"...an amazing experience....high on the adventure scale with lots of unforgettable memories."
Here is a summary of my latest and last adventure of 2019. It's a little long this time but I hope you will find it interesting.
I returned to Indonesia (my previous trip was in 2013) to explore some more volcanoes, this time in north Sulawesi and north Maluku. In between exploring the volcanoes, there was time for some sightseeing in Tomohon and surrounding area (visiting geothermal areas, Tongkoko national park) and Ternate. On the way back I had a 2 day stopover in Singapore (my first time in the city).
In total the exploration involved 6 active volcanoes:
The first 3 volcanoes, Lokon, Mahawu and Soputan (all stratovolcanoes in north Sulawesi) were quiet at the time of our visit apart from fumarolic acitivity in the crater of Lokon, depositing sulphur around the vents. The craters of all 3 volcanoes were impressive with excellent views of the surrounding areas. Mahawu last erupted in 1977, whereas both Lokon and Soputan had last erupted more recently, 2015 and 2018, respectively.
The other 3 volcanoes are in North Maluku and were erupting at the time of our visit:
1. Karangtang. A stratovolcano with 2 main craters, is located on Siau island (central Sangihe Islands) and is reached by an approx. 5h journey by ferry from Manado. We spent 2 nights observing gaseous basaltic lava flows from the south crater. On the first night we were camped out in a field in Hiung village and although the lava flows were only observed from the south crater (largely on the right flank), you could see a glow from the north. On the second night, we went higher up (a steep hike up from Winangun village) to observe the activity from a closer distance. The volcano was more active on the second night. We no longer saw the glow from the north crater, but the activity from the south crater had increased substantially, with lava flows on both flanks at times, and sometimes running down the middle in the direction where we were (but we were still a safe distance away!).
2. Dukono. A complex volcano located on the north western side of Halmahera. The volcano has been almost continuously erupting since 1933 - mixture of degassing, ash eruptions and strombolian activity from the vents in the crater shooting lava bombs high up in the air. The 3h hike up to the base of the crater (our campsite) was tough. The area was quite surreal and covered in ash. The volcano was continuously degassing (at times accompanied by ash eruptions) from the time we arrived. We set off at 2am to cautiously approach the rim of the crater and as we got near, put on the necessary safety equipment (goggles, helmet and gas mask). Peering down into the crater, we could see the glowing vent (as a guess about 150-200m down) and some strombolian activity . Although I tried, I was unable to get any decent footage of the activity due to the gases constantly disrupting the focussing of the camera and the fact that I was wearing safety goggles (making manual focussing difficult). However, simply peering down at the glowing vent, going in and out of view with the gasses passing over it, was really a sight to behold!
3. Ibu. Ibu is also a stratovolcano and it took us 4-5 hours to trek up the rim of the crater from where the vehicles dropped us. The hike was on a good, but at times a steep trail. As we approached the crater rim we came across some andesitic lava bombs from the 2018 eruption near the trail. We set up camp on the crater rim, looking across to the lava dome, which at relatively frequent intervals, belched out huge clouds of steam and ash, at times explosively sounding like an aeroplane taking off. At night you could see the glow of the lava bombs being emitted, and at times lightening during strong ash eruptions. On the first night, I briefly went to sleep in my tent but was woken up shortly after, at about 1.30 am, by the ground and the tent shaking from side to side. Although it seemed like a long time to me, I guess this was very brief (a few seconds). Apparently, the shaking was due to a 7.1 magnitude earthquake (depth of 45km) that occurred in the Molucca sea on or near the sub-ducted Halmahera plate and the overlying Sunda plate. The epicentre was approx 138km east of Bitung and approx. 150km west from where we were. Minor shakes (barely detectable) continued at intervals throughout the night and the next day. Although I had experienced similar earthquake shakes when young in Mbeya, Tanzania (the place where I was born and which is close to the African Rift valley), I must admit that this was a bit of a scary moment. On the second night, there was quite a lot of fog obscuring the view of the eruptions and so I took the opportunity to get some sleep. Which was just as well since at some point during the night, the wind had changed direction and the ash clouds instead of blowing away from the campsite, were now blowing directly above us. Ash rained down on the tents a few minutes after each eruption. Walking up the crater rim a little further you could look down across to the lava dome. It may be just my imagination, but the lava dome appeared to have grown a little over the time we were there and may be continuing to grow possibly leading to a big explosive eruption in the future!
Overall this trip was an amazing experience....high on the adventure scale with lots of unforgettable memories (like experiencing an earthquake whilst camped out on an active volcano). These volcanoes are some of the world's most active and I would like to acknowledge our guide and volcanologist, Andi Rosadi (who also cooked at the campsites), who made it possible for us to get up close and personal with them. Andi has a lot of experience of these volcanoes and is very familiar with their characteristics to know when, where and how to approach them safely. The trip was very well organised and the logistics were flawless.
My 2 day visit to Singapore was good but far too short as there are lots of attractions to cover. Those of you who have already been there will know that it is a vast contrast to most other cities in that it's clean, safe, controlled (for example you are not allowed to eat or drink in station concourses or trains) and efficient. The metro stations and the trains are air conditioned and offer respite from the hot humid conditions outside. I particularly enjoyed the gardens by the bay and the walk along the Singapore river to the bay, and of course, I couldn't come away without sampling the rather expensive but infamous Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel.
With best wishes, Jay
Jay R. (UK) about the recent Volcanoes & Spices tour in Aug 2018
Watch his great video: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jay-ramji/albums/72157712016402452
"...one of the impressive, organized tours I had take part in" (Jens-Wolfram E., about the Volcanoes & Spices tour)
Dear Tom, dear Irina,
returned at the mid of week from Indonesia, I’d like to give you a very positive feed back from our Tour "Volcanoes & Spices". Our indonesian guide, Andi Rosadi, and his team with Donald, John and all the other supporter and helper had made this journey to one of the impressive, organized tours I had take part in. We enjoyed not only an Adventure to visit some of the most active volcanoes in this region, we also were very happy to be with a real optimistical, engaged and enthusiatical guide who tried to feed us besides the expeditions - with the best meals Indonesia has to offer. Andi – one of the experts with best connections to his colleagues in this country - has had always an open ear to the problems of every member in the group and he was able to manage even the problems arising when people of vary different physical Fitness have the only dream: To be as close as possible to the „beasts“…
After the tours with „Volcanoes Discovery“ I traveled to the South in Sulawesi and from there to the Toraja-Area where an acquaintance of him showed me many interesting secrets like the rock graves not only in the touristic areas.
Dear Tom, dear Irina,
have again many thanks for this trip.
I wish you a great Christmas time and the best for 2020.
Jens-Wolfram Erben (Germany) about the recent Volcanoes & Spices tour in Nov 2019
...I highly recommend this trip. (Giannella G., USA, about the Etna Discovery tour)
Here is a short testimonial about my wonderful Mt. Etna experience:
I took Volcano Adventure’s “Etna Discovery” trekking excursion May 2019. Months later, I am still smiling over the great views, unexpected hornito eruption and excellent guiding by volcanologist, Evelyne Pradal. Each day we covered a new area, exploring the stunning diversity of Etna’s slopes — beech forests, tube caves, scorched lava sands, ropey pahoehoe, a stunning ash valley, and so much more.
Pradal knows Etna well, having led many groups there over the years. She and the local guides who accompanied us daily shared fascinating information about the history of the volcano and its lava flows. We stayed at a comfortable, rustic lodge, where every night after a hot shower and before dinner, we sat in front of a cozy fireplace discussing the day’s experiences over wine.
We trekked anywhere from three to six hours per day and spent one rest day visiting the lovely town of Taormina, a Norman castle built on top of a hydromagma volcano, and Gola Alcantara, a river canyon with spectacular, columnar lava formations. I highly recommend this trip. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I plan to do it again next year!
Here is the link to my Erta Ale article.
(Giannella G., USA, about the Etna Discovery tour)
We just wanted to thank you and your team again for making our recent volcano adventure in Kamchatka such a fantastic experience. The VD team of Irena, Andre, and Yasmin made sure we were well looked after at all times. Irena kept us well fed and happy no matter what the conditions; Yasmin’s vast knowledge and seemingly infinite enthusiasm were always inspiring; and Andre was the best adventure guide we’ve ever had! All in all it was just amazing. We were lucky with the weather and the volcanoes, but the VD team and our engaging group made everything perfect. So thanks again! Perhaps we will meet again on a volcano in the future.
(Mike & Leslie, AU about the Kamchatka expedition in Aug 2019)
"a great trip to the far east of Sibiria, Kamtchatka, with loads of volcanoes, bears (and a few mosquitoes)" (Kamchatka expedition in Aug 2019)
I recently returned from a great trip to the far east of Sibiria, Kamtchatka, with loads of volcanoes, bears (and a few mosquitoes). Thanks so much to our guides, Irina, Andrey and Yashmin who made this great experience possible!
(Markus Heuer, DE about the Kamchatka expedition in Aug 2019)
We want to say thank you for a wonderful trip in Kamchatka, we have enjoyed very much to see such a huge nature, active volcanoes and eruptions and every time you have take care or us . Our food was excellent. Our group was perfect. Next time when we have a chance to visit Kamchatka again, we would like to see more from the country, its history and residents.
Many greetings and all the best wishes to you!
(Christine Reuter and Peter Schöderlein, DE about the Kamchatka expedition in Aug 2019)
"Kamchatka is a spectacular place with the most impressive volcanoes I have seen" (Kamchatka expedition in Aug 2019)
I toured the volcanoes of Kamchatka with Volcano Discovery in August of 2019. Kamchatka is a spectacular place with the most impressive volcanoes I have seen. The area is a true wilderness with little infrastructure and few towns yet we were very comfortable on the tour. Our campsites were well chosen, the meal tent was spacious and comfortable and the food was amazing given the remoteness. Hiking and camping makes for a good appetite but we were always well fed with lots of good food. The Volcano Discovery staff were very friendly, cheerful and committed to ensuring we had a good time and got the most out of our trip. The guides were knowledgeable and the hikes well chosen and explained. I would repeat the trip with Volcano Discovery, it was that good, but there are so many other volcanoes still to see. I have already booked on the Volcano Discovery trekking tour to the Molucca Sea, Sulawesi, Karangetang and Halmahera in May next year.
(Gordon Graham about the Kamchatka expedition in Aug 2019)
Thank you for the photos. Some great memories.
Enjoyed all the volcanology tutorials, you were very patient with my endless questions.
Also enjoyed our more wide ranging evening time conversations fuelled by Abkhazian vino and vodka!
Until the next time.
(Guy L., UK about the Kamchatka expedition in Sep 2019
"Thanks for making our visit a great experience" (Larray & Linda from Oregon about the tour on Santorini)
Feedback from our guests
The small group, guided by Tobias Schorr
The cinder cone and red beach at Acrotiri.
Often, we receive very nice cards or other small signs of appreciation after a tour has ended. Here's an example from our recent tour tour on Santorini in May 2019. More photos of the tour you can find here Tour Photos.
‘wonderful memories of my trip to Ethiopia -- and especially Erta Ale!’
We just said good bye to Enku and our driver, Misfen, at Lalibela airport. This has been a most wonderful trip. Thank you so much for the organization and thoughtfulness behind all of it. It’s the best trip of my life, really!
Erta Ale was smoking fiercely last week. We did not see the lava lake, unfortunately, because of the fumes. However, our three days spent trekking on the caldera, observing the lava fields, hornitos, Pele's hair, fissures, etc, offered me much satisfaction. Last year, the lava lake was splendid, bubbling like a cauldron, but there was only time to see it once in the dark. So my two occasions on Ethiopia's most active volcano, last year and this, complemented each other and gave me full satisfaction.
Very best regards and many thanks,”
- Giannella G (from US) about her participation on our 14 days Desert, salt and volcanoes expedition in the Danakil depression, Ethiopia in December 2018.
advice for travelling to the Kurille Islands
"...My advice for traveling to the Kurile Islands is as follows:
- There are many rivers on the islands, they are full of fish, the fishing methods would not make "flyfishing monthly", however the caviar is excellent.
- Most Russian volcanologist's carry guns in the field, ostensibly for protection against bears, I only saw them used to shoot ducks for dinner.
- I had no idea how much remnant Japanese WWII enforcements were still there.
- The seaweed salad is excellent.
- If the border guards offer you their hooch, sip delicately, it is an acquired taste and you could probably run a truck on it.
Lois T." (Australia)
"...our awesome adventure together..." (Chris K., about the Volcanoes & Spices tour)
Group on Dukono volcano (image: screengrab of Chris' video)
Finally got through to finishing the holiday video, hopefully this acts as a good reminder of our awesome adventure together, for years to come.
Hope you're all doing well! "
Chris K. (Germany) about the recent Volcanoes & Spices tour in Aug 2018
Watch his great video: Video on Vimeo
"I'm glad to had shared those days with you..." (Roberto from Spain about the Krakatau Special Oct 2018)
Eruption of Krakatau with lightning 13 Oct 2018 (image: Roberto)
Vulcanian explosion of Krakatau 13 Oct 2018 (image: Roberto)
Strombolian eruption of Krakatau 15 Oct 2018 (image: Roberto)
"Hi Krakatau colleagues! I hope you all are safe after our last trip!
I'm just seated in front of my PC having a look once I've just back up twice my pictures, and preparing a quick selection to show them to my parents this weekend.
Let me say that I'm glad to had shared those days with you and hope see you in future in whatever adventure!
(Roberto C. F. G. from Spain about the 12-17 Krakatau volcano special)
Roberto's website: www.paisajesdelmundo.net
Instagram Nick: naturaabstracta
Valley of Geysers video screenshot (see link)
My second trip of 2018 was again a return visit to a place I had been before. This time it was to the Kamchatka peninsula in the far east of Russia.
September is normally a good time to visit Kamchatka....the weather is generally more stable with less rain and less mosquitoes. However, unfortunately this year like everywhere else in the world, the region was experiencing unusual weather patterns. The tail ends of the cyclones bombarding Japan were at times outreaching the peninsula. So on some days, particularly in central Kamchatka, mainly cloud and fog but sometimes rain obscured the views and prevented a proper exploration of the area.
However, there were times when the clouds/fog did clear and we did manage to see the volcanoes. This area is one of the most volcanically active region of the world but when eruptions occur they don't make national news headlines as they don't cause the devastation as in other areas due to the fact they are in remote uninhabited areas. Unfortunately the volcanoes at the times of our visit were relatively quiet apart from some degassing (Klyuchevskaya, Bezymianny, Shiveluch and Karymsky volcanoes) and some small ash eruptions from Karymsky volcano.
However, overall, I had a great time. In the end we did see all the volcanoes on the plan. We had good weather at Karymsky volcano and we were able to do some hikes in the surrounding area.
We visited the geothermal areas on Mutnovsky volcano (crater), Valley of the Geysers and the Uzon caldera which were absolutely fascinating. In particular, the geothermal area in the Uzon caldera against the backdrop of the autumn colours was just spectacular (one of the best I've seen in the world, on par or even better than those in New Zealand and Iceland....can't compare with Yellowstone as I haven't been there as yet).
We also saw 3 brown bears in the wild, one relatively close which was more interested in gorging on autumn berries than in us even though being aware of our presence.
We had a really good group on the trip and the food was excellent. I'm not normally a fan of salmon, but wild caught red salmon was in abundance in the region (caviar, smoked or cooked in different ways) and delicious. Another highlight of the trip was that we had a very interesting lecture from Prof. Ozerov at the institute of Volcanology and Seismology in Petropavlovsk on some of the research being conducted on how eruptions occur.
So the obvious question is 'would I go there a third time?'. The answer of course has to be 'yes'. Although Kamchatka is more developed and has better infrastructure now than in 2000, the area, in particular the central part with a large concentration of active volcanoes, still appears to be very remote and access still difficult (no proper roads .....requiring large wheeled 'army' type trucks or helicopters to get there) providing a real sense of adventure which is a great lure for me.
In addition, I would still like to see at least one of the volcanoes in this rather remote setting in full eruption. I can definitely see myself going there again, probably not in the immediate future but perhaps in a few years time.....but not 18 years later (lol!).
(Jay R., UK, about the Sep 2018 Kamchatka volcano expedition)
See: Jay's videos from the trip on Flickr!
‘We had a wonderful time in Ethiopia!’
Rebecca and Adam at the hydrothermal deposits of Dallol
Standing on the rim of the south crater in Erta Ale's summit caldera (image: Rebecca W)
Nighttime observation of the lava lake in the south crater (image: Rebecca W)
Overall it was an incredible trip and a very memorable time. Aside from the trip, your guidance this entire time was above and beyond - so impressed with your service Ingrid! I’m definitely happy to book travel with your company in the future and have shared VolcanoTours with some friends who have inquired about my photos.
The fissure site was interesting and exciting. The last visit to the caldera at night was the highlight for me since we saw the lava then! ... After staying the night in Dallol, we spent the morning exploring the different sites in the geothermal area. Very interesting and exciting to see! It was a great morning.
I cannot speak more highly of Enku! He was a wonderful guide: very knowledgeable, great listener, professional and tactful, and willing to be flexible with schedule. He was there for our every need as much as possible. I found base camp to be comfortable and the food prepared by the cooks to be very good.
- Rebecca W (from US) about her participation on our 8 days Volcanoes of the Danakil Desert in June 2018.
"Hello dear Ingrid and Tom,
Return in Manado and feedback: the trip was wonderful and all was perfect. Andi is a fantastic guide.
(Siegfried N., Germany, about the Volcanoes and Spices tour in July 2018)
‘...Few holidays will be more memorable than a week like this in Ethiopia...’
Simeon enjoying the natural spa experience at Assale salt lake
Peak down to the actively churning lava lake in the south crater of Erta Ale's summit caldera (image: Simeon B)
Danakil expedition leader Enku at the hydrothermal deposits of Dallol (image: Simeon B)
thanks for putting together this excellent 8-day itinerary! It is a perfect length of time to get a first feel for an amazing part of Ethiopia, a fascinating country well worth visiting for geology/tourism.
It was (very) hot, in the low to mid 40s C (100-110 deg. F), on most of the days but timing happened to coincide with full moon which was an advantage for the walk to/from base camp to Erta Ale and for the memorable short walk from the crater rim camp to the viewing cliff edge of the volcano at night. The varicoloured, amazing rock formations associated with salt and other halites influenced by hydrothermal activity near Dalol made a lasting impression and were an excellent photo opportunity even for amateur photographers.
Our guide Enku was great fun to be with and I appreciated hisbroad geological knowledge and enthusiasm for volcanoes. He has some key skills and experience of importance for negotiating with the Afar people to find a tailored solution within the constraints of the arduous conditions. His team was very capable and worked very hard to make our holiday a success. This included highly competent driving, at times over rough off-road terrain, in 2 well equipped vehicles, preparation of delicious food of very good quality for the hot conditions and in quantity that would suit the most healthy of appetites.
The information provided by Volcano Adventures was detailed and comprehensive. It is well worth reading through it all in advance to be prepared for a true expedition with hardships contrasted with delightful colourful experiences. Few holidays will be more memorable than a week like this in Ethiopia, in and around Erta Ale volcano. We went in the heat of the summer at the end of June - this time of year is recommended for the fit of strong constitution. The cooler time of year from November to March would appeal more to many but June, being the 'low season' had its own beauty.
All the best”
- Simeon B (from UK) about his participation on our 8 days Volcanoes of the Danakil Desert in June 2018.
'You have been great throughout the entire process with regard to communication and updates'
Again, thank you for all your efforts, but I have decided to withdraw from the entire trip and accept the full refund. You have been exceptionally helpful and diligent with your communications. I hope to make a journey with VolcanoAdventures in the future."
- Barbara O. (USA) regarding the cancellation of her Nyiragongo lava lake and mountain gorillas' expedition from 24 June to 1 July 2018 due to closure of Virunga NP.
"It was a wonderful experience"
I have not written you before because I came back home last Sunday.
IT WAS A WONDERFUL EXPRECIENCE. Yashmin is am absolute incredible person, so helpful and patient and overall full of knowledge.
THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THE OPPORTUNITY YOU HAVE GIVEN US."
(Guillermo R., from Mexico about the Stromboli to Etna tour)
"it was great to have a guide who was so knowledgeable and competent"
Just a quick note to say how much Gwyneth and I enjoyed our first tour with you: I don't think it will be our last! A very impressive 'product'.
Yashmin was very solicitous of my mobility problems and I managed to achieve more than I thought. Everything was organised very smoothly and it was great to have a guide who was so knowledgeable and competent.
- Dave E. (UK) about their From Stromboli to Etna in May 2018