Tuesday, July 26, 2005

When exploring a volcano...

It is possible to visit Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park (808-985-6000, www.nps.gov/havo) on your own, but to see hot lava, a knowledgeable guide makes the expedition safer and more interesting.
I traveled with VolcanoDiscovery (www.volcanodiscovery.com, info@volcanodiscovery.com), which also offers tours of volcanoes in Italy, Greece and Indonesia.

I appreciated the pairing of Phil Ong's island smarts - he's a local geologist - with Dr. Tom Pfeiffer's breadth of knowledge. Groups on fixed-date tours range from two to 10 people, though the team specializes in custom bookings. I was lucky and saw a high degree of volcanic activity, but note that eruptions can be notoriously fickle. The five-day Hawaiian expedition without airfare costs $3,200.

Should you seek a shorter volcano expedition on the Big Island, VolcanoDiscovery's expert lava guides offer half-day trips for about $235 or full days for about $350.

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