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Mount Etna -Sicily

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Aug 29th, 2015, 07:43 PM
  #1
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Mount Etna -Sicily

What is the difference between taking the hiking tour on the northern slope or doing lift+jeep+hiking on the southern? Where are better views? Heard that on the southern side can be crowded?
How much crowded? So that it can ruin the experience? What to choose?
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Aug 29th, 2015, 09:19 PM
  #2
kja
 
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My experience dates from 2007, so keep that in mind.

The lift + jeep, etc., takes you to the upper reaches of Mt. Etna, with just a last peak (the cone) to go -- and that peak can ONLY be done by foot. With sufficient time, one can choose to hike that last peak, but you DO need to watch the time! I chose not to try for that last, highest peak, and instead joined a tour to explore the upper area -- and for my interests, that worked extremely well. I thought the views magnificent -- but of course, those views are out over the distant surrounding countryside, not of the mountain itself.

Because access through the lift and jeep is restricted (only so many people can make any given transit), the top is unlikely to be crowded. Depending in the season, there might be long lines for the lift and or jeep, etc. I joined a tour out of Taormina, that also included the spectacular Gole dell'Alcantara, and part of the appeal to me of joining that tour was that we were more-or-less "waived through" all of the transit points, no matter how long the lines.

Hope that helps! Of course, I can't speak to YOUR interests.
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Aug 29th, 2015, 09:49 PM
  #3
 
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My experience was before KJA and a few weeks before an eruption that destroyed the shack from where we rented our parkas. It was that cold in May we needed jackets but the still warm lava was melting the bottom of our sneakers. All this about 600 from the summit.
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Aug 29th, 2015, 11:25 PM
  #4
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Thank you for your replies.Still not sure what to do
I'll try to be more specific. We'll be spending 2 nights at Zaferana Etnea and maybe one more near Taormina, so we have enough time and my interests are to see as much as possible , but I'm not sure we'll be willing to do both sides, so I'm trying to choose. I'm planning to go to Gole dell'Alcantara too on the other day, so I want a tour up Etna only.
We'll be at the end of September - it is low season, isn't it? If we'll come early would it possible to avoid lines?
Am I right that the cone can be visited only from the northern side? Is it worth waiting in lines? What about going into the crater or lava cave - is it possible only with a tour on the southern slope? And what about the views - are they similar in their beauty?
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Aug 29th, 2015, 11:33 PM
  #5
kja
 
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@ tasta & IMDonehere -

When I visited Etna, there had been a bit of lava flow in recent weeks. And there was a minor ejection just a week or so before I visited, when Etna sent a plume of dark material high into the upper reaches. I saw the plume grow while traveling from Agrigento to Enna, and then watched it for some time from Enna. I visited the mountain about a week after I saw it "smoking", and was assured that there was "no reason to worry" on the day I went. How very reassuring. ;-)

When I was there, the surface was, in part, so hot that I could feel it through my VERY thick soled shoes. In contrast, the wind whipping around my head was SO cold that I was glad to have earmuffs and eye goggles -- not to mention lots of warming layers in between.

I left with a profound sense of the power of nature. YMMV.
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Aug 29th, 2015, 11:37 PM
  #6
kja
 
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We were posting at the same time!

Unfortunately, I can't offer any more information than I already have....

Good luck!
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Jun 12th, 2016, 01:23 AM
  #7
 
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kja - can you remember who you did your tour with and/or how you organised it?

I'm trying to research [there now!] spending a day on Etna and was sure I could remember someone doing a tour - I think it may have been you!

Thanks.

Ann
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Jun 12th, 2016, 08:16 AM
  #8
kja
 
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@ annhig - Sorry, but I no longer have the name of the tour operator. I arranged it by signing up at my hotel (which was the Condor, but I'm sure most hotels in the area arrange similar things). I know I selected a tour that included both Mt. Etna and the Gole dell'Alcantara. This viator tour may have been the one, or something similar:
http://www.viator.com/tours/Taormina...9ALCANTARAETNA

Do, definitely, take sturdy walking shoes and warm layers if you go -- the top can be very cold and windy. Consider protective googles, too!
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Jun 12th, 2016, 09:01 AM
  #9
 
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thanks, kja - I'll ask the hotel. most of the tours I've found so far want a lot extra to pick up from Taormina which I'd like to avoid; presumably the hotel will have a firm that they use regularly. We'd also like to see the Gole too so I'll remember to ask about that.

and thanks for the tips about the shoes and warm layers, and goggles - I wouldn't have thought of that!
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Jun 12th, 2016, 04:37 PM
  #10
kja
 
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@ annhig -- The tour I booked, and the viator tour just mentioned, both start in Taormina. I doubt that you will have a problem finding a suitable option and agree that your hotel should be able to suggest one.

I visited Etna days after it had spewed some ash, and the winds were tossing small bits of grit about. Most was too heavy to reach my face, but I was glad to have something to protect my eyes and ensure that I didn't end up blinded by tears. My fellow travelers were quite jealous of my googles and earmuffs.
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