Departure. Still some places available.|
|There are a very limited number of available places on these dates. Immediate booking is recommended.|
|Availability and prices on request.|
|Fully booked. Departure closed.|
- Prices are per person and based on 2 people sharing double or twin accommodation.
- Single rooms (mostly double rooms - single use) are available on all trips. The supplements listed apply.
- Prices are expressed in Euro's. There will never be a currency surcharge.
- Actual exchange rates: GB £ - US $ - CAN $ - CHF - DKK - SEK - NOK - Other currencies.
- A 5 % early booking discount applies for several trips.
It is possible to divide this tour into two parts: Mount Etna and Aeolian Islands, which gives you the opportunity to do some more ‘in-depth’ explorations.
Early in the season (until the end of April) and later in the season (from October on) the slopes of Mount Etna are often covered in snow and therefore many of the hikes are not possible. In these cases we recommend to book our ‘Mythical Volcanoes of Sicily’ tour, which gives you the possibility to explore the Aeolian Islands more ‘in-depth’ and spend a few nights in Catania – with a day trip to Mount Etna.
This tour of the Aeolian Islands can easily be combine with a ‘Drive & Hike’ tour, which includes the best parts of South-eastern Sicily – including Mt. Etna.
It is possible to include extra nights at the beginning or the end of the tour.
The tour can easily be extended with a few days in Catania or any other of the main Sicilian towns (Syracuse, Taormina, Palermo) as well as several other destinations on the island. Several good accommodations are available, ranging from 2 to 5-star). Details and prices on request.
It is possible to book an upgrade in some of the places en route. Details and prices on request.