Parco Dell’Etna in the north east of Sicily is a dynamic landscape. When I visited in 2013, there were nineteen eruptions, hence climbing up to the crater was prohibited. Etna, Europe’s highest volcano is 3323 metres high and also the most active. We spent a day driving around the national park, but soon realised that the best way to see it was with a guide, so we shared a 4 wheel drive with two other travellers.
We set off from Monte Sartorius, on a 5 kilometre trail to 2000 metres. A bright sunny day but getting cooler the higher we went.
Getting higher . . .
Some of the lava has very sharp edges, some gives way under your feet, concentration is necessary!
This path felt rather precarious, narrow, no grip and a steep drop.
Looking back down towards the valley
This was a two to three hour walk, steep in some places but not particularly challenging. It was a bit of a knee killer though and I could feel that I’d done something the next day, the reward outweighed the pain though!
Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and last year, just after my visit, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As recently as last month it was putting on a pyrotechnic display, closing the nearby airport at Catania. All was calm when I was there. Travelling friend and I stayed in an hotel with a distant view – if you craned your neck a little on the balcony, and ignored the buildings in the way.
We went up twice, first of all independently and we couldn’t resist a guided tour a couple of days later.
Here are some photos taken at about 2000 metres, cool and grey with mile after mile of lava from various past eruptions.
In June there were miles of empty roads, lots of stopping places for photos and an almost creepy stillness.
You quite quickly descend to sunshine and there the flora and fauna is pretty.
Etna can be seen from all over the east of Sicily and when you’re up there the views down are amazing.
Towards the sea.
I enjoyed looking back on my time on Etna, I’ll post some photos of the guided tour soon!