Seeing the volcano is the experience of a lifetime. I highly encourage everyone who has the health, to go and visit this incredible natural phenomenon and spend some time in awe of nature.
That said, there are some important things to keep in mind. Here’s some advice.
- Bring a COVID mask. You may encounter hundreds or even thousands of people on your hike. In some places, the trail is quite narrow and it can be difficult or impossible to maintain a 2m distance.
- Dress appropriately for the weather forecast, and be prepared if weather worsens before you’ve made it back. Layers are always recommended, so you can add or remove clothing as needed. Suggested clothing (really for any hike in Iceland):
- Base layer in a moisture-wicking material such as light wool or polypropylene (not cotton!)
- Warm layer over this, such as fleece or a wool sweater.
- A waterproof outer layer, because the weather can be unpredictable and you don’t want to end up cold and wet
- A warm hat and mittens are always recommended.
- If the forecast is for cold or windy weather, or if you will be out for a long time, or plan to stay after sunset, bring an extra layer just in case.
- Wear proper hiking boots if you have them. The trail can be quite muddy and slippery in some places, and in parts is quite uneven, especially close to the volcano. If you don’t have hiking boots, wear at least good sneakers or running shoes. If it’s been snowing, it’s a good idea to bring micro spikes for better traction.
- Bring water and a snack. A small backpack is ideal to allow you to carry these items, as well as stashing extra layers, mittens, etc if you get too warm on your hike.
- The hiking distance from the car park will probably end up being approximately 5-5,5 km into the valley, each way. Most of the trail is quite good and fairly flat, but there are two very steep sections. If you hike fast and without stopping, it might take as little as 1 hour. If you hike at a more leisurely pace, it may take up to two hours each way. If you spend an hour at the eruption site, you might be outside for 5 hours or more.
- If you wish to see the volcano at sunset or in the dark, make sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp.
- If you wish to photograph the volcano, a polarizing filter is a good idea. You won’t be extremely close to the lava flows, so a medium telephoto zoom lens (focal length approximately 100-200) is a good choice. A longer lens could be a good choice also, but then you’ll probably want a tripod and need to carry it all the way. Your choice, of course.
- To get there, it’s about a 45 minute drive from Eyrarbakki along the road Suðurstandavegur. Check the website road.is for current conditions and closures. It is generally a good road, but winter conditions can make driving difficult sometimes. Also, there was some damage during recent earthquakes, so sometimes the road is closed.
- The road is one-way from Grindavík to Ísólfsskáli, but you can get to within approximately 1,5 km from the trailhead. There are fewer cars coming from this direction, so you should be able to find a good parking spot. If you are coming from Reykjavík, you can perhaps get a bit closer to the trailhead, but because of the number of people visiting the site every day, you may not be able to get any closer. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way, as it adds an extra 45 minutes or so of driving. From the car park, you can either start on the trail that begins near where you’ve parked, or you can walk along the road until the start of the trail.
- Have fun!