|An exciting and challenging week with Exodus Travels, exploring the volcanoes of the Eolian Islands and eastern Sicily.
There were 16 people in the group, along with the local guide, Marco, a geologist who has a PhD associated with vulcanology.
The volcanism in the region is due chiefly to the prescence of the tectonic boundary between the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate which runs through the islands here north to south.
The trip started and finished in Catania, with walks on three of the Eonian Islands - Vulcano, Lipari and Stromboli. There are regular fast hydrofoil services between the islands and from the Sicilian mainland, for example, the trip from Stromboli back to Milazzo took less than two hours.
For the final two days we returned to the Sicilian mainland, with a couple of hours to visit the hillside town of Taormina before arriving at the huge Etna volcano complex, which covers 460 square miles.
Etna rises to 3,329 m (10,922 ft) and is the highest peak in Italy south of the Alps.
Of the three volcanoes we explored, Vulcano was the most sedate, its only visible activity being fumeroles, or vents emitting steam and gases such as sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide.
During our trek up to the rim of the crater we passed through clouds of gas and steam along an arc of fumeroles and had to breathe through handkerchiefs or scarves to avoid inhaling the acrid gases.
The most memorable of the three was Stromboli, a classic island volcano which is constantly active, with minor eruptions every few minutes from its three craters, each erupting in different ways, see the movies I took to see them in full action.
Etna is also constantly active, though when we reached the central crater there was only steam and gases emerging, with a mysterious sound coming from deep in the vent, as if there was a rough sea down there, with lapping waves!
|16 Sept||Air: Gatwick - Catania. Bus to Milazzo||Milazzo|
|1||17 Sept||Hydrofoil to Vulcano||Walk up and around dormant volcano||Lipari||click|
|2||18 Sept||Bus to west coast of Lipari||Walk down coast, picnic and east to town||Lipari||click|
|3||19 Sept||Hydrofoil to Stromboli||Walk to ash slopes below active volcano||Stromboli||click|
|4||20 Sept||Walk about in morning||Epic guided walk to crater of volcano||Stromboli||click||click|
|5||21 Sept||Hydrofoil to Milazzo. Bus to Taormina & Etna||Walk round Taormina||Etna||click|
|6||22 Sept||Cable car, 4x4 bus & walk||Guided ascent to central crater, Etna||Catania||click|
|7||23 Sept||Bus to airport||Guided walk in Catania before bus to airport||Gatwick||click|