Our DAV (German Alpine Association) photo workshop has been a great success. Perfect weather conditions and very nice and dedicated participants.
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UPDATE: Found someone very talented!
For my actual project about Japan I would need some (paid!) support of a manga artist. During the trip I have been swimming in an more than icy lake near Fuji mountain. Unfortunately also the showers after have been cold – for which I got a slap in my face from the girl I have been swimming with. Ouch 🙂
As there are no pictures from this story I’d like to tell it in a Manga like style, about five or six Manga drawings. I could provide photos from the lake, the campsite, me and the girl and so on.
Anyone interested in doing the drawing? I of course going to pay for it!
Edition 02/15 of German “trekking Magazin” is out. Contains two articles of mine about volcano trekking (Link to German article) and about a short hiking tour in Switzerland (Link to German article). And, big honor, I was asked to write the foreword!
Finally I’ve found a (very simple) solution to remote control my MacBook Pro 15” Retina and thus also Fotomagico, my program for developing my Multimedia-Shows. There is a small dongle called ‘Flirc’ (Amazon link). Just insert it into a USB port and it will connect with the original Apple IR remote control. With only 6 clicks you may allocate the buttons from the rc and everything works fine. Took me not more than 2 minutes!
Wow, I have been chosen to present my Kamchatka Multivision Show at the well known El Mundo Festival in Austria this year!
In edition May 2014 of german PHOTOGRAPHIE magazine (photographic pro magazine) you’ll find an longer article (in german) about my Kamchatka expedition 2013 and the volcano photography. You’ll find a link to an extract (in German) here and the full story as PDF here (in German).
I am very proud to announce that my picture of the Tengger massif has been selected as third price winner at the biggest and most important australian photo festival Head On!
Additional info: finalists’ work has been selected by National Geographic photographer Chris Rainier, Award winning photographer Murray Fredericks and Head On Photo Festival Director Moshe Rosenzveig.
My friend Chris Weber today published one pic of the rare smoke rings coming out of Etna volcano. It was taken during his foto expedition on 3.350 meter high winterly Mt. Etna in Sicily with stronger eruptive activity during last week.
Explanation: When there is potential higher activity and some pulsing powerfull degassing or even material eruption out of an Etna crater, those rare gas rings can occure. Needed for this phenomena is a somehow deep crater pit with circular vertical walls like a chimney. Pressure release roll up the gas to a ring which than released into the air, keeps rolling in itself and stays like this for many minutes stabel in cold winter air without turbulences. Ring seen on the image was already 5 minutes released and between 30 and 100 meters wide.
I travelled to Kamchatka during their so-called summer, together with volcanologist Chris Weber, for a 3 week expedition in June/July 2013. The trip was characterised by extreme bad luck regarding the weather and extreme good luck regarding the volcanoes.
In addition to exploring Kamchatka culture and country (we used 2 spare days to explore Petropavlovsk; a city caught somewhere between the poles of old Soviet charm and the modern age), the active volcanoes were the main focus of our expedition.
During our trip to the Avachinsky and Korykaksky volcanoes near Petropavlovsk we experienced a typical Kamchatka summer; great summer weather on arrival and departure and a lot of cold, rain, and wind in between. For this reason we experienced the summit of Avachinsky volcano in thick fog and were not able to climb Korykaksky volcano at all.
There was bright sunshine throughout our 700km journey on the one existing road, asphalted only in places, alongside the Kamchatka River passing the small villages Milkova, Kosyresk and Kliuchi towards the north. Our expedition around the most northern active Shiveluch volcano took place under a grey, dark and melancholy sky. In 2005 a huge pyroclastic flow destroyed this area, making it look even more dramatic, and the drama was intensified further by the possibility of a sudden encounter with a big grizzly bear.
On the other hand we were very lucky with the volcanic activity. In addition to some beautiful atmospheric evenings, with uninterrupted views of the Klyuchevskoy and Zimina volcanoes, we witnessed a night time eruption and subsequent glowing dome of Shiveluch volcano. However, that wasn’t all; shortly before our departure a rare pyroclastic flow occurred right in front of our eyes – unbelievable!
From our cosy accommodation in Kosyrevsk (Masha’s place) we began the main objective of our trip; a 9 day trek to the active volcano Tolbachik, which began erupting 6 months ago. In order to save money we did not take porters or a cook, but instead strode out with only our guide Artyom and our rucksacks weighing approx 30kg each.
Due to weight our daily diet consisted of just 60g of instant noodles, bread, tins of tuna, a few cookies and power bars. We needed plenty of power bars not only because of the terrain but mainly because Artyom had a habit of choosing routes as the crow flies; from one GPS point directly to another.
We left, of course, despite the bad weather and found ourselves in the middle of a cyclone. For this reason we had to abort the planned ascents of both Bezymianny and Plosky Tolbachik volcanoes. Even worse we had to survive 2 whole days in basic huts in the “summer” temperatures of +1C before experiencing the “fun” of hiking for hours through a severe snowstorm including deep snow and high winds.
Despite the poor weather most of the rivers were dry; there had been wall to wall sunshine every day in the 2 weeks leading up to our arrival, meaning some days we had ashy dirty snow. Fortunately this didn’t reduce our gas supply too significantly.
Our stamina was rewarded with exceptional volcanic experiences. During our 4 days at the Tolbachik site we were able to look into the crater with its rare lava lake on several occasions. The view into this breathtaking spectacle was one of the ultimate highlights of the expedition, but also emphasised the continuing danger of a larger eruption. Indeed, at one point a medium sized lava bomb landed just a stone’s throw away.
2 sky holes and the view into a lava tunnel were very hot experiences in every aspect. Only during the spectacular dramatic evenings with glowing skies and fascinating strombolian eruptions could we enjoy ourselves and fully relax.
This area, as indeed the entire country, is one of Earth’s extreme hot spots and it holds a truly magical attraction.
You can get an idea of our expedition with the following map. The red lines are our Treks, gray lines we drove with our Truck (orange line near Petropavlovsk is a mixture of public bus and walking).
The whole Trek to Tolbachik in 5 stages were about 40 miles without calculating all the up and downs.
Report about our Trekking around Bezymianny volcano up to Tolbachik volcano to come very soon!
Day 1, from Kosyrevsk to first campsite:
Day 2, to volcanologist hut at Bezymianny volcano:
Day 3, snow storm at Bezymianny hut:
Day 4, hard trek from Bezy hut to Tolud hut:
Day 5, another day stucked in a hut:
Some interesting and helpful links regarding volcanoes:
My prefered volcano travel agency with also an focus on country and people: V-E-I by Chris Weber
News of the Kamtchatka volcanoes: KVERT
News of the Guatemala volcanoes (in spanish): INSIVUMEH
News of the Hawaii volcanoes: USGS
News of the Italy volcanoes: INGV
More links with focus on photographic portfolios to come…
FACEBOOK and TWITTER
I am planning to go for three weeks to Kamchatka in June, where i.e. volcano Tolbachik is very active at the moment:
- Flight from your home via Moskow towards Kamchatka takes 2 nights with time zone change!
- 01. day: Arrival in Petropavlovsk (PP), meeting with guide
- 02. day: Regular bus to Kozyrevsk, cabins.
- 03. day: 4 or 6WD to Kopyto Mt. + 12 km hike to Studenaya River canyons. Tents.
- 04. day: Hiking to Bezymyanny 12 km. Tents.
- 05. day: Ascend Bezymyanny. Tents.
- 06. day: Hike to Tolud and Tolbachik. Tents.
- 07. day: Hike to Tolud and Tolbachik. Tents.
- 08. day: Hike to Tolbachik. Tents.
- 09. day: Ascend Tolbachik. Tents.
- 10. day: Day on Tolbachik area. Tents.
- 11. day: Meet the truck and drive to Kozyrevsk. Cabins there.
- 12. day: From Kozyrevsk with truck and guide to Shiveluch. Tents.
- 13. day: Hike on Shiveluch. Tents.
- 14. day: From Shiveluch to Kozyrevsk. Cabin?
- 15. day: Regular bus to PKC. Hotel.
- 16. day: Car to Avacha.
- 17. day: Hiking to the summit of Avachinsky, camp/hut.
- 18. day: Hiking to the summit of Koryaksky if possible, camp/hut.
- 19. day: Car back to PKC. Hotel.
- 20. day: Optional programme. Hotel.
- 21. day: Departure.
From time to time people ask me about volcano photography, especially about Hawaii, I provide my practical tips as follows:
- you should use a camera with metal chassis and good weather sealing
- you should prefer telephoto lenses of higher quality (important: high lens speed) and take a big variety along
- use max aperture during the blue hour
- at night I do prefer using ISO 100 and aperture 8 to 10 to avoid blooming.
- when being completely dark I avoid taking pictures due to missing details in landscape, at least there should be some moonlight!
- taking a very robust tripod is important especially for telephoto lenses: you could carry your rucksack with it and increase the tripods stability by the weight of the rucksack while walking
- use a long-distance trigger: a self-timer is also possible, but it will not allow you to control the exact trigger-moment
- if the time of exposure is quite long, then you should operate the rustle suppressor and turn off the picture-stabilization at the telephoto lenses
- snap your pictures in the RAW-size: it is amazing how much of details are still there especially with the night-time-photographs
- take some gloves with you, e.g. from the shopping centre for garden- or construction-materials, because especially lava is very sharp-edged
- always protect your camera from any impact of all kinds of volcanic gas, because it destroys every electronic equipment extremely quickly
- use blue hour to take pictures so you’ll still get enough details in the darker parts of the landscape
I wish you much pleasure in volcano photography!
Last week I enjoyed the rope climb Kupfersteig at Hüttenschlag/Großarltal. It was strenuous at the one hand but at the other hand it was a great feeling to have coped with it. If I would have informed myself thoroughly from profound sources before, I would surely not have done it.
Afterwards I read the description which is as follows: another masterpiece by Richard Franzl for the climb professionals, which requires courage, a profound climb technique and long-lasting power! Not recommended for beginners. At many parts difficulties of category D and D/E – a very exhausting rope climb comparable with a rope climb of category E!
Thanks to the climb guide Sebastian (ask me for his contact data!) who gave me the courage to hold on and gave me hints how to cope with the difficulties I was able to overcome the rope climb and was even having fun all the while!
We needed a bit more than one hour all in all, but it seems to be very okay – not regarding the 11 minutes which it takes the climb guide or his son. The following day for example the mountain emergency had to pick one person out of the rope climb, who was completely exhausted.
Here is the short description of the Kupfersteig rope climb from the internet: across the entering panel (B and B/C) turn to the big rope climb toward the glacier. Then upwards at the left side of a jut-out roof (C and C/D) and zigzag over beautiful steep panels until reaching a vertical wall which is the key place (D/E, a grasp bow). After a earthy zone of grass the second key place follows (D/E, very steep and exhausting, two grasp bows). Afterwards a little less steep across panels (C to D) turn to the left and within a traverse (B to C) turn to a partly jut-out very prominent pillar (C/D and D) with a final traverse, over which you reach at the rope bridge. Thereafter you may cross
the short exit pillar ( C ) up to the view pulpit (grid).
Let me complete this as follows: The second key place can be by-passed meanwhile with an alternative way of level C/D (but only under dry weather-conditions). The path is fixed with ropes everywhere, but I would partly prefer shorter distances between the ropes. I also have to advise you to wear professional climb shoes. I was there only with trekking shoes and I often needed to have more grip at the rock! It will also be helpful for you to have a spring-hook in spare.
Finally let me give you more information about me and my preparation, which might help you to estimate much better how difficult it could be for you: since about 6 month I am indoor climbing and reached there at level 5 which is actually not a very professional one. I used to go jogging four one hour regularly and enjoy two or three times per year mountain excursions in the Alps or at volcanoes. From time to time I do pull-ups and push-ups at home. I am father of three little children. Taking everything into consideration it is a great experience to me and motivating to train much more in order to be able to cope with similar or more difficult ascents e.g. Königsjodler, Sky Walk!
I used all my possible spare time at the weekend to make a tour with lodging-place at the Engadin.
Day 1: Departure after delay by 02:30 Friday night with the CNL, arrival 06:54 at Basel, meeting with a friend and continuing to go to Scuol-Tarasp by SBB, arrival 12:15 a. m. in the bright sunshine.
Taking coffee quickly, then starting the ascension to Chamonna lodging-place (about 1,100 from 2,500 metres) – always steep at the same level, 3.75 hours of convenient walking, sometimes some drizzle rain, right at the twilight the sun came out again. On the way we saw marmot and chamois and arrived at the lodging-place by 17:30. Actually we thought, that we would have the reserved lodging-place almost on our own. But far from that: it was completely booked with others. In consequence we had to sleep one against the other like the fishes in the tin. Three sleeping-places had to be shared by four people. I went out for a short time and saw some ibexes which I snapped a few times and by 18:30 we took supper with soup, lasagne and panna cotta, then we were chatting, drinking a lot and turning of the light by 21:45. Despite of the tight accommodation and three times going out and returning immediately 🙂 the night was calm and I slept well.
Day 2: We took breakfast by 06:30 right after a short check of the weather-conditions: no clouds,that meant we would start our activities right after taking muesli and bread. It’s a great experience to wake up, to step outside, to be already in the mountains and ready to start the tour immediately. A magnificent tour. The first light of the day covering the mountain tops, fighting ibexes, snow hens while we ascended up to some more than 3,000 metres.
The sun shone brightly and we had a panorama view over the valley, towards the tops of big mountains, onto a rocky rubble plateau, just as if we were at another planet, far away from any civilisation. What a wonderful way of recreation! We left out the Piz Lischana and preferred to walk over rubble to the lake Lajet da Lischana. That deep blue lake reflecting the mountain top was the perfect place for a cosy break.
The descending afterwards was steep and adventurous, lots of rubble, very slippery. The way was partly fixed with chains, (walking-) sticks and gloves were a must. Short after 13:00 we arrived at S’carl. Cleaning and refreshing the body at a well, drinking coffee, taking the post-bus to Scuol, going by SBB to Basel, buying chocolate and returning back home by ICE. Arrival on Sunday evening short after 22:00 – it was a great tour!
When I wanted to find out about possible tours in the Kleinwalsertal I became interested in e.g. the offer about rope climbing from the local climbing school. We started indoor-climbing half a year ago, that’s why I immediately got interested. In the folder they wrote that it’s meant for ambitious and experienced people and at the internet site alpintouren.com they wrote that the Zweiländer sports rope climb were the most demanding rope climb ground within the Allgäuer Alpen. Even if the wall needed “only” to be traversed, the climbing sometimes is very much brushing aside and therefore a strong biceps is required. – I see. – Before I booked it I preferred to ask at the climbing school. But they said, that it should be no problem for me.
The first attempt failed due to bad weather-conditions (a thunderstorm with hail), the second attempt was successful and the weather was excellent. But I have to admit, that I was uncertain, whether it would turn out to be okay for me, what I initiated here. Then at rope climb category D, I had to fight, but I was victorious again – thanks to first of all the great mountain-guide and secondly the climb group being homogeneous. Also the key difficulties were possible for me and it was simply a great experience to climb straight to the rock with a limited risk which one could count on. I surely will do it again! It took us not more than two hours and we could ascend down the Walsersteig from where we had great views!
The short description at the internet site via-ferrata.de describes it as follows: The entrance to the climb rope 2-Länder starts moderate over big blocks of rock. It isn’t very difficult to gain height (at most level C) before one reaches at the traverses brushing aside (D). An even a ramp is followed by a steep wall which involves much power to be overcome. One has to cope with a cable bridge and a few more upward circles and traverses and soon you can see the cross on the top of the pulpit wall. Remark: We had a spring-hook in spare with us which is surely advisable. The above mentioned steep wall is as long as four ropes, but crampons are adjusted there. That’s why from my point of view it is not as difficult to manage or as much consuming power as it had been described!
19.02. I flew to Panama. From there Iberia Airlines unfortunately postponed my corresponding flight until the next morning and I spent one night in the hotel at Panama. My benefit was an additional stamp in the passport.
20.02. When I arrived at Guatemala by 11 a. m. my travelling-group picked me from the airport and we drove directly to the volcano Pacaya. We ascended – interrupted by rain showers – towards a hot hole, but beside that the volcano was unfortunately absolutely inactive. Details Pacaya
21.02. By 3:30 a. m. we started to continue to ascend to the top. But with the fog we couldn’t find the right way. We finally reached at the top in the daylight, but there was only for some seconds a chance to look at the three volcanoes in the neighbourhood: Agua, Fuego and Acetenango. We descended and spent the afternoon with comfortable activities down-town at Antigua (churches, market, bus-station, taking coffee,..).
22.02. Today we ascended at the Acatenango along a fascinatingly beautiful path, and reached at the base-camp after roughly 5 hours and 1,300 height-metres. From there we had a direct view to the continuously erupting volcano Fuego. Details Fuego
23.02. Nightly photo-session of course. By sharp 4 o’clock in the morning we ascended to the top (3,967 metres) of the volcano Acatenango. Dusty descending and another nice afternoon down-town at Antigua. Details Antigua
24.02. At our spare day I made a short trip with Detlef to the lake Atitlan. By boat we went over to the three places San Pedro, Santiago and San Antonio, viewing a coffee-factory, strolling round markets, admiring colourful clothes and doing a little shopping. Details Atitlan
25.02. We spent the morning in Antigua. Around lunchtime and went to the airport flying over San Salvador to Madrid while by the way we sat in the row next to the emergency exits.
26.02. By 6:50 p. m. we arrived in Frankfurt very welcomed by our families!
Day 01, 02: Volcano Pacaya
After the Iberian Airlines had kept me waiting for one night in Panama I could only arrive this morning. Right at the airport I met the whole travelling group and right from there we rode with a minibus direct to the volcano Pacaya. Its a National Park since the year 2000 and we had to pay entrance fee to the armed guardians. We changed our clothes and our belongings inside the minibus, eat delicious chicken with rice in the village Montufar at one traditional and simple restaurant. We took bottled cola and followed our tourist-guide Leonel (his father still guides tourists himself to the volcano despite of his 76 years of age!). We went into direction of the red-glowing Hornito, as it had been promised by our travelling agency to our travel-guide Chris. But the promised lava-streams are there not existing.
We walked conveniently through a forest and short after we reached the timber-line’s end a heavy shower with hail came and we decided to wait, take shelter inside the lodges there and try the ascent to the top again in the early morning. After the end of the rain we went to the Hornito accompanied by many other tourists (some of them rode horses). Reaching there we noticed only a little hole with hot steam coming out and a little grotto extremely “sauna-like” hot. Around 6 p. m. all tourists had disappeared and the night came up, but the Hornito was not glowing and the Pacaya was completely inactive (not regarding the gas coming out at the top), what a pity. So we stayed an ate cheese-cucumber-tuna rolls for supper, glanced far away towards the continuous eruptions of the Fuego (which we are going to visit within next days!) and laid down to sleep early: directly on the ground round the warm hole. Thereby we didn’t need to feel cold at night.
By 3:30 a. m. we got up, moving towards the top. But it became more and more foggy and we couldn’t find the right way to the top. We paused and waited till daylight, then we finally ascended, but still under foggy weather-conditions and only accompanied by half of the travelling-group, the other half didn’t want to come along. The top (around 2,500 metres) was only a few (up to 41% steep) and less than 100 height-metres away. Nevertheless the fog moved upward for a few seconds so that we could get a short view from the volcanoes Agua, Acatenango and Fuego in the morning-light.
We descended together back into the sunlight, took a tasty breakfast with egg, paste from black beans and returned to our hotel in Antigua. Back to diary
We took breakfast with toast, additional roll and Nutella which was a gift of Chris. Then we took a minibus to go to Almendro, where we met our guide and started to ascend the steep way to our base-camp at the volcano Acatenango. Our guide was also our bodyguard and we paid for our security up to 1,000 USD “fee” to the local bandits, who used to attack tourists who come to that area. We wanted to have a direct view to the volcano Fuego in the neighbourhood, which was very active by that time.
Day 03, 04: Volcano Fuego
We walked through fields and a forest afterwards, enjoyed our tour very well with a low speed 🙂 finally overtaken by the disturbing not quite very dynamic group of French tourists. After three hours and 1,100 height-metres (from a total of 3,400 metres) we made a cosy break in the sunshine, and then walked just another 200 metres round the Acatenango to our base-camp with perfect view to the volcano Fuego which was about 3 kilometres air line away and seemed to welcome us with a loud explosion.
Now we took our time to spread and install our equipment, especially the tripod and the camera, and let the guide and his companions cut two trees with their machetes so that we could start our photo-session. We were lucky that the clouds disappeared more and more and from the blue hour on it did us a favour with eruptions. It is always great: watching the top, noticing the orange-red glowing, pieces of lava thrown out into the air, the explosion, the bright colours coming to the front of the dark sky, the shining stars, again and again shooting-stars, amazing…
Taking a sleep with our clothes on and often interrupted by eruptions which we saw, we got up quite early by 4 a. m. to start ascending to the top while the Fuego showed heavy eruptions. The way was 42 degrees steep and we walked on slippery rubble (I had big pain at my shoulder because my rucksack wasn’t meant for carrying overweight, which I learned only afterwards). But finally we, that means half of our travelling-group, arrived 3,976 metres high at the top of the Acatenango, right in time of the blue morning hour. We watched out for a good place for snapping pictures and waited, but we were not very lucky in viewing really big eruptions. But we benefited from the sunrise and with it the increasing warmth.
Then we descended in the dust, sometimes chatting with our guide, and arrived after 2.5 hours of directed walking quite straight 🙂 at Almendro, where the rest of our group, who didn’t ascend to the top, already waited for us. Back to diary
Day 05: Lake Atitlan
Wikipedia: The lake is situated inside a crater (Caldera) which resulted from an explosion of a very big volcano. Through the years the level of the water increased for the valley hasn’t a natural drain. Its covering an area of 126 square-kilometres, it is 18 kilometres long (from east to west) and it lays about 1,560 metres above the ocean-level.
Trip: At 5 a. m. our driver Eric picked me up and together with Detlef I went at our spare-day towards the lake Atitlan, which he also couldn’t visit earlier because his arrival had a delay. Our driver carried us fast and save over the quiet road and therefore we were short before 7 a. m. at a beautiful view-point with a perfect cloudless view over the lake Atitlan with its three volcanoes Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro.
There we enjoyed rolls with a paste of black beans which we warmed up at the car-engine while we enjoyed the view at the same time. Meanwhile Eric organised a private boat-trip for us. By 08:00 a. m. we departed by the boat to Panajachel, there we quickly drank one Espresso and continued to go to San Pedro. The driver of our boat was someone whom we already knew as the guide of the French tourists at the Acatenango. It was real fun to go by boat in the sun!
At San Pedro we strolled through the town, watched children from the kindergarten doing sports, went across a small market-place and then decided to visit the coffee factory. Our next driver Roberto wanted to charge us 20 Quetzel extra while he had to wait for us at the plantation (but instead he could have gone and picked us later again). When we denied to pay that extra money he couldn’t decide whether he would drive us or stay instead and pointed out his low income several times. But finally he gave in to drive us. The tour took nearly one hour and was very interesting, but the coffee which they offered us in the end was not satisfying (the beans were not roasted long enough and it had been made with too much water).
Afterwards we continued our boat-trip to Santiago, where one can easily see, that the water could not flow off after the rainfalls and storms in January, which increased the level of the lake by 3 meters above the ordinary level. In Santiago we visited the Cathedral and the market-place, enjoyed one fresh mango which isn’t comparable with those offered here in Germany, and we admired the colourful cloths which the women used to wear. I have traded a long time and finally I even bought a very nice one with Maya-print by 260 instead of 450 Quetzel. Afterwards we were drinking cola, chewing nuts in the sunshine.
Then we went on to San Antonio, which is just a small town and has often been destroyed and reconstructed after the recent storms. All women there wore blue dresses. They want money for snapshots and are eager to sell cloths, three by one Quetzel. We only spent a short time at the island and told our driver to bring us back to Panajachel. We drank one or two cups of coffee, watched the sun setting behind clouds and some rain appearing, which made us to decide to return back to Antigua. Back to diary
Day 02, 04: Colonial town Antigua
Wikipedia: La Antigua Guatemala is a small town in the central highlands of Guatemala. It has about 35,000 inhabitants. Its name means “Old Guatemala” but they all call it only “Antigua”. From 1543 up to 1773 it was the capital city of the Spanish colonies in Central America. The town is well known for its baroque colonial architecture. Since 1979 it belongs to the Worlds Heritage of nations. Today it is one of the main attractions all over Guatemala for the tourists. The city has a beautiful colonial townscape and many hotels, restaurants, shops and language schools. One cultural highlight in Antigua Guatemala is the “Semana Santa” the week of Easter with its magnificent processions. Another highlight are the volcanoes Agua, Acatenango and the Fuego which is still active. One can see them close from there.
Trip: After the return from Pacaya we went back into our hotel at Antigua. Charming city, charming hotel surrounding a beautiful courtyard. And despite of all rooms being without windows it was acceptable. In the afternoon I strolled about with Detlef in the city of Antigua which has about 35,000 residents and which is quite safe. Therefore you can see many tourists wearing their big cameras very cool round their neck. We viewed an old washing place, many churches that had been destroyed by the earthquake in 1773 and which hadn’t been reconstructed. We saw colourful houses and shops, colonial townscape, central place (Plaza Central), bus-station, big market-place, football-match and had an extremely tasty decorated Latte Mocca in the Cafe Barrista.
After our return from Acatenango / Fuego I spent a very cosy afternoon again with Detlef at Antigua. I took a tasty fish for lunch, drank many cups of coffee, we went to the supermarket, discovered a shop with original chocolate from Guatemala (it’s really tasty :-)), had a coffee-break with cookie at the Plaza Central, bought the breakfast for the next team-meeting in a bakery. By 6 p. m. all team-members sat together taking supper.
Last common breakfast together. Then I strolled about through Antigua with Detlef, drinking coffee of course (there was a great modern café called Café Fernandez, which had tasty home-made chocolate), did some shopping, enjoyed the sun one last time and took a short lunch, before we had to ride to the Airport of Guatemala. Back to diary
14.11. After a long flight (it were two flights altogether, the second one took me about five hours without meal, just like American airlines usually seems to do), I was landing at Honolulu late in the evening, took a burger and went to bed at a hotel – the longest 14th November of my life 🙂
15.11. We made a tour around Honolulu, to the Diamond Head, had a car break down, visited Koko Head, the beach „Hanauma Bay“, the Botanic Garden. Report Honululu
16.11. We took a flight to Maui, found a lodging-place with very stylish furniture, made a short trip to the jungle while it was raining.
17.11. “Sunrise” or better say foggy swathes on the top of the Haleakala (more than 3,000 metres of height), I made another visit to it’s top in the sunshine, two short walks through a tight jungle just to visit waterfalls, it was a very entertaining day. Report Maui
18.11. Our early flight to Big Island didn’t take place. We spent many hours waiting at the airport until we finally could change the island in the afternoon. We rode alongside the Iron-man course and passed by at Mauna Kea direction to our lodging place at Hilo at the opposite side of the island.
19.11. Going by helicopter over a big part of the Kilauea, passing the Puu Oo, discovering a Sky-hole, Ocean Entry, all in all something great! Afterwards I saw the Akaka Falls, the Rainbow Falls and by the sunset we went towards the official Ocean Entry View Point – well, there must be a way to get closer 🙂 Report Heli and Falls
20.11. By 03:00 a. m. we rode to the Ocean Entry, walked straight towards the lava respectively the Ocean Entry – what a crazy fight we could see between the powers of nature, fire, water. Who could describe at all how it feels to be standing next to upcoming materials from deep down the earth?! In the daytime we went to the Mauna Kea (4,200 metres) and we were going round it while the weather was beautiful. Report Mauna Kea
21.11. The second visit of the Ocean Entry (I could do it every night :-)). Afterwards we drove to the National Park of the Kilauea and checked in at the Volcano House. We visited Sulphur Banks, looked at the crater „Halemaumau“ or snapped pictures of that red glowing „pot“ by the twilight from direction of the Jagger Museum. Report Ocean Entry
22.11. We slept from 21:30 up to 23:00 o’clock, but then we searched and found sky-holes; – the impressing sight and the fast flowing lava below us and additionally the view to the milky way: more impressing than anything else! Return around 11a.m. and immediate departure to the Iki crater with the rest of the group. In the evening I had again “glowing”- photos, but after the evening-meal I immediately fell asleep, but that nearly before I could entirely be upon the mattress. Report Skyhole
23.11. First approach at Halemaumau by night, but stop because of rainy weather. A nice daytime walk over lava and through the jungle to a patch with a great view at the steamy Puu Oo crater. In the evening Detlef and I went to watch the glowing, which we found obligatory, then evening meal and going to sleep.
24.11. Second try to get close to the Halemaumau: we were close indeed, but then we had to withdraw ourselves from the place, because rangers came along by car at about 05:00 a. m.. In the daytime we made a tour with many little stops (crater, more than one petroglyph, lava trees etc.) until we reached the coast. And in the evening- has anybody an idea? … correct! I went with Detlef to the Jagger Museum to watch the glowing Halemaumau 🙂 And afterwards the third try at Halemaumau. This time Chris, Detlef and me came sneaking direct through the crater, after the evening meal. It took us three times to finally succeed! After nearly one hour we stood at the edge of the Halemaumau with direct view onto the glowing steam, -wow-, another sensational excursion, and such a victorious one! Report Halemaumau
25.11. We said bye-bye to Kilauea, rode to the airport – with break at the beach andcoincidence with one turtle, then shopping, Pizza Hut and in the end into the aeroplane to return back home. Report Big Island
Tag 01: Honululu
Arrival at the 14th November after two long flights (American airlines are really miserable, on the five-hours-flight from San Francisco to Honolulu they didn’t serve a meal!!!) Arrival at the airport of Honolulu late in the evening with eleven hours time lag. We picked the reserved van from Alamo, packed our luggage and drove to Waikiki, Honolulu. There we took a traditional burger and checked in at the hotel around midnight. My room was on the 11th floor (from the balcony I had a nice view onto the City), and when I had unpacked some things I immediately fell asleep – after the longest 14th November of my life.
The next morning we first welcomed Jörg, who already arrived a few hours before us, and in a small restaurant a few streets away we all took pancakes for breakfast. Afterwards we paid a visit to the world-famous Waikiki-Beach – for who knows whatever reason, because it is actually very small and not really spectacular. Then we started to visit our first volcano. After a short ride, we parked our car inside the crater of the volcano „Diamond Head“ – a real drive-in-volcano – and walked accompanied by people with well built-up bodies, their upper part naked and full of sweat a few metres upwards through steppe-like vegetation onto the panorama viewpoint of the crater, from where we could overview not only the crater, but also a part of the pacific ocean and Honolulu. Then we went down the crater back to the car and drove to a view-point-parking-place from where we could see Koko Head. Our next travelling-goal was the Hanauma Bay Beach, but Detlev and I (and our travelling-guide Chris actually, too :-)) would have preferred to make a side-trip to the Koko Head. Then we got unforeseen help by God watching us and not letting the van’s engine start again. Oh what a pity 😉 Chris had to deal with the call centres of USA (who actually knows where Hawaii is?). Meanwhile the other members of our travelling group started to walk their way to the next beach, but Det and me happily walked towards the volcano. First a little bit across country but then straight away about up to 50 degree upward a stairway with planks (the distance between the planks was more fitting for bigger people) and directly to the edge of the crater. It took us about 25 strenuous minutes to reach there, but then we really enjoyed taking pictures and the good view. Later we rushed down the stairs quickly in about 11 minutes, what fun!
We managed to meet the other members of our group at the beach – well, of course we first had to wait for our access slot, eat a sandwich and watch a stupid film about the riff’s dangers. We then drove over the island including a visit of the botanical garden within the crater of Koko Head volcano.
Tag 02, 03: Maui mit Haleakala
After a short flight sitting one row before the last and next to the engine we were landing at the airport of Maui. We enjoyed the obligatory bus transfer to Alamo, rent a van and drove to a burger-restaurant for lunch. When we had a short break at one shop we directly went to our lodging place. Each room was furnished in a very cosy but different style – with dining-room, porch and there was a very friendly landlady. But somehow they had a shortage in rooms / rooms with separate beds. And it was easier to to find another lodging-place for Detlef and Jörg than to find them by car, later 🙂
After finishing this mission successfully we drove to a botanic garden in the heart of the jungle, from where we could see the Tao Needle, while it was awfully rainy. But our stay could last only 15 minutes while the sun was already going down. But the remarkable dizzy atmosphere, funny frogs and a nice little river made it still a successful undertaking. Finally we took a tasty pizza at Fleadbread-House and went to bed early.
By already 4 a. m. we moved towards the top of the volcano „Haleakala“. And there was something strange: one could see the stars at the one side of our lodging place while at the other side it was raining – how could this be? When we reached at the volcano’s top, it was totally cloudy and we decided to stay inside the car, eating cookies and waiting for a better weather and the full daylight. But indeed we were lucky! We could walk towards the edge of the Caldera and take some photos – but the top of the Caldera was covered with clouds and not much sight of the sun. We therefore preferred sitting at home and to rest, taking a very cosy breakfast with home-made marmalade and peanut butter.
Later on we went out again with the meal inside as well as a necessary dose of coffee (remark of Detlef 🙂 and drove to the top of the Haleakala, but now with the sun shining bright and a blue sky. Also the Caldera presented itself nearly without clouds right before our amazed eyes and minds, just like a view from another planet. We strolled around at the top, made out Mauna Kea and Loa far away, and rode with stops here and there and trails here and there in direction to our next picnic.
Then we drove through the jungle down a very small road with many bends. An amazing contrast program, unbelievable compared to what we know from at home far away. While we searched for a waterfall which we finally couldn’t find 🙂 we managed to make our way through a little piece of the jungle: passing through bamboo woods like a snake, penetrating tight green vegetation and crossing deep ditches. We succeeded in finding our car again and went further to another waterfall which was easier to find, because it was nearby the road. After taking some photos we went back and stopped at the beach in the evening: watching surfers, finding a rainbow and enjoying the atmosphere there. We finished this adventurous day in a Mexican restaurant with spicy very hot home-made sauce!
Tag 05: Heliflug und Wasserfälle
Breakfast at 0700 a. m., cloudy, that means we had to wait before take-off with the helicopter. We would visit waterfalls and Mauna Kea. Short before the departure I called up Brigitte and Luz Clara, but then Chris suddenly knocked at the door in a very hectic way: he told me to hurry up, and that the weather at Kilauea would look better, and that we should make the helicopter-flight immediately! I quit my phone-call and went to the airport. I booked the flight and the first group with Martina, Jörg, Wolfgang and Christian could already start. We wanted to make pictures or a video from the take-off, but a heavy rain-shower suddenly stopped us from doing it. We spent the time chatting and looking, then after 50 minutes we finally could enter: one after the other by being called, so that nobody could accidentally fall into the rotor which rotated fast enough that one could not really see it. That indeed wasn’t a bad idea 🙂 Soon after we were all in, the helicopter moved away – such is always great and I like it!
First we passed over populated areas until we reached at the Kilauea-lava-fields. Here and there we could see some red glowing-fire and steamy areas – wow! Our first destination was chosen by Chris, who wanted to see the crater „Puu Oo“, which was covered all over with steam by that time. That made it impossible to take a look into it.
The next destination was the Ocean Entry. But on the way, there was a big sky-hole to be passed by – wow! We flew round it once with our helicopter and got infected by the sky-hole-virus right away (it is described separately). Soon afterwards we reached at the Ocean Entry, where we flew along even two times. So much steam and red lava everywhere. It makes you much more looking forward to the necessary night-time visit!
But first we had to go back to Hilo, which we quickly overflew as well as the Rainbow Falls and then back to the airport. Oh what a pity that we had to be landing again 🙂
Recently we overflew the Rainbow Falls and now visited them close-by: watching, snapping pictures for a while.
Then we continued our ride to the Rainbow Falls after a small break at the coast. We made a nice tour through the jungle, passing by at a big variety of plants and colours. After a cosy rest for snapping pictures at the waterfalls we returned to the car and drove back home for meal.
Tag 06: Mauna Kea
After the great experiences last night at the see, we spent the day to set out on up to 4,200 metres height. We rode from Hilo up to the top of Mauna Kea. As usual we were sitting very closely on the back-seat of our van 🙂 And again God showed us his love once again, as up there the clouds were below us and the blue sky with bright sunshine above us. Despite of a few remains of snow we therefore felt no cold.
We made a convenient tour up to the top, Chris snapped mascots, we unfortunately couldn’t inspect the observatories, but instead we once again could admire the amazing unusual landscape with its conic craters. After another side-trip to a little crater lake and one last glance at the Mauna Loa’s opposite side we left the hight and went back to Hilo.
Tag 06, 07: Ocean Entry
The Ocean Entry was one of the (many) highlights of this journey. It had been five times on our tour list!
The first time we approached it from the air (see the article about the sky-holes).
The second time we reached out for it on foot, but remained very distant at the official View Point. This was meanwhile inflative for there were an uncountable big number of spectators. But anyhow the sight of both the lava flowing into the see and the giant swaths of steam during a fantastic atmosphere of the sunset had been very impressing! We didn’t start to return back home before the sun hadn’t disappeared at the horizon. But we were looking forward to the next night.
Only a few hours later at 3 a. m. we were at the parking place again, but this time without anyone but us and no ranger in sight. Not far away one could already see the bright orange-coloured steam, and that increased the excitement extremely. After some meters one could see more and more bright shining points coming from lava-crust, but then – wow! -we were standing right in front of it, as close as possible – regarding the heat – but how amazing: WOW. After we took some photos, we went to the Ocean Entry, watched the impressing scene (I think I could sit there for many days and be amazed) and waited for the dawning. Then of course we took a lot of photos during „the blue hour“and enjoyed the Ocean Entry during continuous changes of the light. When the full daylight was there, Chris even discovered a place, from where we could go down very close to the see and next to the lava flowing into it – absolutely crazy! There was a time when we had to separate and return to the parking place, but not without stopping again near the lava-crust, where the heat and the crackling gave us an unforgettable intensive experience.
Of course we got up very early the following night just to enjoy the same scene again. It’s hard to describe, but the coast looked like it had been moved forward, it looked very different every time. We sat there, we waited there, we were astonished, there was the „blue hour“! Afterwards Detlef, Chris and I were trying to climb over the surface of the „new“hot lava, we discovered certain great lava-crust with one part that moved upward, and an explosion. We tried to snap pictures and were nearly roasted at the same time 🙂 But then we had to leave, to go back to the team and to the parking place in order to start some more activities at Big Island.
Tag 08: Kilauea Sykhole(-Virus)
The sky-hole virus captivated us three – Chris, Detlef and me – already on the helicopter-flight. We felt, we had to go there on foot. Of course we didn’t know exactly where it precisely is, but Chris had an idea, where and how distant it could be. Many times we talked about it, where we could probably find it and how long we would have to walk, which night … On the 22nd November time was due, the decision had been made: this will be THE night!
Taking our evening meal, sleeping from 9:30 p. m. up to 11 p. m., departure, big excitement: how about the weather – could it change? On the way we had to drive through the rain, big uncertainty, but at the parking place „Ocean Entry“ the stars were shining bright – thanks again to God who seemed to help us. Straight on the lava ground we walked towards a glowing light which seemed to be far away. Of course the lava’s surface wasn’t comparable with the usual paths which used to be fixed much better. With big steps we moved quickly upwards the hillside, from time to time next to some lava-crust, until we suddenly stood directly in front of the glowing light which pointed like a spotlight towards the milky way at the clear sky. We quickly took a photo before we inspected the glowing more properly. It was one first sky-hole, very small, but still impressing. When I was looking at the quickly moving lava, hearing the sound of “that viscous substance” (it looks like paint and sounds like paint) at the same time – being conscious that this liquid stone comes from deep down the earth and that we have the whole universe above us with milky way in front, I felt overwhelmed, eternally small and very satisfied to be able to realize it!
After a few minutes of joy and astonishment we continued to search for the „real“sky-hole. Some more height metres later we found “our“sky-hole (later our GPS System gave us the proof) which was unfortunately already broken down and not as spectacular as we expected it to be. For it had been a bit early in the morning (02:30 a. m. or so), we decided to go further on the way, straight directed to Puu Oo. Unfortunately we had been stopped after one hour (at around 600 hight-metres and only about 3 kilometres away from Puu Oo) by AA-lava, which can never easily be stepped on because of deep ditches and a very rough surface. But all in all we didn’t have enough time left, even if the conditions would have been better. Therefore we turned after a short break and stood waiting for the first sunlight at „our“sky-hole. Directly at the hole it was very warm, but everywhere else it was cold. That’s why Detlef chose to wrap himself into a 5 $ rain-poncho which was blown by the wind in a funny noisy way 🙂
After one hour half asleep we finally saw the first bright stripe of light at the horizon. Therefore we built up our cameras and made a lot of photos. But it was difficult to install the right brightness for the environment at the camera, because the 1300 degree centigrade hot lava has its own over-reflecting brightness. Only Photo-shop 🙂 can help this! After some time we also needed to stop and go back, of course with another outreaching stop at the first little sky-hole. I think I could spend endless days just sitting next to the lava watching and listening. Some times later we forced ourselves to quit and make our way further to Kilauea, where the rest of the travelling group already waited for us after a cosy breakfast.
We ourselves took a short breakfast at a filling station and were back after 12 hours at Volcano House by 11 a. m. From there we started some minutes later to another tour of just 9 km, which was adding to the 18 kilometres that we already made this night.
Tag 07 - 10: Halemaumau
At the first day right after arrival at Kilauea National Park, we immediately paid a visit to the steamy Halemaumau Crater.
But our everyday evening visits to the Jaggar Museum with view to the heavily glowing crater by the twilight were much more adventurous. Every evening it was a fascinating scene!
Of course we wanted to inspect the crater from being close, but it wasn’t easy at all. I must admit that it was strictly forbidden to enter the barriers. They controlled the crater throughout 24 hours every day. Our first plan was to approach on foot across the presently shut street. The first try had been stopped by heavy rain.
At the second try we already wore our gas-masks (there was an extremely big concentration of sulphur which could kill somebody), and we were nearly next to the crater, when suddenly a ranger with his car came around by 04:30 in the early morning! We could hardly manage to hide ourselves in the lava-field and to withdraw ourselves attentively. While we did it Chris got an injury at his knee, because the stuff is really very sharp-edged.
But of course Chris, Detlef and me would come back with other tactics. Directly after the evening-meal we tried to move straight through the crater this time. The spotlights on our heads were off, of course, but – with more special thanks to God for the good weather conditions – the moonlight was bright enough to illuminate the dark ground just the necessary way to be able to climb from one stony figure to another without giving any ranger the slightest chance to recognize us 🙂 And then after nearly one hour we really managed reach at the edge of the Halemaumau: the glowing „pot“ just a few metres away! But together with the moonshine, some stars shining above and the silhouette of the Mauna Kea – there was on this journey once again one of these touching great moments! After the moon was out of sight around midnight we started to return back – this time we did turn on the lights on our heads, proud of our success – and arrived in the hotel with very euphoric and excited behaviour!
Tag 07 - 10: Big Island und Kilauea
After some days spent in Hilo we moved to Volcano House which is in the Kilauea National Park. From there we started different excursions at the Kilauea. We visited the Visitor and Jaggar Centre as well as the Sulphur Banks at the day of our arrival.
The day after our night-time-18-km-excursion we took only a few minutes of rest, continued walking on our damp-sweat feet and accompanied our volcano-friends for another tour of 9 kilometres to the crater “Iki” and to one lava tube.
With some more special thanks to God we had a sunny day-trip on foot over lava-fields, passing various craters and through an eventful jungle passage up to a patch with a perfect view onto the steamy Puu Oo crater, which was ideal for our next extended picnic, after which we took another route to get back to our car.
On our last day at Hawaii we made a viewpoint tour at the Kilauea with as many stops as possible like e.g. Lava Trees, crater, cinder-cones, more than one petroglyph, former Ocean Entry – which was now just lots of lava surrounding one sole sign – then: a cosy day’s end – again with very bright and beautiful sunshine!
Getting up by 6 a. m., driving to the airport, giving back the van, going to the United Airlines-counter and wondering: no queue, nobody there, something is wrong here? Chris searches and Chris finds! – but: our flight doesn’t exist. With United Airlines it’s still in the system, but in reality it doesn’t take place. They didn’t provide a seat for us and we had to spend the morning at the airport, what kind of fun! By 14:25 finally our flight took place. It was a small air-plane with propeller, „cool“and acceptable at least as an apology.
We arrived at the Kona Airport, and again the same routine with the car rental. Then we chose a van – again „our” type – and went back to the road. First we followed a part of the Iron-man course, then we passed Mauna Kea, took a short trip to View Point with a good view to the beach and then we went further to Hilo to our lodging, which was in the centre of Hilo but surrounded by jungle, which means a noisy environment (whimsies, frogs) but I could enjoy it! We took the evening meal at a nice place and I walked around with Detlef. Later I softly fell asleep with the jungle-sound from mainly the above mentioned animals in the background.
On our way back to the airport – at the last day of our holidays – we made a final stop at one part of the beach, where by a lucky coincidence a turtle spent some time outside the water. A perfect finish of a perfect journey!
18.04. Detlef and me were meeting at the airport, we drank coffee and nearly missed our flight, were we had seat “1A” and seat “1B”. Our plane landed by 21:00 o’clock, then we met Andrea who was our tourist-guide and Raphael. It was raining when we drove to Milazzo and spent the night at a bed-and-breakfast lodging place (B and B).
19.04. We visited Stromboli by a hydrofoil craft. Next stations of the journey were: the observatory, the way to the top of Stromboli, the old path, the fire-simmering, first red eruptions, twilight, frequent and strong eruptions, the top, photos, big impressions! Return down the volcano in the shortest possible time, pizza and beer for reward. Details Stromboli
20.04. We took the early ferry-boat to Vulcano, ate Paninis which were extremely tasty, climbed to the top, sulphur, steam, cool, descent, volcano ashes, ferry-boat, Stromboli, repack, another ascension with a new route, breaking off at 500m (from 950m) because of rain, descent, pizza and red wine. Details Vulcano
21.04. The hydrofoil craft didn’t depart due to bad weather conditions as well as the ferry-boat later by lunchtime. We were fixed. Walking through down-town, fire-slide, but nothing to be seen due to drizzle-rain, average pizzeria, going back home.
22.04. The ship departed! From Milazzo we drove with Andrea’s Land-Rover directly to the Etna. After our Land-Rover had a breakdown nearby Messina, an engine-breakdown and the breakdown-lorry had to come, we took an extremely tasty lunch, rent a Fiat Panda and went to the north of the Etna. There we saw one stream of lava which is indicated to be from 2002, then the „Grotta dei Ladroni“. Finally I took the flight back and arrived by 00:30 a. m. at Frankfurt/Main. Details Etna
Day 01 - 03: Stromboli
We departed by 07:30 o’clock with the hydrofoil craft, approached several Liparic islands on the way and arrived by 10:00 o’clock at Stromboli. I first enjoyed one coffee in the sun, and then I took up quarters at „da Luciano“(I shared my room with Detlef). Our journey program started with an excursion to the observatory, later we spent a short time down-town – on our way Andrea stopped every few metres at people whom he knows in order to greet them 🙂 At the supermarket I bought water and chocolate, at our lodging place we got tasty pasta with tuna for lunch. I slept away for a short while, than we chatted and took a sunbath.
And by 15:30 we drank a cup of coffee and started our first tour towards the top of Stromboli crater. We walked our own way, not the tourists’s one, which leads to the top more directly. Many plants, views, frequently announcing ourselves at the guardia civil (each tourist group could only spend a limited time on the way an take a limited time of rest on the top of the Stromboli crater), and just a convenient way of walking. Then the first sight from the volcano’s top, the first eruptions, also some “red” we could see! An extended stop by the “Stream-of-Fire” from where we could see frequent big eruptions (with great noise, just how it normally has to be!). We continued our way further upwards, but faster in speed than we intended it before. We took a break short before the top of the volcano. We waited for the twilight and until we would take pictures from a side-view at the top but meanwhile saw great eruptions all the time – wow! Then we were allowed to step up to the top, which only a limited number of people dared to do. From there we could look directly inside the crater, see the lava, the simmering, the eruptions – somehow something crazy and hard to describe! We snapped endless pictures, but of course there was a time when we had to pack our equipment, no matter how hard it was (not so hard at least due to two very hard shock-waves with the latest eruptions). On the return from the top we jumped over volcanoes ashes, were nearly running for there were only 50 minutes left until 22:00 o’clock, when the Guardia Civil had to take notice of us. Andrea, our guide, said that he couldn’t make it faster than in 50 minutes up to now, and we counted on his abilities. When we arrived back at our lodging-place, took pizza with beer like a reward and fell asleep.
Our second attempt one day later turned out as a failure: we overtook a funny class of pupils and one French guy with naked upper body, then shortly afterwards it started to rain at 500 metres height (from 950 metres altogether), the volcano’s top was covered by clouds and we had to stop and go back down. What a pity! Back to diary