Off road trekking experience on Mount Etna
During our trip to Sicily, we decided to go one day on Mount Etna. Mount Etna is an active volcano on the East coast of Sicily and very close to the place we stayed. At the start of our vacation, we booked an off road and trekking excursion for Mount Etna and Alcantara via the organisation Legendary Sicily. This excursion costs € 78,- and take you to unknown places around Mount Etna, which makes the excursion more than worth the price. In this article I will share my experiences about what we did during the day and which places we visited.
The excursion started at 9 a.m., when we were picked up by jeep at the Recanati bus terminal in Giardini-Naxos. The first part of the excursion took place in the jeep, where we went up the hill towards Mount Etna. We were, in total, with 13 persons and three jeeps. On the way, we stopped at a little village where we got an introduction of the excursion and general information about Mount Etna.
A little bit further we went off the normal road and drove to a place where we could see the lava flow of the 1971 eruption. We had to walk a little bit (15 minutes) before we got there, but it was so pretty! And there was nobody there, we were the only ones walking around the area. You could see the lava flow very well and there was a big difference between lava stones and green and yellow vegetation. That contrast was really beautiful! I really enjoyed the view over there and took many pictures. Some of them you can see above. At this point of the excursion, we were already on around 1.750 meters high.
After the stop, we went further upwards Mount Etna and stopped at a place where there were some shops and toilets. We decided to buy an ice cream. This day was the warmest day of the week, it was about 35 Celsius Degrees. We were very lucky, because at the top of Mount Etna we did not need an jacket for the cold, it was still very nice up there. Furthermore, we had clear skies, when the days after our excursion were very cloudy and the views would have been less beautiful at that time.
We ate our ice cream and used the toilet, where after we went hiking with the group. We hiked for approximately two hours upwards and at several points we stopped for some information and for taking pictures. It was pretty hard for me, but I do not hike a lot. I think if you hike much, it would be easier to do the climb. At the website of the organisation, I saw the hiking is at a level of easy/medium. However, the longer I hiked that day, the better it went. We went to a place where it was very pretty. We saw some of the most beautiful Etna’s lateral craters from the 2002 eruption and had some amazing views. Our highest point was about 2.050 meters. On the way, we also came across some goats, which is very rare on Mount Etna. They were walking with us during a part of the hike.
Furthermore, during the hike and when we went down again, we came across the big lava flow of the most recent significant eruption of 2002 which destroyed the ski station of Piano Provenzana.
After the hike we were going to lunch at Rifugio Ragabo, which was located in the woods a little bit downwards Mount Etna. We decided to try a tropical Sicilian dish, namely maccheroni Ragabo. The dish was served with self-made pasta. After lunch, we went into the woods and walked inside a lava tunnel with helmets and torches. Here we could see three lava levels on top of each other.
On our way back towards Taormina and Giardini-Naxos, we went through the vineyards territory of Castiglione di Sicilia towards the Alcantara regional river Park. Here we could see the famous Alcantara gorges with basalt column formations. The entrance of this park was included in the price of the excursion. It is a very beautiful park where you can swim or just chill during the day. We did not wear a swimming suit, but in order to see the basalt column formations, we had to go through the water. The water was very cold, which helped for the blood circulation. In my opinion, walking through the water was a little bit painful on my bare feet on the stones, but it was worth the walk when I saw the basalt walls. It is a very pretty image!
The visit to the Alcantara regional river Park was a nice ending of the excursion. It was good to wash off our feet after a long afternoon hiking. After the visit to Alcantara, we went further by jeep towards Giardini-Naxos and that is where the excursion ends.
This day and excursion was definitely the best part of the whole week during our vacation in Sicily. It is such a beautiful experience and I can really recommend you to visit Mount Etna when heading to Sicily! As well as the off road part of the excursion and Alcantara were really great and very much worth the price, so consider this when planning a day to Mount Etna. The guide was really great as well: he knew a lot about Mount Etna and was very enthusiastic in telling and showing us all the places. Of course there is also an ‘excursion’ to Mount Etna (so without off road and Alcantara) for approximately € 34,-. If you would like to have a cheaper excursion, this may be an option for you.
This really is a one in a life experience and you should experience is very well! At this point, I can cross off one of my bucket list items. Hiking on a volcano: check!