The Fagradalsfjall volcano is the newest and hottest (literally) attraction in Iceland. It already has many names – Fagradalsfjall, Geldingadalir, Meradalir. They all refer to different valleys and mountains where the fissures have opened up. However, don’t worry too much if you can’t pronounce these names. Pretty much everybody in the country refers to it as THE volcano. The eruption started on 19th March and hasn’t stopped yet. Located in Reykjanes peninsula, only 30 km away from Reykjavik, it became a popular destination for day trips. Soon after the eruption started, hiking trails were marked to guide those who want to observe the eruption up close. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you start the journey.
The weather in Iceland is unpredictable, and the hike towards the volcano is not the easiest one. Firstly, check if the eruption site is open. I know – you wonder how come a volcano has opening hours? It refers to time slots when police and/or rescue team are on duty in the area to ensure everybody’s safety. Some days it is forbidden to visit the volcano due to extreme weather or high toxic gas concentration in the area.
During the eruption, the volcano spews out not only hot magma but also toxic gas. The concentration of gas is closely monitored, and people are being evacuated if it gets dangerous. However, you cannot see or smell poisonous gas. If you start feeling any discomfort (headache, dizziness, nausea), leave the area immediately. Another safety hazard is the area itself. The eruption is still in full swing, with more fissures opening up. Therefore, it is recommended to stay on hills and ridges and avoid low-lying areas.
The up-to-date information can be found on the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR) website safetravel.is. Do not go there if it is closed. Not only will you put yourself in great danger, but also you will put the ICE-SAR rescue team in danger if things will take a turn for the worse, and you will need their assistance.
It is crucial to dress accordingly and bring the right gear. Even if it looks warm and sunny outside, make sure you layer up with some warm clothes, windproof and waterproof outerwear, good hiking shoes, gloves, and a hat. Need tips on what to put in your suitcase before coming to Iceland? We’ve got you covered.
If you are pretty fit, expect 3-4 hours to walk there and back again. There are no facilities (yet). Make sure to have some food with you and plenty of water. Before you hit the road, here are some equipment that you might want to consider taking with you:
Quite a few resources are being used to ensure the highest level of safety at the eruption site. Unfortunately, this is not a man-made touristy attraction, and nature doesn’t care about safety standards. It does what it wants to do. Meanwhile, as humans, we are only tiny spectators, so if you decided to visit the volcano, proceed with caution. Among all of the gear listed above, don’t leave your common sense at home. Here are a few examples:
The start of the walk is on the road 427, 10 min drive east of Grindavík. It is forbidden to leave cars on the road’s shoulder, but there is a parking space 1 km east of the hiking trail.
Most importantly – have fun, stay safe and enjoy this unique opportunity to visit Icelandic Mordor.
UPDATED 19th March: From 19th March, visitors have to pay for the parking next to the hiking path. It costs 1000 ISK per car. To pay for the parking visit Parka.is