Close to Antigua in Guatemala is Volcán de Pacaya - an active volcano. It was one of the most amazing things I've seen in my travels.
I got quite close to the lava flow and was completely mesmerized by the oozing, gum-like lava. And as I walked on the solid, volcanic rock around the lava river I could feel the immense heat radiating upwards toward the surface. As a consequence, the souls of my shoes melted.
[Below] "Danger, Lava Flows"
[Below] Smoke rings
[Below] This was one of my most memorable sights: descending the volcano with headlamps in the darkness, I looked back up to the volcano and saw lava exploding out of its mouth in enormous jets of flame. (I didn't have a tripod so the photo is not very great, but you get the idea).
To climb the volcano you will need:
- trousers, i.e. no shorts
- a pullover: once the sun goes down it becomes very cold
- water: it takes between 1.5 - 2 hours of steep trekking to reach the lava
- closed shoes: trust me, volcanic rock is SHARP... oh yeah, and lava is a little hot and sometimes burns
- a headlamp: it's best to see the volcano in the late afternoon when the sun goes down, which means you will be coming down in the pitch black otherwise.