volc 3By Uaiecs, via Wikimedia Commons

Simply put, Iceland is one big, beautiful geological hotspot. And you don’t have venture very far to find yourself at the very heart of all the geological action.

In fact, just a 30-minute drive from Reykjavik, you’ll discover the world’s only drop-in volcano. Yes, the mighty Thrihnukagigur volcano is the only place on the face of the earth where you can enter a magma chamber.

For the adventure traveller, this is hot stuff.

Located half way between Iceland’s capital and its famous ‘Golden Circle’ area – a popular tourist route that takes in Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and geothermally active valley of Haukadalur – Thrihnukagigur is a dormant volcano that last erupted 4,000 years ago.

volc 2By Uaiecs, via Wikimedia Commons

Thankfully for adventure travellers, there are no indications of it erupting again in the near future.

The volcano’s three craters – one of which adventurers descend into – are iconic local landmarks, standing against the sky on the highland edge, about 20 kilometres southeast of the capital, within the stunning Bláfjöll Country Park.

Make no mistake: Thrihnukagigur is a huge, mighty beast. The ground space is equivalent to almost three full-sized basketball courts planted next to each other, and the height is such that it a full sized Statue of Liberty could easily fit into the chamber.

The heart of Thrihnukagigur volcano – the magma chamber – is unique. The magma chamber is where liquid rock tries to find a way to the surface, causing a volcanic eruption. After an eruption, in most cases, the crater is usually closed by the formation of cold, hard lava.

This is not the case at Thrihnukagigur. At Thrihnukagigur it looks like the magma has disappeared – as if someone has pulled the plug and all the magma has ran back down to the very depths of the earth.

volc 1By Olikristinn, via Wikimedia Commons

It all sounds a little dangerous, huh? Well, no, there are expert guides who are willing to take adventurers down into Thrihnukagigur’s magma chamber – and extreme safety precautions are taken every step of the way.

All you need is the willingness to do a moderate 45–50 minute hike across a scenic lava field that looks like the moon to get to the actual crater, and the guts to descend 120 metres to the bottom of the crater in an open cable lift.

You can spend up to an hour inside the volcano (or less if you prefer), in which time you can take as many photos as you want. However, you are not allowed to take rocks and stones home with you. Expert guides will be with you at all times and the whole experience takes around five to six hours.

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