Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

For many years now, Askja has been the most popular excursion from Lake Mývatn and one of the top destinations in Iceland.

You will travel through the largest wilderness of Iceland, filled with marvels of nature, driving across lunar landscapes where US-astronauts trained before they ventured to the moon in 1969.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

You will see scenes of unforgettable nature and exiting geology. Askja, the huge caldera, is still in the making through bedrock subsidence above a deep-seated magma source. It lies centrally in the mountain massif Dyngjufjöll and is an active centre of a volcanic system.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Askja was not explored until the 19th century. In 1874-1875 there was a series of volcanic eruptions in the system, culminating in a very powerful eruption. Some 2 billion cubic metres of ash and pumice where blown from vents now on the bottom of Lake Öskjuvatn . This 11 sq. km-lake formed within a few years, following the event. It is the deepest lake in Iceland, 220 m. The latest eruption in Askja occurred in the autumn 1961.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

We recommend you to walk at the slopes of a 1961-crater. An easy 30-min.-long walk leads you to the explosion crater Víti (Hell) at the rim of Lake Öskjuvatn.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

A small, milky and warm lake adorns the crater. Amazingly, it turns into a heaven if you care to take a bath in it. After enjoying the unearthly quietness and bizarre landscape our passengers return to the bus.
Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Víti is a popular bathing site, but if you intend taking a dip, please be aware that the sloping path is very slippery in wet weather.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Route back to Lake Mývatn, you could make a stop is made at Herðubreiðarlindir where clear water flows from springs in an old lava flow. The springs sustain beautiful vegetation and form small ponds providing conditions for flowering plants and birdlife in the otherwise barren, volcanic landscape. The high bulk of the old sub-glacial volcano (tablemountain) Herðubreið (1682 m) rises about 3 km distant and provides a breathtaking background to this wilderness oasis.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Askja is a 50 km2 caldera in the Dyngjufjoll mountains. The mountains emerged in eruptions under an Ice Age glacier cap. Askja itself was formed, for the most part, at the end of the Ice Age in a major ash eruption which caused the roof of the magma chamber at the heart of the central volcano to subside. Askja is a part of Vatnajökull National Park. The caldera contains several volcanoes, including Víti (explosive volcanic crater). Water has accumulated in the crater, its temperature is variable - it is around 30°C on average.

HOW TO GET THERE?

The road to Askja goes from road 1 to road 901 and onto mountain road F905. Onward to F910 to Drekagil. On this route there are two fords to cross, usually small. From Drekagil goes mountain road F894 (8 km) to the car park at Vikraborgir.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Another option is to go from road 1 to mountain road F88 via Herðubreiðarlindir to Drekagil. On this road ther are fords on the rivers Grafarlandsá and Lindá that need to be crossed. The fords can be difficult or even impassable for small jeeps.

HOW TO DRIVE ON F ROADS?

So what do you have to keep in mind when planning a trip to the highlands?

-You have to be driving a 4x4 vehicle.
-It is strongly advised that people travel together in 2 or more cars.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

-You should check information about the conditions of the roads before you start your journey. It is best to call 1777 or check www.road.is.
-Make sure that the F road you plan to travel on is open for traffic.
-Driving outside of the roads in the highlands is strictly forbidden. Actually, driving off road in Iceland is always forbidden!

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

-Buying a detailed map of the route you will be travelling is much better than using the standard free map you can get at tourist information centers and gas stations. This is not necessary but can be very helpful.
-Whenever possible, try to talk to local people about conditions in the area, such as rangers.
-Tell somebody about your travel plans. You can for example tell the good people over at www.safetravel.is (or just the ranger you talked to before).


-It is good to be prepared for all types of weather as the weather in the highlands can change almost with a blink of an eye.
-Be aware that telephone signals in the highlands are not very stable and you can go for a long while without a mobile connection.
-The emergency number in Iceland is 112. You are able to call it in the highlands, even without a mobile connection.
-There is no petrol station in the highlands so make sure you fill up! :)


THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CROSSING THE GLACIER RIVERS

When you cross rivers, make sure that the 4 wheel drive has been engaged before going into the river. Drive very slowly and use the low range if possible. Never switch gears in the middle of the river.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Glacial rivers usually have less water in the mornings. During warm summer days, the flow of the river can increase a lot. Heavy rain can also increase the flow of a river substantially. Be aware that rivers can sometimes not be crossed even if the road is open and you are driving a 4x4 vehicle.

A good rule of thumb regarding glacier rivers is that if you would not want to wade through a river you should not drive through it. Crossing rivers can be a serious matter if people are not careful. Whenever possible, cross with someone with experience in crossing rivers.

Askja volcano travel guide (Iceland)

Fords over rivers are usually marked and should be easy to spot. Be aware of big rocks that might be under the surface of the water. The worst place to cross is where the water is most calm because that is usually the deepest part of the river. The best way to cross is to follow the torrent diagonally down the river, that way the torrent helps the vehicle over.

If you prefer a guided tour, we recommend a guided tour from Lake Mývatn to the Askja Caldera with this Icelandic company.

You can also make it with a Bus 4x4 from the company Visit Askja. Good price and great adventure!

Peter and Helga
Iceland24

37 comments:

  1. Would like to check if it's possible to Askja in late December or early January? Are we still able to drive on the roads in Winter? Thanks...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is it accessible in mid November?
    Thank You!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! Only from later June to Mid September...

      Delete
  3. Is it possible to drive to Askja late may beginning of June?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm planning as well a trip for mid June, before most of the agencies travel to Askja. We would consider renting 4x4 just because of Askja, but I'm unsure whether the roads will be even open, or how easy is to get there (our first 4x4)...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is not easy to say, you will need to wait until them because weather can change always in Iceland... Check here www.road.is one week before your trip

      Delete
    2. Did you end up going? We are there now.

      Delete
  5. We are going to Iceland beginning of July. Would it be possible to go to Askja with our 2 Ford Escapes 4WD? Which roads are the best and easiest?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey David, would getting to Askja with a Suzuki vitara work out? I know it's a smaller vehicle, but still 4wd. Just want a good opinion!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey David, planning to get to Askja with a Suzuki vitara early october. Would that be ok?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No sorry, the road is going to be close

      Delete
  8. Hello,
    I am going in island the first week of october. I will rent a suziki Jimmy 4x4. Do you think it will be possible to go to askja by the road f88? I will check the weather the day we wanna go, but if you tell me it is impossible, I will not try.
    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! I am sorry the road will be closed in October

      Delete
  9. Hi, i'm planning to go to Askya on August 20, with a Suzuky Vitara 4WD (+low), it would be better road F88 or F905? in both will have to ford rivers?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Bob! You will have to ford rivers in both roads. It should be fine with your Vitara

      Delete
  10. hello. would I be able to drive from Reykajavik to Askja at the end of October with a Suzuki Jimney? thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  11. hello,
    do you think the f road will be still open the frst week of october?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is impossible, sorry. It will be close!

      Delete
  12. Hello David,

    I would like to know if you think it would be safe to take the road F88 with a Dacia Duster early September ?

    Thanks for your help
    Pierre

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is safe if the road is open. Please check road conditions before your journey :)

      Delete
  13. Thanks for your rely.
    I read that there are two river crossings which are quite deep as compared to the ones on F901. If the road is open, you believe it should be ok ?
    Anyway, we might check it out to watch other cars first :-)

    Thanks for the great blog !

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi David - do you know when in September the road closes? I see it is fine for early September, but not in early October - I'll be there in late September (arriving to Reykjavik on 17th then driving, so likely the 23rd/24th September) - will it be possible to drive there then? We will also be in a Suzuki Vitara, like everyone else apparently!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The road is still open but not for long...

      Delete
  15. Hi there,

    We would like to visit Askja in middle September, we'll be in a Dacia Duster 4WD, it's better to go on F88 road or roads F905 and F910?
    We have no experience on river crossing...

    Thks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is better F905 - F910
      Please check road conditions at http://www.vegagerdin.is/ferdaupplysingar/faerd-og-vedur/faerd-um-allt-land/island1.html

      Delete
  16. Hello David !
    We would like to visit Iceland Highlands next summer in the middle of July. Do you think it is madness to go on the F910 (the north one) from Askja and turn on the F26 to join Landmannalaugar with a Suzuki Jimny ? Of course, if the wether is too bad the days before, we would take the East Road and join Landmannalauger by Road 1 / F26 and F208 (even if it seems a 12 hours detour).
    Many thanks !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Emma!

      Thanks for your comment!

      Yes, it is madness ;)

      Delete
  17. HI David. We're planning to go to Askja from Lake Myvatn in October 2017. Is the road to Askja closed every October or just 2016. We are planning to be there about 16-17th October. If so, is there any other way we can get there at this time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is almost impossible to drive there after September 25th...

      Delete
  18. Aaron Morgan Chua16 March 2017 at 06:39

    Hello there David!

    I would be visiting Iceland in mid June, and i would be renting Kia Sportage / Honda CR-V 4x4. Do you think it's possible for my friends and i to reach Viti? The dip into the lake seems really tempting.

    Thanks a lot! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! It depends on the weather... The car is big enough but roads will need to be open at this time of the year.

      Delete