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The best signpost for hiking on Mount Etna



The hike

1. The cable car

Cable car to Mount Etna

From Rifugio Sapienza, we stop at the meeting point, splitting it into groups for a scenic drive up to 2500 meters.

More chaos here, in a building whose expiration date has long been exceeded and is simply no longer designed for the number of visitors it has to deal with on a daily basis.

There were two attempts to build new ropeways, but both were destroyed by recent eruptions,

You are kindly requested to wear your helmet so that you can join the "Special Line" for tours that really chop off all people who do not wear a helmet because their leash moves faster than theirs.

Finally, you will filter through a small gap and get on the cable car.

The view is a bit clouded by the scratched plexiglass of the cable car windows. But you get a first glimpse of how big and dramatic Etna is as you ascend into the clouds, over the black lava fields and the tiny people walking the path.

Upon your arrival, you will be filtered to wait for the 4×4 bus, which will receive special treatment again as you are wearing a helmet!

2. The 4×4 busmt. Etna Truck to the new cable car station

As soon as we leave the cable car, we take a 4X4 bus to drive along the slopes, and solidified lava flows to 2,920 meters

That's amazing. They are like buses on steroids with huge tires and visible shock absorbers.

It was a bumpy ride at 2,920m altitude where the & # 39; new & # 39; Cable car station has melted due to an outbreak of recent times!

There are no facilities here (because they are all melted by the eruption!). So use the toilet at the cable car station before getting on the bus.

3. What to expect

Your guide introduces himself and you drive over a lava region. The path here is fairly flat and easy with lots of volcanic sand and sand.

At some point the guide stops and gives you an overview of your surroundings, every visible crater and the dates of the last eruptions of Mount Etna.

If you stand and listen and feel like being on the moon, steam will wrap around your feet and legs and you'll find yourself standing on Mother Nature's own underfloor heating!

4. The ascent

Visit to Etna | Rise above the clouds

The route to the Etna summit changes regularly, but in the last 421 meters you can expect some snow, ice and a fairly steep climb.

At some point we crossed a steep slope with ice fields, which I found very challenging. You will definitely need your poles here, I only took one pole and wished I had two.

Etna summit and crater hike

It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach the first main crater. Your guide regularly stops on the way up to give information and make sure that the stalkers can keep up.

Volcano walk on Etna | Hiker at the crater

5. The main summit craters

As you get over the last lip of the ascent and see the crater in front of you, be prepared to be impressed. The rumble of deep magma as it erupts underground is inevitable.

Smell the spicy sulfur in the air. Breathe too deeply and you will cough with it!

The summit is a monochrome lunar landscape. But the occasional ocher and green of the rock and sulfur deposits is beautiful.

When you stand on the edge of the abyss and look at the rippling smoke and the sulfur rising from the depths, feel the power of Etna. It is troubling to know the depths but not being able to see the reason.

If you stand on the edge, you can feel the heat that warms your face.

It's a shock to turn to the snappy wind whistling over the top.

You will drive around the crater and along the lip in strict single file.

We stopped at various points to exchange information and wait for sulfur clouds to fly over us.

There are fascinating holes that rise as you pass. You can reach in and feel the heat. But be careful not to fall over.

mt. Etna sulpher smoke

You are now above the clouds and the view is incredible in all directions. Crater, steam and sulfur in one direction, blue sky over white clouds in the other direction.

This will be the best view of the lunch you have ever had!

The lunch break on Mount Etna takes about 20 minutes and you get really cold.

Be prepared that there is no real private nowhere if you need to pee, but everyone is in the same boat and people just look away.

The tour guide gives you a lot of red wine and offers coffee. We took a bottle of tea and it was really amazing!

You spend about an hour plus lunch on the summit with plenty of opportunities for photos and questions before you begin the descent.

6. The descent

The descent was almost as challenging as the climb! We spent a lot of time gliding through soft volcanic sand and ash.

It was a bit like running down a steep sand dune down to the sea, except that there was no sea. Only lava fields that extend in front of you.

When you come down, you'll see how big they are and how scary it must be when an eruption occurs and the lava flows begin.

On 3 December 2015, there was an eruption that led to a lava fountain that reached a height of 1 km!

There were areas of ice and snow to cross, but they were easy to handle. We were pretty fast in the lower craters.

<img class = "aligncenter wp-image-98776 size-full” alt=”Etna the descent” width=”735″ height=”980″ data-lazy- data-src=”https://theplanetd.com/images/mount-etna-climb-the-descen-9t.jpeg”/>

7. The lower craters of Etna

Equally fascinating and easier to cross are the lower craters of recent eruptions. The trail is much thinner here if you follow the edge, with steep slopes on both sides.

From here, continue the trek up to the cable car station before boarding and returning to Sapienza Hut.

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The best way to climb Mount Etna in Sicily

The experience

If you are in Sicily you are Got to Go to Etna. Even if you only go to Sapienza Refuge for a day trip and take a short hike to the crater literally next to the parking lot, Do it.

This is a unique opportunity that should not be missed.

If you can afford it and are fit enough to hike to the top, we recommend the guided hike.

Not only will you be safe in the hands of an experienced mountain guide, but you will also share insights and information that will give you a whole new appreciation for Etna's immense power and unpredictability.

I promise you, you will be impressed and wonder that Mother Nature can bring beauty and terror to the same place.


We are Phil and Izzy. In early 2018, we sold our house, which we had renovated for six years, bought a camper and gave up work. Since then we have been away.

We love to find and explore new places and to be on wheels.

We are adventure seekers with a taste for space, stay active and are on and on the water.

We are also travel bloggers and photographers with a passion for sharing our stories and adventures at The Gap Decaders

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram @the_gap_decaders, Twitter and Pinterest

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