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The excitement of climbing an active volcano is connected to what you shall see as you trek, step by step, along its mountain paths. Mount Etna already offers this experience thanks to the many hiking tours, mountain bike rides, also by going on a horse or donkey ride. If you do not love adventure, there are still jeep tours, quad bikes  experiences. For a few lucky ones, there is also the chance to try the helicopter tour: admiring the volcano from above in a unique experience.

Why a helicopter tour

A helicopter tour is the best way to admire some forbidden places. The many safety laws, the troubled tracks make some locations on an active volcano impossible to reach, even when there are no eruptions. A very active and sometimes unpredictable volcano like Etna is ruled by many interdictions. You cannot go beyond 2900 meters height. If you are allowed to, you must be a professional such as volcanologist, geologist, alpine guide. When they let you go beyond 2900 mt. you certainly cannot enter the active craters anyway!

Flying by helicopter you can admire the smoking summit of Etna, the colourful and fascinating interior of its eruptive vents. You can witness unique volcanic phenomena without fear of being hit by debris, because with the helicopter you get away quickly in case of danger. And then you can enjoy spectacular sunsets and sunrises.  It allows a completely new vision, almost three hundred and sixty degrees, favoured by the height. Definitely an experience to try if you get the chance to do so. How? We are going to tell you.

etna helicopter02
photo by G Musumeci

How to take an helicopter tour

Usually, in order  to fly over Mount Etna by helicopter you leave either directly from Catania airport or from private heliports at luxury facilities. Or you go at heliports tourist agencies have rented on purpose. So you have to face a transfer from your place of stay to Catania or to the structures that will be indicated to you. Some helicopter flights depart from the Calatabiano aerodrome, near Taormina. Others from private resorts in the Alcantara Valley (Castiglione di Sicilia).

The helicopter journey  usually includes two obligatory views: Valle del Bove and Summit Craters. Flying over Valle del Bove, the large natural basin coloured by the green of the woods,  the reddish-brown of the ancient lavas,  the black of the modern flows, suggests the ancient history of the volcano. It also allows you to see how the breadth of this valley actually protects the villages from eruptions. If the safety conditions allow it, the helicopter will fly over the five summit craters of Etna. There you shall the wells from which the spectacular eruptions spring.

The guide on board will gradually explain the beauties you will see and will tell you stories connected to the many eruptions, seismic phenomena and also to the mysteries connected to the great Sicilian volcano.

Practical information on the tour

A helicopter tour is an experience for a few only, unfortunately, because the costs are really high. It could not be otherwise given the vehicle and the fuel that is used. The range goes from a minimum of 300 euros per person up to a maximum of 3200 euros! Prices can increase by a few hundred euros if you want the tour guide.

Usually this type of tour takes place in the summer, from April to October, and only in conditions of full volcanic and weather safety. Booking is not compulsory but strongly recommended because the vehicle cannot carry more than five people. The flight usually takes place in broad daylight, between 8 and 12am. But some special tours allow you to leave at sunrise or sunset just to admire the spectacle of these lights.

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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