There’s just something about volcanoes that fascinates us. Maybe it’s the sheer power of their lava flows or the fact that they have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. It could also be the fact that the lurking giant could erupt at any moment. Regardless of your reason, if you are a fan of volcanoes, then you should definitely come to Iceland. It’s known as the Land of Fire and Ice in part due to the large number of volcanoes. One of the most famous volcanoes in Iceland is Askja along with its crater lakes and calderas.
Iceland has about 30 active volcanoes, and the one you may have heard of most recently is Eyjafjöll. Its eruption in 2010 grounded flights in European airspace for almost a week. But what about Askja? The name actually refers to zone with a volcanic mountain range located in Iceland’s Highlands north of Vatnajökull glacier. The area is famous for its calderas and volcanic crater lakes. A caldera is created when a volcano erupts, and it’s so powerful that the top of the magma chamber implodes. The volcano essentially collapses in on itself, which forms a crater.
Because Askja is in the Highlands, you can really only access it in the summer. The F-roads that lead inland are closed during the winter, so if you are planning a trip to this area make sure you come at the right time of year. Another important detail to keep in mind is that to access these F-roads, a 4x4 all-terrain vehicle is mandatory. If you’re taking a road trip around Iceland, you may not have rented one of these types of vehicles. Fear not, as there are a large number of companies and tour operators like Visit Askja offering tours and excursions to Askja, Lake Myvatn and surrounding areas. You can also rent a jeep or go on a Super Jeep tour.
Close to Askja is Viti Crater, which is part of the Krafla volcano range. You can walk along the rim to look down at the turquoise blue water. The water is pretty warm as well (77 °F or 25 °C) so taking a swim is a favorite activity for families, hikers and others. It can be a bit difficult getting there as there are sharp rocks on the trail and descending to the crater itself can be a bit slippery. If you plan on hiking this route be sure to take good hiking boots and be very careful while trekking.
This makes a great destination for those looking to do something a little unusual during their trip to Iceland. Hiking through lava fields and swimming in blue-green calderas isn’t something you do every day. Experiences like this are what make trips to Iceland memorable, unique, and worth repeating.
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