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Hike Mount Etna in Winter

Head to Sicily for a one-of-a-kind weekend, hiking on the snow-clad slopes of Europe's largest active volcano

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Trip Ref #10638

Hike Mount Etna in Winter

Head to Sicily for a one-of-a-kind weekend, hiking on the snow-clad slopes of Europe's largest active volcano

DURATION
3 nights
LOCATION
Italy
ANNUAL LEAVE
2 days off work
SEASON
Jan-Mar
GROUP SIZE
Up to 12 people
MEETING POINT
Catania International Airport
ACCOMMODATION
Classic

Chalet

OVERALL RATING

5.0

Based on 6 reviews
DIFFICULTY
Moderate

No snowshoeing experience is needed, but bring a good level of fitness and a warm jacket!

Snowshoe over untouched powder on Mount Etna’s wild northern flank, with majestic views of awe-inspiring craters

Stomp through snow-blanketed forest to explore unique lava formations on one the world’s most iconic volcanoes

Warm up with delicious Sicilian meals and volcanic local wines at your cosy chalet nestled among the forest

Day 1

To Etna Nord: the volcano's wild side

Snowshoeing

2hrs · 5km · 100m up · 100m down

At Catania Airport, jump in the transfer bus and get whisked off towards Etna Nord to begin your adventure. This wild and quiet side of the volcano is the perfect spot to avoid the crowds. Your home for the weekend is a cosy, locally-run chalet, located in the endemic Ragabo pine forest at 1500m above sea level – get comfy and enjoy a hot drink, followed by a briefing with your guide. Time allowing, you'll head out on a short hike or snowshoe excursion around the chalet, immersed in the ancient pine forest and a wonderful landscape of snow, extinct craters and ancient lava flows. Tonight you'll enjoy your first Sicilian feast, tasting local seasonal products and typical mountain dishes that will warm your heart and soul. Buon appetito!

Day 2

Lava caves, craters and snow

Snowshoeing

4hrs · 9km · 500m up · 400m down

Kickstart your winter hiking and snowshoeing experience on the eastern flank of Etna. Take a short transfer to Rifugio Citelli at 1740m, then set off on a trail through birch forest. Past the forest belt, the path opens up to a small valley where you can observe an interesting lava-formed phenomenon known as the Grotto del Serracozzo, an impressive tunnel formed by lava flow following the 1971 eruption. The route then takes a steep ascent to reach the panoramic viewpoint of the Valle del Bove, at an altitude of 2095m. In the distance it is possible to spot a series of magmatic dykes: lava walls which formed during the ascent of the magma towards the craters. Continue along the ridge of the valley in the direction of the Pizzi Deneri and take in the majestic vista of Monte Frumento delle Concazze, one of the largest secondary craters on Etna. Tuck into a deserved picnic lunch while admiring the breathtaking volcanic landscape, then descend back to Rifugio Citelli for a transfer back to your warm chalet.

Day 3

Pista Altomontana: the ring that embraces Etna

Snowshoeing

5hrs · 14km · 685m up · 376m down

Continue your exploration of Europe's largest volcano with a snowshoe or hike along the 'Pista Altomontana' – a circular path that goes around Mount Etna, at an average altitude of 1800m. On today's route you'll cross a dramatic landscape of lava flows and old eruptive fractures, and you'll get a glimpse of old volcanic cones as you approach the Timparossa Refuge. Snow conditions permitting, venture into one of the longest underground lava tunnels on Etna: the 'Grotto of Raspberries'. Continue on until reaching Ragabo Hut and then back to Piano Provenzana, where your transfer awaits. Back at the chalet, enjoy an evening of Sicilian wine tasting and tuck into a final tasty dinner with your group.

Day 4

Arrivederci, Sicily!

You adventure on Etna comes to an end this morning (after some optional final time on the powder). If you were lucky, you may have even had the unique chance to observe a live volcanic eruption from a safe distance – a once in a lifetime opportunity! Your transfer will take you back to Catania Airport around noon for your flight home. Alternatively, you can also opt to extend your winter adventure in Sicily with some extra days in Catania or Taormina – it's the perfect time of year to explore these cities without the crowds.

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking local guide

Accommodation

3 nights in a cosy mountain chalet on Etna

Meals

All breakfasts, 2 picnic lunches and 3 dinners

Transfers

To and from the airport, and everything in between

Equipment

Snowshoes and poles

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

Visas where required

Day 1

Chalet · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 3

Chalet · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

You'll eat delicious food made with local ingredients that respect Sicilian traditions. Lunches are picnic boxes prepared by your chalet's hosts. Dinners are a combination of first courses (usually including pasta, ravioli and soups), second courses (generally meat-based and accompanied by mushrooms and seasonal vegetables), as well as a range of local cured meats and dairy products. Dinners usually finish with homemade desserts and cakes.

Most dietary requirements can be accommodated – please just request this on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Etna Nord

Spend three nights at the comfortable mountain chalet Clan dei Ragazzi. Near the town of Linguaglossa in Etna Nord, this is the lesser-visited and wilder side of Etna. The wooden chalet is surrounded by the Ragabo pine forest, a magical setting for a winter adventure on Europe's largest volcano.

The chalet has a cosy lounge bar, a restaurant, a large multi-purpose room and a small welcoming hall. Accommodation is on twin or triple-share basis, either in the main structure or in one of the small forest cabins. All rooms are equipped with heating, en-suite toilets and showers. Please note that no TV or Wi-Fi is available, to give guests the chance to disconnect from the internet and reconnect with nature.

Please note: There is a €6 Euro per person local tourism tax payable on arrival at your accommodation

Upgrades

Due to the style of accommodation used on this trip there is no private room upgrade option.

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Catania Airport

14:30 on Day 1

Ends

Catania Airport

12:00 on Day 4

Transfers

A group airport transfer is included on Day 1, which will depart Catania Airport around 14:30. It will take just over one hour to reach the mountain chalet, located on Etna Nord. Your return transfer will arrive at Catania Airport at around 12:30 on Day 4, so you'll need to book flights departing from 14:30 onwards.

It will be difficult to use public transport to reach the start point of the trek independently if you chose to travel at different times, so we strongly recommend taking advantage of the set group transfers from/to Catania. If you happen to be already in the city prior to the trip, or if you wish to extend your time in Catania after the tour, there is a frequent bus service connecting the airport to the city centre and vice versa.

Private transfers to and from Etna Nord can also be arranged on request – see Optional Extras for prices.

Travel options

There are regular direct and indirect flights to Catania Fontanarossa Airport from across the UK and Europe. During the winter, direct flights from the UK are operated exclusively from London with Wizz Air or Easyjet.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • Snowshoes and poles, if required

What do I need to bring?

BAGS

  • Soft overnight duffel bag or luggage
  • Daypack (30 litres)
  • Waterproof liner for kitbag/rucksack, or drybags

CLOTHES

  • Rain/windproof (Gore-Tex) jacket with hood
  • Rain/windproof (Gore-Tex) trousers (we recommend either a combination of a thermal layer and a waterproof hard shell trouser, or insulated waterproof skiing pants)
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Thermals (merino best)
  • One functional shirt for the hike (we recommend merino or synthetic)
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves
  • Buff or neckscarf
  • Trekking trousers/shorts/skirts
  • Underwear and one or two layers of socks (merino or synthetic)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sleepwear
  • Sturdy hiking boots (worn-in)
  • Head torch with batteries
  • Gaiters

OTHER

  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Reusable water bottle (or two) x1 litre
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Extra night in Catania (Single)

Payable Before Departure

Extra night in Catania (Single)

Per Night

Extra night in Catania (Twin/Double)

Payable Before Departure

Extra night in Catania (Twin/Double)

Per Night

Private Arrival Transfer Catania Airport - Etna Nord (1-4pax)

Payable Before Departure

Private Arrival Transfer Catania Airport - Etna Nord (1-4pax)

Private Departure Transfer Etna Nord - Catania Airport (1-4pax)

Payable Before Departure

Private Departure Transfer Etna Nord - Catania Airport (1-4pax)

Michael S.
Breathtaking

Wow!

Blown away by how beautiful this volcano is. The hike is like chapters of a book with each one being more dramatic than the last. Accommodation, basic but adequate and the food was amazing. Nino our guide knew the volcano like the back of his hand, super knowledgeable and friendly.

Definitely would recommend

Keith T.
There were only two of

There were only two of us, but we got on well and had a lovely time despite the weather being pretty bad, with very strong winds and driving snow/hail. But I loved it, and made the few extra days after in 18 degrees C and sun on the coast after even more enjoyable. I think climate change is going to make it harder to predict/ guarantee snow in winter so probably it would be a bonus if it were possible to use snowshoes! All was helped by our very personable guide Nino who I think really enjoyed the challenging conditions as well, and the fantastic food/ accommodation. First time with MBA but like the varied approach to adventure you have.

Lisa K.
Unique hiking experience

Hiking the Etna volcano was exceptional. So many different landscapes passing by, from dense forest to barren black lava fields, with views of the Mediterranean in the distance. The lava caves were definitely a highlight.

Nino is a great guide, clearly passionate about the area and generously sharing his knowledge. He seemessly adjusted the route and schedule according to our needs and preferences.

I would recommend this to all types of hiking and nature enthousiasts; a chance to experience a unique mountain (volcano!) environment. The food and wine was nothing to scoff at either 😋.

charlotte h.
Mount Etna

We had a great time, our guide Nino was amazing, I felt looked after and learnt lots! Ninos knowledge was brilliant and nothing was too much trouble. Would highly recommend

Steph E.
What an epic weekend in

What an epic weekend in Sicily!! Snow, pasta and hiking a volcano. Our guides Nino and Andrea were fantastic. I now know a lot more about Sicily and volcanoes! Highly recommend this trip as a great long weekend away. Learning to snowshoe was fun, the views were epic and as already said, lots of pasta 👌

Sarah B.
Snowshoeing and hiking in the sunshine!

We had a really good weekend exploring the beautiful woods and snowy slopes around Mt Etna. We made new friends and we laughed a lot! Our guides were excellent- the hikes were carefully planned and every effort was made to accommodate all members of the group. This did mean that one guide had to turn back after a very short time on day 2, and the whole party had to wait significant periods for the whole group to reform on day 3. Two sets of snowshoes needed repairs during the first hike which also limited our hiking distance that day. I think most of the group would have enjoyed longer hikes on both days. It was unfortunate that on day 1 some luggage had gone astray and we were delayed leaving the airport which left no time for a hike that day. It was also unfortunate that there were no direct flights to the UK on day 4, so most people had to stay an extra night. The accommodation was good- as expected, bunk beds, warm rooms and showers, nice bedding. The food was good plentiful local fare. Some fresh fruit at breakfast and as a dessert option would have been nice. Drinking water could be purchased at the bar, along with alcohol and soft drinks. Our guides were very knowledgeable about volcanoes, the local flora & fauna and the history of the area. We had interesting pre dinner briefings and updates during the hikes.

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 105kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

No special skills are required, just a good fitness level and the ability to handle two to five hours of hiking or snowshoeing. There will be some some short, steep sections to climb, but overall no significant elevation gain. Prior hiking experience is recommended as it will make your experience more enjoyable.

This will very much depend on the snow conditions at time of travel. Between January and March, Mount Etna is usually covered in snow, especially at altitudes above 1500m where this itinerary runs. If snow is present, all hikes will take place using snowshoes and poles (these are included in the trip price and provided locally).

Snowshoes are a special type of footwear that enables you to spread your weight over a larger area, allowing you to move easily across powdery snow-covered terrain. If you have never tried this activity before, don't worry! Snowshoeing is incredibly easy, comfortable and safe. You simply clip your snowshoe to the outside of your hiking boot and off you go. You'll be in the hands of experienced and trained local guides who know the area intimately, who will guide you safely throughout the hike. You'll also have the opportunity to test the snowshoes on Day 1, before you head out on longer excursions on Days 2 and 3.

No, this itinerary does not include Etna summit as climbing to the top craters (3350m) in winter would require mountaineering skills and technical equipment such as crampons, which is not easily available to hire locally. The chance of reaching the summit is also more likely to be impacted adversely by snow, wind or ice conditions as well as volcanic activity. In fact, the area of ​​the summit craters of Etna is very often off limits, due to the risk of eruption.

Hiking on the north side is the best choice for visiting Etna safely and the best alternative to climbing the summit in terms of off the beaten-track experience and highlights. You'll be exploring more accessible, lower routes which still showcase the majestic volcanic landscape of Etna in all its beauty, crossing a diverse environment made of lava caves, extinct craters, birch forests and mesmerising moonscapes.

Due to the the rapid and unpredictable activity of the volcano, the civil authorities can impose altitude restrictions and limit routes at any time. However, given that this itinerary takes place below an altitude of 2800m, the chance of these routes being off limits is very slim. Overall, the choice of the route, the hiking distance and elevation is always decided by your local guide taking into consideration group's fitness and weather conditions, so small alterations can always take place with your safety in mind.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, alternating periods of rest and periods of eruption. Eruptions can occur from the summit craters and also (more rarely) as lateral eruptions. Whilst Etna's eruptions can destroy homes and roads they are generally not dangerous for people, especially when observing them from lower altitudes far away from the most active craters. Your local guide will monitor the volcanic activity throughout the trip and rely on the official information and bulletins released by the local civil authorities.

Should you be lucky enough to be on a trip at the time of an eruption, your guide can arrange an optional night time excursion (payable locally) to admire the explosions and fresh lava streams from a safe distance – a show of a lifetime!

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. We suggest the below as a guideline per person:

15 Euro

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Snow and sub-zero temperatures on Etna are very common between the months of January and March. During this period, temperatures drop significantly and snow is likely even at lower altitudes below 1600m. The best you can do is to be prepared for anything: come equipped with warm layers of clothing and windproofs (see the Kit List for more information). Your host will be monitoring the weather conditions during the course of the trip and will suggest alternative, safer hiking routes should the weather get really bad.

Please note that snow is never 100% guaranteed on every departure, however recent reports show a very high chance of snow between the months of December and March. Winter hiking without snow will be equally spectacular and enjoyable, and the contrasts and colours of the volcanic landscape even more evident.

Sure can! Over 70% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

The tap water in Sicily is safe to drink. Please bring along your own reusable water bottle to fill up at the chalet to avoid buying single use plastic bottles.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

Your main luggage will be left at the chalet, so you'll just need a 30L daypack to carry personal items during each day of hiking.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last-minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

TRIP DEPARTURE DATES

March 2024

Friday • 1st March 2024

to Monday • 4th March 2024
€720.00
€800.00
2 Booked • 10 Spots left
Guaranteed to run
Last Minute - 2 spots left at 10% off

Friday • 15th March 2024

to Monday • 18th March 2024
€800.00
4 Booked • 8 Spots left
Guaranteed to run

Pay In Installments

You can choose to pay for this trip in as many installments as you like, with no interest or fees.

Full Financial Protection

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