An exceptional hike should have some distinctive attribute that makes it memorable. A five-mile stroll through a green tunnel can be a peaceful way to spend an afternoon, but as soon as you throw in a waterfall or a trail that hugs the edge of a cliff, it quickly becomes something much more noteworthy. Nothing meets the criteria more than summiting a volcano. Whether active or dormant, a volcanic hike is anything but your typical walk in the woods. There are plenty of opportunities to hike volcanoes around the world, but here are three unbelievable volcano hikes in the Western Hemisphere that will blow you away (not literally, hopefully):
- Cerro Chato: Costa Rica
Hiking to the top of Cerro Chato in La Fortuna, Costa Rica provides visitors with the unique opportunity to take a dip inside a volcano. My wife and I did this hike on our honeymoon a couple years ago and it was far and away one of the highlights of the trip. The travel agents in the area will push the idea of doing this hike with a tour guide which can get expensive, but we would recommend taking a taxi to the trailhead, paying the nominal entrance fee, and climbing without a guide. That being said, the hike takes about 4-5 hours round-trip and is quite steep. Not to mention it is in a rainforest, so chances are that it will be raining heavily the entire time. If you’re willing to deal with some steep inclines and constant heavy rain, the reward of swimming in a volcanic crater is well worth it, and will certainly be more memorable than swimming in the pool at your resort. On a clear day, you will have a nice view of the entire water-filled crater from a vantage point at the summit; however, even on a viewless foggy day (which is more likely) the feeling of swimming in the crater lagoon is extremely eerie. If you’re concerned about getting boiled alive, the volcano hasn’t erupted for over 3,500 years, so the odds are in your favor.