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Etna volcano


In Sicily, Mount Etna is a mountain that you can't miss, of course. The highest volcano in Europe and still active. From an altitude of 3350 meters, Mount Etna dominates the island of Sicily. Driving up is already an experience. Along ancient lava eruptions, through the forest, along the citrus trees or vineyards. It remains a beautiful sight and a wonder of nature.

We first drove up south via Etna. We've been here twice before, in 2004 and 2017, but it's still great to watch. What's different now is that it's winter. Last time we were there in the summer and it is dusty on top of the mountain, but with clear visibility. Now it was foggy, it was blowing hard and it was cold. Thick coat on, hat on, scarf around and yet the wind cuts through you. Even Misty thought it was too cold.

If you are ‘above’ at 2000 meters on the south side (by car or camper) you can go even higher with a cable car to 2500 meters. From there you can't just go up further. There are then 4wd vans that take you up to 2800 meters where you can walk under the guidance of a guide. You can't go higher because of the many small eruptions of the past year. The volcano is restless and safety for visitors is the top priority. So you don't get all the way up. Not entirely unimportant, if you want to travel up to 2800 meters, this will cost you €60 per person.

In 2004 kon dit niet vanwege de uitbarstingen in 2001 en 2002. Deze waren toen zo groot dat grote delen van de zuid- en noordkant zijn verwoest. Inclusief de kabelbaan, de skifaciliteiten, de provinciale weg omhoog en een hotel op de noordzijde. In een paar dagen was de lava bijna de eerste dorpen genaderd richting het dal. Gelukkig is de lavastroom net op tijd gestopt.

The south side is the most touristy side. Many tourists and buses go up this side. There are therefore many shops with ‘original’ souvenirs and several restaurants. However, you can also walk on the crater of 2001 on the south side. We did this in 2017, not now because of the wind. And you can walk around the crater of the 1986 eruption, we have now done that and was cold enough for all three of us.

On the return journey, the idea spontaneously arose to also drive up the north side. How glad we are to have done this. The north side is, in my opinion, still beautiful in nature than the south side. You can see very well the lava eruption of 2002 when you drive up. You drive up through the forest and then suddenly you drive into a ‘march landscape’, and just as suddenly as this started this stops and you drive back into the forest. Every time you go through a bend and swing further up you see this phenomenon. Large rocks, solidified lava, black, brown with the occasional small tree rising again.

You can also ski at the top of the north side, provided there is enough snow. The ski facilities were rebuilt after the 2002 eruption, as was the cable car on the south side. From the north side, group excursions are mainly organized upwards.

The south side was in the fog, but the north side was fairly clear and beautifully snowy white. That produces beautiful photos, but also a powerful difference in landscape that I like to see. Trees that have been knocked down like matchwoods by the lava and were still on the side of the lava flow. Lava that runs meters high flat along the ski slopes. And we saw a commemorative sign of the hotel buried by the lava in 2002. It seems that you can still see a bit of the hotel, but we only found out afterwards.

The Sicilians live with this volcano. They rebuild the structure after eruptions, grow lemons and wine on the slope. Create walking routes up, restore the roads if necessary. I love seeing, but don't have to think about experiencing such a powerful eruption. A small one :-). I regularly look at Etna's webcams and especially when it's dark you can see the small eruptions. Looking for something with safe insecurity haha.

Visiting Etna? Yes, do it! P.S. On request below a photo together with Misty


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