The 10 largest volcanoes in the world

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Volcanoes have always played an important role in the lives of the people who live near them. Torrents of lava, destroying everything in its path, aweed people and often brought death or forced them to leave their homes. The fire-breathing mountains were named volcano after Vulcan, the god of fire in ancient Rome.

The reason for the existence of volcanoes is the Earth’s internal heat. They are also found on other planets, whose core has not yet cooled. Most eruptions occur where there are rifts in the Earth’s crust where mountains often form, including fire-breathing mountains which, because of the lava flowing out, often outstrip others in height. This article is about the highest of the fire-breathing mountains on Earth.

An overview of the world’s largest volcanoes

Ranking the largest volcanoes in the world1Ojos del Salado at 6,893 meters6,893 METERS
2Llullaillaco – 6,739 meters6,739 METERS
3San Pedro is 6,145 meters6,145 METERS
4Cotopaxi – 5911 meters5911 METERS
5Kilimanjaro is 5,895 meters5895 METERS
6El Misti is 5,822 meters5822 METERS
7Elbrus is 5,642 meters5642 METERS
8Orisaba – 5636 meters5,636 METERS
9Popocatepetl – 5455 meters5455 METERS
10Sangay – 5230 METERS5,230 METERS

Ojos del Salado – 6,893 meters

Rating: 5.0

Ojos del Salado

Ojos del Salado is the highest volcano in the world. It is located in South America, and partly belongs to Argentina and partly to Chile. Also at its feet is the Atacama Desert.

The volcano’s name, originally spelled Ojos del Salado, means “headwaters of the Salt River. The fact that almost on top of the mountain is a lake (by the way, the highest in the world). And from it flows down the 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 5 km mark. The volcano is thought to be extinct, with only occasional minor activity. The last time sulfur and steam came out of the vent was in 1993. The real eruption was about 1,300 years ago.

It was Jan Szczepański and Justin Wojzynis, the Polish mountaineers, who first got to the top. Before them the Incas climbed the slopes of the mountain and their sacrificial altars remained. The slope is quite gentle, and in 2007 he drove his car Chilean Gonzalo Bravo. It almost reached its summit, climbing to 6,688 meters, the world record for the highest elevation reached by a car.

Llullaillaco is 6,739 meters high

Rating: 4.9


Luellllaco is the world’s largest active volcano. It is part of the Western Cordillera range, located on the Chile-Argentina border. And they, in turn, are part of the Andes.

The last eruption of Lewllaco was recorded in 1877. This snow-covered giant has been “sleeping” ever since. The peak is covered with an ice cap.

The volcano was first conquered in 1952. Two climbers, Juan Gonzalez and Bion Harseim, reached the summit. Since then, there have been several more climbs on Lhuillaco. The bodies of two Inca children were found mummified on the slope during one of the hikes in 1999. A boy and a girl are believed to have been sacrificed. The bodies had lain on the surface of the volcano for about 500 years.

Now the volcano is visited by tourists. It can be reached by two routes: the northern route can be reached by car and the southern route is reached on foot. Tourists who do not want to climb the mountain can admire it from a distance, because the dry air makes it possible to see the volcano clearly even 200 kilometers away.

San Pedro – 6,145 meters

Rating: 4.8

San Pedro

San Pedro is another South American volcano in the Andean system. And it, like the previous peak in the rankings, is still active. Its last eruption was recorded in 1960 – very recently.

San Pedro is in Chile, not far from the Atacama Desert. Nearby is another volcano called San Pablo. Its height is only slightly less than that of its “brother” and is 6095 meters.

Chileans treat the fire mountain with respect and love to tell stories about eruptions, when lava flows destroyed everything in their path. San Pedro attracts many tourists to Chile. Visitors strive to climb the peak or just watch from a distance. Since the volcano has erupted seven times during the 20th century, tourists know they can witness the next eruption, and some want to be present at such an event. The mountain emits toxic fumes, and therefore it can be climbed only with special masks.

Cotopaxi – 5911 meters

Rating: 4.7


Cotopaxi is an active volcano in the Western Cordilleras. Located in Ecuador, 50 kilometers south of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. It erupted frequently during 1738-1877, and then subsided. The new eruption came after a five-and-a-half-century lull, in 2015. The name Cotopaxi means ‘shiny mountain’ in Quechua – the snow at the top of the mountain shines all year round and never melts.

The German geographer Alexander von Humboldt and French botanist Aimé Bonplanet were the first to try to climb the mountain in 1802. They only got as high as 4,500 meters. The volcano was rooted up 70 years later, in 1872, when German geologist Wilhelm Rice climbed it. The mountain is located in Cotopaxi National Park. The road to the volcano is called Volcano Avenue. Various animals such as llamas, deer, wild horses roam freely on it. In 2015, the ascent of Kotopahi was suspended due to the danger of a major eruption.

Kilimanjaro – 5895 meters

Rating: 4.6


Kilimanjaro – Africa’s largest volcano. It is located on the Masai plateau, whose height above sea level is 900 meters. At the moment, Kilimanjaro is considered extinct; in the history of observation not a single eruption has been recorded. That’s why its summit, at 5,895 meters, is covered with snow and ice. This is reflected even in the name. Kilimanjaro translates from Swahili as “the mountain that sparkles.”.

Hungarian Count Samuel Teleki wanted to climb Kilimanjaro. Between 1861 and 1887 he made several attempts to ascent the mountain, reaching a maximum altitude of 5,270 meters. German and Austrian travelers Hans Meyer and Ludwig Pourtscheller first reached the summit. Since then, many mountaineering routes have been laid, which can be used to climb to the top. It takes 6-8 days to pass them. In order to facilitate high-altitude acclimatization, some travelers climb Volcano Meru, located nearby – its height is 4,562 meters.

El Misti – 5822 meters

Rating: 4.5

El Misti

Misty, or El Misti, is another volcano in the Andes. It’s in the southern part of Peru. The peak is covered with snow in winter; it used to have snow on it all year round, but after the latest eruption the permanent snow cover has disappeared.

El Misti last erupted in 1985. It didn’t erupt as violently as other eruptions over the past century. It erupted much more violently in the 15th century when people from the nearby town of Arequipa were forced to flee their homes. The city is located 17 kilometers from the top of the volcano, and it is also called the “white town” – the buildings are built from white sediment lava flows Misty.

Tourists climb the volcano. The ascent usually takes two days – only seasoned hikers who have no problems with altitude acclimatization can climb in one day. On the slopes and summit of the mountain it is possible to put up tents, and many tourists take advantage of that.

Elbrus – 5642 meters

Rating: 4.4


The highest of the Caucasus mountains, Elbrus, is also a volcano. The summit of Mount Elbrus, the highest point in Russia. Through it passes the border of Karachay-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria. From the slopes of the mountain flow glaciers, when they melt, water flows into the rivers of the Caucasus, such as the Kuban, Baksan and Malka. The mountain has two peaks, the West and East, the heights are 5642 and 5621 meters respectively. The summits are connected by a saddle, and there is a high-mountain shelter on it, where climbers have rest or take shelter from severe environmental conditions.

The first time Elbrus was climbed in 1829, when the Russian Academy of Sciences organized an expedition to the Eastern peak. Then the mountain has been climbed by travelers from different countries. In 1932 came “Shelter Eleven” – the highest altitude hotel in Russia at that time at an altitude of 4050 meters above sea level, in 1933 – the mountain shelter “Saddleback”, located between the peaks.

Now there is a highway to the foot of Mount Elbrus along the Baksan Gorge. There are several hiking trails that climb each summit of the mountain. On the slopes of Mount Elbrus there are stations connected by a cable car – one of the cable cars running from the Mir station to the Gara-Bashi station climbs to a height of 3,874 meters.

Orisaba – 5636 meters

Rating: 4.3


Orisaba is a volcano in the Mexican highlands in the Cordilleras. It’s in Mexico. Orisaba is the highest volcano in North America. It is a dormant, but not extinct volcano – the last time it erupted was in 1687. The name Orizaba means “joyful waters” in Nahuatl, which is how the inhabitants called the area, and so was the name of the volcano. The mountain also has another name, Sitlaltepetl, given by the locals. It means “mountain of stars” – the glaciers and snow at the summit reflect the light of the moon or the setting sun, showing the way.

Orisaba was first conquered by two American soldiers in 1848. In 1873, Martin Trichler climbed to the top and planted the Mexican flag on it. Nowadays the volcano is attractive to tourists who come most often from October to March, when it is not rainy season.

The crater of Orizaba is quite large, its diameter is 478 meters. It’s steep enough on the inside to resemble an abyss. It is not recommended for hikers to approach, as there is a danger of falling. The summit offers a view of Mexico, including other volcanoes lower in altitude. When the sun is low over the horizon you can see the huge shadow that the volcano casts.

Popocatepetl – 5455 meters

Rating: 4.2


Popocatépetl is one of the highest active volcanoes in Mexico. Part of the Cordilleras, along with the previous mountain in the ranking. The word “Popocatepetl” translates from Nahuatl as “smoking hill”.

Popocatepetl is still active today. The last recorded eruption took place in early 2020. True, it was quite insignificant, so the locals didn’t even leave their homes.

Next to Popocatepetl is the extinct volcano Istaxhiuatl. According to Aztec legend, these mountains are named after lovers. Istaxhuatl was the daughter of a local ruler. One day she fell in love with Popocatepetl, a warrior. So the ruler sent him to the battlefield and promised him that if he returned alive he could marry Istaxhiwatl. However, the girl was then deceived and married another man.

When Popocatépetl came back alive, the girl couldn’t stand it – and she killed herself. The warrior built a pyramid in her honor, and there he buried her body. And he erected another one for himself, on which he kept watch. The pyramids then became the mountains that bear the names of the lovers.

The volcanoes are located within the Istaxihuatl-Popocatepetl National Park. Tourists wishing to climb one of them must obtain a special permit from the park authority, located in the city of Amecameca.

Sangai – 5,230 meters

Rating: 4.1


Sangay volcano is the highest in Ecuador. It is part of the Andes mountain system. In 1934, the volcano began its third period of activity in known history. It has erupted frequently since this year, most recently observed in 2016. The volcano has three craters, all of which are active – during an eruption they throw stones weighing several tons into the air, for which Sangai got its name, which means “inspiring fear.

Sangai National Park was established where the volcano is located. In addition to Sangay, there are two other volcanoes here, El Altar and Tungurahua. All three are the highest volcanoes in Ecuador, with Altar at 5,320 meters and Tungurahua at 5,016 meters. Tungurahua, like Sangai, is active, while Altar is extinct. This park is unique in that there are eight altitude belts within it. Below there is tropical forest with palms and lianas, at higher altitudes it changes to high-mountain misty forests where shrubs and ferns, orchids, and bamboos grow. The weather is unstable, with frequent rain from May to August and drought from October to December. There are thermal springs and the Pailon del Diablo waterfall, or Devil’s Cauldron.

Climbing Sangai is not easy – only a few tourists a year dare to do it. Weather conditions may hinder the ascent. Sometimes you can feel the activity of the mountain during the ascent. Smoke and sulfur smell from the vent.

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