Exclusive: Brave or stupid? Group spend a week CAMPING inside the crater of a volcano

Melissa Hills

If you are the adventurous type this holiday destination may just be right up your street.

A group of daredevils from New Zealand, the heaven of adrenaline rushing sports, have taken it upon themselves to throw the gauntlet even further and offer an even crazier kind of holiday to thrill seekers.

Geoff Mackley, Brad Ambrose and Chris Horsley run Ultimate Volcano Adventures which believe it or not are offering 'clients' the opportunity to be flown by helicopter 200m into the crater of an active volcano, hike a further 200m and then set up camp for a week next to a lava lake.

Lava lakes are large volumes of molten lava, usually basaltic, contained in a volcanic vent, crater, or broad depression.

Canadian adventurer George Kourounis, wearing a fire proof suit, climbing out of the crater. Photo: Bradley Ambrose

The term is used to describe both lava lakes that are wholly or partly molten and those that are solidified.

This amazing footage was captured last week when the company took their first group of paying customers into the crater of Benbow Volcano on Ambrym Island in Vanuatu.

The brave volunteer seen in the footage is Canadian adventurer and storm chaser George Kourounis who specialises in documenting extreme weather and worldwide natural disasters.

George Kourounis is also storm chaser who specialises in documenting extreme weather and worldwide natural disasters. Photo: Bradley Ambrose

He also presents the television series Angry Planet.

Benbow and Marum are the site of two active volcano cones on Ambrym. Mount Benbow last erupted in 1913, causing the evacuation of the population to Mele, near Port Vila on Efate.

The company is Geoff's brainchild, he began his career as a breaking news photographer saying his efforts to get the best photos meant he sometimes 'became part of the story'.

Since 1980 he has combined his love of photography with his passion for the natural world and has even appeared in his own show on the Discovery Channel called 'Danger Man'.

George Kourounis looks at the epic landscape he is surrounded by. Photo: Bradley Ambrose

As well as having a deep interest in volcanology Geoff also captures footage of hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons and tornadoes on his camera.

Geoff and the Ultimate Volcano Adventures team took Nik Halik, Kevin Keator, Eric, Matt Davison, Brody Radford, Nicole Schied, Simon Bridger into Benbow last week- the clients all paid for the once in a lifetime opportunity.

The group spent a week camping 400m inside the crater of the volcano. Photo: Bradley Ambrose

Geoff told Yahoo7: "The tourists were just blown away by the volcano, saying it was the best thing they have ever done."

When asked about the realities of safety on such a dangerous pastime Geoff was honest and said 'we go for safety overkill'.

"We try and make it as safe as we can, the one thing you can't undo is an accident. The thing that will kill you is a rock falling on you.

"We had one of the guys wander off this time and a 500kg rock fall on his foot. Brad is a trained first responder and we managed to fix him up and he still got down to the bottom and had a great time."

An epic shot of the tents inside the volcano. Photo: Bradley Ambrose

Geoff said that despite not even really advertising the new business he had already been inundated with requests.

Geoff Mackley. Photo: Ultimate Volcano Adventures

"I am crazy. This is the first time we have taken paying clients into a volcano. We are trying to start an extreme volcano tour business

"Its more fun taking people in there and there reactions are just spectacular.

"We chose Vanuatu for the first expedition because it simply has the best lava action in the world.

Brad Ambrose and Chris Horsley climbing out of Benbow's lava lake. Photo: Geoff Mackley
Bradley Ambrose. Photo: Ultimate Volcano Adventures

"If we tried to do this in America or New Zealand you would just get arrested. It's becoming rare to be able to do something without rules stopping you.

"The other place we can do this is in Africa in the Congo and Ethiopia, we won't be hassled in either place."

As seen in the photographs when the group get closer to the lava lake they need to put on the silver fire proof suits which are also made in New Zealand.

The group are flown by 200m down inside the volcano and use massive sandbags to anchor their ropes,the group climb down the cliff by another 200m.

Geoff added: "It's an epic situation, we camp inside the volcano for a week, it is the ultimate experience.

"It's never safe, the weather is the one thing that will always interrupt activities, we hike around the inside of the volcano, if it erupts you are dead.

A picture from another expedition by the group at Marum Volcano based on Ambrym Island, a volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Bradley Ambrose

"It's probably safer than swimming with sharks or climbing Mount Everest but it really is the greatest thing you can ever do.

"The clients that took part said it was the most amazing thing they have ever done in their lives and we have had ex SAS solider and a US Air Force pilot on past expeditions and they have said the adrenaline rush was amazing.

"This is the best lava lake in the world, it is a very remote spot and I have just had the helicopter bill which cost $30,000. The bigger the group, the more trips we can make because it will bring the price down."

Geoff said they would like to get an expedition going every few weeks and is unaware of any other company in the world offering such trips.

When Yahoo7 asked about what kind of insurance the expeditions were covered by Geoff explained 'once inside the crater we are beyond rescue so a paper saying we are insured is worthless'.

"We in the crew have all amassed the skills between us needed to rescue someone, Brad is a trained first responder and I have done a course in remote medicine.

"Whatever it takes to get someone out, we have a proper paramedics kit, we are not doctors, but our location means we may as well be on the moon, so we have to know how to do virtually everything.

"We have to be the doctor, the fireman, the cook, the everything."

If you would like more information on the volcano tours log onto the website.