✅ Thríhnúkagígur volcano is a unique natural phenomenon
✅ Enjoy an extremely close encounter with a volcano
✅ Breathtaking scenery
✅ Hiking from the parking lot meeting point to the Volcano
✅ Expert guides
✅ No particular skills or prior hiking experience needed
✅ Free pick-up/drop-off at your hotel in Reykjavik
✅ All safety gear, helmets, harnesses, etc.
✅ Small groups, plenty of guides = personal experience.
✅ Traditional Icelandic meat soup, coffee/tea and perhaps some sweets as well. Vegetarians will have alternatives
“I have never been anywhere underground that matches the grandeur and impact of this place.”
– The Sunday Times
Operation dates: From 15 May – 15 October
Tour departures: Several departures every day. The first tour at 8:00 and the last tour in the afternoon.
Duration: 5–6 hours (about 35-40 minutes inside the volcano).
Fitness level needed: Moderate (the difficulty is 2 out of a possible 5). No knowledge of hiking or climbing is required. It’s not an uphill walk, but the surface is partly uneven. This is NOT for those in no or limited physical shape.
Distance walked: Approximately 3 km (2 miles) each way. The walk usually takes around 45–50 minutes (depending on the condition of people in the group). A guide will be with you at all times during the walk.
Minimum age limit: 12 years (we can and have made exceptions on the age. Contact us if you want to convince us that your kid is up for the adventure).
Price: ISK 42.000.
Bring with you: Good (hiking) shoes, Outdoor clothing, a camera and a good spirit.
- Hasn’t erupted in 4000 years
- Total depth is 700FT (You can easily fit the Statue of Liberty in there)
- Total ground space 160×220 FT.
- It takes 6 minutes to lower all the way to the bottom of the crater
Thríhnúkagígur volcano is dormant – it last erupted over 4,000 years ago. There are no indications of it erupting again in the near future. The volcano’s name, mostly unpronounceable for anyone other than locals, would be directly translated as ‘Three Peaks Crater.’ The name comes from Árni B. Stefánsson, who was the first to explore the vault and who has pleaded the case for making it accessible for years. The three craters (one of which you will be descending into) are prominent landmarks, standing against the sky on the highland edge, about 20 km (13 miles) southeast of the capital area, within the protected area of Bláfjöll Country Park.
Simply put, Iceland is one giant geological hotspot. The country is one of the most active volcanic regions in the world, with eruptions occurring every 3–4 years on average. But why is Iceland so active? It´s mostly due to its location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the Eurasian and North American plates are moving apart – and therefore literally opening the earth’s crust. In the center of this ridge sits Thrihnukagigur volcano.The most north-easterly of the three peaks is a small cinder cone, standing about 35 m/100 ft higher than its surroundings. At the top of this cone is a funnel-shaped opening, about 4×4 m/12×12 ft wide, the entrance of a massive 120 m/400 ft deep, bottle-shaped volcanic vault, measuring 50×70 m/160×220 ft at the bottom. Volcanic passages continue down to the southwest, to a total depth of about 200 m/700 ft.
The beauty of the crater mostly consists in the various colorations found inside it and it’s enormous – and to some extent intimidating – size. To put it in context, the ground space is equivalent to almost three full-sized basketball courts planted next to each other, and the height is such that it would easily fit full sized Statue of Liberty into the chamber. So make no mistake – it’s huge!
One of a kind magma chamber
The magma chamber is often referred to as the heart of a volcano. It’s there that the liquid rock awaits to find a way through to the surface, causing a volcanic eruption. In most cases, the crater is usually closed after the eruption of cold, hard lava.
Thríhnúkagígur volcano is a rare exception to this, because the magma in the chamber seems to have disappeared. It’s believed that the magma solidified in the walls or merely retreated to the depths of the earth. Haraldur Sigurdsson, volcanoes, explains it like this:
“Thrihnukagigur is unique (…) It’s like somebody came and pulled the plug, and all the magma ran down out of it.”
The dormant Thríhnúkagígur volcano is a unique natural phenomenon. By setting up the necessary gear and equipment, we’ve created a tour that opens the door to a new world. It isn’t that complicated to experience it. All you need is the willingness to do a moderate 45–50-minute hike (to get to the crater) and the guts to descend 120 meters/400 feet to the bottom of the crater in an open cable lift.
The hike from the parking lot meeting point at Blue Mountains Country Park (Bláfjöll) to Thrihnukagigur volcano is an integral part of the tour, not only because of the breathtaking scenery but also because it’s one of only two options to get to the base of the volcano. The other option is to use a helicopter to get there. Helicopter tours are available, subject to availability.
The distance walked is approximately 3 km/2 miles each way, and it usually takes about 45-50 minutes for participants to complete the hike (depending on the group). After the descent into the volcano, guests walk back the same way.
The hike is classified as moderate in difficulty, roughly two on a scale of 5. Most of the way it is a straight walk with limited elevation. There is a hiking trail for the longest part of the walk, but the surface can be hilly and uneven. The last 10 minutes of the hike are the most challenging, with an elevation of around 100m/350ft.
What you should wear:
- Good shoes that provide ankle support, preferably hiking shoes.
- Warm outdoor clothing. Even if the sun is shining in Reykjavik, the weather can be totally different in the highlands. And it’s cold inside a volcano (about 4°C/37°F)!
It’s important for tour guests to realize that the weather is very unpredictable, and you should bring warm, rainproof clothes with you, even if the weather in Reykjavik is nice and the forecast looks good. We highly recommend that you check the weather forecast the day before or the morning of your tour departure.
You don’t need any particular skills or prior hiking experience to do the hike, but you need to be in decent shape. If you are suffering from any of the following, then the tour is probably not for you:
- If you have problems with ankles, knees or any part of the feet.
- Problems with the back and/or hips. There is a lot of pressure on the back when walking on such an uneven surface.
- Obesity or being severely overweight.
- Any other physical problem that might affect your ability to complete a combined walk of almost two hours within half a day.
One guide minimum is with you at all times, and there are a few (short) stops made on the way. We have a strict schedule to follow, and we expect tour guests to follow the walking speed set by the tour guide.
The tour gives you the chance to enjoy many of the most amazing things Iceland has to offer – a great mixture of nature, history, and adventure.
The whole program takes about 5–6 hours to complete, in which time you will:
- Take a very scenic hike across a lava field, often compared to the surface of the moon.
- Get to know a bunch of stuff about volcanoes and volcanic activity in Iceland.
- Enjoy a fantastic view of Reykjavik and the Reykjanes peninsula.
- Get your adrenaline pumping, without a doubt.
- Have a very, very, very close encounter with a volcano.
- Taste a delicious traditional Icelandic meat soup. In fact, you can have as much of it as you want.
- Hopefully, leave with a life-long memory of a unique and distinct Icelandic travel experience.
The best option to join the tour is simply to take advantage of our complimentary hotel pick up service by selecting your hotel or guest house from the drop down list when booking your trip. We urge you to be ready outside the lobby 30 minutes before the tour departure time.
Alternatively, you can make your way to the Gray Line Bus Terminal in Holtagarðar, 104 Reykjavik (See map). Please arrive at least 30 minutes before the tour departure time stated on the voucher and introduce yourself at the Sales Desk for check in.
We highly recommend to use the included hotel pickup and leave your car in Reykjavik if you have one.
The drive from Reykjavik to Bláfjöll mountain cabin takes about 30 minutes. A guide will meet and greet you at the cabin, before leading the way during the hike across the lava field. The hike will be entertaining and enlightening.
If you have your own car, then make sure you arrive at the parking lot outside the cabin no later than 20 minutes past the scheduled departure time (so that those who do the scheduled transfer and those who have their car arrive at the same time).
This means that if you have booked a spot in the 10:00 AM tour and plan to arrive at the Blue Mountains meeting point in your own car, then you should be there at 10:20 at the latest. That’s because 10:00 AM marks the time that the bus departs from Reykjavik and it takes 30 minutes to drive to the meeting point.
The hike usually takes about 45–50 minutes to complete. It’s rated as moderate in difficulty – it’s not uphill, and although you will be walking on a hiking trail, for the most part, the surface can be hilly and uneven. This is not a hike for those who have problems with ankles, knees, hips and/or the back. It can be demanding for those who are not used to hiking or doing longer walks.
After arriving on location, your group will be informed about all safety procedures and how to behave in the area and when inside the volcano. You will be wearing a helmet and harness. The group is then split into a smaller party of 6–7 people. The trip down or up takes about 6 minutes and the first ones to go down will usually be the first ones to go up.
You will spend about half an hour on the ground of the volcano, at which time you can take as many photos as you want. However, you are not allowed to take rocks and stones from the crater. Expert guides will be with you at all times, in the cable lift and on the ground in the magma chamber.
When you are back on the surface, while waiting for everyone in the group to complete the volcano visit, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Icelandic meat soup, hot coffee/tea/chocolate and perhaps some sweets. Don’t be surprised when we ask you to complete a super quick survey – We are always looking for ways to improve the tour and spread the word.
Finally, you will walk back over the lava field. And again, you will be accompanied by a guide at all times. The coach will be waiting for you in the parking lot, ready to drive you back to Reykjavik.
How it’s done
We have an innovative method to lower visitors down through the crater’s opening (roughly 4×4 m/12×12 ft width). We employ a system that’s normally used to carry window cleaners on the side of skyscrapers – an open elevator system.
A basket that holds 6–7 people is connected to a crane that has been placed vertically over the crater opening (see photo above, click on it for a larger version). Massive cable wires move the basket up and down the bottle-shaped vault.
The 120 m/400 ft journey takes about 6 minutes to complete, giving you an idea of how slowly you will be moving down into the crater. The slow speed is to ensure the safety of passengers, but also to provide the opportunity to enjoy the amazing scenery.
Everybody that goes down into the crater will be placed in a harness and required to use a helmet (provided on-site) at all times. Several guides, all highly trained and experienced mountain guides and cave explorers, will be with you at all times. One expert guide will be placed at the top of the crater, one will control and be in the basket with passengers, and one will be located on the ground of the magma chamber.
All equipment and processes have been tested extensively and approved by the administration of Occupational Safety and Health in Iceland.
Base camp is located at the base of the volcano. This is where guests are geared up and served some delicious Icelandic meat soup (after completing the hike). Refreshments (water, coffee, tea) are also included in the tour and are served at base camp.
The facilities at base camp are modern, made from three work sheds generally used for construction workers. And, just like everything else on location that’s too heavy for personal transport, the sheds were brought in by helicopter.
We’ve done our best to make the place warm and cozy, as it’s essential to be able to provide shelter for visitors when the weather is not in our favor. We offer most of the necessities required for a day in the wilderness, including toilet facilities and even a wireless internet connection.
Base camp is also the only place on earth where you can buy InsideTheVolcano products and souvenirs.
1) Arriving from Reykjavik with included transfer:
The scheduled tour includes pick-up and drop-off from/to your hotel in Reykjavik. We highly recommend this option!
If you have a rental car or if you do not want to use the included hotel pickup, you can go directly to the Gray Line central bus station in Reykjavik. The bus departs from there at the scheduled departure time. Please be there at least 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
2) Arriving on your own from Reykjavik:
The GPS coordinates for the meeting point at Blue Mountains parking lot are: N 63.98502 (Latitude), W -21.649949 (Longitude). Please also read the directions below the map to be safe!
View Thrihnukagigur Volcano – Inside the Volcano in a larger map
From your location in Reykjavik, find your way to Ring Road route nr. 1 (purple line), through Sudurlandsvegur road. Drive straight for about 15 minutes and then turn right on to Blafjallavegur road nr. 417 (dark green). Drive straight down this path until it changes into road nr. 407. Don’t make a right turn to the gravel part of road 417 – continue straight on the road 407 towards the ski resort.
The roads are paved all the way from Reykjavik to the meeting point and suitable for all vehicles (even small cars like Toyota Yaris or similar). If you are at any point driving on a gravel road, then you are on the wrong track.
After driving for around 10 minutes after turning off Route 1, you’ll see a sign that says ‘Inside The Volcano – Parking 300 meters’. Drive that distance, and you will notice a parking lot that also holds a sign marked ‘Inside the Volcano.’ Please note that there are other parking lots in the area, but the correct one is where you´ll see our sign (and probably other cars as well!)
The tours depart from Reykjavik at 08:00, 09:00, 10:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00 and 16:00, and the walk over the lava field starts around 30 minutes past the hour. So, you should be on the parking lot 20 minutes past the departure hour you have booked. Do not be late! Wait for a guide, who will escort you and other passengers on this tour during the hike from the parking lot to the volcano.
3) Arriving on your own from the Golden Circle area/South Coast:
From your location in the southwest corner of Iceland, find your way to the town of Selfoss and/or Hveragerdi. From either of those towns, follow Ring Road route nr. 1 westbound (Light green) through Sudurlandsvegur road. Drive straight for about 15 minutes from Hveragerdi village, until you can take a left turn onto Blafjallavegur road. Follow the directions as stated above.
View Thrihnukagigur Volcano – Inside the Volcano in a larger map