Dancing with Giants: A Guide to Iceland's Volcanic Eruption

Daniel Cramer

(Updated: )
5 min read

Greetings Explorers!

As if our world had commissioned an encore, the subterranean titans of Iceland have once more taken center stage, painting the landscape with molten masterstrokes emerging straight from the heart of our planet. This latest spectacle, an erupting volcano in Reykjanes Peninsula, has magnetized global attention, tantalizing adventurers and curious souls alike. It has a unique title in our local tongue: "Túristagos" or "Tourist Eruption". Why? Because it presents a rare chance to safely witness the raw power of Mother Nature’s artistry. Before you lace up those boots, though, be sure to read our previous blog to gather all the need-to-know details, and make sure you pick the right weather for your trip. Here you can find an extensive overview of what to expect when it comes to the Icelandic weather.

Today's post? It’s your treasure map! A guide to the pathways that lead to this fiery marvel and the cautionary tales to consider before you embark on your journey.

Picture showing lava spewing from the earth in Iceland, volcano
Photographer: RAX

Safety First - Playing Chess with Mother Nature

In this active volcanic state, the rules can change faster than a volcanic lightning. Weather conditions and volcanic activity are fickle friends that can make or break your adventure. Take heed, for the air may bear invisible threats of toxic gases. Swing by the Safe Travel website to make sure you aren't walking into a perilous puff. Those young at age, heart or lung, along with our four-legged pals, are advised to enjoy this spectacle from afar. The locals in Reykjanesskagi have been asked to keep their windows shut and avoid outdoor activities—quite the testament to the conditions at the site.

Adventure Couture - Make Comfort Your Style

Those snazzy sneakers might look great on Instagram, but when it comes to volcanic terrain, trusty hiking boots have got your back (and your ankles!). Layer up with a T-shirt, thermal wear, hiking trousers, a warm sweater, and a waterproof jacket. Iceland’s weather is a beautiful mystery—you don't want to be caught off guard! And keep in mind, denim devotees, those jeans might lead to discomfort in these conditions. Consider good-quality jogging pants paired with something to ward off the wind.

Gear Up - Pack Like a Pro

Here's a riddle: What’s scarcer than water in a desert? Water at the eruption site! Pack your backpack with all your essentials: plenty of water, food, spare socks, blister plasters, a fully charged phone (plus a power bank), gloves, and a hat. Even our shy Icelandic sun can surprise with a strong ray or two, so slap on that sunscreen and keep some handy.

Authority Rules - Trust the Pros

Steer clear of becoming the 'star' of a local news segment by following the wise words of the authorities. Our Search and Rescue team, unsung heroes who are volunteers, mind you, are working tirelessly to ensure safety. Help them by paying heed to their instructions. They understand the allure of the spectacle, but your safety is their priority. After all, who wants an unexpected meet-and-greet with a lava giant, right?

Know Your Battlefield

The provided map indicates the volcano's location. Pink symbolizes the old lava field from 2022-2023, orange represents the current danger zone, blue marks the magma corridor, and red signifies the fiery eruption itself. This vast danger zone is expected to spawn more cracks, wildfires, toxic gases, and active lava. Hence, officials recommend a short and sweet visit.

A picture that shows the danger zone at the volcano in Reykjanespeninsula Iceland
Picture: Icelandic MET office

Choose Your Own Adventure

Five trails lead you to this fiery spectacle:

Route D

Your ticket to get as close as possible to the eruption. But brace yourself—this 20km journey winds through rugged terrains of lava, rocks, sand, and moss, taking seasoned hikers a grueling five hours. Always stay alert as the route might transform with the eruption.

Route A

Guides you to Merardalir, where you can behold the eruption from afar. The 12.6km trek through rough terrains will take about three hours of your time.

Route C

Will steer you towards previous craters, withholding views of the current eruption. The path is relatively easier due to heavy traffic in recent years, but still demands a two-hour commitment for an 8km journey.

Route C (Alternate)

Offers a viewing point for the old craters. The 4km journey is fairly simple, taking about an hour to complete.

Route B

Like Route A, ends in Merardalir. However, this 6.6km trail is the true test for experienced hikers only, taking approximately three hours due to extremely rough terrains.

Remember, your safety is the real treasure on this journey. The volcanic spectacle may be enchanting, but it's also a stark reminder of nature's untamed might. Heed caution, respect the experts' advice, and behold the grandeur responsibly.

Picture that shows the Icelandic Horse standing in front of an active volcano
Photographer: Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Essential Clicks for Your Volcanic Trek

Before you lace up your boots and set out for your unforgettable adventure, we urge you to familiarize yourself with these invaluable resources:

Visit Reykjanes - The Regional Destination Management Office for Reykjanes
Consider this your all-in-one adventure planner, packed with essential information and the safest, open routes for your thrilling trek.

The Icelandic Met Office
Stay one step ahead of the eruptive rhythms with real-time updates - it's like having a direct line to the volcano's heart.

The Icelandic Environmental Agency
Keep your adventure and your lungs clear by keeping a watchful eye on the air quality around the eruption site.

Safe Travel
Equip yourself with the freshest safety advice from the ultimate authority on search and rescue information. This is your safety compass in the midst of the volcanic spectacle.

The volcano in Reykanes Iceland seen from space, picture from NASA
The volcano seen from space.