Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatepetl, Mexico's lovers
Diego Rivera painted it, you will climb it. 40 miles from Mexico City, enjoy a rocky and icy landscape. Iztaccíhuatl, nicknamed the "white woman", culminates at 17,329 feet and is the third largest volcano in Mexico after Popocatepetl. It has been extinct for years.
Set out to hike with a local guide and let your determined gaze take in the sand, rocks, eternal snows, and petrified moonlike landscapes as you aim for its summit.
This hike will require a stop in a shelter where you will sleep on simple wooden planks, but the warm atmosphere that prevails will make you forget your short night. Once at the apex, enjoy an incredible view on another volcano, Popocatepetl or "Popo" in short. It means "smoking mountain" in Aztec, and is one of the most active in Mexico – it is said to date back more than 700,000 years. The legend has it that these two volcanoes fell in love, then died of grief and were covered by the gods with a pure white coat.
Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatepetl
Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatepetl National Park
Calle Plaza de la Constitución 10-B Planta Alta
56900 Amecameca de Juarez
Barù and the luscious valleys of Panama
11,398 feet high, the Barú is considered the highlight of Central America, but don't let appearances fool you: it has been sound asleep for the past 500 years, but it is not extinct, only dozing. However, you can start safely with crossing the 14,000 hectare national park, then start hiking through a tropical forest where pumas and deer roam free.
You will go from green hills to rocky and steep landscapes. Bypass small craters and pitch your tent at the Los Fogones campsite for a well-deserved break. From there, you have only one mile left to go before reaching the long awaited summit. There is one dilemma to sort out first though: hike at night and enjoy the moonlight or start at sunrise and enjoy a stunning panorama. On one side, the Pacific Ocean extends as far as the eye can see and, on the other, the Caribbean wraps around with its sparkling water.
Puy de Dôme, a thousand and one volcanoes
The emblematic Puy de Dome, 4,800 feet high, stands out amidst the 80 volcanoes that make up the Chaîne des Puys, 110 miles from Lyon. The volcano, which has been dormant for the past 11,000 years, is classified as a great site of France, and is an essential part of tourism in Auvergne. Most of the time, a crown of clouds floats over its top. More majestic than ever, it attracts many hikers who dream of setting foot on this stunning green coat. Para-gliders and hang-gliders will also enjoy discovering this vast playground.
Take the mule trail (chemin des Muletiers) to head up, pass through the ruins of the Temple of Mercury, one of the most important pilgrimage sanctuaries of the Western Roman Empire which was discovered at the end of the 19th century. If exercise is not your forte, board the smooth Panoramic of the Domes train and “fly” up to the top. You've arrived! Enjoy an exhilarating moment as you contemplate the breathtaking view of the Puys.
Puy de Dôme
Chaîne des Puys
Mount Fuji, sacred volcano
Adored and revered, Mount Fuji has been a muse to many artists. 80 miles from Tokyo, the mountain holds a special place in the hearts of the Japanese. Although its last eruption dates back 300 years, the volcano is still closely monitored. It is still considered active – bringing the superstitious locals to pray against a possible awakening. In the meantime, the water that runs out is considered sacred and men and women drink from it to cleanse from evil spirits.
For thousands of years, Mount Fuji has risen to 12,388 feet, immutably adorned with a crown of snow, proud to draw crowds up its sides. If you are planning to climb to the top, make sure to travel in July or August. Several paths are available, each with different degrees of difficulty. The Yoshida route will take 5hrs30min and you will get to admire the sun just before dawn as it coats the surrounding plains with fiery hues. To make the most of your outing, stroll along the lakes and enjoy the coolness of the waterfalls and caves.
Martinique's five rocky peaks
This million year-old volcanic group stretches out from the north of Fort-de-France to Fonds-Saint-Denis: the pitons du Carbet are like heaven to seasoned hikers and for all those who wish to climb these magnificent steep rocky mountains. Piton Lacroix stands taller at 3,924 feet, followed by the Morne Piquet, the Piton Dumauzé, the Alma and the Boucher. As you stand before trees that can be 100 to 130 feet tall, you will feel almost insignificant in this dense and lush rainforest. But the higher you climb, the drier the landscape. Hiking requires great caution here because of steep slopes and paths made slippery by frequent rain falls. To help you along this course, handrails and ropes have been set up so you can safely hike across these rugged ancient volcanoes. Once you reach the top, the view of the Montagne Pelée and bay of Fort-de-France are a beautiful reward. If you would rather stay away from the volcano, you may admire – if not climb – the pitons from the road on Route de la Trace.
Pitons du Carbet