Volcano sight seeing tips
Guide to active volcanoes and Geldingaladir's site
A volcanic eruption started in Geldingadalir, Fagradalsfjall at Reykjanes peninsula on the morning of August 3rd, 2022. It lasted about three weeks and it officially ended at the end of August.
The eruption site was only about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) away from the last volcanic eruption which lasted for about six months (from March to September 2021). The area is located about 25 km from Keflavik International Airport and about 50 km from Reykjavik city. It also helped that the eruption was taking place in an isolated valley where it couldn't harm human settlements or infrastructure.
The main reason Fagradalsfjall volcano is not considered dangerous is that this eruption is an effusive eruption rather than an explosive one. This means the lava does not burst from the earth's crust in an explosion of ash and fire like Eyjafjallajokull. Rather, the lava emerging from the volcanic fissure in Meradalir valley does so at a steady rate, forming molten rivers of lava. This kind of eruption is typical of an eruption type called "caldera" which has a small and steady flow of lava and could last years, decades, and even centuries.
After a thousand small earthquakes and several moderate quakes had shaken the region for more than a year, and especially in the days right before the eruption. Fortunately, no significant injuries or property damage were reported. The earthquakes were a clear indication that some lava was trying to make its way to the surface, as a matter of fact, several geologists had been predicting eruption in the Reykjanes peninsula for the last 5 years or more.
Hundreds of people have already made the walk to view the eruption or taken sightseeing helicopter rides to marvel at the volcanic eruption from the ground and the air.
The sight was truly stunning, the heat from the magma and the sound of a crackling cooling lava field - truly amazing!! Even though the eruption hasn't been showing any signs of reawakening and the lava flow has stopped, it is still worth to do this unique hike. At the moment, there are three hiking trails A-B-C (different difficulty level and length) through lava fields and steep hills, that lead to the eruption site.
That's why we at KuKu Campers have made a shortlist of how our KuKu customers can drive their campervan to get to the site, what to wear, what to be aware of, and where to camp after a day of hiking - enjoy!
How to get to Geldingadalir
Geldingadalir is located between Keflavik and Iceland's capital, Reykjavik.
Get in your KuKu Campervan and take road 41 to the turnoff to Grindavík.
Follow road 43 into the town of Grindavík and drive straight into town, drive straight until you see Nettó supermarket, take the first exit after Netto to the left; road 427 named; Austurvegur - and follow that road until you see the parking area next to the road.
See the exact location of Geldingadalir Volcano on Geldingadalir Volcano map.
First of all, note that the gases coming out of the volcano can be dangerous, hence you need to check the wind very carefully to know whether or not you can hike. If the wind is coming from the north or the south-west, then you can hike to the volcano following the itinerary marked on this hiking map. Part of it is marked, but since the eruption just started, most of it isn't marked at all, so be careful in order not to get lost, as the hike can become a bit difficult on this challenging terrain. The path goes over lava fields, gravel, and uneven ground.
The elevation gain is approximately 300m, up steep hills. A return trip takes approximately 3-4 hours for hikers in pretty good shape, adding a stop at the site and a picnic break can easily turn into a 6-8 hour trip.
Please be careful when walking on old lava, as the lava from the eruption is still pretty fragile in some places, or even still hot. Avoid to walk on it as much as possible. If you see smoke coming from solidified lava, turn around.
Map of the hiking trails:
What to be aware of on a hike to an active volcano
First of all, you need to be aware of the weather, the optimum weather is a clear sky, southerly light wind. Check out the daily weather conditions for hiking to a volcano in Safe Travel Iceland.
Most volcano emits gases, and the gas pollution is invisible and cannot be detected by smell. Hikers are recommended to hike to the area with the wind in their back, stay on hills and ridges, and keep away from valleys and low-lying areas in the landscape where the gases can collect. Gases and pollution can increase rapidly in the area, and if you feel any discomfort leave the area immediately.
You absolutely have to avoid the smokes coming out of the volcano, as they can cause severe damages to your lungs and health.
You can check out the daily gas dispersion forecast Iceland weather forecast.
Good hiking shoes, warm clothing, wind, and waterproof outerwear layers, hiking rods, a fully charged mobile phone as well as drinks and snacks to enjoy on the hike.