Not many trips can still be described as true, once-in-a-lifetime adventures but travellers who have signed up to visit the Fimmvörðuháls volcano on the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, which dramatically erupted in Iceland last Saturday, know they’re witnessing something special.
Volcanologists in Iceland have no idea whether the country’s latest tourist attraction will stop erupting tomorrow or in two years’ time. In the meantime, a host of holiday operators are making hay.
Budding volcanologists have the chance to get up close to the Fimmvörðuháls volcano’s crater, which lies around 75 miles east of the country’s capital in Reykjavik, and even fly around it.
These spectacular images show Mother Nature at its most raw as the volcano erupts under a cold night sky – the best time to view the spectacle. The eerie glow of lava is visible from miles as seismic activity along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge causes a powerful eruption.
After months of small earthquakes, lava has been forced to spurt out of a fissure a third of a mile long. The eruption, which began under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, caused nearly 600 people to be evacuated from their homes amid fears the seismic activity would trigger more volcanoes to erupt.
Geologists had been predicting an eruption for weeks after hundreds of small earthquakes in the region. But the actual site, one of Iceland’s most popular hiking trails, was in the Fimmvörðuháls area, which has had no volcanic activity for 10,000 years.
Katla is underneath the Myrdalsjokull glacier and a large eruption would likely cause massive flooding.The vast majority of evacuees have now been allowed to return home and roads have been reopened in the vicinity, although residents of 14 farms are still considered at risk and have been ordered to stay away.
The frequency and intensity of earthquakes in the area have also reduced as a result of a release of pressure caused by the eruption on March 20. Geologists are monitoring the situation, but the danger level appears to have receded.
Attracted by the spectacular scenery, the Fimmvörðuháls eruption has turned into a boon for the island’s struggling economy after hundreds of visitors risked their lives to catch a glimpse of lava flow.
HOW YOU CAN WITNESS THE ERUPTION
See it from above
Tour operator Discover the World is currently offering a Volcano Eruption Special Tour from £471 per person (excluding flights).
The trip includes a two-hour sightseeing flight over the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, return airport transfers from Keflavik to a hotel in Reykjavik, three nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation based on two people sharing (double/twin room) and return airport transfers from hotel to Reykjavik Domestic Airport. Icelandair.co.uk offer flights between the UK and Iceland from £208 return. To book, or for more information, visit www.discover-the-world.co.uk
Evening tours by coachIcelandair Holidays has a Volcano City Break for £479 per person. Flying from London Heathrow, Manchester or Glasgow with Icelandair, the trip includes three nights’ accommodation and a two-hour evening coach tour, departing from Reykjavik, to see the volcano. Passengers spend several hours at the volcano site before returning to Reykjavik. Visit www.icelandair.co.uk
Useful contacts for land toursThe following companies are also offering land tours around the volcano:
Reykjavik Excursions www.re.is
Iceland Excursions www.icelandexcursions.com
Volcano Tours www.volcanotours.is
Arctic Adventures www.adventures.is
Iceland Mountain Guides www.mountainguides.is
Useful contacts for sightseeing flightsEagle Air www.eagleair.is
Helicopters Iceland www.helicopter.is