Lava River

Published: July 13th 2006
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Lava RiverLava RiverLava River

Welling out from a crack right below me the lava forms a river in an ever-changing bed.
Quite a special excursion I did from Antigua was the visit to vulcano Pacaya. This is a popular one in general, it's easy to climb and the chance to see some vulcanic activity is good. But the latter greatly depends on the latest development.
Because it had been recommended to me several time the few past weeks I decided to take a tour even for the rainy season and the bad weather.
So the whole hiking part from the parking lot to the actual start of the last cone was through a misty and wet forest and not really fun. The more rewarding was the destination. At the base of the final vulcanic cone we came to a small valley that has developed from piled up lava on one side and the cone on the other side. When we looked down into that valley we couldn't believe our eyes. Two rivers of liquid red glowing lava were welling up from the ground and flowing down the valley! Our guide was rather fearless (I would say careless ;-) and waked down into the valley straight up to those rivers. On the way we got aware that have the ground of the valley
Volcan PacayaVolcan PacayaVolcan Pacaya

The whole way to the crater was wet and without any spectacular views.
was just a thin layer of solidified lava on top of a burning hot underground. We could see a red glow in every rift between the rocks. It was quite handy that it was still raining because due to the wet conditions we could easily judge the rocks better not to step on by their steam activity. And than we were standing right next to the red hot glowing belt. When the wind blew from the other side you felt like being roasted next to it. The stuff was rather viscous, rocks that we threw on it did not sink but were transported like on a conveyer belt. Because the lava solidifies further down the way it flows steadily changes. In those ten minutes we spent inside the valley one flow stoped just to begin once again into a totally different direction. So you really have to watch out for a red glowing slow but steadily crawling beast behind your back up there...

Additional photos below
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Lava River

I had an uneasy feeling but the guide said it's save to walk across the solidified lava right until next to the lava river.

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