Off the end of Route F88 in the heart of the dismal Ódáðahraun, Askja is an 8km-wide volcanic depression, formed from a collapsed subterranean magma chamber. In the centre is a 217m-deep lake, Öskuvatn, its steel-grey waters doing nothing to brighten the setting among a colossal lava field which drained out of Askja in prehistoric times. More recent events have included the appalling eruption at Viti in 1875, and another big outflow of lava in the 1960s, which you traverse en route to the caldera’s rim; and, in 2014, a new event at Holuhraun, off to the south.
How to get to Askja
Due to Iceland’s rising popularity, there are many tours and packages you can take part in that include a visit to Askja. Often with a knowledgeable guide should you wish to learn more about the landscapes and history. However, if you wish to travel independently then have no worries as the ring road in Iceland makes travel fairly easy.
Road to Askja. Iceland © iStock / Neurobite
If driving, a 4×4 is recommended due to the several water crossings and rough terrain in certain areas. Drive along the Ring Road, along road 1 past Akureyri and Myvatn until you reach road 901. From 901, take a right onto f905 and drive for around 21 km until you reach f910. From f910 drive about 62 km until the very end of the road where you will see the shelter and camping grounds.
Viti Volcano and Oskjuvatn Lake
In amongst the unspoiled scenery of Askja is Viti Volcano, a volcano with a milky blue lagoon sitting in its crater. You can swim in the crater, but be sure to check with the ranger beforehand as it is sometimes restricted due to dangerous muddy slopes. The remote location means peace and quiet on the 45-minute hike to and from, which is relatively flat and easy-going. This particular trial was used in the 1960s during the Apollo Program to train astronauts for the similar terrain to the moon.
Oskjuvatn Lake is the deepest lake in Iceland and sits in perfect harmony next to Viti.
Oskjuvatn and Viti, Askja © iStock / Fyletto
Featured Image © Unsplash / David Cantelli