Etna summit hike an unforgettable volcanic memory
Hike to the summit of Mount Etna, Sicily highest mountain
An adventure on Mount Etna is one of those "travel bucket list" to fulfil during your holiday in Sicily, as it is widely considered one of the most spectacular sites to visit while traveling through this island: indeed, its constant activity attracts thrill-seekers and hikers of all kinds.
The visit will be carried in a small group of 12 participants maximum. An alpine volcanologist guide will escort you throughout the day. Cablecar and 4x4 bus tickets will be ready, without queuing at the ticket counter.
Etna tour highlights:
- Guided tour in English, with an official alpine volcanologist guide
- Hike to Mount Etna summit active craters at 3300 mt altitude
- Caving experience inside a lava channel equipped with helmets
- Taste Etna's best products as honeys, wines, liquors, and more
Volcano enthusiasts will spend a day exploring Etna, knowing its history, celebrating a mountain full of life and activity.
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 to go to the top of Etna, in small groups (max 12 pax):
- 150€ per person: 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 2:30 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 hot jackets on site.
- 180€ per person: reach our meeting point in Giarre at 07:00 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 2019) with dedicated driver. We offer breakfast and picnic. You will have breakfast like real Sicilians, in the best local pastry shop. Here we provide free equipment for hiking. Return around 4:00 pm.
- 200€ per person: includes pick-up/drop-off at your hotel (Catania-Taormina areas) in luxury vehicles (Mercedes GL or V-Class Extra Long 2019) with dedicated driver. Breakfast and picnic is always offered. The necessary trekking equipment is included. Return around 4:30 pm.
Estimated planning of the ascent to Etna Summit
- The cable car opens at 9:00 a.m., we take the first cabins, there are about 15 minutes of climb from 2000 to 2500 meters altitude.
- To go to 2900 meters above sea level we use the Unimog 4x4, about 20 minutes journey.
- The ascent on foot starts around 09:30 / 10:00 from 2900 to 3300 meters altitude.
- It takes approximately 1h30'-2h to reach the summit craters. The time spent around the active craters rim depends on weather and geodynamic conditions.
- The tour goes on with a fun downhill on volcanic ash towards the cable car and with the discovery of the craters dated 2002-2003 and 2001.
- Arrival at Rifugio Sapienza by cable car around 2:30 p.m.
The route up Mount Etna summit
The utmost hike over any other Etna tour: this hiking experience towards the summit gives to all the hikers an unforgettable memory. The ascent to the summit is done early in the morning, in groups of 12 people maximum.
Throughout the day you will be accompanied by our English-speaking alpine guide, specialist in volcanoes.
The pick-up can be done at the Rifugio Sapienza (Etna South), at your accommodation (Catania-Taormina zones) or at our starting point in Giarre (Etna Fuel gas station).
Go to the summit of Etna
The road to the cable car presents different lava flows. You will see the destructive effects of lava on houses (1983 eruption). The excursion takes place on the southern slope of the volcano.
You will see the crater Mont Rossi of the great eruption of 1669. During this famous eruption the lava had arrived at sea in Catania. The lunar landscape begins, higher you go, less vegetation there is.
The ascent to the summit craters
This hike to the summit of Mount Etna is an intense trek of about 5 hours, 10 km (6.2 mi.) distance in an active volcanic environment, elevation gain: +400 m / -900m .
Thanks to the cable car at Rifugio Sapienza and Unimog 4x4 buses, we will reach 2900 meters altitude.
Your Etna summit hike starts from here with an easy walk that will lead you up to the base of the active craters, after which the path becomes more difficult. You will see the hot craters of recent eruptions.
The Etna volcano has hundreds of craters on its sides. Our volcanologist guide will explain you how the Etna volcano works and will unfold the stories linked to major past disasters.
It is possible to walk less on the way back, using the Unimog 4x4 downhill, in this case the supplement is 20€ / person.
Lunch in the Etna summit area
The meal will be consumed in the summit area. If you come directly to Rifugio Sapienza: the meal is not included in the price, you must be ready and equipped for the ascent at 08:45.
In the summit area of Mount Etna
There are currently 4 main active craters. You will tour the summit craters according to weather and volcanic activity conditions and sulfuric gas emissions.
This altitude offers a magical spectacle of the panorama of Sicily, Catania, Taormina and the Mediterranean Sea. The descent on the slopes of volcanic sand will be a real treat.
The downhill route includes a hike towards the crater of 2001 eruption, facing the magnificent large caldera Valle del Bove. The return to 1900 meters will be done by cable car.
Visit of a Lava Channel
Along your adventure you will also visit a recent lava channel (2002-2003) wearing helmets. A lava Channel is a natural conduit formed by flowing lava that moves beneath the hardened surface of a lava flow.
Tubes and channels can drain lava from a volcano during an eruption, or can be extinct, meaning the lava flow has ceased, and the rock has cooled down and left a long channel.
The hiking trail continues towards the Valle del Bove. This large horseshoe-shaped caldera into which most lava flows. The view is breathtaking in these volcanic places.
Tasting of honeys, wines and liquors in Zafferana
If the timing allows, the visit to the volcano will end with the tasting of honeys, liquors and wines, at a local producer in Zafferana.
Most of the beekeepers are in this village, which is also on the Etna wine route. Tasting in the store is free, with no obligation to purchase.
In Zafferana you will also see the longest recent lava flow, 18 months of eruption between 1991 and 1993 (included only for people who have chosen the pick-up in Giarre or at the hotel).
Etna summit hike Statistics
The ascent to the craters of the summit of Etna is not a suitable hike for children (under 12 years ), due to the presence of irritating sulfuric gases, the difficulty of the hike and the obvious volcanic risk.
This excursion is not accessible to cariopaths, asthmatics and people suffering from joint problems. To participate, you must be in perfect physical condition and be used to hiking on difficult terrain at high altitude.
If it is not possible to reach the summit area, for meteorological or geodynamic reasons (eruptions, explosions, lava flows, volcanic alerts, etc.), the maximum authorized safety altitude will be reached.
Etna tour with guide
Book your hike to the top of Mount Etna with Etna3340. The exclusive itinerary offered allows you to discover hot areas of the volcano, otherwise inaccessible without an official guide.
Our visits are carried out by our English-speaking volcanological guides, from the Regional College of Alpine and Volcanological Guides of Sicily (Gruppo alpine guide Etna South), who are the only professionals authorized by Italian law to lead groups on the active volcano.
Unlike others, for the ascent to the summit of Etna we do not parasitize other groups (local recurring attitude, which is not in our values).
You will have a guide exclusively dedicated to your group (maximum 12 participants) away from the crowd of tourists who climb the volcano in groups of 20 to 30 people.
Etna Summit Hike Trail
- Walking Time : about 5 hours
- Difficulty : Moderate
- Distance : approximately 10 kilometers - 6.2 miles
- Ascent : 400 m (1,3 ft.) of elevation gain
- Descent : 900 m (900 ft.)
- Hike on a hot lava flow
- Visit of a lava channel
- View of the Valle del Bove caldera
- Length: 55 meters / 0,034 miles
- Duration of visit: approximately 35 minutes
- Difficulty: medium
Essential Gear and Clothing
- Provide high-top hiking boots (free loan on request in advance)
- We do not accept tennis shoes or sneakers
- High socks
- Hiking pants, a fleece and a warm waterproof windbreaker jacket with hood (possible jacket rental on site)
- Scarf or Bandana to cover the mouth and filter sulfuric gases and dust
- Solar cream
- Snack and water (included only in the rate with pick-up from your hotel or Giarre meeting point)
Pick-up / drop off, Etna Summit meeting point
- At your hotel between Catania and Taormina (please give us the exact address of the pick-up), you will be picked up with our luxury vehicle (Mercedes GL or V-Class Extra Long 2019) with dedicated driver. Return around 4:30 p.m
- 07:00 a.m. Giarre motorway exit, departure 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 into our luxury vehicle (Mercedes GL or V-Class Extra Long 2019) with dedicated driver.
To reach the gas station: Take the Catania - Messina motorway, GIARRE motorway exit. Pass the toll, at the roundabout take the first exit on the right. After 300 m on the right side you find the gas station. Return around 4:00 p.m.
- 8:45 a.m. Rifugio Sapienza (Etna South), Piazzale Rifugio Sapienza, 95030 Nicolosi CT (there is a pay parking). Return around 2:30 p.m. https://g.page/funivia-dell-etna?share
- Other pick-up places : a quote will be made up on request.
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 (in case of advance payment).
You can cancel and be refund free of charge up to 1 week before the excursion for group excursions, 1 month in advance for private excursions.
If it is not possible to reach the summit area due to meteorological or geodynamic reasons (eruptions, explosions, lava flows, volcanic alerts, etc.), the maximum authorized safety altitude will be reached.
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).
The guide's maximum waiting time at the meeting point (at the Rifugio Sapienza, at your hotel or at the meeting point in Giarre) is 10 minutes.
If you arrive late, more than 10 minutes, you will lose the opportunity to participate in the excursion and to request a refund.
Etna's volcanic Gases - Hazards and Safety
At the top of Etna there are hot and irritating sulfuric gases. Climbing to the top of the volcano is prohibited for asthmatics and people with breathing and heart problems.
If you want to reduce the irritant effects of the respiratory tract, you can buy a gas mask of this type: https://www.moldex-europe.com/fr/produits/demi-masques/
The filter cartridges must be of the ABEK type: organic, inorganic and acid gases and vapors (chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen cyanide), sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, sulfur dioxide, ammonia.
If necessary (it is not compulsory equipment) you can possibly get these masks before coming to Sicily and use them if necessary.
Climb to the top of Etna without our assistance
The cheapest price to go to the summit of Etna with a guide is 85 € per person.
The departure is at the cable car, which is on the southern slope of Etna at 1900 meters (6,2 ft.) above sea level (you must reach the Refuge de Sapienza with your own vehicle).
You must wait until (around 10:00 am) the guide on site forms a group of 20-30 people (all languages mixed), without the guarantee of having a guide who speaks English.
In a large group the progression will be slow and the time of permanence at the top will be short.
You will be at the top of the Etna volcano around noon, knowing that around 1 pm the summit is often covered with clouds…
Watch out for scams!
Some offer excursions with attractive prices. Indeed, you will simply buy the excursion in a group of 20 to 30 people (which you can do without intermediaries), by including in the price the pick-up from your accommodation and a false guide (an abusive, not a real volcanologist guide).
These abusers then parasitize the groups of official guides. You will then be subject to the same constraints of the visit at 85 € (group of 20-30 people, late departure time, short permanence time), but paying an unnecessarily high price.
Some work illegally (they pretend to be guides), define themselves "fully authorized tour operator" covered by insurance, but in reality this is not the case!
Insurance does not cover accidents if the guide is not an official volcanologist guide, registered with the Regional College of Alpine Guides and Volcanologists of Sicily.
Some will evoke the presence of a volcanologist guide, but in reality you will have the real guide only the time to go around the rim of the crater , after that you will continue the excursion with abusives.
Unfortunately too often we see people who practice the improper exercise of the profession of guide and they also use jeep without an official license (NCC in Italy).
Choose your agency wisely, do not fuel illegal workers. Have a good "responsible" discovery of Etna.
Contact us for more information. It is possible to organize a private or tailor-made visit, ask for a quote. We will be delighted to meet you.
Our team is at your disposal and supports you to make your stay an unforgettable experience.