Special places (1): Askja

The Askja Caldera

I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at some special places in Iceland. Well I have to say, actually the whole of Iceland is special. You can expect another surprise around every bend in the road. And every season is different. I can guide a trip 4 times in a row in the summer and visit the same place 4 times and yet it is always different. That is also the beauty of Iceland, it changes constantly, but is always beautiful.

On the way to the Askja

In this blog I take you to Askja, one of the places we visit on our beautiful and varied inland journey. After we have bivouacked in the beautiful Myvatn, we drive a bit on the ring road No. 1 and after about an hour we turn off for the exactly 100 kilometer long road to the Askja. The road named F88 takes you inland through sandy deserts and lava fields.

After an exciting river crossing we arrive about halfway to what the Icelanders call the ‘Queen of the Icelandic Mountains’; the Herðubreið. A more than imposing table mountain of almost 1700 meters high. The stop there, where there is also a primitive campsite and toilet facilities, is a true oasis. Many sagas have been written about this area, about criminals who hid here and were able to survive thanks to, among other things, the spring water that is here. A beautiful place, where you can also enjoy nice walks.

As we continue our journey we pass an impressive waterfall in the jökulsá á fjöllum river. This glacial river is one of the longest rivers in Iceland and is home to the famous Dettifoss waterfall much further north! The last kilometers go past red-colored mountains, over loose dirt roads and a beautiful lava field.

And then we see the Drekagil campsite, almost in the middle of nowhere.


There is a beautiful gorge near the campsite (the Drekagil or Dragon Gorge) where a beautiful waterfall is hidden at the end, worth it!

You can now do the last 12 kilometers to Askja by car, from the parking lot at the end of the road it is about half an hour’s walk. This is often, especially in early summer, often due to snow fields, so remember your footwear! Or you can take a beautiful but quite challenging walk there from the campsite. There and back is about 20 kilometers with about 1100 meters of elevation gain, absolutely worth it as you can see below, but as said; spicy. Think about the weather conditions in terms of clothing and food and drinks and don’t encounter any unpleasant surprises if you undertake this. Let the campsite know that you are going for a walk, better safe than sorry!

The Askja Caldera

Askja is the volcano, a Caldera is a bowl-shaped crater – created about 150 years ago by a huge eruption. This resulted in the deepest lake in Iceland, the deepest part of the so-called Öskjuvatn is about 220 meters deep. Next to it is the Viti, an explosion crater filled with water heated by geothermal energy and full of minerals. You can even swim in here! A tip from me: be sure to take off your bathing suit, bikini or swimming trunks at the campsite afterwards. I let it dry to rinse it out later, but the, so to speak, ‘less pleasant smell’ of the water never left. The crater is very steep and you have to climb back up through the clay, but the experience certainly more than makes up for that.

I think the photos below are a good idea of what to expect, in recent years I have experienced all weather conditions. From lovely sunshine and pleasant temperatures in July and August to snow at the end of June and beginning of September.

In any case, a very special place, you feel like you are on another planet!

Askja, Viti and Caldera

New blogs will follow in the near future about other beautiful places in Iceland! Want to read more blogs? Then consider the hike over the Laugavegur – described in 3 parts. Or about whale watching in Iceland, where you should be and where you should not be. And one of our travelers wrote a nice piece about her journey through the interior about the beautiful Kerlingarflöll on Mountainreporters, the read and the photos are more than worth it.

If you want to go to the East Fjords, read the blog about Borgarfjörður Eystri here!

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