Tag Archives: volcano

Tungarahua Volcano: Active Once Again


It’s official folks, Tungurahua volcano has officially gone active again as of 6:47 a.m. yesterday (Sunday, July 14), with authorities declaring an “orange alert” – the second highest warning level.

200+ residents were evacuated from the Cusua, Chacauco and Juive areas. Forunately, no injuries have been reported.

While Tungurahua has had its spontaneous bursts of activity in the past year, the power of the explosive eruption was apparently grater than anticipated. VolcanoDiscovery.com, having measured elevated seismic activity in the area over the past few weeks, claims that the eruption was not as surprising as the sheer power and force of it, with heavy rain and mild flooding following suit.

Visitors already in or heading to Baños should take note of the volcano’s activity, making sure to take reasonable measures to either stock up on supplies (water, masks, non-perishable goods, etc.), or packing up and heading elsewhere. For those planning on going to the Tungurahua region, it is advised you postpone plans for at least the next week, or until further news and updates come in regarding the volcano’s potential future activity.

Guatemalan volcano erupts, forces thousands to flee

A volcano in southern Guatemala erupted violently this week in what is said to be its biggest eruption since 1999. On Thursday morning (September 13th), the Volcán del Fuego, which sits 31 miles south-west of the capital Guatemala City, began propelling huge clouds of ash over 3 kilometers (2 miles) high. It also spewed rivers of hot lava and gases for over 600 meters (2000 feet). Ash clouds were said to have spread for 80 kilometers (50 miles) south and south-east of the volcano, leaving the area in almost total darkness and forcing the evacuation of several nearby villages. Around 33,000 people were ordered to evacuate, though some chose to stay in their homes. By late Thursday, the eruptions were said to be dying down, and officials were hoping that evacuees would soon be able to return to their communities. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported, but several people have had to be treated for respiratory and eye problems.

Volcan de Fuego erupts (Volcán de Fuego haciendo erupción, septiembre 13, 2012 by Rudy A. Girón

This is by no means the first time the 3,763 meter (12,346 foot) volcano (whose name translates as Volcano of Fire) has erupted. It is in an almost constant active state, usually emitting smoke on a daily basis, and has already erupted five times this year, though this month’s eruption is said to be the largest in over a decade. It is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America.


Colombian volcano, Nevado del Ruiz, erupts; authorities warn of further eruptions

Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz volcano, which sits in the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados in the Zona Cafetera (or “Coffee zone”), 130 kilometers (80 mi) west of Bogota, erupted last Saturday, 30 June, after months of volcanic activity. The brief eruption took place at 5.37 p.m. local time, when the volcano expelled a 9.5 kilometer (6 mi) cloud of smoke, ash and gases, resulting in the evacuation of thousands of locals in the surrounding area and the suspension of commercial flights from the nearby towns of Armenia, Manizales and Pereira.

Nevado del Ruiz ("Nevado del Ruiz nos saludo 2" by Dr EG)

Fortunately, there have been no reports of injuries or damage to property, but authorities have warned that a further eruption is probable. Though the volcanic activity alert has now been lowered to orange after it was declared red following the eruption, scientists at the Vulcan and and Seismological Observatory in nearby Manizales say that the volcano continues to emit gases and ash, and that “new eruptions cannot be ruled out”. The recent activity is a nasty reminder of the deadly power of the 5321 meter (17,457 ft) volcano: on November 13 1985, a massive avalanche of mud and debris, caused by a small eruption, destroyed the town of Armero, killing an estimated 25,000 people. Avoid the area where possible, and keep up-to-date with travel and safety alerts: the website of the Manizales Vulcan and Seismological Observatory has daily updates (Spanish only), or check the Colombia travel advice page of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Find out more about Colombia in VIVA’s new Colombia Adventure Guideavailable in a variety of e-book applications directly from VIVA, as well as in print format from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Quito's Seven Wonders

If you are presently in Quito or visited the city in the past, you undoubtedly have visited dozens of the nominations for Quito’s Seven Wonders.

Following in the footsteps of Asunción (Paraguay), Barcelona, Brasilia, Madrid and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Quito has decided to designate seven wonders in its own historic city. Voting began four months ago and ends July 31.

Anyone can participate by voting online at: www.7maravillasdequito.com.

The nominations are:

  1. Santo Domingo
  2. San Francisco
  3. El Sagrario
  4. Santa Bárbara
  5. La Compañía de Jesús
  6. Catedral Metropolitano
  7. Convento de El Carmen Alto
  8. La Merced
  9. Convento de San Agustín
  10. La Basílica del Voto Nacional
  11. Iglesia de Guápulo
  12. Iglesia de la Virgen de El Quinche
  13. Plaza Grande
  14. Palacio Arzobispal
  15. Palacio de Carondelet
  16. Virgen del Panecillo
  17. Cima de La Libertad
  18. Antiguo Hospital Militar
  19. Teatro Bolívar
  20. Teatro Nacional Sucre
  21. Palacio de Cristal Itchimbía
  22. Centro Cultural Metropolitano
  23. Antiguo Hospital San Juan de Dios (Museo de la Ciudad)
  24. Calle la Ronda
  25. Museo del Agua Yaku
  26. Laguna de La Alameda
  27. La Capilla del Hombre
  28. Parque El Ejido
  29. Jardín Botánico de Quito
  30. Parque Metropolitano
  31. Reserva del Pululahua
  32. Ciudad Mitad del Mundo
  33. Sitio Arqueológico Rumicucho
  34. Cemeterio de San Diego
  35. Estación de Ferrocarril Chimbacalle
  36. Río Machángara El Parque Largo Machángara
  37. Volcán Pichincha

Chilean Ash Cloud Continues Its Circuit Around the Globe, Grounding Travelers

Since Southern Chile’s Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano complex erupted on June 4, its ash cloud has accomplished a feat many travelers daydream about: Circling the globe. And it didn’t even have to buy a round-the-world ticket.

On its leisurely cruise around the Earth, the cloud first grounded flights in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. It blanketed Bariloche with ash and cinder, and closed the Cardenal Samoré border crossing. After drifting over the Atlantic Ocean, South Africa and other countries on that continent were affected. Across the Indian Ocean, then, to cause Qantas and other airlines to cancel flights in Australia and New Zealand last week.

Within two weeks, Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s ash cloud made full circle, re-entering South America near Coyhaique, Chile. Once again, South American air traffic was affected.

As if never ceasing on its enviable journey, the ashes arrived once again to Africa and Asia, causing the full moon to appear blood red during the June 15 lunar eclipse.

This past Monday, Virgin Australia, Qantas and other air lines once more canceled over 200 flights, affecting the travel plans of more than 40,000 passengers.

According to Australia’s Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, the ash cloud is traveling some 4,000 kilometers (2,400 mi) per 24 hours, pushed on by strong winds. Satellite images still clearly show the plume, and pilots have reported seeing it.

In the meantime, Puyehue Volcano’s eruption continued to pump out more smoke. Yesterday morning, fine ash fell upon Villarrica, Pucón and the Ranco Lake area. Northwesternly winds pushed the cloud towards Valdivia.

It appears, though, that Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s cloud will be running its course soon. Chile’s Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (Sernageomin) announced yesterday that the volcano has had a significant lava flow, which should stop the volcano from pumping out more ash. Nonetheless, the Puyehue and Ranco Lake districts are still under red alert.

Hopefully as Puyehue-Cordón Caulle settles down and unpacks its bags, human travelers will be able to get one with their journeys around the globe.

Volcanic Eruption Continues to Affect Travel

As reported last week, on June 4, Southern Chile’s Cordón Caulle on Puyehue Volcano’s slopes erupted for the first time in 51 years. Across the entire Southern Hemisphere, the eruption has been causing travel nightmares not only for common journeyers, but also for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who is on a regional tour. He had to bus to Buenos Aires and boat to Uruguay.

This past week, flights were canceled in Chile and Patagonian Argentina, as well as southern Brazil. On Monday another column of ash, shooting eight kilometers (5 mi) into the atmosphere, forced the closures of airports across the Southern Cone, from Santiago to Buenos Aires to Montevideo.

But South America isn’t the only place being affected by Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s fallout. When winds shifted to the West over the weekend, the ash forced Qantas and other airlines to cancel flights in New Zealand and Australia.

Both Chile and Argentina have declared agricultural emergencies in their Lake and Patagonia regions. Lava flows have oozed down the Nilahue River valley. Over five million salmon were relocated when rising river temperatures caused fishkills.

Friday, rain and ash from the eruption caused an avalanche near the (closed) Cardenal Samoré border crossing road, which remains closed. To handle border traffic, the Chilean government has increased the number of ferries on Lago Pirehueico at the Hua Hum pass and has reopened Paso Pino Hinchado. Snows may force the re-closure of these crossings.

Chile’s Emergency Management Agency (Onemi) maintains a red alert for the Lago Ranco and Puyehue areas. Travelers are advised to watch the news for further developments. To keep up on Volcán Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s activity, check Chile’s Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (Sernageomin) website. Earthquake Report publishes an up-to-date chronicle of reports of Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s effects in the region.

Volcanic Eruption Disrupts Travel in Chile & Argentina

Travelers in Chile and Argentina’s Lake Districts are finding their journeys disrupted by a volcanic eruption.

After a series of small earthquakes, southern Chile’s Volcán Puyehue-Cordón Caulle re-awoke last Saturday (June 4) with a 10,000-meter (32,600-ft) high column of smoke and ash. The eruptions are occurring on Puyehue’s (2,236 meters / 7,267 feet) slopes. The present activity is northeast of the vents triggered by the 1960 earthquake, which was the largest in modern history.

Over 3,500 people have been evacuated from the Puyehue region and Lago Ranco. Parque Nacional Puyehue has been declared a red zone, and is closed from the customs complex to Hotel Termas Puyehue. Paso Cardenal Samoré, the region’s major border crossing between Chile and Argentina, is closed.

The ash stream of the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano. Photo by NASA Goddard Photo/ Jeff Schmaltz

Heavy ash and softball-ball size pumice fell on Bariloche. The fallout drifted eastward over Puerto Madryn. Argentine airports from Bariloche to Trelew will be closed until at least Wednesday.

Early Monday winds shifted to the northwest, blowing ash over Osorno.  The Oficina Nacional de Emergencia (Onemi) director of the Los Lagos Region, Andrés Ibaceta, stressed that as spectacular as the eruption is, this is an emergency situation. Tourists should keep away from the Cordón Caulle area.

Travelers are advised to watch the news for further developments. To keep up on Volcán Puyehue-Cordón Caulle’s activity, check Chile’s Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería (Sernageomin) website. Erik Klemetti’s Big Think has a good explanation (in English) of the eruption. The BBC and El Mercurio have spectacular photo slideshows.


The Ushuaia-based news agency Sur 54 reports that flights to the following destinations are suspended until at least Friday: Ushuaia, Río Grande, Trelew, Neuquén, Viedma, Río Gallegos, El Calafate, Ushuaia, Río Grande, Comodoro Rivadavia, Bahía Blanca, Santa Rosa and San Rafael. As well, night flights between Santiago de Chile and Mendoza are cancelled.

Conquering Cotopaxi: V!VA Goes Volcanic

By Mark Samcoe, V!VA Travel Guides

Heed the teachings of The Wolf, and you too can summit one of the world’s highest active volcanoes.

Cotopaxi (altitude 5,897 m, 19,350 ft), often described as “a near-perfect cone,” rising up out of the vast, flat Parque Nacional Cotopaxi south of Quito, is a popular non-technical hike for visitors to Ecuador.

Our guide, Efrain, nicknamed El Lobo (The Wolf), was a former elementary school teacher from Ambato who had climbed Cotopaxi over 500 times in his 15+ years of guiding. We began our trek around midday, hiking from the volcano’s parking area (4,200 m / 13,779 ft) up to the refuge (4,500 m / 14,764 ft). After an hour of lugging my refrigerator-sized backpack,  sinking into the scree slope, and gasping for air, I reached the two-story stone building, completely exhausted.

Instead of practicing wearing crampons or making short climbs to acclimatize, El Lobo told us to rest. In the crowded refuge dining area we sipped tea, ate bread and cheese, and popcorn with fried garlic. We spent the afternoon messing up the table with crumbs, instant hot chocolate and powdered milk.

At dusk, Lobo served us soup and fried fish with rice. While we ate he showed us how to breathe and walk: breathe in deeply through your nose; step with the right foot; plant your ice axe; and breathe out through your mouth, loud enough to hear it.

We bundled into our sleeping bags to rest up for the ascent. The sound of boots clomping on the wood floor, a couple in another bunk whispering and giggling, and people tossing and turning in the lower bunks kept me awake for hours. Eventually I fell asleep, and awoke at midnight, along with the other hikers, all preparing to tackle the summit.

Dressed in layers, we geared up after breakfast; the three of us were the last group to leave the refuge. Above us, the slope was spotted with headlamps moving imperceptibly. I carried water and snacks in a tiny day pack that Lobo joking referred to as a child’s book bag.

We trudged up to the glacier in 45 minutes. I walked, head down, following footsteps, concentrating on breathing and stepping. At the snow line, my boots grew fangs as Lobo strapped on our crampons and roped us in with a bright green cord. Up we marched (the wind gusting and blowing snow), side- stepping and switch-backing, occasionally through knee-high snow. We took short breaks when Lobo said we could. When he asked us how we were doing, we said, “good,” as though it were our mantra.

Surprisingly, my leg muscles didn’t burn from the steep climbing, and I didn’t get light-headed from the altitude. The most trying part of the hike was when I would plant my ice axe in the snow and it would sink deep. It was like leaning on a banister while climbing a steep staircase and having someone yank it out from under you.

The near-vertical ice wall was the biggest challenge. We were told it is 30 meters, but it looked more like 15. Last up, I climbed by slamming my axe into the wall, then kicking my left foot into the ice, followed by my right. I often only got the toe crampons of one boot stuck in, making it a slightly fear-stricken scramble to the top, where I dramatically collapsed once clear.

As we ascended the final stretch, my lungs gurgled each time I took heavy breaths. Sunlight began to peer around the side of the glacier, and we suddenly smelled sulfur. After four and a half hours we reached the summit at sunrise. We felt as though we were on top of the world (or of Ecuador, at least). Smoke billowed from Cotopaxi’s active crater and, below us, low-lying clouds buffeted the peaks of Chimborazo and Corazon.

We spent a few minutes on the summit taking photos and reveling in our accomplishment. The descent took an hour and a half and was more of a struggle than the ascent. Fatigued, squinting to follow the trail lost in cloud cover, we looped down to the refuge. This time, we led and Lobo followed.

El Lobo is a guide with VIVA-reccommended Gulliver Travel.

Business Resumes in Chaitén …. For now

As we reported earlier on this blog, transportation down the Carretera Austral remained difficult because of the eruption of Volcán Chaitén. The volcano continues to be active. The city of Chaitén remains in the red-zone and access is restricted only to day trippers and ferry travelers.

V!va Travel Guides made it to Chaitén. Writer Lorraine Caputo checked out what services are available for those who are arriving or departing by ferry from that port town. For a complete run-down, check: http://www.vivatravelguides.com/south-america/chile/carratera-austral-and-southern/chaiten.

The ultimate fate of Chaitén is to be decided January 16, 2009. It is believed it will continue to serve as the port for the region. Preliminary news reports indicate the government will buy out all the residents and close the city permanently. The new home for the provincial capital may be Futaleufú. The government, however, may be in for quite a fight. Returned residents stated that they intend to stay no matter what and rebuild the city.

Ferry Services Reduced in Chile

On May 2, 2008, Volcán Chaitén in Chile’s Patagonia rumbled to life. Chaiten Volcano’s eruption has caused disruptions not only in the lives of its neighbors, but also for tourists. Travel along the Carretera Austral has been disrupted ever since.

Between Hornopirén and Chaitén, the Carretera Austral is closed. The ferry connecting the two towns is not running due to the eruptions, not is that from Castro on Chiloé Island to Chaitén. The Puerto Montt-Chaitén direct ferry, however, continues to operate. Parque Pumalín, near Chaitén, is closed indefinitely. Parque Nacional Hornopirén near the towbn of the same name continues to be open to the public. At the present time, Futaleufú and the nearby Chile-Argentine border crossing is open.

The May 2008 eruption was quite a surprise to all the inhabitants in the region—even the sage, centuries-year-old alerce trees—as this 1,122-meter (3647-foot) tall mountain hadn’t a case of eruptive gas since 7420 BC, give or take some 75 years. The national governement called a mandatory evacuation of the village Chaitén (population: 4200) just 10 kilometers southwest of the volcano. By the next afternoon, the ash plume drifted across Chile and Argentina to the Atlantic Ocean. The border town Futaleufú, 75 kilometers / 45 miles southeast of the volcano, was coated with 30 centimeters (one foot) of fine grey ash. Lava began flowing down Volcán Chaiten’s slopes on May 6. The few remaining persons left in the closest village and Futaleufú were evacuated. With the lava and lahar (lava-mud-ash mixture) flows, the Chaitén River, which had been diverted by man when the Carretera Austral was built, resumed its natural course through the town. Reports say much of Chaitén village has now been washed away. Swaths of forest near the erupting mountain have been burned.

Volcan Chaiten’s activity has recently decreased. Some residents are returning to reopen their businesses. Some hostals and other services have reopened, though information is scarce. Stay tuned to V!VA Travel Guides for the latest information about local conditions as its writers make their way into the region.

(Thanks to alert field writer Lorraine Caputo, who wrote this update)