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      June 2012 > Walking on volcanoes? Most illogical - or is it?
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Walking on volcanoes? Most illogical - or is it?

Walking holidays in EuropeWell, not really, as the magnificent volcanoes I’m alluding to are all quietly sleeping – and have been for centuries.

But did you know that there are, in fact, over 80 volcanoes or volcanic ‘regions’ in Europe that are classed as ‘active’? Some of them are very well-known (and very active): Etna, Vesuvius, Stromboli and, of course, Iceland's infamous Eyjafjallajökull, but others are far harder to identify, never mind name.

According to various websites (and you can take your pick), the list includes 18 in Turkey, 12 in Italy, 6 in Armenia, 3 in Germany (“Where?”, I hear you ask), 6 in Greece, 12 in Portugal, 8 in Spain, and not forgetting Iceland (if Iceland is indeed in Europe), which has 180 volcanic mountains, 18 of which have erupted since settlement began in the 9th century. But let me repeat: virtually all are dormant and, in fact, only Stromboli, Santorini, Etna and El Hiero are on the ‘active list’: Stromboli: status ‘erupting’, and the other three classed as just ‘restless’.

Walking holidays in EuropeThe wonderful thing about volcanoes is the resultant dramatic and truly breathtaking – and colourful – landscapes forged from centuries of volcanic activity. Lunar-like rock formations in fiery red, orange and yellow; startlingly green lakes; black desert sands (on La Palma, above), and snow-capped cones piercing a deep blue sky make for thrilling walking and undoubtedly add an exciting element to your holiday experience.

Take the cable car up El Teide on Tenerife, for example, and walk that last 200m or so (right) to the summit (advance free permit required) and you will not only get the unmistakable whiff of sulphur and pass rocks hot to the touch, but you will also be rewarded with staggering views across the island and Canarian archipelago.

Walking holidays in EuropeThis is just one of several of our walking and cycling holidays that follow paths and trails across volcanic slopes: in the Canary Islands, there are calderas to explore on Lanzarote, La Palma (top image), Gran Canaria and La Gomera; in the Azores (bottom image), the islands of Faial, Pico, São Jorge and São Miguel share a fusion of vivid green landscapes and haunting volcanic scenery; the Greek island of Milos (left) in the Cyclades, is famed for its dramatic cliffs of white pumice (solidified frothy lava); the Garroxta region of north-east Spain, hides a surprising landscape of wooded, conical mounds surrounds the town of Olot; distinctive Monte Vulture in Basilicata, is noted for its rich wine-growing soils; and the slightly less obvious, though massive, caldera of the Acıgöl-Nevşehir volcano in central Turkey separates the varied landscapes of Cappadocia.

Walking holidays in EuropeThe topography of volcanic landscapes is as rich and varied as the colour of the geology, and such atmospheric surroundings make for fascinating exploration on foot or by bike. However, you may simply wish to admire from afar – travel to the north-eastern corner of Sicily or to the Bay of Naples and enjoy awe-inspiring views of Europe's two most iconic volcanoes, Etna and Vesuvius (right).

(Ok, I know you’re dying to know where the German ones are. Well apparently there are three volcanic regions in Germany: Vogtland, Laacher See and Kaiserstuhl. Of these, the Laacher See (a caldera lake) in Rhineland near Koblenz, saw the most recent volcanic activity – over 10,000 years ago – though research has shown that volcanism is still active.)


[Image: the volcano on Pico from the island of Faial in the Azores.]
Walking holidays in Europe

 

Posted: 21/06/2012 11:21:21 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: Canary islands, Germany, Greece, Iceland, islands, Italy, nature, Portugal, Spain, Turkey


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