Chile: a lunar landscape at Lascar
Set within Bolivia and Chile, the Atacama desert features landscapes worthy of a science-fiction film. The windows of your vehicle reveal a succession of immense arid plateaux, overlooked by twenty or so Andean volcanoes. Blown away by this beautiful rocky world, step out to observe the flamingos at Laguna Leija. Here, the range of volcanic summits is perfectly reflected in the stretches of water: all the different elements seem to merge. A dream site for camping underneath an absolutely clear sky and for accustoming your body to this altitude. In an environment where oxygen is scarce, you really must take precautions and not rush your body. In the early hours, start climbing Lascar, the most active volcano in the region, at a leisurely pace. It will take you four hours to reach its crater at a height of 5,000 metres. This high-level Chilian trek will maybe act as a warm-up for tackling the neighbouring Licancabur, a tougher challenge, at an altitude of almost 6,000 metres.
An immersion amidst nature on the summit of Mount Etna in Sicily
Mount Etna is one of the most sought-after destinations by technical hiking enthusiasts. A cable car takes you to Montagnola, your destination station at an altitude of 2,500 metres. Check you have your equipment before setting off to tackle the south-east crater... sunglasses, shoes with treads and sun cream. Escorted by a mountain guide, you travel across fields of solid lava, while muted rumblings rise up from the entrails of the Earth. Nothing to worry about, they bode no harm. Far away, puffs of sulphur escape from the summits. In this spectacular landscape, you become aware of the life within the largest active volcano in Europe. After five or six hours of effort, having reached Sicily's highest point, you can proclaim your victory to the 360° view.
Volcanic thrills at Popocatepetl in Mexico
Mexico is a land of volcanoes, with more than 200 craters along a range which crosses the whole country. Leave Mexico City for the colonial city of Puebla, before travelling towards Popocatepetl. A fire monster worshipped by the Aztecs, the second highest Mexican summit demands respect, with its altitude of 5,426 metres. You can observe its highly eruptive activity from the neighbouring volcano Iztaccíhuatl. Get ready to spend a night in a shelter, opposite this restlessly sleeping giant. The nocturnal display of its lava jets will leave you speechless. The sight is so magnificent. At dawn, summon your strength and head for the skies. A steep path traverses several passes and climbs to an altitude of 5,000 metres, to the observation point Portillo 3. Catch your breath. A picnic above the clouds awaits you, opposite the Dantean sight of the boiling Popocatepetl .
Discover the wild beauty of la Soufrière in Guadeloupe
Basse-Terre, on the island of Guadeloupe, offers a terrific terrain for trekking. Its wooded ridges and lush jungle extend around the volcanic high point of the Lesser Antilles: la Soufrière. In the most unspoilt corner of the island, a five hour athletic trek will take you to the slopes of this volcano, rising to a height of 1,477 metres. With your climbing boots on your feet, find your way between sulphur vapour, chasms, rocky outcrops and… orchids. Are you a thrill-seeker? Climb up to the southern crater which continually emits puffs of gas, accompanied by muted rumblings. At times, the movement of the volcanic gas swept away by the wind reveals the crater walls covered in a layer of fluorescent yellow sulphur crystals. A striking sight.