Hawaii, Costa Rica and More Volcano Vacations

Lava entering the Pacific Ocean, Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Courtesy Tom Pfeiffer/www.volcanodiscovery.com Tom Pfeiffer/www.volcanodiscovery.com
by Charis Atlas Heelan

Iceland's volatile Eyjafjallajökull aside, volcanoes aren't always bad news for your travel plans. In fact, sometimes these hot beds of lava and ash are the main attraction and the very reason for your trip. Join a volcanic adventure, and discover the beauty behind all the heat. While some of these expeditions are quite strenuous and require hiking at high altitudes, other trips require less effort -- but equally amazing views.

Photo Caption: Lava from Kilauea volcano enters the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii. Courtesy Tom Pfeiffer/www.volcanodiscovery.com
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Mt. Bromo in Java, Indonesia. Photo by <a href="http://www.frommers.com/community/user_gallery_detail.html?plckPhotoID=e4772522-f65a-43f3-b014-5e7bd5e03f40&plckGalleryID=c0482941-0d2d-4cca-b8c4-809ee9e20c72" target="_blank">jbabos/Frommers.com Community</a> Frommers.com Community
What: This six-day tour takes you on a climbing and exploring expedition of East Java's most active and beautiful volcanoes -- Mt. Semeru, Java's highest peak; Mt. Bromo; and the colorful Mt Ijen with its acid lake and impressive sulfur deposits. Highlights include visiting lava fields and rain forests, spending a night at a Javanese coffee plantation, and bathing in natural hot springs.

Where: The tour begins at Surabaya airport in Java.

When: The trip is available on demand throughout the year, but the best season is March to November.

How Much: €650 per person based on double occupancy

What's Included: Transportation throughout East Java, five nights' hotel, camping equipment, porters, an Indonesian volcanologist tour leader, entry fees to the Tengger-Bromo-Semeru National Park and Kawah Ijen, a permit to climb Mt. Semeru, and most meals.

Who: This trekking tour in Indonesia is designed for small groups of two or more people. Previous climbing experience is not necessary.

More Info: Volcano Adventure Indonesia (www.volcanoadventureindonesia.com)

Photo Caption: Mt. Bromo in Java, Indonesia. Photo by jbabos/Frommers.com Community
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Alaska Mountain Guides leads a 10-day trip that ascends two of Mexico's two volcanoes. Courtesy Eli Fierer. Eli Fierer
What: This 10-day journey lets you ascend two of Mexico's most significant volcanoes, including the country's highest point -- El Pico de Orizaba at 18,850 feet. To round out the trip, you'll also visit cultural sites and villages.

Where: The trip begins in Mexico City and continues to Amecameca, Ixtaccihuatl Volcano, Popocatepetl Volcano, Tlachichuca, Orizaba Volcano, and Teotihuacan pyramids.

When: Oct. 10 and 24, Nov. 7 and 21, and Dec. 12 and 26, 2010

How Much: $2,300 per person based on double occupancy.

What's Included: Transfers, lodging and hut fees, climbing and trekking permits, transportation, park fees, all food while climbing, group climbing, camping equipment and experienced professional guides/instructors.

Who: This trip is for people seeking the challenges of climbing at moderate altitude amidst an interesting cultural backdrop. It is an excellent spot for learning climbing skills, and gaining experience with climbing at altitude.

More Info: Alaska Mountain Guides (tel. 800/766-3396; www.mountainguidesinternational.com)

Photo Caption: Alaska Mountain Guides leads a 10-day trip that ascends two of Mexico's volcanoes. Courtesy Eli Fierer.
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Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Naomi Kraus
What: If you love the idea of exploring volcanoes but don't want to plan an entire vacation around them, this one-day trip on Hawaii's Big Island may be the perfect way to blend a tropical beach break with an adventurous and educational volcanic expedition. Volcano Discovery runs informative one-day trips and evening tours that allow you to see the famed crater of Kilauea with the expertise of a volcanologist. You can also visit the Halemaumau crater and later, the coastal areas to witness active lava entering the sea at dusk.

Where: Pick-up service is available from Kona, Hilo, or from Volcano Village at the base of Kilauea.

When: July 7 and Sept. 30, 2010; private tours can also be scheduled for groups of two to 12 people.

How Much: $125 per person

What's Included: Transportation on the Big Island in a private four-wheel-drive vehicle, expert volcanologist guide, entry to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with fresh local fruit, snacks, and juices.

Who: This one-day tour is for anyone with an interest in volcanoes. Only moderate hiking is involved.

More Info: Volcano Discovery (www.volcanodiscovery.com)

Photo Caption: Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
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A group on the rim of Vulcano's crater of La Fossa volcano, dotted with yellow sulphur deposits from hot fumaroles on Vulcano Island, Italy. Courtesy Tom Pfeiffer/www.volcanodiscovery.com Tom Pfeiffer/www.volcanodiscovery.com
What: Volcano Discovery's eight-day Aeolian Islands and Etna tour visits Sicily's islands of Lipari, Stromboli (home to one of the world's most active volcanoes), Vulcano (the hot springs island), and Mt. Etna, known as the largest and most active volcano in Europe. Hike to volcano craters in each location and experience thermal hot springs, black-sand beaches, and medieval villages.

Where: The tour begins and ends in the Sicilian city of Catania.

When: July 9-16, Sept. 3-10, Sept. 24-Oct. 1 and Oct. 15-22, 2010.

How: You can fly to Catania from Rome (one hour) or arrive by train or ferry.

Who: This is a walking tour with moderate hiking each day (two to five hours) up to an altitude of 3,000 feet.

How Much: €990 to €1,035 per person based on double occupancy

What's Included: Seven nights in three-star hotels, all transfers, hydrofoils to the islands, breakfast and dinner daily, entrance and volcano climbing fees, a volcanologist guide in Stromboli and Etna, cable car and vehicles on Mt. Etna, and local Italian and English-speaking guides.

More Info: Volcano Discovery; www.volcanodiscovery.com

Photo Caption: A group on the rim of Vulcano's crater of La Fossa volcano, dotted with yellow sulphur deposits. Courtesy Tom Pfeiffer/www.volcanodiscovery.com
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Sangay Volcano in Ecuador. Courtesy Surtrek Surtrek
What: "Expedition to the Sangay Volcano" is an eight-day journey through Ecuador's Sangay National Park, home to the Tungurahua and Altar volcanoes. The Sangay Volcano, at the edge of the rain forest, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Although Sangay has not had a major eruption in quite some time, volcanic rocks, ash, and smoke are constantly spewing forth. Lava occasionally oozes down the mountain's sides. To reach the volcano's base, you will trek through marshy valleys, across several rivers, and over a number of mountains before reaching the camp site at La Playa (the Beach).

Where: The trip begins and ends in Quito.

When: Although you can take this trip at any time of the year, December and January are considered the most favorable months. Tours depart on dates of your choice.

How Much: $1,470 per person with minimum of four people, or $1,935 per person with two people

What's Included: Private transportation, English-speaking guide, all meals, camp equipment (dining tent, tents, toilet tent), foam pad, tables, stools, kitchen gear, a cook, pack animals, and entrance to the Sangay National Park.

Who: This trek is fairly rugged, so excellent physical condition is required.

More Info: Surtrek (www.surtrek.com)

Sangay Volcano in Ecuador. Courtesy Surtrek
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