10 largest volcanoes in the world

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Volcanoes have always played an important role in the life of the peoples living next to them. Lava flows, destroying everything in their path, caused awe among people and often brought them death or forced them to leave their homes. The very name “volcano” fire-breathing mountains received in honor of Vulcan – the god of fire in ancient Rome.

The reason for the existence of volcanoes is the internal heat of the Earth. They were found on other planets, the core of which has not yet cooled down. Most eruptions occur where there are faults in the earth's crust – mountains often arise there, including fire-breathing ones, which, growing in height due to flowing lava, often overtake others in height. This article is about the tallest fire-breathing mountains on planet Earth.

Overview of the largest volcanoes in the world

Nomination a place name Height
Rating of the largest volcanoes in the world 1 Ojos del Salado – 6893 meters 6893 METERS
2 Llullaillaco – 6739 meters 6739 METERS
3 San Pedro – 6145 meters 6145 METERS
4 Cotopaxi – 5911 meters 5911 METERS
5 Kilimanjaro – 5895 meters 5895 METERS
6 El Misti – 5822 meters 5822 METERS
7 Elbrus – 5642 meters 5642 METERS
8 Orizaba – 5636 meters 5636 METERS
9 Popocatepetl – 5455 meters 5455 METERS
10 Sangay – 5230 meters 5230 METERS

Ojos del Salado – 6893 meters

Rating: 5.0

Ojos del Salado

Ojos del Salado is the tallest volcano in the world. It is located in South America, and partly belongs to Argentina and partly to Chile. In addition, the Atacama Desert is located at its foot.

The very name of the volcano, originally written as Ojos del Salado, means 'the sources of the salt river'. The fact is that almost at the top of the mountain there is a lake (by the way, the highest in the world). And from it flows down the river Rio Salado, whose waters are saturated with salt.

Ojos del Salado stands out from other mountains. Its slopes are practically not covered with snow – the ice cap begins at around 5 km. It is believed that the volcano has already gone out, only occasionally insignificant activity is noticeable. The last time sulfur and steam came out of the vent was in 1993. The real eruption was about 1300 years ago.

For the first time, Jan Schepansky and Justin Voizhnis, climbers from Poland, reached the very top. Before them, the Incas climbed the slopes of the mountain – their sacrificial altars remained. The slope is quite gentle, and in 2007 Chilean Gonzalo Bravo drove along it in his car. He reached almost to the top, climbing 6688 meters – this is the world record for the height to which cars climbed.

Llullaillaco – 6739 meters

Rating: 4.9

Llullaillaco

Llullaillaco is the largest active volcano in the world. It is part of the Cordillera Western Ridge, located on the Chile-Argentine border. And they, in turn, are part of the Andes.

The last eruption of Llullaillaco was recorded in 1877. Since then, this snow-covered giant has been 'sleeping'. The summit is covered with an ice cap.

The volcano was first conquered in 1952. The summit was reached by two climbers, Juan Gonzalez and Bion Harseim. After that, several more ascents were made to Llullaillaco. During one of them, held in 1999, two mummified bodies of Inca children were found on the slope. It is believed that the boy and girl were sacrificed. The bodies lay on the surface of the volcano for about 500 years.

Now the volcano is visited by tourists. They climb it by two routes – along the northern one you can climb by car, the southern one is overcome on foot. Tourists who do not want to climb the mountain admire it from a distance – dry air makes it possible to clearly see the volcano, even 200 kilometers away.

San Pedro – 6145 meters

Rating: 4.8

San Pedro

San Pedro is another South American volcano that is part of the Andes. And he, like the previous peak in the ranking, is still active. Its last eruption was recorded in 1960 – quite recently.

San Pedro is located in Chile, near the Atacama Desert. Next to it is another volcano called San Pablo. Its height is only slightly less than that of the 'brother', and is 6095 meters.

Chileans respect the mountain of fire and love to tell stories of eruptions when lava flows destroyed everything in their path. San Pedro attracts many tourists to Chile. The arrivals tend to climb to the top or simply watch from afar. Since the volcano has erupted 7 times during the 20th century, tourists know that they can witness another eruption, and some want to be present at such an event. Toxic fumes emanate from the mountain, and therefore you can only climb it in special masks.

Cotopaxi – 5911 meters

Rating: 4.7

Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi is an active volcano belonging to the Western Cordillera. Located in Ecuador, 50 kilometers south of the capital of Ecuador, Quito. It often erupted during 1738-1877, then died down. A new eruption occurred after five and a half centuries of calm, in 2015. The name Cotopaxi means “shiny mountain” in Quechua – the snow on the top of the mountain glistens all year round and never melts.

The first to climb the mountain were the German geographer Alexander von Humbolt and the French botanist Aimé Bonpland in 1802. They only rose to a height of 4500 meters. The volcano was conquered 70 years later – in 1872 the German geologist Wilhelm Rice climbed it. The mountain is located in the Cotopaxi National Park. The road to the volcano is called “Avenue of the Volcanoes”. Various animals such as llamas, deer, wild horses roam freely along it. In 2015, the ascent to Cotopaxi was suspended due to the danger of a violent eruption.

Kilimanjaro – 5895 meters

Rating: 4.6

Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro is the largest African volcano. It is located on the Masai plateau, which is 900 meters above sea level. At the moment, Kilimanjaro is considered extinct, no eruption has been recorded in the history of observations. Therefore, its top, located at an elevation of 5895 meters, is covered with snow and ice. This is reflected even in the title. Kilimanjaro translates from Swahili as 'the mountain that sparkles'.

The Hungarian Count Samuel Teleki wanted to climb Kilimanjaro. During 1861-1887, he made several attempts to ascend, the maximum height that he reached is 5270 meters. For the first time the German and Austrian travelers Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtsheller reached the summit. Since then, many climbing routes have been laid, along which you can climb to the very top. They take 6-8 days to complete. In order to facilitate high-altitude acclimatization, some travelers climb the nearby Meru volcano – its height is 4562 meters.

El Misti – 5822 meters

Rating: 4.5

El Misti

Misty, or El Misty, is another volcano in the Andes. Located in the southern part of Peru. The summit is covered with snow in the cold season – before, snow lay on it all year round, but after the last eruption the permanent snow cap disappeared.

The last time El Misti erupted was in 1985. The eruption was not strong, like its other eruptions over the past century. It erupted much more violently in the 15th century – then people from the nearby city of Arequipa were forced to leave their homes and flee. This city is located at a distance of 17 kilometers from the top of the volcano, and it is also called the “white city” – the buildings in it are built of white deposits of Misty lava flows.

Tourists climb the volcano. It usually takes two days to climb – in one day, only experienced travelers who have no difficulties with high-altitude acclimatization can climb. Tents can be set up on the slopes and on the top of the mountain, which is used by many tourists.

Elbrus – 5642 meters

Rating: 4.4

Elbrus

The highest of the Caucasus Mountains – Elbrus – is also a volcano. The summit of Elbrus is the highest point in Russia. The border of Karachay-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria passes through it. Glaciers flow down the slopes of the mountain, when they melt, water flows into the rivers of the Caucasus, such as the Kuban, Baksan and Malka. The mountain has two peaks, Western and Eastern, their heights are 5642 and 5621 meters, respectively. The peaks are connected by a saddle; there is a high-mountain shelter on it, where climbers rest or take refuge from the difficult natural conditions.

The first time they climbed Elbrus was in 1829 – then the Russian Academy of Sciences organized an expedition to the Eastern Summit. Further, travelers from different countries climbed the mountain. In 1932, the Shelter of Elevens appeared – the highest hotel at that time in Russia at an altitude of 4050 meters above sea level, in 1933 – the alpine shelter “Sedlovina”, located between the peaks.

Now a motor road approaches the foot of Elbrus along the Baksan gorge. There are several hiking trails that climb each of the mountain peaks. On the slopes of Elbrus there are stations connected by a cable car – one of the cable cars, going from the Mir station to the Gara-Bashi station, rises to a height of 3874 meters.

Orizaba – 5636 meters

Rating: 4.3

Orisaba

Orizaba is a volcano in the Mexican Highlands in the Cordillera. Located in Mexico. Orizaba is the tallest volcano in North America. This is a dormant, but not extinct volcano – the last time it erupted in 1687. The name Orizaba means “joyful waters” in the Nahuatl language – this is how the inhabitants call the area, and the volcano was named after it. The mountain also has another name – Sitlaltepetl, given by the locals. It means “star mountain” – glaciers and snow at the top reflect the light of the moon or the setting sun, showing the way.

The first to conquer Orizaba were two American soldiers in 1848. In 1873 Martin Trichler climbed to the top and planted the Mexican flag on it. Currently, the volcano is attractive for tourists who arrive most often from October to March, when there is no rainy season.

The crater of Orizaba is quite large, its diameter is 478 meters. From the inside, it is quite steep and resembles an abyss. Tourists are not recommended to approach it, as there is a danger of falling. The top offers views of the territory of Mexico, including other volcanoes below the height. When the sun is low on the horizon, a huge shadow is visible from the volcano.

Popocatepetl – 5455 meters

Rating: 4.2

Popocatepetl

Popocatepetl is one of the highest active volcanoes in Mexico. It is included – along with the previous mountain in the ranking – in the Cordillera. The word 'Popocatepetl' is translated from the Nahuatl language as 'smoking hill'.

Popocatepetl remains active to this day. The last recorded eruption took place in early 2020. True, it was quite insignificant, so the local residents did not even leave their homes.

Near Popocatepetl is the extinct volcano Istaxihuatl. According to Aztec legend, these mountains are named after lovers. Istaxihuatl was the daughter of one of the local rulers. She once fell in love with Popocatepetl, a warrior. Then the ruler sent him to the battlefield and promised that if he returned alive, he could marry Istaxihuatl. However, then the girl was deceived, and she married another man.

When Popocatepetl returned alive, the girl could not stand it – and laid hands on herself. The warrior built a pyramid in her honor, in which he laid her body to rest. And he erected another one for himself, on which he carried the patrol. Then the pyramids turned into mountains, which bear the names of the lovers.

Volcanoes are located in the Istaxihuatl-Popocatepetl National Park. Tourists wishing to climb one of them must obtain a special permit from the management of the park, located in the city of Amekameka.

Sangay – 5230 meters

Rating: 4.1

Sangay

Volcano Sangay is the highest in Ecuador. It is part of the Andes mountain range. In 1934, the third period of activity in the history of the volcano began. It has erupted frequently since this year, last seen in 2016. The volcano has three craters, all of them are active – during the eruption, stones weighing several tons fly into the air, for which Sangay got his name, which means “fearsome”.

Where the volcano is located, the Sangay National Park has been created. In addition to Sangay, there are two more volcanoes – El Altar and Tungurahua. All three are the highest volcanoes in Ecuador, Altara is 5320 meters high, Tungurahua is 5016 meters high. Tungurahua, like Sangay, is active, while Altar is extinguished. This park is unique in that it has eight altitude zones. Below there is a tropical forest with palms and lianas, at a higher altitude it is replaced by alpine foggy forests, where shrubs and ferns, orchids and bamboo grow. The weather is unstable here, with frequent rains from May to August, and drought from October to December. Here are the thermal springs and the Pylon del Diablo waterfall, or Devil's Cauldron.

Climbing Sangay is not easy – only a few tourists a year decide to do it. The climb can be hampered by weather conditions. Sometimes during the ascent the activity of the mountain is felt. Puffs of smoke and the smell of sulfur come from the vent.


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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