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Why Climb a Mountain When You Can Climb a Volcano? Comparing World Volcanoes

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Among the highest peaks across the continents are solid, steady old mountains and threatening, once actively spewing volcanoes.  If climbing a “boring” old mountain just isn’t enough for you, or you’re looking for an extra element of excitement, a volcano will surely add the extra thrill you’re looking for.

BBC Travel published an exposé on climbing the volcanoes of the Andes in South America, found throughout Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina. Since we did a whole magazine issue on Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak and the dormant volcano trio of Tanzania, we thought it would be a great to compare these mountainous mounds for you adventurous travelers.

Kili’s twin peak across the Atlantic Ocean may be Cotopaxi in Ecuador  The Ecuadorian peak stretches just 10 meters above the elevation of Tanzania’s major crest and both are found at similar proximity to the equator, at almost the same latitude.

Around their bases, though, the scenery is starkly different. Llamas are part of the countryside setting around Cotopaxi whereas lions stroll around the savannas of Kenya and waterfalls flow through the tropical rain forest of some Kilimanjaro routes.

The permanent snow-capped peaks challenge those who brave a trip to these summits and it’s by the light of the moon that summit attempts take place on both continents.  What sets them apart is their volcanic activity – while Kilimanjaro is dormant, Cotopaxi and many of the volcanoes South America are still considered active, even if they haven’t erupted in over 100 years.

These two summits are the most popular for trekkers compared to others on their respective continents but while it takes just 2 days to summit Cotopaxi, routes up Kili usually take 6 days – give or take a day depending on the route.

While the scenery and park land around Cotopaxi and some of the other Latin American volcanoes is striking, we have to side with Kilimanjaro as the more exciting destination as a whole. Hopping on a safari trip following the Kilimanjaro challenge has to be the icing on the cake – or the snow-cap on the mountain as it were (a little mountain humor for you there).

The South American peaks are, nonetheless, diverse and many tower over Kilimanjaro with craters that hiss and bubble – reminding trekkers that this is indeed a volcano and not a typical mountain.

“The young geology of the Andes is pocked with snow-capped volcanic cones.  Although these high-altitude mountains should not be taken lightly – summiting them demands the proper equipment, acclimatisation and usually a professional guide – anyone who is physically fit and mentally tough can climb them.”

Read more about hiking up the South American volcanoes by Gabi Mocatta via BBC Travel.  This crazy Kilimanjaro Adventure is a great read too.

Ecuador mountain Cotopaxi countryside. Photo Dave Lonsdale, Flikrmountain tanzaniaKilimanjaro under cover. Photo nukta77, Flikr


About DNTM Editor

Digital Nomad aims to bring you quality adventure travel information. All photos and videos taken by us are under the CreativeCommons ShareAlike licence, unless otherwise noted. Please provide a link to the page where the content is posted to attribute credit. If we find a great product to recommend, which happens to have an affiliate program we won't hesitate to use them because, well, why not?! :) We only recommend products we would use ourselves.

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