Thursday, 6 June 2019

Eldhraun: The Moss-Covered Iceland Lava Field

As you explore Iceland, you’ll come across some truly mesmerizing and out of this world sights and scenery. Whether it’s the crystal turquoise interior of a glacier cavern or the ghostly floating icebergs at Jökulsárlón. Now, picture this: you’re making your way around the country on the Ring Road, and you find yourself surrounded by rolling moss-covered lava fields. That seemingly neverending sea of yellow-green clumps is Eldhraun Lava Field, one of the world’s largest lava fields.

Eldhraun Lava Field, Iceland

Eldhraun Lava Field


This spectacular sight is another one of those “only in Iceland” attractions, as it took a unique combination of natural factors to occur. Eldhraun is a natural wonder that you just happen to stumble across, ooh and aah, and then pull out your travel guide to learn more.

Here are some interesting facts for you. Eldhraun lava field’s 565 square kilometers (218 square miles) also served as the training ground for the Apollo 11 crew and their 1969 moonwalk mission. The area supposedly recreates the conditions on the surface of the moon.

This territory is also the biggest lava flow in the world (at least in recorded history), which is why it stretches so far and wide.

Eldhraun: How Did it Happen? 


It's true that you don’t run across kilometers of endlessly sprawling green woolly fringe moss covering volcanic lava every day. So what were the geological events that took place which caused this otherworldly, one-of-a-kind popular Icelandic sightseeing destination?

This special place started off as any regular Icelandic lava field does: with a volcano erupting. Although this particular event was especially traumatic for the island.

It all began with the Laki eruption, probably the most poisonous eruption Iceland has experienced in historical times. This cataclysmic event took place from 1783 to 1784, and the fallout was immense. Not from the explosion of fire, ash and subsequent lava flows, but rather the crop failure, disease, and starvation that came afterward. The aftermath was devastating, wiping out 20-25% of the island’s population and nearly 80% of domestic animals.

The eruption was so massive, that allegedly smoke from its ash cloud traveled all the way to France. Supposedly when it blocked out the sun, people thought the world was ending, and this contributed to the French Revolution.

Lava flows in Iceland form lava fields

Iceland Volcanic Moss


So we had the catastrophic and violent volcanic eruption. How does that turn into verdant fields of volcanic Icelandic moss that stretch as far as the eye can see? Well, at some point after the volcanic lava cooled and hardened, moss spores were carried by wind and water into the area. Unlike most plants, moss doesn’t have roots, so it can anchor itself to trees, rocks, and yes, dried lava. It prefers moist environments, which explains why it blossomed so close to the sea.

Eldhraun Iceland and Conservation Efforts


The recent boom in tourism has seen an increase in conservation efforts, especially at Eldhraun. Iceland and its landscape were forged in harsh conditions, but surprisingly, much of our flora and fauna is quite delicate. If you step on or destroy volcanic moss, it can take a century to grow back, if it grows back at all.

We want to raise awareness about this, as many people simply do not know. Justin Bieber, for example, rolled around in Icelandic moss while shooting the "I'll Show You" music video. Many Icelanders were rightfully horrified and outraged. We need to protect places like Eldhraun, and Iceland tourists need to be aware that their actions have consequences.

Eldhraun Lava Field Location


Something that people ask on travel forums is the Eldhraun lava field location. There aren’t really any exact GPS coordinates because it’s more of a zone than a specific place. You’ll find it in South Iceland as you drive towards the glacial lagoon at the southeast end of Vatnajökull National Park. It's closer to Vik than Jökulsárlón.

Eldhraun Lava Field in Iceland with volcanic moss off the Ring Road

Where to Stay When Visiting Eldhraun


If you’re looking for accommodation close to the Eldhraun lava, the Eldhraun Guesthouse is probably your best bet. It gets rave reviews on booking websites and is by far much cheaper than the Eldhraun Holiday Home. Please note that the Eldhraun Guesthouse reflects Iceland prices. So paying $100 a night for a shared kitchen and bathrooms, as you do at this 3-star hotel, is not surprising.

If you want something more private, the Eldhraun Holiday Home is Iceland luxury at its finest, but it will cost you. Checking rates for the next few months (including the off-season), rooms were around $320-350 per night. If you’ve got the cash, I say go for it and enjoy the mountain views and private hot tub in your cabin.

Eldhraun: The Moss-Covered Iceland Lava Field


While taking a road trip around our beautiful island, make sure to include the Eldhraun lava field on your Iceland itinerary. It’s an awe-inspiring sight and one you won’t find anywhere else on the planet. Just please remember to be respectful and help us protect our fragile ecosystem. Don’t step on the volcanic moss and always try to leave places you visit in better shape than you found them.

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