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Despite being one of the smaller ice caps of Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull volcano is one of the most famous volcanoes in Iceland and the world. This is thanks to its most recent eruption in 2010 that resulted in the evacuation of 800 people, caused electrical storms and earthquakes and grounded flights across Europe. Fortunately, another nearest volcano, Katla, that shares its geology did not erupt this time around. Historically speaking, when Eyjafjallajökull erupts Katla often follows suit.
Eyjafjallajökull is a stratovolcano that is completely covered by an ice cap that covers 100 square km. The volcano is 1651m tall and has a partially open crater of just under 4km in diameter with three main peaks. Eyjafjallajökull is found in Southern Iceland and is a great diversion for anyone driving the south shore road. The south of Iceland is easily accessibly via road.
Let's find out what we can do on and around this magnificent volcano.
1. Day Hike
Not for the faint-hearted, an 8 hour day hike up Eyjafjallajökull is truly an awe inspiring experience. This still active volcano has a 4 mile trek to the summit that adventurers can conquer, though it is strongly advised that you enlist the help of a professional guide. The trail is not always obvious and safety ropes are needed to cross the glacier. This is a very challenging hike, you’ll be walking up an active volcano! But those brave enough to do it are rewarded with amazing views of the close by lava fields and glaciers as well as the distant coastline and Vestmannaeyjar Islands.
Speaking of hiking, have you heard of the Hverfjall volcano in Iceland? You can hike around the entire volcano!
2. The Visitor Centre
The best way to learn more about this famous Icelandic volcano is through its dedicated visitor centre. The centre opened exactly a year after the 2010 eruption on 14 April 2011. The visitors centre is a family-run operation that aims to give visitors a personal perspective on how the eruption affected the area, and what it’s like to live in the shadow of a volcano. There is a volcano exhibition at the centre, as well as a short 20 minute film that depicts the 2010 eruption and the local farmers’ struggle.
3. 4x4 Tours
Many 4x4 tours are available that will take you from Reykjavík along the south shore of Iceland, including via the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, the Gígjökull glacier, Seljalandsfoss waterfalls and many more must-see spots. The super jeeps used can easily handle any Icelandic terrain and knowledgeable guides narrate the history of the landmarks you visit.
4. Flight Tours
If you want to see the Eyjafjallajökull volcano from a different perspective, hop on a sightseeing flight from Bakki airport. You’ll soar above Eyjafjallajökull, looking down into it’s semi-open crater as well as remote highland locations like Landmannalaugar in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve.
5. Helicopter Tours
For an aerial view that’s more focused on Eyjafjallajökull and the changed landscape since the eruption, consider a helicopter tour from Reykjavik. These normally last for 2.5 hours and will take you from Reykjavik over black sand beaches, lava fields, glaciers and over the Eyjafjallajökull volcano before touching down at Fimmvörðuháls in the Thorsmörk National park.
The Eyjafjallajökull volcano is technically still active, so all precautions must be taken when undertaking an activity at the site. Be sure to enlist certified guides and pay attention to any safety advice given. Most of all, enjoy the experience of being in the vicinity of such a force of nature - there is a volcano tour in Iceland for everyone!