Etna & Alcantara Tour

Hike for the whole family, from bare lava to ice-cold water

85 € p.p.
*Children under 13 years pay 10 € less!
*Children under 4 years free of charge!

A perfect excursion for nature lovers. We visit one of the most interesting places of Etna, see side craters, lava flows and a lava tunnel. In the afternoon, the gorges of the Alcantara River will surprise us with basalt columns and ice-cold water.

Etna & Alcantara Tour itinerary

MEETING POINT GIARRE

Our excursion begins at the motorway exit in Giarre. Already during the ride, our English-speaking guide will tell you interesting facts about the surroundings and about Etna, the largest active volcano on the Eurasian plate.

You will learn about the formation of Etna and how this volcano is reflected in the thoughts, customs and habits of the people who inhabit it.

You can enjoy comfortable and safe transport in a 6-seater Toyota, Nissan or Mitsubishi or a 7-seater Mercedes minivan.

  • Vehicles with regular NCC registration,
  • Authorised driver with proof of professional qualification.

TOWARDS ETNA PARK

With our 4×4 vehicles we set off in the direction of Etna. We leave the beautiful Lemon Riviera and approach the villages on Mount Etna. From here we drive along the roads that climb up the slopes of the volcano; at an altitude of over 1000 m, the area of 720 km² of the “Parco dell’Etna” nature reserve extends. We encounter lava flows that, like black highways, cut through the slope of the mountain.

ETNA PARK NATURE RESERVE

Here, in the chestnut, oak, pine and beech forests, we find native plants that are unique in the world, such as the Etna broom (Genista aetnensis) and the Etna birch (Betula aetnensis).
Eruption cones, lava flows and valleys stretch out before our eyes and testify to the continuous activity of the volcano, which has been changing its shape incessantly for 500,000 years.

TREKKING – CRATER VISIT

We set off on a fantastic “nature trail” in Etna Park, towards the craters. We reach the top of a lateral crater. A crater is an accumulation of pyroclastic cinders ejected from the magma vent, forming a cone by piling up around the eruption opening.

Once at the edge of the side crater, where the boiling hot lava poured out of the slope, we explain the characteristics of Etna’s eruptions. You can see the different hues that the lava can take on, like a rainbow of reflections, and touch the different consistencies of the pyroclastic material.

We meet typical Etna plant varieties that withstand the extreme weather conditions in summer and winter.

OFF-ROAD TRACK WITH 4X4

With our comfortable off-road vehicles we will take you to the hidden treasures of the volcano Etna.

We show you what you can’t see on conventional roads. We will enter the dense vegetation that thrives on this mineral-rich soil and together we will observe how the forces of nature are in constant competition with each other.

On the one hand, the strength of the volcano flows, constantly producing new black and rough lava, and on the other hand, the power of nature, slowly and inexorably covering it with vegetation and sanding its edges.

TASTING OF HONEYS, CREAMS, LIQUEURS

After so many adventures, it’s time to enjoy the fantastic view of Etna’s summit craters at leisure.

We stop at the Piano Provenzana ski resort and, completely relaxed, admire the northeast crater and the huge buttonhole craters of the 2002 eruption, which formed on the Pernicana fault line and are also called the northeast fissure.

If you want, you can taste the sweetest specialities of our volcano Etna for free: Honey, also called the gold of Etna; the creams of Bronte made from pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts; the creams made from Sicilian cherry tomatoes, Sicilian olives, Etna mushrooms; and liqueurs like the Etna Fire.

LAVA TUNNEL

Now let’s see what lies beneath the hard surface. We descend into one of the approximately 190 lava tunnels scattered across Etna.

Equipped with helmets and lamps, we learn how these lava tunnels are formed and discover the geological features and the strange shapes that have formed in these caves.

LUNCH

Now it’s time to rest over lunch in a typical mountain hut. This one seems to have been catapulted directly from the Alps to Sicily.

We have the opportunity to taste typical dishes of the local cuisine, Sicilian mountain specialities, such as pasta with a spicy salsa with wild fennel or porcini mushrooms from Etna. Because in Sicily, apart from the excellent sea specialities, we are also lucky to be able to enjoy delicious mountain specialities in the hinterland.

ALCANTARA GORGES

With our vehicles we now leave the protected area of the Etna Park and drive down towards the Alcantara Gorges.

At the bridge of Castiglione di Sicilia we meet the river Alcantara for the first time, which rises in the Monti Nebrodi and forms the border between the “young” Etna, i.e. the volcanic soil, and the rest of Sicily, which is much older.

From there, we continue along the river until we reach the Alcantara Gorges. We leave the jeep and walk down to the riverbed: here we are at the lowest point of the Alcantara Gorges. In front of us tower up to 25 m high lava basalt walls, formed of bizarrely twisted pentagonal or hexagonal columns.

Here we can feel the ice-cold waters of the Alcantara. We roll up our trousers and venture about 50 metres into the interior of the gorge, where the water reaches knee height and is usually about 10° C. The bravest can also bathe!

RETURN – UNTIL THE NEXT ADVENTURE!

After exploring Etna inside and out, we have reached the end of our adventure together. We drive along the Alcantara Gorges towards Giarre, tired but happy.
Until the next adventure!

Important information about the tour

MEETING POINT

  • Motorway exit Giarre (view on Google Maps). There is a supervised car park where you can park your car.

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT

  • Closed trekking or running shoes if possible, layered clothing appropriate to the weather and altitude: during the winter season we recommend snow clothing (gloves and hat very important!); in summer we recommend windbreaker, cap, sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • Bathing shoes for the visit to the Alcantara Gorges (with rubber shoes it is easier to walk over the stones in the river bed)
  • For the brave: bathing suit or trunks if you want to swim in the (ice-cold) Alcantara river.
  • 1l water and possibly a small snack for the road

SERVICES INCLUDED

  • Pick up/drop off at the Giarre motorway exit
  • Transport with 4×4
  • Authorised English-speaking guide (tour guide, AIGAE excursion guides, with BLSD certificate)
  • Insurance during the entire tour
  • Equipment: trekking poles, windbreakers, backpacks, helmets, lamps and hiking shoes (please let us know your shoe size when booking)
  • Tasting of typical products: Honey, cream, liqueurs
  • Entrance to the Alcantara Gorges

SERVICES NOT INCLUDED

  • Everything that is not listed under “Services included”.
  • Lunch

SERVICES ON REQUEST

  • Pick-up from hotel or other meeting point (price by arrangement).
  • Child seats for transfer
  • Trekking shoe rental

IMPORTANT MESSAGES

  • Please inform us in advance of any special circumstances: health problems, allergies, heart disease, blood pressure problems, limited mobility, disability. We will find the best solution for you for an unforgettable day on Etna.
  • Changes may occur or the tour may be cancelled if the guide deems it necessary if weather or volcanic conditions threaten the safety of the group.
  • Of course, all our staff are fully vaccinated for your and our protection.

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