The volcano tour!! The cherry on top of my amazing Icelandic cake. On my last day, I decided to go big and then go home, so I went on the Into the Volcano tour.Iceland is the only country in the world that has a tour like this. The Thrihnukagigur (three-nukka-geegur, which means three-peaks-crater) volcano, is the only dormant volcano in the world that can be toured from the inside (or so I keep reading).
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. Compared to every other tour I did in Iceland, this was pretty expensive at $375. Most of the reviews were glowing and half the reviews used a very interesting phrase that kind of got to me – ‘Once in a lifetime opportunity’ (it’s a phrase my Dad would use). So, I decided to go for it and signed up for the tour. This is a bit of a deviation from my usual concept of budget traveling – which is also the theme of this blog, so apologies for that.
I was not disappointed! I was picked up from my hostel at the mentioned time and taken to the starting point. All transportation for this tour is provided unless you opt to self-drive to the meeting point. From the meeting point, the tour starts off with an easy 3 KM hike across a Lava field, at a reasonable pace. The day was beautiful, warm and bright, perfect for a hike. There was one guide at the front and one at the back, so the group eventually split into two according to people’s pace. Moderate fitness with the ability to do a 6 KM round-trip hike and good shoes are all that you will need for this part.
Once we reached the volcano, we stopped at the base camp to gear up in protective wear (all provided by the tour operator) and to be briefed on some safety instructions and on the volcano’s geology. And then we finally entered the area through a make-shift elevator. For people with vertigo or acrophobia, this might be a little uncomfortable.
The inside is lit with some artificial lighting, but make sure you have a camera can take pictures with minimal light. I took my new Canon EOS M3 to Iceland. It’s a mirrorless camera (my first!), comparatively much lighter in weight than regular DSLRs, and took great pictures! I actually bought it a day before my departure, as a last-minute sleep-deprived whim. #noregrets
The inside of the volcano is beautiful and colorful and shows the path the magma took to get outside the tunnel. It was crazy to imagine that happening while I was seeing the after-effects.
After the tour, we went back to the base camp and waiting while the rest of the group finished their tour (we were split into two at the beginning), and warmed up on soup provided. The day was quite warm but it gets pretty chilly inside the volcano! The people at the base camp were telling us how it was snowing the previous day and they had to cancel a tour because of it. Iceland is not big on subtle weather transitions. After everyone’s done with their tour, we hiked back the 3 KM to the starting point.
For anyone inspired to do the tour, it is only available in the Summer (late May – late August). I got lucky and made it in their first week back. All tours are handled by one company – Inside the Volcano. You can buy the ticket from different websites – extremeiceland or Guide to Iceland – but they all get routed to the same tour operator on the ground. There are about 15 slots per tour and about 6-8 tours a day that get filled up VERY quick. So, planning and booking ahead of time (2-3 months) is very important.
Hope that was helpful! Please feel free to question or comment below. What ‘Once in a Lifetime’ places have you been to?