Journey to Askja: A Land of Fire and Ice
Askja: Discovering Iceland's Hidden Gem in the Highlands
When people think of Iceland, they often think of glaciers, hot springs
, and waterfalls. But one of the country's most impressive natural wonders lies hidden in the remote and rugged Icelandic Highlands
: Askja volcano
Located in the center of Iceland, Askja is part of the Vatnajökull National Park and is known for its starkly beautiful landscape of black sand, lava fields
, and steaming geothermal pools
. The volcano's caldera is filled with a stunningly blue crater lake
, the deepest in Iceland
, which is surrounded by sheer cliffs and is one of the main draws for visitors to the area.
Getting to Askja
Askja is located in the interior of Iceland and is accessible only during the summer months, when the highland roads are open
. The road to Askja is not for the faint of heart, as it requires driving on rough and rocky terrain, crossing rivers, and navigating steep mountain passes. However, for those willing to make the journey, the rewards are truly spectacular.
The most common way to visit Askja
is by taking a tour
with one of the many companies that offer guided excursions to the area. These tours typically depart from the nearby town of Egilsstaðir and take visitors on a bumpy ride across the desolate landscape of the Icelandic Highlands
, stopping along the way at several other natural wonders, including Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall, and the geothermal area of Námaskarð.
Viti crater is a stunning turquoise-colored lake that formed within the Askja volcano caldera. The crater is approximately 300 meters wide and 60 meters deep, and its vivid color is due to the high concentration of minerals in the water. Visitors can hike down to the edge of the crater for a closer look or take in the view from above. The crater's serene beauty is in contrast to the volcano's violent past and serves as a reminder of the incredible natural forces that shape our world.
Once visitors arrive at Askja, they are free to explore the area on their own or with a guide. The hike to the caldera
is not particularly difficult, but it does require a bit of stamina, as it involves a steep climb up a gravel path. The reward for the effort, however, is the breathtaking view of the crater lake and the surrounding landscape.
In addition to the caldera, Askja
is also home to several other fascinating geological features, including Víti, a smaller crater lake that is heated by geothermal activity
and is a popular spot for swimming
, and Holuhraun, a vast lava field
that was created by a volcanic eruption
in 2014 and is still actively cooling.
Geothermal Energy in the Highlands
One of the most fascinating aspects of Askja and the surrounding highlands is the abundant geothermal activity in the area. Iceland is known for its geothermal resources
, which provide the country with most of its electricity and heat, and the highlands are no exception.
The hot springs
, bubbling mud pots, and steaming vents in the area are all evidence of the geothermal activity that lies just below the surface. Visitors to Askja can experience this activity up close and personal by taking a dip in the Víti crater lake, which is heated to a comfortable temperature by the geothermal activity below.
Staying Near Askja
While there are no accommodations located directly at Askja, there are several options for those who want to spend the night in the area
. The nearby town of Egilsstaðir has several hotels and guesthouses, and there are also several campsites in the area
For those who want a truly unique experience, the Fagrafell Hostel
is an excellent choice. Located about 200km from Askja, near the town of Husavik the best whales watching spot
, this hostel is situated in a stunning natural setting and offers comfortable accommodations at an affordable price.