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The beauty of a mountain like Mount Etna is due to the fact that it is also an active volcano. So, besides the wonderful landscape, it also shows volcanic phenomena, unique in the world. The best way to enjoy Mount Etna is on foot, by just … walking. You will admire every single detail of this great volcano, as you walk. Or you can go by jeep car so to reach higher and more panoramic places.

If you love being “alternative” and original, you might also decide to explore the volcano in a different way. Some people go by motorbike, others explore the top by skiing. Sporty people use mountain bike so to climb to different and difficult altitudes. Some tourists book animal ride trips. But you could also book a stunning trip by helicopter!

Alternative way: mountain bike

There are many itineraries that let you explore Mount Etna by bike, mainly mountain bike though. You can go for a half-day trip, riding for 3 or 4 hours. Or have a complete tour of the volcano that will last 7 hours. A valley-to-top craters ride means riding for 4 hours on difficult trails.

The most beautiful are the routes of Etna North – Mt Scorsone, Brunek-Timparossa, Citelli Hut, Sartorius Craters. You could also go, on the southern flank, from Zafferana Etnea to Sapienza Hut, which is on asphalted road. Still on the southern flank, try riding from Sapienza to Montagnola – 700 metres of ascent – and back, on a sandy and stony trail.

photo by Patrick Rohe

The ascent to the craters from Sapienza is fun. In these cases, for the less trained, the use of electric bikes is recommended. The route is as hard as it is fascinating and scenic. Once at the top the descent will be an exciting adventure, pushing the bikes down the steep black sand gullies to Valle del Bove, then to Zafferana.

By helicopter over Etna

Some helicopter pilots rent their vehicles and their time to those tourists who can afford a special trip. Exploring Etna by helicopter is expensive, the price exceeds 1000 Euros, but those who can, they have to do it because it is a rare emotion to try. You can choose the duration and destination of the flight.

By helicopter you can simply fly over the Valle del Bove admiring the lines of the various eruptions that have filled it over time. You can reach the craters and feel the thrill of flying over the five giant mouths of the volcano, always active and smoking! By booking a complete tour of the volcano you will fly over dozens of different landscapes, all beautiful.

For a helicopter trip we suggest you to book well in advance. Better to go in groups, because the tours for more people foresee the division of the price, with the possibility of paying even less than 300 Euros per person.

Alternative Etna with donkeys and alpacas

alpaca on Etna
photo by Grazia Musumeci

As mentioned, Etna can also be explored on the back of an animal: donkey, for example. Guides with donkeys are usually stationed in Piano Provenzana – Etna Nord, but only in the summer months. However, donkey rides require very short routes, perhaps not so scenic but certainly exciting.

A new form of tourism linked to alpaca grazing has recently been developing on Etna, as well. In the area of ??Linguaglossa, northern flank, some farms raise these hybrids (half sheep, half lama) recently introduced into the Sicilian natural landscape. Alpacas cannot be ridden, but they can be accompanied along the paths of their high mountain pasture in perfect harmony with nature.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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