Posts tagged explore
An erupting volcano is without a doubt one of the most terrifying examples of the force of nature. Wild, uncontrolled and brutally impressive, volcanoes have the power to obliterate anything and everything that stands in their way. Pompeii (Italy), Kaimu (Hawaii) and Cagsawa (Philippines) are all towns that have been destroyed through the power of lava flows, mud flows and volcanic ash. There are a number of active volcanoes around the world which provide tourists with the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature in its rawest form.
Here are our Top 5 picks for active volcano viewing:
Iceland is the biggest active volcanic island in the world and, following last year’s widespread travel disruptions caused by the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, has to be top of the list. Iceland is one of the world’s most geologically active areas, a direct result of its location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. With such proximity to the fiery mantle, you can be assured of plenty of active volcanoes, hot geysers and geothermal springs, guaranteed to keep you hot and toasty on your vacation!
The Volcanoes National Park in Big Island, Hawaii encloses two of the state’s best known volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Hawaii itself comprises a chain of thousands of volcanic islands, a result of the movement of the Pacific plate over a mantle hotspot. Mauna Loa is the world’s most massive volcano, a huge 75,000km2 and is known for its lava flows that traditionally advance at walking pace. Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes on earth and is the most visited volcano, unsurprising given the on-going lava flows since 1983. Most recently, a new fissure eruption was recorded in March 2011.
A French island, situated in the Indian Ocean between Mauritius and Madagascar, Reunion is home to Piton de la Fournaise, an active volcano that last erupted in January 2010. Translated as “Furnace Peak”, tourists are able to take a relatively easy walk to the top of the mountain and, if you’re feeling brave, you can spend a night camping along the volcano rim. If that’s not going to give you a good enough view, consider splashing out on a helicopter trip – local aviation companies offer 1 hour helicopter trips that will give you the best possible view of the crater and its lava lake.
Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and is located on the island of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. With the longest period of documented volcanic eruptions in the world, Mount Etna most recently erupted in January 2011, with lava fountains, lava flows and ash columns on display. With tourist activities available all year round, you can snow ski on Mount Etna’s slopes in winter and hike through the woods in summer. But, looking at some of the amazing footage from the recent eruption, you might want to hold off on the hike until the volcano settles down again!
Mt Yasur on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, is believed to be the most easily accessible active volcano on earth today, despite it’s South Pacific location. Eruptions often take place several times an hour and as a general rule, the volcano is most active between late February and April. Like most volcanoes, the best pyrotechnic displays at Mt Yasur occur at dusk and during the evening and the short, but steep, climb to the summit means that irrespective of age or fitness level, most travellers have the opportunity to stand on the rim of an active volcano.
[Author’s note: Years ago, I was inspired to become a geologist, based largely on National Geographic’s phenomenal volcano programmes. Eighteen years later, I’m still waiting for the opportunity to stand on the crater of an active volcano, so this is a bit of a fantasy post for me!]
Race to the End: Amundsen, Scott and the Attainment of the South Pole – Ross D.E. McPhee
Race to the End: Amundsen, Scott and the Attainment of the South Pole was written to accompany the current American Museum of Natural History exhibit, focusing on the historical South Pole race between Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and British explorer Robert Falcon Scott.
Authored by the curator of the exhibition, Ross D.E. McPhee, the book is filled with original pictures, clippings and illustrations from both the successful Norwegian expedition and the failed British expedition. McPhee remains unbiased throughout the book, giving equal focus to both teams and providing justification for both good and poor leadership decisions.
Race to the End is beautifully illustrated and well written although, for the first three chapters, as we are introduced to both teams and their members, it does tend to jump around a bit. Even though we know how this story ends, McPhee turns a traditional coffee table book into a read that you will find as engrossing as any thriller.
If you are an Antarctic, adventure or exploration lover, Race to the End is an essential addition to your collection.
Race to the End: Amundsen, Scott and the Attainment of the South Pole, published by Sterling Innovation, is available at Exclusive Books stores around South Africa for R299 (or R227 online).
We have a copy of Race to the End to give away to one lucky reader who can correctly answer the following question:
Which museum is currently hosting the Race to the End exhibition?