We’ve just returned from our trip to Stromboli. In a short serie of articles called Stromboli volcano hiking guide we’ll describe all you need to know about this beautiful island and what gear you should bring with you if you want to hike Stromboli volcano and see one of the most spectacular shows in the world – fountains of flowing lava 🙂
Booking a hotel
First thing you need to know is that the hotel base on the island is very limited. If you plan to hike to the top of the volcano, you definitely need a room in the village of Stromboli. When I was on the island in 2010, we didn’t have any room reservations. When we got off the ferry, a couple of BnB owners greeted us and offered accommodation. It was before booking.com and airbnb.com age. Now Stromboli is one of the world’s top destinations and you should definitely book your room a couple of months ahead.
Our trip was supposed to be in the second half of August and two months before that I literally had booked the last room available on the island. Don’t wait for any promotions/hotel deals to come, book your room right after you get your flight tickets. Room prices are going through the roof these days.
Be prepared to pay 200€ for a VERY basic room with bed, private bathroom and A/C.
Camping on the island is prohibited.
Booking a plane
Your best choice would by to fly to Naples or Sicily. You can also consider a flight to Rome or Bari and then a train to one of the port cities.
Booking a hike
If you want to get to the peak of the volcano, you need to book a tour. Going above 400m hight without a certified guide is highly prohibited. There is a policeman at the very top, so if you even try to go by yourself, you’ll face 500€ fine.
Fortunately enough, hiring a guide is fairly cheap. If you plan to go with a group of 20 people, one place costs about 28€. A private guide costs 400€ off season and 500€ during high season.
There are many companies you can hike with. The most known and recommended one is Magmatrek. These guys have been there for many years. Their headquaters are still where they were 10 years ago – in the strict centre of the village, just behind the cathedral on the main square. The Magmatrek guys are probably the most experienced guides on the island* and from what I’ve noticed they let you stay at the top of the volcano longer than the other companies.
There is no web booking platform for Magmatrek, so drop them a mail, and they will get back to you with the details. Whatever company you choose, please be advised to reserve your spot also in advance as the free places fill in? pretty quickly.
*Disclaimer: this is not a paid advertisement, we’ve paid the full price of the hike 🙂
What gear you need for the hike
The guide company provides helmets and anti-dust masks to protect your airways from dust. In case you wear contact lenses, you’ll also get the protective eyeglasses which should help when the dust is thick.
To go to the top you need trekking boots. Preferably the high ones in order to protect your ankles, but we were just fine with our low-cut hiking shoes. You won’t be allowed to go in sneakers
There are also many companies that rent hiking boots for 6€ per day, so there isn’t much sense in bringing your heavy boots through half of the world for just one hike.
Bring high socks. Although the path to the top goes through big rocks, the way down is very different. You go through the old crater which is 100% volcanic ash. It gets everywhere, so it’s better to have high socks.
You need at least one 😉 But bringing one or even two spares is recommended. It’s because it’s extremely hot there and you’re sweating like a pig. Don’t trust in the fancy fabrics of the trekking clothes, they won’t help you. So it’s just good to have a fresh and dry shirt when you get to the top.
Stromboli is only 900m high, but when you get to the top, it’s slightly colder than at the bottom and can be quite windy there. So bring a jacket or a light wind stopper, that will allow you to watch the craters (3 of them!) comfortably.
You will go to the top in the evening, watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in your life from the top of the volcano and go down at night. When walking down the crater, on your left side there will be a hill which goes up, but on the other side there is the black precipice. You definitely don’t want to end there.
You don’t need any fancy flashlight, but you definitely need a head mounted light. If you don’t have any, buy the cheapest one. They are more than enough for these conditions.
Take at least 2 litres of water with you. Two smaller bottles are better than one big container. You’re going to sweat a lot, so it’s important to hydrate. Remember to not drink too much water at once as you’ll end up with big water belly and it’ll be more difficult to hike.
Unless you’re an athlete, after hiking those 900m you’ll be quite exhausted and you want to treat yourself with a snack. Sugar in blood improves the mood instantly 🙂
Cameras and tripods
If you are a camera guy and want to take some nice photos or videos, better get familiar with the manual mode in your camera and learn how to use it during the night. You’re gonna have 40-60 min at the very top to observe one of the most beautiful phenomenon in your life and the last thing you want to do is to struggle with your own camera.
Also bring a tripod with you. Save your back and get a light travel version. There is plenty of room at the top, so don’t worry, you’ll find a place to set the tripod up.
It’s going to be very dusty, so I don’t recommend changing lens once there. So pick the right one before going there. My recommendation would be 70-200mm or more, as the craters are in a fair distance.
You can forget about the audio while recording a video. People are going to scream and applause each eruption. I brought a nice external shotgun microphone there and audio was still not usable at all. Another thing to mention is that, it’s windy up there, so you’ll need a deadcat on your mics to reduce the wind noise.
I’m not a fan, but I’ve seen many people using them.
Glasses if you wear contact lenses
When you tell your guide you wear contact lenses, he’ll give you a protective eyeglasses. On the way down the volcano, the ash in the air is all around you and crazy thick . When some of it gets to your eye, you will most likely loose your contact lens. The protective eyeglasses unfortunately fog up. So take your normal corrective glasses with you, just in case. And if you’re wearing the contact lenses anyway, take the one day ones and throw them afterwards.
As always I would say. You’re on vacation, so please enjoy the moment while there. It’s one of the three places in the world, where you can almost constantly see the process of creating new land creation. It’s pretty incredible and magical to see it with your own eyes.
If you have any questions regarding the hike or the equipment, please put them in the comment section below.