Another eruption in Reykjanes peninsula – volcanic fissures opened up in Meradalir valley on 3rd August. Thousands of travelers swarmed the area within the next few hours to see the eruption up close. And many happy campers contacted us with two main questions: is it safe to visit Iceland right now, and can we visit the Meradalis volcano eruption site? So, in this blog post, we will go over everything you need to know before visiting the eruption site.
Is it safe to visit Iceland?
Yes, as of now, there are no flight disruptions, and the eruption site is quite far away from any important infrastructure, so there isn’t any reason for you to stress about it and postpone your trip.
Is it safe to visit the eruption site in Meradalir?
The Meradalir volcano is a relatively safe and tourist-friendly eruption. However, (and I can’t stress it enough) there are plenty of dangers lurking on the way to the eruption site and next to the fissures.
- Constant gas pollution. When the wind dies down, there is a greater risk of gas pollution. Gas can also collect in areas where one piece of ground is lower than another, which can be fatal.
- In the area, new fissures might appear suddenly or without warning.
- It can be difficult to escape melting lava since it might descend from the lava field’s border and stream quickly into unfamiliar areas.
- Walking on the lava field from the eruption in 2021 is strongly prohibited since the crust is thin and the incredibly hot lava below may be very dangerous.
- It’s crucial to check the weather prediction for the trek day to determine whether it will be good for hiking. The trek up the volcano is lengthy and strenuous, and the weather can change quickly. We recommend visiting volcanoweather.is and safetravel.is for the latest information on hiking conditions.
Another important note from the Icelandic rescue team is not to take your kids to see the volcano. Here are the reasons why:
- Kids are much more sensitive to toxic gas and likely to experience gas poisoning.
- The hike to the eruption site is long and difficult for adults (a few hikers have been transported with broken ankles). The round trip is about 14 kilometers (9 miles) and includes climbing up steep hills.
9th August Update: The local police announced that kids younger than 12 would not be allowed to hike to the eruption site.
How to Prepare for the hike to Meradalir?
We’ve already mentioned that the hike is not the easiest, but if you are determined to see the volcano up close, make sure to do your best to prepare for the hike and bring all necessary equipment.
What to Wear
Even though it is technically summer in Iceland (although it doesn’t feel like that lately…), you need to ensure you have your warm clothes ready to go.
- Layer it up: base+mid+outer layers are your closest friends in Iceland. Avoid cotton and prioritize wool or synthetic materials. The outer layer needs to be waterproof but preferably breathable.
- Pack extra clothes in case you get wet or cold.
- Wear warm socks (wool socks are the best)
- Bring a warm hat and gloves or mittens.
What to Bring?
- Backpack to fit all your gear.
- Headlight or flashlight, especially if you plan to visit the volcano at night/early morning. Pack some extra batteries as well.
- Sturdy hiking boots, best if waterproof. Most injuries have occurred due to improper footwear.
- Hiking poles are recommended but not essential.
- Fully charged phone (power bank might also be a good idea).
- Water bottler (with water, duh). There are no amenities on the hike; make sure to have plenty of water on you for the whole hike.
- Hot beverage (coffee, tea, cocoa) to warm yourself up.
- Food. The hike itself takes 4-5 hours round trip. Pack plenty of snacks and food depending on how much time you plan to spend at the eruption site.
- Trash bags! Leave nature as you found it. Make sure not to leave anything behind.
Another great tip from the ICE-SAR team is to have extra clothes to change when you get back to the car if you get wet.
Getting to the Meradalir Volcano
Within a few days, the great people of Iceland’s rescue team marked new trails leading up to the eruption site. The starting points are the parking lots created during the previous eruption. From there, depending on your parking lot, it is a 10-16 km hike.
Visit Reykjanes has created a very handy hiking and a parking map of the area.
Remember, visitors must pay for the parking next to the hiking path. It costs 1000 ISK per car. To pay for the parking, visit Parka.is
Stay safe and enjoy the sight! Don’t forget to tag your happy moments with #happyiceland.
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