Iceland’s tallest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur (2,110 metres), is also located in the northwest ridge of one of Iceland’s deadliest volcanoes, Öræfajökull. Öræfajökull has has been lying dormant underneath the southernmost part of Vatnajökull glacier for 250 years.
Early in 2018, the volcano has been showing signs of activity with magma movements setting off alarms. The glacier actually has several outlet glaciers that empty out into two popular glacier lagoons full of large floating icebergs.
The name Öræfajökull comes from the region that surrounds it, which is called Öræfi, meaning either “uninhabitable wasteland” or “land which lacks an harbour”. This name is rather new, however, because when the settlers first arrived it was known as Hnappafellsjökull. When it erupted in 1362 in a cataclysmic steam-blast eruption, it caused many fatalities and destruction to farmlands, essentially laying the whole region in ruins and making it uninhabitable for many decades following. It is believed to have been the largest eruption of its kind in the last 1,000 years. The type of eruption that caused so much damage, a steam-blast, creates an enormous quantity of volcanic material being catapulted into the air, which then falls over the entire surroundings, causing much widespread devastation.
As volcanoes have their own cycles and rhythms, it is believed that Öræfajökull is due to erupt every few hundred years or so. The last eruption, which did not cause a significant amount of destruction, was in 1727, making another eruption very timely. In 2016, geologists first began noticing an increase in seismic activity in the area with several pockets of earthquakes and tremors, as well as an increase in geothermal activity. All of these events generally imply that magma is pushing itself up to the top layers of the earth’s crust, a slow awakening from a long dormant sleep.
An eruption at Öræfajökull could have dire consequences as Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations are located in the surrounding region of the volcano, namely Skaftafell, a visitor’s center and popular hiking base point as well as Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which an estimated one million people visit annually. Because the volcano has not been monitored in detail throughout its entire geologic life span, geologists are tentative to pinpoint exactly when it could erupt.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.