Volcanoes are the most amazing yet terrifying things on the whole planet. Named after the Roman god of fire, Vulcan, these Olympian giants spit poisonous gases, magma, rocks, ash and lava out from the hideous bowels of the Earth, often destroying the precious life unfortunate enough to surround these iconic natural sky scrapers. Yet, most volcanoes are extinct (dead) and many are dormant (sleeping), thus the world is largely free of danger. However, there are a few active (living) volcanoes that are more or less constantly seeping from their open portals. Here are 10 of the most fearsome active volcanoes you can actually go and visit - if you dare.
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1. Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland
This amazing volcano last caused trouble in 2010 when winter eruptions spewed hot ash so far over the sky that most of Western Europe was affected with smog, cancelling hundreds of flights, and ruining many families' Christmases.
2. Kilauea, Hawaii
Kilauea is one of Hawaii's most important tourist attractions. Some 3 million visitors come to see this dark portal into Earth's inner regions, meaning the safety infrastructure in place is pretty good. However, whenever geologists, who constantly monitor the volcano's activity, sense trouble ahead they have the foresight to restrict access.
3. Mount Etna, Italy
Etna is among the most active of the world's volcanoes, having previously destroyed the city of Catania in 1669. However it's possible to hike up to the highest point of the mountain with little risk of harm - so they say.
4. Pico De Orizaba, Mexico
This volcano may be technically dormant, but it's overdue its next eruption - so for our purposes, it's best to be on the safe side and treat it as extremely dangerous. However its last eruption occurred during the 19th century.
5. Pacaya, Guatemala
As you can see, Pacaya is a volcano that stands as one of the wonder's of the world. The views are incredible, and the feeling of danger makes the atmosphere ripple with excitement. You can trek along the ashy paths, covered in volcanic litter, right up to the plateau, but no further. The volcano's crater is wisely closed off to tourist access.
6. Sakurajima, Japan
So active is Sakurajima (cherry blossom island) that it is no longer an island due to the profuse litter ejected from the volcano's mouth that has caused it to become attached to the mainland. Apparently there is no escaping this volcano for Japan, and that may be of great concern since it erupts from 100 to 200 times a year.
7. Cerro Negro Volcano - Leon, Nicaragua
One thing visitors love about this 'new' volcano is quite surprising. Many come to this ashy behemoth and surf down it, or 'sandboard' as they call it. Call me old-fashioned, but I would much prefer to ski down a snowy slope with no danger of being attacked by volcanic missiles than do what the young folk of today are apparently doing.
8. Mt. St. Helens, Washington
St. Helens suffered an astonishing eruption in 1980, and it was only after 7 years that the site was actually re-opened for adventurous tourists to visit. You can climb up towards the crater, but you will need official permission to go beyond there. Would you want to? I know it's beautiful, but...
9. Boiling Lake, Dominica
Few names cut to the core of your fear quicker than 'boiling lake.' This lake is really a crack in the earth which has become flooded. Volcanic gases seep into the lake causing it to fizz, bubble and steam like you can see in these pictures. Some people like a nice hot spa, but I can't see many venturing into a volcanic one.
10. Mayon, Philippines
This volcano has attracted an army of photographers, keen to secure for themselves a superbly symmetrical landscape shot of this most pleasing-to-the-eye volcano. It is also, needless to say, a very dangerous place. When beauty and danger meet, few men can resist the temptation - but we must.