From Iceland to Lanzarote, volcanic landscapes have always attracted nature tourists, but now it seems volcanoes are becoming increasingly cool. Eyjafjallajokull, the volcano which erupted last year in Iceland leaving 10 million people stranded around the world when flights were grounded, is fast becoming a major tourist draw. Tour companies are jumping on the bandwagon and driving curious visitors through the snow to take a peek at the cauldron.
But if you prefer to strike out from a warmer base, Ecuador has a wealth of volcanoes both on the mainland and in the Galápagos Islands, reports BBC Travel. Quito is the only capital city threatened by an active volcano, the ‘Volcán Pichincha’. You can take a cable car (TelefériQo) to 4,100mts up the volcano's and savour this natural phenomenon together with spectacular views. Experienced climbers can then go on to 4,680mts Rucu Pichincha, one of the volcano's peaks.
Alternatively, if Darwin’s theory of evolution sparked your interest in the Galápagos Islands, visit main island Santa Cruz, a leafy land of extinct craters and endearing giant tortoises. But if you simply want to enjoy a volcano backdrop, Volcán Imbabura, around 60km north of Quito will suit your purpose. The shopping high-spot of the Andes, Otavalo's traditional Saturday market, is a great place to buy ponchos, alpaca-wool rugs and tagua-nut jewellery, with Volcán Imbabura looming in the background.