Etna Volcano lava channels and tunnels
Lava tunnels are not present on all volcanoes but only on those characterized by effusive activities with the emission of fluid and hot basalt flows (950 ° -1050 ° C).
The formation of lava tunnels is a rare phenomenon. It is relegated to specific volcanic areas. On Mount Etna there are around 200 known tunnels.
Etna is the volcano in Europe with safe eruptions magnificent to see. Its frequent eruptions, like that of 2002-2003, attract many enthusiasts of volcanoes and hiking.
Normally the volcano, with the greatest activity in Europe, begins its activity with earthquakes, then there is the emission of ash and pyroclastic material.
As soon as the molten lava begins to flow, the spectacle is impressive. When the lava from the flow moves away from the eruptive mouth, it slows down on the surface and sometimes forms channels or tunnels of lava.
Lava tunnels play an important role in the expansion of lava flows. It is the Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology of Catania (INGV) which carries out permanent monitoring of Etna and Stromboli.
Highlights of the Etna caving route
- Private visit
- Visit to a lava quarry
- Speleological experience inside the 3-level tunnel
- Tasting of honeys, wines and liqueurs
- View of the 1991-1993 lava flow
When to book, how long before ? We do not do mass tourism. So, to make sure you have room, it is better to book quickly.
There are 3 options for visiting the lava tunnel, in small groups (max 10 pax)
- Join us at the Rifugio Sapienza at 1900 meters altitude (there is a pay parking). You will be accompanied by our guide from 8:45 am to 2 pm approximately. Hiking shoes, helmet, walking sticks, backpack, k-way and cable car + Unimog 4x4 tickets are included. For the rest, you must already be equipped with adequate clothing, a packed lunch and water. There is also the possibility to buy food and to rent warm jackets on site.
- Reach our meeting point in Giarre at 7:45 am with your own vehicle (there is a free public parking) and then ride in our luxury vehicle (Mercedes GL or V-Class Extra Long) with dedicated autorized driver. Breakfast is included. You will have breakfast like real Sicilians, in the best local pastry shop. Here you will be providedwith free equipment for hiking. Return around 3 pm.
- Pick-up/drop-off at your hotel (Catania-Taormina areas) in luxury vehicles (Mercedes GL or V-Class Extra Long) with dedicated driver. Breakfast is included. The necessary trekking equipment is included. Return around 3:30 pm.
- Pick up at your hotel or meeting point
- Visit to a lava quarry
- View of Silvestri crater
- Exploration of the 3 levels lava tunnel
- Picnic break
- View of the 1991-1993 lava flow
- Honey, wine and liqueur tasting
Caving itinerary in the Etna volcano
After picking you up, we will cross the villages on the slopes of the active volcano in order to reach the southern slope. It’s a half day tour of Etna. On the road, after breakfast, you will visit a lava quarry. In order to understand the functioning of the volcano, to know its eruptive history and the use of lava stone.
Passing through the Sapienza refuge and the Silvestri crater, we will reach the entrance to the lava tunnel, where the guide will equip you for the descent underground.
The Three Levels lava tunnel
In May 1792 Etna began one of its most important eruptions, which ended a year later in May 1793 at the gates of the village of Zafferana Etnea. The lava tunnel of the Three Levels is formed during this great eruption. It is among the most beautiful and extensive tunnels of the volcano, together with the Cassone Cave. The existence of these tunnels was highlighted in 1964 during the construction of a road.
The Cave of the Three Levels is 1150 meters long and is between 1900 and 1600 meters above sea level. The hike in the lava tunnel provides for a drop between 100 and 300 meters.
The exploration is only done with a volcanologist guide, with appropriate speleological equipment and the necessary experience. This cave has flow trails, lava drops, recast phenomena and a string lava floor.
Honey and wine tasting at Zafferana Etnea
The excursion will end in front of the lava flow from 1991-1993 with the tasting of honeys, wines and liqueurs at a local producer in Zafferana. This is the beekeepers' village on the wine route. The tasting is free, without obligation to purchase, in a store of typical Sicilian products in Zafferana Etnea.
Exploration is only done with a volcanologist guide, with appropriate speleological equipment and the necessary experience. This excursion is not accessible to cariopaths, claustrophobes, asthmatics and people suffering from joint problems.
To do this hike you must be in perfect health, athletic and have no physical problems. The route provides for between 100 and 300 meters of elevation, on a very rough course of approximately 1 km. The duration is 3 hours.
Speleological itinerary of the 3 levels tunnel
- Distance: 1 km
- Positive elevation: between 100 and 300 meters
- Vertical drop: between 100 and 300 meters
- Duration: around 3 hours
- Difficulty: difficult
Equipment needed for the Etna speleological itinerary
- High-top hiking shoes (free loan on request in advance)
- Hiking pants (jeans and leggings are not accepted)
- Warm jacket
- Backpack (free loan)
Speleological equipment included.
Pick-up/drop off and meeting point
- At your hotel between Catania and Taormina (thank you for giving me the exact address of the pick-up) with our luxury vehicle (Mercedes GL or V-Class Extra Long) and dedicated driver. Return around 3:30 pm
- 07:45 am in Giarre highway exit, from Etna Fuel gas station https://goo.gl/maps/URpKmqQDdd22 You arrive with your own vehicle, park it in the car park (there is free public parking) and get in our luxury vehicle (Mercedes GL or V-Class Extra Long) with dedicated driver. to reach the gas station: take the motorway Catania - Messina, motorway exit GIARRE. Pass the toll, at the roundabout take the first exit on the right. After 300 m on the right side you find the gas distributor. Return around 3 pm
- 8:45 am Rifugio Sapienza (Etna South), Piazzale Rifugio Sapienza, 95030 Nicolosi CT (there is a pay parking). Return around 2 pm https://g.page/funivia-dell-etna?share
- Other pick-up places : quote on demand.
Conditions of sale
The weather and geodynamic conditions of Etna will be updated 48/24 hours before the excursion. If weather conditions are unfavorable the excursion will be postponed to another available day or refund. You can cancel and be refund free of charge up to 1 month in advance for private excursions.
For safety reasons, the guide may decide to modify the route, kilometers traveled, walking time and the maximum altitude reached. The guide will assess the sport level and the equipment of each participant. People who will not be considered fit and well equipped (as indicated on the dedicated page of the Etna3340 site corresponding to the chosen excursion) will not be allowed to participate in the excursion (without possibility of refund).