Private Askja Tour from Lake Myvatn
In this Super Jeep Tour we will travel to the Icelandic highlands and visit two iconic attractions, one old and one new; the Askja Caldera which has been a part of Icelandic landscape since the first settlers remember, and the recently formed Holuhraun lava field, formed in the 2014 fissure eruption just north of Vatnajökull.
We start our tour from Lake Mývatn, North Iceland and head for the highlands. There the wilderness, wide spaces, geology and natural freshwater springs seem as from another planet. No wonder Neil Armstrong and his crewmembers on the Apollo Program came to this place to practice for their lunar landing.
On our way up to the highlands our first stop is right after we cross the first unbridged river of the day, Grafarlandaá, and enjoy the waterfall and the amazing scenery we have just started to glimpse as we enter the highlands. Then we cross Lindá, the biggest unbridged river on the way to Askja.
When we reach Herðubreiðarlindir, we stop there for a while to stretch our legs, admire the beauty of this oasis in the middle of the desert sands of Ódáðahraun, see the small house where Fjalla Eyvindur, an outlaw, lived in for a whole winter. The Icelandic National Mountain, Herðubreið (1682m) makes this place the wonder that it is, this beautifully shaped mountain is often referred to as the queen of Icelandic mountains.
We drive on into the highlands until we reach Dreki, the campsite, where we will enjoy our lunch before we go for our highlight of the day, the Askja caldera and its many geological wonders.
The hiking in Askja Caldera to Víti explosion crater is 2,5 km and takes around 35 to 45 minutes one way, the difficulty level is set at easy to moderate, depending on snow levels and weather conditions. Once at Víti explosion crater we will take our time and absorb the incredible atmosphere of the Askja Caldera.
After our hiking tour in Askja we go back to Dreki and from there we go and visit Iceland's most recent volcano Holuhraun. Holuhraun is the site of a volcanic eruption which began on 29 August 2014 and produced a lava field of more than 85 km2 and 1.4 km3, the largest in Iceland since 1783.
Holuhraun lava field sits on the floodplains between Vatnajökull Glacier and the Askja caldera Mountain Range. The rough, untouched and still-cooling lava field is Iceland’s youngest lava field and we will have an opportunity to explore this amazing world.
On our way back to Lake Myvatn, we make sure to stop as often as we need and maybe stop at two sightseeing spots not many know of.
After a long day of sightseeing and driving around on highland trails, it is very nice to come back to civilisation, we recommend a nice meal at a local restaurant and a relaxing dip into the Nature Baths.
- Available: All year
- Duration: 12 hours
- Activities: Hiking, Super Jeep, Sightseeing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum age: 3 years old
- Languages: English, Icelandic, Danish
Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Iceland and the third largest glacier in Europe, covering 8% of the island's landmass. Vatnajökull Glacier can be found in the south west of Iceland and is a popular spot for glacier hiking and ice caving tours.
Facts about Vatnajökull
- Surface: 8,100 km2
- Average thickness: 400 - 600 m
- Maximum thickness: 1,000 m
- Height: 1,400 - 1,800 m
- Highest peak: 2,200 m (Hvannadalshnjúkur)
Information about Vatnajökull
Vatnajökull Glacier belongs to the greater Vatnajökull National Park, which encompasses the former national parks Skaftafell, in the southwest, and Jökulsárgljúfur, in the north. Vatnajökull's highest summit is Hvannadalshnjúkur which rests on top of a stratovolcano known as Öræfajökull.
Underneath the glacier rests some of the most active volcanoes in the country, the most notable being Grímsvötn, Öræfajökull and Bárðabunga. Volcanic activity in the region has occurred on and off throughout the centuries, and many geologists believe that such a period is overdue for immediate future. If their calculations are correct, it would mean significant volcanic activity for Vatnajökull over the scope of the next half century.
The glacier boasts of over 30 outlet glaciers, which are channels of ice that flow out of ice caps but remain constrained on the sides of the valley. The major outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull include Dyngjujökull in the north, Breiðamerkurjökull and Skeiðarárjökull to the south. To the west, one can find the outlet glaciers Síðujökull, Skaftárjökull and Tungnaárjökull.
Glaciers are in constant motion underneath their weight; as they form over the centuries, the accession of snow exceeds its melting, creating a constant "push" on the ice cap. Each year, due to the melting ice water, new ice caves form that disappear come spring.
- Click here for a selection of Ice Cave tours
Numerous rivers run out of Vatnajökull, making up some of the greatest glacial rivers in Iceland:
- Tungnaá (west)
- Köldukvísl (west)
- Þjórsá (west)
- Jökulsá á Fjöllum (north)
- Skjálfandafljót (north)
- Jökulsá á Brú (north east)
- Jökulsá í Fljótsdal (north east)
- Jökulsá í Lóni (south)
- Hornafjarðarfljót (south)
- Jökulsá á Breiðamerkursandi (south)
- Skeiðará (south)
- Núpsvötn (south)
- Hverfisfljót (south)
- Skaftá (south)
Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park, in its current state, was established in June 2008. The park now covers an area of 14.141 km2, making it the second largest national park in Europe. Vatnajökull National Park has 14% coverage over the whole island of Iceland.
Rivers divide the highland plateau to the north of the park; an area that sees massive glacial flows in the summertime. The volcanic table mountain Herðubreið towers over this particular region, along with volcanoes Askja, Snæfell and Kverkfjöll.
The canyon Jökulsárgljúfur was carved out by glacial floods centuries ago. At the upper end of the canyon, you'll find Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Further north, the horseshoe-shaped canyon Ásbyrgi is believed to have formed when Óðinn's horse, Sleipnir, stepped his foot down from the heavens.
East around Snæfell, one can find wetlands and ranges, home to roaming herds of wild reindeer and abundant birdlife. Steep mountain ridges make up the south side of Vatnajökull, where outlet glaciers crawl in between the ridges onto the lowlands. The sandy plains of Skeiðarársandur also lie to the south as they reach out to sea. The glacial river Skeiðará runs through this vast desert.
One of Iceland's most visited landmarks is the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which sits at the head of outlet glacier Breiðamerkurjökull. There, large icebergs that have broken off the glacier gather to float in the lake before ending up in the Atlantic Ocean, or on the nearby Diamond Beach.
- Click here for a selection of Jökulsárlón tours
The Future of Vatnajökull
The volume of Vatnajökull reached its peak around 1930 but has since been in a steady process of decline. Because of rising levels of global temperature, approximately over the last 15 years, Vatnajökull has on average lost about a metre of its thickness annually.
If temperature levels continue to rise, the glacier could be all but gone nearing the end of the next century, leaving only small ice caps on top of the highest mountain summits.
Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón in Popular Culture
- HBO's Game of Thrones (season 2, 2012)
- Batman Begins (2005)
- James Bond: Die Another Day (2002)
- James Bond: A View to a Kill (1985)
Askja volcano is a vast caldera in a remote part of the easterly central highlands of Iceland, located in the Dyngjufjoll mountains.
These mountains rise to 1510 m (4954 ft). There is a lake in the middle of the caldera, called Oskjuvatn. It is Iceland's second-deepest lake. Askja had a massive eruption in 1875 that destroyed many farms in Northeast Iceland. Its latest eruption was in 1961.
Viti (meaning ‘Hell’!) is an explosion crater on the northeast shore of Oskjuvatn.
The Viti crater is around 150 meters in diameter and contains a geothermal lake of mineral-rich, sulphurous, opaque blue water.
Odadahraun is the most extensive lava field in Iceland, with a total area of around 4-6000 km&³2; (definitions vary), consisting of relatively young and rough lava. It lies north of Vatnajokull and at its northern border are mountains Blafjall and Sellandafjall. Its boundaries are further marked by the great glacier rivers Skjalfandafljot to the west and Jokulsa a Fjollum to the east.
The area is dry and there is little as no vegetation. Sand storms there can also be very strong. The area is considered a part of Vatnajokull National Park. The only road through Odadahraun that is accessible by car is Gaesavatnaleid.
The area is strong in volcanic activity, the most famous volcano being Askja in the Dyngjufjoll mountain range. Further north of Odadahraun more lava stretches all the way to the sea with some eruptions having occurred in the sea. Here you find the volcano Krafla and the Gjastykki geothermal area. The impressive mountains Trolladyngja and Herdubreid are found further south.
Herdubreid is the highest mountain of the area, a tuya mountain, 1682 meters high. Near Herdubreid is the oasis Herdubreidarlindir, a popular stop for travelesr that offers a camping ground and several hiking trails.
This area, along with the Sprengisandur sand field further west, is known for hosting outlaws in former times, the most famous being Fjalla-Eyvindur and his wife Halla and their fellow outlaw Arnes. Their story, already legendary, was dramatized in playwright Johann Sigurjonsson’s play Fjalla-Eyvindur, later made into the Swedish film Bjerg-Ejvind och hans hustru (e. title ‘The Otlaw and his Wife') by Victor Sjöström.
Herdubreidarlindir is an oasis situated near Herdubreid mountain north of Vatnajokull glacier.
The area features a campground and hiking trails and is popular with travellers. More than 72 vascular plant species may be found there. Herdubreid also has rich birdlife which includes pink footed geese, harlequin ducks, Arctic terns, swans and red-necked phalaropes.
Outlaws would seek refuge in this area in former times, the best known being Fjalla-Eyvindur.
Drekagil is a beautiful canyon in the south part of volcanic mountain range Dyngjufjoll, in the south of Odadahraun lava field.
By the gully is Dreki, the mountain hut of the Akureyri Travel Association. There are two cabins, accommodating 60 people in all.
Oskjuvatn is a large crater lake in the Askja caldera in the Dyngjufjoll mountains, north of Vatnajokull glacier. Oskjuvatn is Iceland's second-deepest lake.
The depth of Oskjuvatn is 217 m (712 feet) and it has a surface area of 11 km&³2;. The lake was formed in the volcanic eruption of 1875, at the same time as the Viti crater. Askja's latest eruption was in 1962.
Dyngjufjoll is a volcanic mountain range in the lava field Odadahraun in the Icelandic highlands.
The Askja caldera is situated in this mountain range. The Dyngjufjoll mountain range is roughly located between the glacier rivers Skjalfandafljot to the West and Jokulsa a Fjollum to the east and 15 km north of Vatnajokull.
Jokulsa a Fjollum is a glacier river at the east of the vast Odadahraun lava field in the north-east of Iceland. It is Iceland's second largest river. Its source is Vatnajokull glacier.
The river runs through the waterfalls Selfoss, Hafragilsfoss and Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall and through the canyon at Jokulsargljufur National Park. The horse shoe-shaped Asbyrgi canyon was formed by a massive waterflood (glacier burst), due to eruptions in Vatnajokull.
The stratovolcano Bardarbunga is Iceland’s second-highest mountain and lies under the icecap of Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier.
Bardarbunga lies on the glacier’s northwest side and rises to a height of 2009 meters. It is Iceland’s largest volcanic system, around 200 km long and up to 25 km wide. Bardarbunga’s caldera measures 70 km2, up to 700 m deep and 10 km wide. The base is on average about 1100 meters but the surrounding edges may rise as high as 1850 meters.
The volcano has erupted every 250-600 years. The largest eruption on earth occurred there some 8500 years ago. In more recent times, there have been several subglacal eruptions, the last one occurring in 1864. Some connection may also exist between activity in Bardarbunga and the Grimsvotn volcano.
Frequent earthquakes indicate that Bardarbunga might erupt again and it is being closely monitored by The Icelandic Meteorological Office.
Starting time : 08:00
Pickup and dropoff, super jeep, local expert driver/guide and bottled water.
What to bring:
Sturdy shoes for walking/hiking, clothing and outerwear suitable for rainy or chilly weather. Sunglasses. Don´t forget your camera!
We recommend bringing some lunch with you, we offer lunch packs for our tours as extra.
Good to know:
Your safety is our first priority so itinerary might be altered due to bad weather or road conditions, the duration of the tour might extend or we might have to cancel the tour if weather or other conditions are not in our favor.