The Burning Mountains of Iceland

“There are depths of thousands of miles that are hidden from our inquiry. The only tidings we have from those unfathomable regions are by means of volcanoes, those burning mountains that seem to discharge their material from the lowest abyss of the earth,” said the Anglo-Irish writer and playwright, Oliver Goldsmith.

By the time you learn to pronounce names of Iceland’s notorious volcanoes like the Eyjafjallajökull and the Theistareykjarbunga, somewhere on the island another volcano would have erupted. Located on the mid Atlantic ridge between the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia, which are moving apart, Iceland has an extraterrestrial looking landscape, making it a favourite playground of astronauts like Armstrong and Aldrin, who trained here before venturing to the moon. It also allures lovers of geology, Hollywood sci-fi film makers and those into spirituality!

Flight over Fire

Take a helicopter tour over a spectacular lunar landscape teeming with volcanoes, vast lava fields and rocky coastlines. One can fly over the infamous Eyjafjallajökull that caused havoc in Europe’s air space with ash emissions and head down its glacial tongue Gígjökull that was split in half by hot melting lava and land on a volcanic crater on Fimmvörðuháls . One can also land on surreal glacial landscape and and connect with the silence of the raw power that has sculpted Iceland.


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Test in a Tube

To pass the test of ultimate adventure, hike deep into ‘lava tube caves’ like Raufarholshellir and Gjabakkahellir formed in natural underground channels that have drained out lava post explosion. Inside the caves, feast your eyes on spectacular lava falls, natural sculptures, hanging icicles, stalactites and stalagmites.

Fifty Shades of Blue

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Tease your fantasies with delicious shades of blue in the snorkelling haven Silfra, a narrow volcanic fissure in the lava field located between the continental plates of America and Europe. The mixture of groundwater and glacial water fed by the Langjökull glacier makes it one of the clearest water bodies in the world with visibility up to 70 – 80 metres!

Trek up to magnificent crater lakes like the Öskjuvatn and watch geysers like Geysir spout water up to 100 feet!

Follow the Viking tradition of taking a dip in volcanically heated pools. Soak yourself in natural geo thermal crater pools like Viti at Aksja caldera or closer to Reykjavik, enjoy a health spa in the milky blue waters of the Blue Lagoon that is actually an outflow of a geo thermal plant. Say goodbye to Botox as these mineral rich waters help cure wrinkles and skin problems.

The Chamber of Secrets


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Less than an hour from Reykjavik, one can descend 400 feet down into the crater of a real volcano, using an open elevator and accompanied by trained cave explorers.

Usually a crater is plugged by solidified lava after an eruption, but Thrihnukagigur volcano, with ground size equal to three basketball courts, is an exception as the magma has mysteriously disappeared into the depths of the earth, leaving the magma chamber open for exploration. Its colourful rocks and underground caves are said to be home to huldufólk or mythical ‘hidden people’.

Energise Your Chakras at the Heart of the Earth

A two hour drive from Reykjavik towards west Iceland, takes you to an active volcano, Snæfellsjökull, whichwas the inspiration behind Jules Verne’s epic book, ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’. It is perhaps no coincidence that mystics also consider this to be the ‘Heart Chakra’ of the planet. The glacier here is noted to be one of the seven greatest energy centres of the earth, and has been attributed various mysterious powers. People from around the world come here to absorb the energy radiation and meditate. Explore the surreal glacier on the volcano on snow mobiles and snow cats.

Black Beauty

Highly sought after by film makers to provide exotic backdrops for science fiction films, the black sand lava beaches like Vik set against cobalt blue waters are an exotic twist to your regular white beach experience. The finger shaped cliffs here are home to several seabirds, including puffins.

A volcano, like man has many emotions. It is almost as if the crux of all human emotions is condensed in these mysterious inverted cones. A pulsating heart capable of unpredictable explosions from bottomless depths of uncontrollable passion and sudden withdrawals, tears of magma and sounds of anger and longing. Romance a volcano once, because no other lover can pull the cork off your bottle of unexplored dreams and unearth your repressed desires as well as a sublime, burning mountain can.

A version of this article appeared in DNA at this link.



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