After a month of earthquakes felt in the capital area, a fissure has erupted on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Several volcanoes have resulted from the fissure line and have proven to be a “tourist eruption.” The slow-flowing lazy lava allows visitors to hike to the Volcano and observe up close and personal. Experts predict these volcanoes will erupt for up to 100 years so there is plenty of time to plan a trip to Iceland. Though seeing a volcano is a once in a lifetime experience, being prepared for the journey will help you enjoy it more.
What to pack
The hike to the Volcano is rated difficult for inexperienced hikers and moderate for skilled hikers. Icelandic weather is famously unpredictable so proper research and clothing are key for a good experience. Good hiking boots are recommended for this trail as the terrain is steep both up and down. Ankle support is preferred for this hike. Good socks should not be overlooked when packing for the hike. It is important to have socks that fit correctly and are comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Hiking bottoms are a personal preference, but it is best to pack layers in harsh Icelandic conditions. A base layer that will keep you warm and some type of shell to withstand the wind and rain go a long way. Viewing areas of the volcano include the top of mountains where it can be windy so the extra layer is important.
Hiking shirts and tops should also be considered in layers. It may be cold at the car park, but you warm up very fast once you start moving. A natural fiber base layer such as wool or smart wool is perfect to start the hike. A mid-layer such as a fleece or wool sweater should be kept in your bag along with an additional insulation layer. The weather can change fast in Iceland and once your body stops moving, it will begin to cool down and you won’t regret the extra layer. A puffy down jacket would be the perfect addition.
A rain jacket or wind shell is a must in Iceland! Even on the sunniest days, rain and wind can come at a moment’s notice. Most hikers in Iceland will hike with a shell on to protect themselves from wind and rain.
Even in the summer months, gloves and a hat are vital in Iceland. Lightweight gloves and a beanie will be worth the extra weight when you reach the top of the mountains.
Food and water is important for the volcano hike as it is long. Dehydration can be killer and often in colder temperatures it is easy to forget about drinking water. Hiking snacks are a personal preference but a protein bar, gummies, nuts or a sandwich would be great additions to keep energy in your body!
Optional Equipment: Gas Mask, Head Lamp and Hiking Poles. During the summer months, the darkness in Iceland can be rare but seeing the volcano at night time is a special experience, if you plan to visit the volcano during any evening hours, a headlamp is strongly recommended. The volcano trail travels up and down mountain passes and these steep sections can be rough on the joints. Adjustable hiking poles can be your best friend in these situations to give you an extra push on the inclines and unsteady terrain. There is always a risk of going to the volcano as it produces poisonous gases. The gases are invisible so having a gas mask handy could save your life. The Rescue Team is frequently measuring the gas levels and keeping the area as safe as they can. They will evacuate any area immediately if it is unsafe to be there without a mask. You should leave any area where you have difficulty breathing.
How to get there
Where to park
About 10 minutes from Grindavik, on road 427, there are designated parking lots. It is forbidden to park along the road. It is about 45 minutes from Reykjavik to the Volcano car park.
How long is the hike
There are 2 hiking trails to the volcano both about 5 km one way, starting from the parking lot. It can take 1-3 hours to hike to the volcano one way. Most people spend over an hour exploring and watching the volcano once there. The Rescue Team will direct you on which path to take depending on the direction of the wind. The volcano produces poisonous gases so knowing the wind direction is essential for the safety of the hike. It is also important to note that the unpredictability of the lava flow can make the hike longer, depending on where you stop to view the volcano.
How is the hike
Trail A takes you along the east side of the volcanos while trail B travels west. Both hiking trails are difficult in length and have very steep sections. There is a rope on trail B to hold on to. Trails are very well marked though the terrain can be uneven as it travels through old lava fields, gravel, mud, and up mountains. This hike should not be taken lightly, ample time and preparedness should be given to hike to the volcano.
The Rescue team is on site from noon until midnight everyday so do not hesitate to ask them any questions.
It is also important to note that new volcanoes can erupt at any time along the fissure without any notice.
It is strongly advised not to bring dogs on this hike as the gases can be low lying and not good for them. Strong children can complete this hike with the supervision of adults.
Please check daily volcano conditions at https://safetravel.is/eruption-in-reykjanes