by Aldo Torrisi, 09/06/2015

The “Mountain of Mountains”, Gebel Gebel, this is suggestively the other name of the volcano, Mongibello. Capped in snow during the winter, Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in Europe, its height repeatedly modified by eruptions is now around 3.350mt. Etna is one of the major attractions of the island, not only for the impressive display offered by the volcanic activity, but also for the possibility of hiking on  trails, riding horses, enjoying jeep off-road tours. The Etna Park is 59,000 hectares large, established in 1987 is divided into five zones. There are many opportunities to explore this force of nature.
In order to give you an idea we’ve selected 2 itinerary suggestions for jeep off road experiences suitable for everyone but you can enquiry for a tailored itinerary directly to our professional staff.

Timing:  08.30am.  – 05.30pm. Area: Etna South – Etna North – Difficulty: EASY – Suggested season: All Year
This could be the most complete experience on Etna Park. We cross all the park from south to north slopes for an exciting adventure through the full area of Etna. The tour includes the ascent to 3,000 meters by cable car and 4×4 minibus. Once on top a licensed guide will accompany you to the edge of the current active craters. After this awesome experience we continue to discover other ancient craters formed during the 19th century. Then we visit one of the most characteristic cave of lava flow with the proper equipment like real cavers. But Etna is also renowned for its excellent cuisine. You will taste a typical Sicilian lunch rich in seasonal product from the surrounding area with excellent wine Etna DOC. After lunch we continue with funny off road route on ancient lava flow reaching one of the most spectacular sights directly on the “Valle del Bove” with lava flows produced by recent eruptions.
Equipment Recommended: wind jacket, hat, sunscreen and camera. Remember to wear closed shoes (hiking boots or sneakers) and suitable clothing according to weather conditions.

Timing:  09.00am  – 05.30pm – Area: Etna North  Difficulty: EASY – Suggested season: All Year
This itinerary could be a fantastic experience from the northern side of the volcano between forest trails and fun off-road paths on ancient lava flows and the extreme frontier of the volcanic area in the Alcantara Valley where we found one of the ancient craters of Etna whose lava flow thanks to wonder of nature has created the fabulous canyon of Alcantara River. The tour includes a short hiking on top of ancient craters to better understand the structure of the volcano. Then we continue exploring a lava flow cave equipped with ropes, flashlights and helmets like real cavers. Finally, we reach Mount Belvedere for a breathtaking view of the whole “Valle del Bove” that collects recent lava flows. Lunch time with typical Sicilian seasonal products from the surrounding area and accompanied by excellent wine Etna DOC. After lunch we continue along the margins of the volcanic area to reach the Alcantara Gorges, natural canyons of basaltic lava rock formed thousands of years ago, modeled by the rapid flow of the icy river Alcantara.
Equipment Recommended: wind jacket, hat, sunscreen and camera. Remember to wear closed shoes (hiking boots or sneakers) and suitable clothing according to weather conditions.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in Europe, its height repeatedly modified by eruptions is now around 3.350mt. The Etna Park is 59,000 hectares large, established in 1987 is divided into five zones. There are many opportunities to explore this wonder of nature: hiking trails, riding horses, jeep off-road tours.
In order to give you an idea we’ve selected 2 itinerary suggestions for trekking/hiking lovers but you can enquiry for a tailored itinerary directly to our professional staff.

Timing: 9.00 pm – 1.30 pm –  Route: 4×4 Tour + EASY HIKING –  Maximum Altitude: 1300 mt
Pick up from your hotel at 09.00 with Jeep. We reach the upper level of Zafferana city at the base of the Val Calanna. This area was threatened from a huge lava flow on 1992. The eruption started on early 1991 and continue for one year till may 1992. We stop at the base of Val Calanna and start a soft trekking path to reach Monte Calanna inside Valle del Bove and the main course of Lava flow. The route will be on the middle of lava rocks, chestnut trees and other endemically plants characteristic of this area. Once on the Bove’s Valley you’ll have a complete view of all recent lava flows. After this amazing tour we’ll be delighted with a tasty of local honey and pastry.
Equipment Recommended: wind jacket, hat, sunscreen and camera. Remember to wear closed shoes (hiking boots or sneakers) and suitable clothing according to weather conditions

Timing: 9.00 am –  6.00 pm – Route:  4×4 Tour + EASY HIKING – Maximum Altitude: 1900 mt
Easy trail, suitable for all ages and abilities in the magnificent Alcantara Valley through the ruins of ancient Arab and Norman dominations. We stop for a hiking tour and we notice a small hydroelectric plant one of the first electric source of the area dated 800 AD. Then an ancient tannery dated 1200 AD, and two rare Byzantine Cuba Churches. From this site we follow an easy path along the river Alcantara reaching the Gurne, 16 small lakes carved out by the river flow into the rocks, creating a unique scenery. For lunch we’ve reserved a delightful wine tasting and cellar visit. After lunch we continue with an easy hiking on the paths of Mt Mojo, a peculiar old crater that is not part of Mount Etna, from the top you will appreciate a stunning view of all the Alcantara Valley.
Equipment Recommended: wind jacket, hat, sunscreen and camera. Remember to wear closed shoes (hiking boots or sneakers) and suitable clothing according to weather conditions

The whole province of Catania is dominated by Etna. The most majestic active volcano in Europe, Unesco World Heritage Site since 2013. The lava of Etna is present just about everywhere in the city and the towns, in cliffs and hills, the color of lava is dominant and even the local produce takes on this color. Living with the Volcano is now almost part of the genetic make-up of the people of this territory. Etna was formed about 500,000 years ago. The scientific explanation of its birth is directly connected to the phenomenon of continental drift and particularly the colossal clash between the African and Eurasian shelves, the same clash that probably caused the creation of the Alps and Himalayas. The immense impact between the two shelves caused the compression of the magma that was deep below the sea and it came out violently creating Etna. The history of Etna is still fundamentally based on myths and number of eruptions recorded which is certainly much lower than the real number. Several centuries before Christ there are already references to the activity of the Volcano in historical resources. From the end of 1st century AD onwards more eruptions are documented, about 200 up to the present day. One of the most serious happened in 1669, with strong tremors and explosions which creates Monti Rossi behind Nicolosi on the south slopes and the lava almost completely covered Catania in just 18 days. After this we have other eruptions during all the 19th century which has formed Monte Gemellaro and the craters of Monti Silvestri. In the 20th century there have been numerous eruptions some of one year long which destroyed vineyards, the cable car till the most renewed all over Italy on 1992 that was threatening the town of Zafferana. The landscape of the Catania province is greatly influenced by the presence of Etna which occupies a vast area, its circumference at the base is about 250km, numerous towns have grown up on its slopes, the total height of the mountain is 3.400mt (12.500 feet). It is true to say that the life revolves around the foot of the mountain, so much that the towns here are connected by the famous Circumetnea railway, opened at the end of 19th century. The lava of Etna is particularly fluid (the temperature of the magma is about 1000 °C). The fluidity means that gases escape more easily, reducing the risk of explosions, but it means also speed, the lava flows quickly and can cover great distances in a short time. Overall it can be said that Etna is rather moderate as regards explosions and expulsion of lava and lapilli. This is due to the fact that every day it gives off tones of gases and sulphor dioxide into the air maintaining an acceptable level of internal pressure. Etna has four summit eruptive craters New Crater, Central Crater, South eastern Crater and North Eastern Crater, and numerous lateral craters. The Etna Regional Nature Park was set up in 1987 and covers 60.000 hectares including 20 district councils of the province of Catania.

At sea-level along the coast the vegetation is mostly halophiles, as you begin to climb up starts growing apples, citrus fruits, pears, nuts, pistachios, almonds and naturally grapes. These gradually give way to pinewoods, ilex groves, oak woods and chestnut woods. From 1.500mt to 2000mt the landscape is dominated by beech-trees, aetnesis birches and large fragrant gorse bushes. Above 2000mt you only find extremely hardy plants such as groundsel and mouse-ear chickweed. The fauna is also very interesting. You find porcupines, foxes, wild rabbits, wild cats, hedgehogs, dormice and vipers. The park is populated by both diurnal and nocturnal birds: Golden eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Kestrels, Rock Partridges, Scopes owls, Buzzards, tawny owls.
In the area of an active volcano the layers of volcanic soil undergo continual changes because of volcanic activity. Although the climate is a Mediterranean one, it varies according to the altitude, conditioning the type of plant life.

One aspect of the volcano Etna that should not be forgotten is the presence of numerous cavities that exist all over its slopes, the only volcanic caves in the whole of continental Europe. They are formed along with the rock that contains them, during the lava flows of a volcanic eruption. Consequently it takes a relatively short time for them to form, a period of one week to a few months. We find two principal types of volcanic caves: lava tunnels (or lava flow tunnels) and caves in fracture. Lava tunnels are what remains of channels, now solidified, through which the lava flowed internally and which later emptied because of drainage or because of erosion of the bottom. They conserve an interesting morphology such as: sections of varying geometry, stalactites on the roof, lateral curling rolls formed by the rapid drainage of the lava flow, shelves and shills sticking out from the walls formed by a sudden slowing down of the lava flow. There are more than 200 volcanic caves on Etna today and new ones are continually discovered, mapped and registered. Certainly the most famous cave on Etna is the Gelo Cave, situated at an altitude of 2.043mt and contains spectacular glacier that is present all year long.

The Alcantara River is just under 50km long in all and marks part of the border between the provinces of Catania and Messina. The river rises in the Nebrodi mountains near Floresta and flows into the sea near Taormina, crossing the territory of 15 districts in the two provinces. The Greeks are said to have called it “Akesine”, “healing river”, but some claim that Akesine corresponds in reality to the Fiumefreddo River. The Romans area said to have called it “onabala” but some believe this was the name of a torrent. Indeed the Arabs, who always changed names of the places they conquered according to the characteristics of the place, called the river “Al Qantarah” which means bridge. The origin of the walls of the Gorge is clearly linked to a volcanic eruption of long ago, from Monte Mojo the most unpredictable secondary crater on Etna. The flow was made up of basic lava, more fluid than acidic lava and slower to solidify. It flowed along the Alcantara, blocking the river and reached the sea where it created the small peninsula of capo Schisò. The peculiarity of the Gorges is due to the fact that water erosion over the centuries has revealed the internal conformation of the thick basalt walls. They have a column structure with hexagonal and pentagonal prisms that are mostly perpendicular to the height of the walls. This geological phenomenon is determined by the cooling of the lava, which begins externally and gradually reaches the interior. The Alcantara Gorge is one of the most spectacular examples of this phenomenon in Europe.

The oldest human settlements on Etna can be traced back to the Neolithic period (6th-3rd millennium BC) when man developed his knowledge of the production of tools for deforesting, tilling and farming the fertile lands. Certainly apart from building villages of huts they also took advantage of the numerous caves created by lava flows which offered safe, warm and comfortable shelter. There is very little archaeological material available to allow the formulation of hypotheses about these early phases of life on Etna, also because of the continuous disastrous events that have frequently changed the landscape.
The native and Greek settlements on the slopes of Etna can be dated to much more recent times, between the 9th and 6th centuries BC. Near Paternò, in the district of Pietralunga on a bend of the River Simeto, a village of oval huts was built and the objects found date back to the 9th century BC. Adrano is also the site of one of the most important Greek settlements of the whole Etna area, and that is Adranon, dedicated to the god of the volcano that cast its huge shadow across the town and surrounding area. The arrival of the Greeks on the slopes of Etna modified the landscape profoundly, the trees of the forest were used to build houses and ships, the sides of the mountain were dug to create terraces for planting vines, large blocks of lava were hewn and cut in order to construct formidable walls to defend city, river beds were used to transport stones, trees and agricultural produce. For the ancient Greeks the eruptions of Etna were attributed to the monster Tifeo or the giant Encelado, imprisoned by Zeus under the volcano. In some texts Etna is described as the workshop of Efesto-Vulcan. The devastating fury of Etna is also referred to in the classical legend of the Pii Brothers who saved their elderly parents from the advancing lava.

We ask you to select an itinerary from the dedicated area. If those displayed are not suitable for your needs and expectations we invite you to contact us for a tailor made itinerary that meet your needs.

Deposit payment: A confirmation and booking deposit of 20% will be required immediately by bank transfer
Final payment: Balance can be paid 7 days prior the tour date, or once on site to our staff member.

The tour can be modified and / or canceled at the discretion of the organizer, due to force majeure such as adverse weather conditions; changed road conditions; landslides, mudslides, flooding of all or part of the site of hiking trails; proven unfit health conditions of one or more participants; volcanologic conditions unsuitable. In all the above cases, the organizer does not refund customers for the change of the whole or part of the services.

In the event of adverse conditions or force majeure as listed above customers may agree directly with the organizer a new date at no additional cost.
If guests decide to cancel the tour booked the penalty are the following:
– 20% deposit is not refundable 7 days before departure
– 50% of the remaining amount is not refundable from 6 days to 24 hours before departure
– No refund for no shows.

All Jeeps provided have regular licenses NCC and qualified staff in possession of licenses, patents and rescue courses, as required by regional and Italian laws. Furthermore, all vehicles are covered by regular insurance policy for civil liability and damages on person because of extraordinary events and subject to the negligence of the staff members. Upon departure, the organizer expressly inform hikers of risks arising from participation in this activity and will require the signing of a special form of disclaimer as a condition for the provision of services covered by this tour. Any accident occurring for failures and negligence by the Guest will not be covered by the insurance policy.

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  • marina di ragusa maps Create your suitable itinerary to discover the secrets of the Volcano Etna Unesco World Heritage Site. The exciting Jeep 4WD tour which ride on ancient lava flows and  rural path that leads to the magnificent panorama of the Valle del Bove. For trekking lovers choose to climb on the top of ancient craters and explore lava caves.  We give you a large choice of activities full of entertainment, knowledge and funny moments for the whole family!