Natural wonders of the world: volcanoes!


They are beautiful, dangerous and arrogant. They may seem harmless and quiet yet they can be very treacherous. We love their magic yet we despise them for their ability to kill. We are talking about volcanoes!

As a next episode in our Natural Wonders of the World series, we are sharing our favorite volcanoes from around the world with you. We realize this list is nowhere near complete however we thought it should not be kept out of this series. The list has been put in random order because we just could not agree on which is the prettiest one!

1. Villarrica, Chile
Villarrica is one of Chile’s most active volcanoes. It can be climbed from the nearby town of Pucon, which Martijn did during our last visit to Chile in March of this year. Its last eruption was in July 2013 and in town you can find an alert station. Villarrica’s altitude is 2.860 meters and it’s cone is almost always covered by a layer of ice. Plumes can usually be seen as well, very impressive! Ever wondered what the inside of the crater looks like? Just scroll down…

villarricaPucon-crater

 

2. Ngauruoe, New Zealand
Known worldwide as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings thrilogy, this is a 2.291 meter high stratovolcano located in Tongariro National Park on New Zealand’s Northern Island. Its last eruption was in 2012 and currently the Volcanic Alert Level has been reduced to zero. We saw this volcano from all sides while hiking the Tongariro Northern Circuit back in 2011.

Ngauruhoe-1

 

3. El Misti, Peru
This volcano is located close the Peruvian city of Arequipa in the Andes mountain range. Its altitude is 5.822 metres and it always carries the names Putina or Wawa Putina. El Misti last erupted in 1985. We passed this volcano when driving to the Colca Canyon during our trip to Peru in 2007.

ElMisti-Peru

 

4. Hekla, Iceland
Also named the “Gateway to Hell”, this is one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes. It’s “only” 1.491 metres high but covered in snow almost all year round. Hekla has erupted at least 20 times since 1874 with an approximate pause of 10 years between each eruption. The last eruption was in 2000 which makes it 4 years “overdue” now. We have seen Hekla many times, however barely ever completely out of the clouds like this. It can best be seen from Laugarvatn and on the way to Landmannalaugar.

Hekla-Iceland

 

5. Osorno, Chile
We had to work really hard to get to see this one but eventually it peaked out of the clouds for about one minute. The other 5 days we were around, Osorno did simply not appear. It’s located in the Los Lagos region and one of the most famous volcanoes in Chile. It stands on the shores of Lago Llanquihue and last erupted in 1869. Seen in March 2014 during our Patagonian road trip.

Osorno-Chile

 

6. Gunung Agung, Indonesia
Known as the highest point on the Indonesian island of Bali, it’s believed by the Balinese that this is the replica of Mount Meru, the central axis of the universe. This was actually the first volcano we ever saw, during our stopover on the way back home from Australia in 2002. Unfortunately, we never got closer to it than this picture.

Gunung-Agung-Indonesia

 

7. Tronador, Argentina
Cerro Tronador may not look like a typical volcano but it’s still gorgeous in many ways. Its flanks are covered by glaciers and it is at least 1.000 metres higher than its surrounding mountains. It has been extinct for a long time however that doesn’t make Tronador (“Thunderer”) less impressive. Seen by us during our Patagonian roadtrip in March 2014.

Tronador

 

8. Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland
Probably the most famous volcano in Europe since its last eruption in 2010 which caused the air traffic to shut down for days and leaving people stranded all over the world. It can best be seen from the pretty Þórsmörk (Thórsmörk) valley, which can only be accessed by foot of 4X4 vehicle as many river crossings need to be made. It’s our favorite place for camping in Iceland and is visited by Martijn pretty much each year.

Eyafjallajokull

 

9. Mount Wrangell, Alaska
Although it may not look like one, Mount Wrangell is a shield volcano that is almost completely covered by ice. It has an elevation of 5.614 meters and it’s the only volcano in the Wrangell Volcanic field that has historically recorded eruptions. Anto passed by this one while roadtripping in Alaska in the spring of 2011.

Wrangell-Alaska

 

10. Licancabur, Chile
Isn’t this just the perfect stratovolcano? Licancabur is located in the Atacama desert, close to the Chilean border with Peru and Bolivia. Its elevation is 5.920 meters and no major eruptions have occurred during the past 1.000 years. Anto was here to experience the Atacama desert during a trip to Chile in 2012.

Licancabur-Chile
And ofcourse, there’s a couple that did not make it into our top 10 list:

Yellowstone, USA
A supercaldera however you can’t really see it. Beware if this supervolcano erupts, it may be soon, it may not be until long. It usually erupts every 600.000 years however it’s last eruption was 640.000 years ago. So it’s already 40.000 years overdue. Time to worry? Who knows… We wrote plenty of blogs about Yellowstone, click here to read them!

Yellowstone

 

Vulkan Eifel, Germany
The one closest to our home although it’s not really obviously volcanic from a distance. There are a few explosion craters and quite some other signs of volcanic activity, such as escaping gases. This region was visited by us in the fall of 2012.

vulkan-eifel


Lanin and Quetrupillán, Argentina and Chile
The two sisters of Villarrica that we mentioned earlier on. Quetrupillán erupted for the last time in 1872 and is 2.360 metres high. It can be seen at the back of the picture. The other one is Lanin, 3.776 metres high. The last eruption date is unknown, when we were road tripping here we were told that is has become extinct.

Lanin-Argentina

 

Ruapehu and Tongariro, New Zealand
Together with aforementioned Ngauruhoe these three are the most famous volcanoes in Tongariro National Park. Tongariro last erupted in 2012, the last major eruption of Ruapehu (right in the picture) was in 1996. All three are seen from the village of National Park and you can get up close and personal with them on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Tongariro-NewZealand

 

As we have come to the end of our list, we hrealise there are many more volcanoes we want to see and climb. Mount Fuji in Japan for example, maybe in 2015? Or how about Cotopaxi in Ecuador (actually second choice after visiting Patagonia this year). High up on our bucket list is climbing Mount Rinjani in Indonesia ever since we saw pictures of its stunning crater. Then there is Mount St. Helens in Washington State we’d love to see as well…

Which is your favorite volcano from our list? Which one would you like to add?

The Natural Wonders of the World series is an inspirational recurring serries on we12travel, made of pictures and stories of natural features that we came across during our travels. We love to share our passion for nature with you. Earlier episodes are about geysers and waterfalls.

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