Some questions are guaranteed to wreak havoc in your mind every time you're planning a visit to an active volcano. What damage has this brooding peak caused in the past? Will I make it out before it decides to blow again? These imaginations can only be answered by you taking that bold step and visiting one of the 15 active volcanoes listed here before the year ends.
There are approximately 1500 active volcanoes across the world, and travelers are flocking there every day. There's a lot you can do; from hiking, skiing, or even taking some excellent photographs from a chopper or a small plane.
While there are those that you will visit and come back to your family in one piece, there are other hazardous active volcanoes that guarantee no chance of returning. Erupting volcanoes are not like lava, which is too slow to run over people, they are associated with deadly occurrences of earthquakes, mudslides, tsunamis, avalanches and massive clouds of suffocating ashes. As we give you the go-ahead to 15 of the most beautiful active volcanoes you can visit this year, we also give you a red light against these 10 of the deadliest ones you should always stay away from.
25 Stay Away: Galeras – Colombia
Galeras is among the most active volcanoes in Colombia that experiences very frequent eruptions. According to Oregon State University, Galeras volcano has been experiencing these frequent eruptions for over a million years. It is located to the west of Colombia, in the western area of the city of San Juan de Pasto. Stanley Williams, a volcanologist, was standing on top of Galeras in 1993 when it erupted. It killed six of his colleagues instantly. William was rescued near death after some white-hot projectiles pelted him.
24 Stay Away: Mount Fuji – Japan
A major earthquake took place in Japan in 1707, which, according to Oregon State University, set Mount Fuji off for an eruption later that year. The mountain has not seen another eruption ever since. Following the 9.0- magnitude earthquake that hit Japan in 2011, experts in 2014 warned that Mount Fuji was at risk of another major eruption. The Global Volcanism Program estimates that 25 million people could be affected if Fuji erupted. The explosion that occurred in 1707 sent ash and debris to as far as Tokyo.
23 Stay Away: Krakatoa – Indonesia
Four giant explosions erupted on August 27 in 1883, destroying three-quarters of Indonesia. It was called Archipelago of Krakatoa in those days. The eruptions could be heard from as far as 5000 kilometers away. They produced energy amounting to 13,000 times more potent than the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima. The tsunamis caused by the eruptions claimed 36,000 lives. Another volcanic activity took place in 1927, creating an Island, Anak Krakatau. The Island increases at a rate of 7 meters per year. Krakatoa has been in an eruptive phase since 1994, which makes it quite dangerous.
22 Stay Away: Mauna Loa – United States
Located in Hawaii, Mauna Loa is the largest active volcano in the world; it takes half the whole Island of Hawaii. Its first documented eruption occurred in 1843, and it has since erupted 33 times. Large volumes of lava flows have reached the ocean since 1984. This is the time a volcanic lava flow came as close to Hilo as 4.5 miles. Hilo is the most populated area on the Hawaiian Island. Mauna Loa is among the five volcanoes on the Island.
21 Stay Away: Mount Agung – Indonesia
Indonesia's Mount Agung is continuously erupting. Last year the mountain showed ash plumes above the volcano continually throughout the year, which started after an eruption that occurred in November 2017. A major eruption occurred in 1963 that lasted almost a year, claiming over 1000 lives, and destroying the property of incredible value. The 1963 occurrence is recorded among the most devastating eruptions the country has ever seen in its history. You should stay away, not just from the volcano, but even from the surroundings.
20 Stay away: Santa Maria – Guatemala
The Santa Maria volcano was inactive for over 500 years, until 1902 when a series of earthquakes set it off to a very violent volcanic eruption. There had been warnings issued directing people to evacuate, but despite that, the eruption went with over 5,000 lives. It created a gap in the south flank of the cone, creating darkness over the Guatemalan skies for several days. The eruption was so potent that its pumice fell on a surface area over 105,000 square miles. Its ash cloud was detected as far California’s San Francisco.
19 Stay Away: Novarupta Volcano – United States
Novarupta Volcano is located in Katmai National Park and Reserve in Alaska. Novarupta was formed as a result of the world's most massive volcanic eruption of the 20th century that occurred in 1912. It sent 30 cubic square kilometers of ash and debris into the air, and its ash flow was so potent that it created the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. Sulfurous from the ash cloud caused eye soreness and respiratory problems to the people of Kodiak, and after three days they succumbed to the issues.
18 Stay Away: Colima – Mexico
Colima is among the most active volcanoes in Mexico and North America, which has erupted over 40 times since 1576, with the largest recorded eruption occurring in 1913. Recently, the volcano remained active throughout 2017. And it was very active. This volcano is located 300 miles from Mexico City, in the state of Jalisco. A volcanic eruption would affect the 300,000 people who live within the 25 miles of Colima area, which makes it the most dangerous active volcano in the country.
17 Stay Away: Mount St. Helens – United States
An eruption that occurred on Washington's Mount St. Helens in 1980 is said to be among the deadliest of all eruptions the country has ever seen. It was so destructive that it left about 57 people dead, and a 200 sq. Miles forest destroyed. Thousands of wildlife in that forest was killed. According to research, from the history of Mount St. Helens eruptions, chances of repeat eruptive explosions are too high. If the 1980 event repeats itself, massive amounts of ash fall would severely affect the Pacific Northwest.
16 Stay Away: Taal – Philippines
This volcano has seen 33 eruptions since 1572, with the most recent one being in 1977. It is located 50 kilometers from Philippines' capital, Manila, and occupied by a lake with an island in its interior. The Taal volcano is ranked at the colossal level of eruption in the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI). The Philippine authorities keep Taal in check as it is approximated that a large scale explosion could affect over 12 million residents of the metropolitan area of Manila.
15 Visit: Cotopaxi – Ecuador
Cotopaxi has erupted over 50 times in the last 300 years. What makes Cotopaxi unique is the perfect symmetrical cone shape piercing 19,000 feet into the sky. You can visit Cotopaxi National Park through Quito, which is just 70 miles away. From the National Park, you can bike, climb, hike, and also camp. Cotopaxi is located within the famous "Avenue of Volcanoes" in Ecuador, a long stretch of 200 miles comprised of tall peaks and volcanoes. From the Park, you can also view Rumiñahui volcano and Lake Limpiopungo.
14 Visit: Mount Etna – Italy
The mountain of Etna has no competing active volcanoes around it, which gives it a dominating power in the city of Catania and Eastern Sicily. Despite the constant volcanic activity in Mount Etna, you can still climb up to a height of 2920 meters, and make sure you return in the afternoon. From this level, you can view flows of solidified lava reaching down into the villages and nearby towns, and craters at all levels of the mountain. You can also take the scenic Circumetnea Railway that goes around the base of the mountain from Borgo Catania.
13 Visit: Mount Arenal – Costa Rica
Rising dramatically from the middle of a jungle, the Arenal Mountain is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and also one of the most pretty in Costa Rica. Its vertiginous flanks are covered with hardened lava fields and beautiful flora. An eruption of 1968 reduced to the ground a nearby town of Tabacon, which led to a stun warning against climbing up the Arenal Mountain. You can have a beautiful time viewing endemic wildlife from the foot of the Mountain.
12 Visit: Stromboli – Italy
If you must see a volcanic action, this is where you go. You will get up close to the action on this mountain irrespective of the time you visit as small volcanic eruptions are happening every hour. There are many ways of viewing this volcanic Island off the west coast of Italy, and one of them is by a helicopter. You can sail on a ferry from the mainland as well, and then climb up the peak, which will take you approximately three hours, according to people who have been there.
11 Visit: Eyjafjallajökull – Iceland
Even though the name is so difficult to pronounce, many people have heard about Eyjafjallajökull. The most recent eruption on this mountain occurred in 2010 that caused a massive ash cloud that led to the grounding of very many flights across Europe. Thousands of events were also rescheduled. Not to deter you from visiting, this place is very calm now, and open to visitors. You can take a helicopter tour, a jeep tour, or an organized hiking adventure to explore Eyjafjallajökull.
10 Visit: White Islands – New Zealand
Also known as Whakaari, White Islands is one of the most active volcanoes in New Zealand. Although roughly 70% of the volcano is submerged under water, you can still view the remaining 30%, about 1000 feet that poke out above the Bay of Plenty. You can take a supervised tour of the volcano's crater floor. White Islands produces acidic gas and steam, which means you must put on a gas mask. From the volcano, you can be able to see gaggling mud pits and streams of the volcano.
9 Visit: Kilauea – Hawaii
The pint-sized peak of Kilauea has been spitting out lava since 1983. It is not the biggest volcano in Hawaii, but it definitely is the most beautiful, and the best choice of visiting. Though it is said to be near a perpetual state of eruption, the mountain is in the business of supervised visits. This is good news for everyone who can get up close to the boiling lava fields. You will have the best view if you visit after dark when the lava glows to light up the night sky.
8 Visit: Mount Vesuvius – Italy
Even though Vesuvius Mountain has not erupted since 1944, it is believed to be the most famous volcano in the world. It is the most visited volcano in the world as well. It stands at an elevation of 1281 meters, making it the fifth highest in the United Kingdom. You can drive up to a car park 1000 meters, and hike the remaining 200 meters for about 30 minutes: one of the paths, the most popular leads to the main crater. There are timetabled buses from Pompeii to Vesuvius.
7 Visit: Mount Batur – Indonesia
Mount Batur experiences an active volcanic activity of mid-to-moderate explosions. You can take the shortest, and the best route up the mountain from Toya Bungkah village. From this village, much of the climb is through a shaded forest. The view of the volcanoes, the forests and the lakes is intriguing in the morning hours. Volcanic clouds build up in the afternoon obscuring the beautiful view. Although some visitors have reported over-aggressive guides offering tours up the mountain, the beauty of this place makes it worth the irritation.
6 Visit: Mount Merapi – Indonesia
Indonesia has many active volcanoes, but Mount Merapi is the most active of all. Standing at an elevation of 2914 meters, mount Merapi sits at the border of Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces. The most recent major eruption on this mountain occurred in 2010, which led to the evacuation of all the people living within 20 kilometers of the crater. A few people lost their lives from the incident. You can easily hike to the mountain’s summit from Selo village on the north of the volcano.
5 Visit: Sakurajima – Japan
Sakurajima is considered one of the most active volcanoes, with the oldest recorded eruption in A.D 708. Another massive explosion occurred in 1914 when a giant lava floor joined the then Sakurajima Island with the Osumi Peninsula of south Japan. You can take a ferry from the seaside city of Kagoshima to Sakurajima. Upon arrival, you can make a stroll on the Lava Nagisa Promenade, the path that will lead you up close to the many lava formations created by the volcano.
4 Visit: Mount Pinatubo – Philippines
Pinatubo is remembered for producing the second largest volcanic eruption of the 21st century in 1991. The volcano produced a massive ash cloud that pierced 22 miles into the sky. It also produced over 1.2 cubic miles of lava that ended up claiming about 205 lives and causing severe damage to the environment. That was 1991, and this is 2019; Mount Pinatubo is safe for travelers. You can take a jeep ride to the volcano, and hike to Pinatubo Crater Lake.
3 Visit: Mount Nyiragongo – DRC
Mt. Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is among the most spectacular volcanoes the world knows. It has experienced frequent eruptions in the 21st century, and they always come with some very deadly effects. It has a giant crater of over 2 miles wide, with a simmering lava lake. The lava lake, which is also claimed to be the largest lava lake in the world looks like a huge witch's cauldron. You can trek to the broiling crater through Virunga National Park, where Mountain gorillas reside.
2 Visit: Sangay – Ecuador
Sangay National Park is not just home to some of the most spectacular ecosystems in Ecuador, it is also home to two active volcanoes, and one extinct. Located in central Ecuador, Sangay volcano is huge, standing tall at 17,000 feet above sea level. Its first eruption was recorded in 1628, and from 1934 it has been experiencing continuous explosions. Sangay National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with wetlands, cloud forests, grasslands, and lakes to view.
1 Visit: Mount Rainier – United States
Located in Mount Rainier National Park, the Mount Rainier volcano is one of the most popular, and well known active volcanoes in the United States. According to researchers, the volcano erupted around 500 years ago, creating the peak we see today, standing at 14,410 feet. It is strategically located, which makes it quite easy to reach. Mount Rainier has a lot to offer to travelers including bicycling, hiking, and climbing. It's very challenging to climb up to the volcano, but it's doable.