Crossing from South to North passing by the Etna Summit

For the most exigent climbers, hiking Mount Etna from side to side, the most complete volcanic hike across the summit

Climb mount Etna - The great summit crossing

If you ever wondered if you could climb a volcano and peer into the crater, then the answer is yes, it can be done, depending on the state of activity.  Mount Etna is a perfect adventure playground, but it must be approached following a series of precautions as you are dealing with serious nature.

The experience that we are offering you is a challenging excursion in an active volcanic environment, for this reason it’s suggested only for adults and children over 16 years old. To assure your safety and our assistance, the excursion will take place with small groups of max 12 participants.  

Here we present you the most complete and intense trek on volcano Etna: starting from the South side of Etna, you could climb Mount Etna reaching the highest peak, and then descending along a fun downhill on volcanic ash and lava flows to the North path, having the satisfaction to have reached the summit of the highest active volcano in Europe at over 3300 meters above sea level.


Etna tour - highlights

  • Hike to Mount Etna summit craters on a 15 km trail, reaching the 3300 mt altitude
  • Etna's most complete hiking trail, tailored to take you from the south side to the north one
  • Walk on the edge of the active craters of Etna, across fumaroles and sulphur
  • Etna guided tour in English, with an official alpine volcanologist guide (live guide)

Hike Mount Etna - Guidelines

Climbing Mount Etna on this side to side hike across the summit requires a good health state and no mobility problems: that because this adventure runs in an active volcanic area, uneven routes and variable altitudes.

Even in summer time, sometime Mount Etna shows some traces of snow, so be sure to bring a few warm layers in case a sudden drop in temperature takes hold as you scale the mountain path. Although the temperature may change, the sun is almost always brightly shining in the sky, so remember to bring along plenty of water to keep you hydrated, sunglasses and some sun screen protection.

Proper shoes are required and mandatory. You will need appropriate footwear that could give you the right balance on the fluctuating terrain of the mountain trails. Whether you’re carefully walking upon sharps lava pebbles or balancing alongside barren craters, you should wear sturdy hiking boots to carry you on your way.


Mount Etna summit route

We will reach the ski resort located on the South side of Mount Etna, where you will be equipped with helmets and hiking poles. We will be reaching the 2900 meters of altitude (9,500 feet) by cable car and 4x4 Unimog buses.

From here the hike begins throughout the most recent lava flows leading up to the summit of Mt Etna, resulting in an amazing hike in a dangerous volcanic environment getting up to the active craters of Etna characterized by huge fumaroles and sulfuric ground.

The experience starts with an easy approach that will lead you up to the base of the active craters; after that, the route become more strenuous, by hillwalking standards. It is around 3 km to the crater rim with ~400 m of vertical gain, under normal conditions the ascension takes about 1h30 minutes.  Much of the trail surface is made of loose volcanic soil, which makes hiking a bit more difficult.  As you climb up to the upper slopes, you may find that the oxygen level gets thinner resulting in running out of breath easily, and in some cases you could feel nausea, and headaches: take a rest when you need to, drink water, and take deep breaths as it’s harder to breathe at high altitudes.


Etna's volcanic Gases - Hazards and Safety

As well as producing water vapour, volcanoes produce toxic gases which can irritate the eyes, throat, and lungs. The main gases found on volcanoes are Carbon Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Hydrogen Sulphide, Hydrochloric Acid, and Hydrogen. If you have no gas mask with you, it might be a good idea to bring with you a bandana to filter part of the large concentration of gases presents.

You will be equipped with a helmet to wear while you are on the summit area, in order to protect your head in case of sudden and unpredictable explosions who can create falling debris. There are 4 large craters at the summit of Etna. Depending of the incessant gas emission, the geodynamic conditions of the volcano and the weather, the guide will adapt the visit of the active craters ensuring your safety. The walk and time spent around the active craters rim will be decided by the guide who is the only responsible for the safety of the group.

After the visit of the summit area, walking on the edge of these wide craters, we begin the descent towards the north side: the way down to 1800 meters altitude, it is around 11 km with ~1500 m of vertical loss. You will walk on volcanic ash fields and lapilli until "Piano delle Concazze", a large plateau with a unique look, to reach the Volcanic Observatory at 2800 mt, where you will have a lunch break.

We continue the downhill trough a track leading to the northern ski resorts, Piano Provenzana, from where we will witness the long lava flow made by the eruption of 2002/03.  In winter all excursions’ timetable and schedule may change according to the weather and snow conditions.


Picnic lunch on volcanic ground

A packed lunch is planned and will take place along the way. If you have not been able to prearrange it, we will make a stop in order to let you get some of the traditional Sicilian products, followed by our guide, who will advise you on the various local products.


In winter all excursions may vary on timetable and schedule following the weather and snow covers conditions

Climb mount Etna - The great summit crossing Statistics


Etna Summit Crossing Trail

  • Distance : approximately 14 km - 8.7 mi
  • Ascent : 400 m
  • Descent : 1500 m
  • Time : about 6 hours
  • Difficulty : Challenging


Essential Gear and Clothing

  • Hiking boots
  • Rucksack
  • Waterproof jacket (with hood) - all cars will be equipped of light raincoats jackets
  • Waterproof over trousers
  • Trekking poles - all cars will be equipped
  • General trekking trousers
  • Caving helmet - all cars will be equipped
  • Gloves or mitts
  • Spare layer e.g. fleece top
  • Food & Drink


Meeting point

  • At your hotel between Catane and Taormina - Please give us the full address and name of the Hotel/accommodation
  • 07h45 at Bar Très Joli, Via Aldo Moro, 39, 95029 Viagrande CT
  • More pick-up places: quote on demand


The weather on Mt Etna is often unpredictable you should always be aware that weather conditions on Mountains can change rapidly and often for the worst. A good day at sea level is no guarantee of good weather on the mountain.

The journey require a particular attention, because of the specific volcanic area that it will be approached, subjected to constant gaseous exhalations and composed by an inconsistent soil and unstable rocks. The itinerary can be modified in different ways or interrupted, depending on weather conditions, emission of toxic gases and geodynamics of the volcano, the guide, who's in charge of your safety, will be the only one deciding and taking unquestionable decisions.

The excursion will be carried out according to the limits enforced by the surveillance in charge. We suggest not to use contact lens, because volcanic gases and ash can cause unpleasant irritations. For the achievement of the expedition and its overcome, you must be sure of your health state and, perhaps would it be better to let us know any doubt in advance, in order to reduce and avoid any sort of useless risk.

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