Monday, July 23, 2007

loving lava

Friday I decided that two days staring at a lake, no matter how beautiful and incredible, was enough. The volcanoes were not likely to explode any time soon so I thought I would head back to Antigua for my last two days as it was such a great place.

I came back to The Yellow House where I had stayed on my previous visit. It is a great little hostel, friendly with great views from the roof. They also provide free breakfast and free internet.

Coming back gave me the chance to do the volcano trek.

Pacaya is about an hour away and is continuously active. There have been several extensive new lava flows in the past few years, and the current walking track to the base of the volcano is new as the previous path now lies under a lava flow.

The climb was tricky as the surface on the way up is very unstable. In many places there is still extremely hot lava as little as 30cms below the crust. A point reinforced when our guide poked his walking stick into a small gap between the rocks we were walking on and it promptly ignited into flame.

We climbed up alongside a current lava flow where we could see up close the molten lava rolling very slowly like extra thick toffee down the side of the volcano. The ground underfoot was very hot to the point where I could smell the melting rubber on the base of my sandals.

The volcano seemed to grumble its discontent at our presence by spewing up large amounts of molten rock which even surprised our guide at its ferocity. We could also hear the deep growling rumbles from the inside of the volcano itself.

Quite an extraordinary adventure. Felt a bit like Frodo on Mt. Doom.

Antigua by night

Volcano Pacaya

The end of the 2006 lava flow

the ascent

cooled lava up close

Pacaya having a dummy spit

too close for comfort

1 comment:

Monica said...

Is it just me? Because I always thought that climbing up a volcano of any amount of activeness was extremely dangerous. I'm glad your guide guided you up and down safely because I sure would like my art teacher back unharmed : D

Love the photos! I remeber that when I first saw your photos of Antigua, especially of the mountain/volcano in the background, I thought for a moment that you were in Japan taking photos of Mt Fuji!