Ever been inspired by Journey to the Center Of The Earth and wanted to go into the belly of the earth? In Iceland, one can actually tour inside a real dormant volcano (and this is the only volcano in the world where one can!). Next time in Iceland put Thrihnukagigur (spelled "Þríhnúkagígur" in Icelandic) on one's bucket list.
Iceland is basically a big volcanic hotspot (kinda like Hawaii) and is a paradise for those looking to see and explore the world of volcanos. Both Iceland and Hawaii boast some of the world's most awe-inspiring volcanos and are both worth visiting to see these dramatic works of nature.
About Thrihnukagigur, And Why It Exists
Its name, "Þríhnúkagígur," is basically unpronounceable to anyone who isn't Icelandic or a linguist and it translates as "Three Peaks Crater."
Thrihnukagigur is near the capital of Reykjavik and is part of the Brennisteinsfjoll volcanic system. The cavern was discovered in 1974 by the cave explorer Arni B Stefansson and opened for tourism in 2012. The world had never seen anything like this before and scientists are still struggling to explain why it exists.
Other than its massive empty chamber, Thrihnukagigur is a normal volcano for this part of Iceland. Its last eruption was almost 2,000 years ago. Normally after an eruption, the volcano's magma chamber remains filled with lava, which then cools into solid rock. If this doesn't happen, normally the volcano would collapse in on itself. But neither of those things happened to this volcano.
- Where: About A 30 Minute Drive From Reykjavik
What To Expect
Today it is the only volcano in the world where tourists can actually take an elevator and safely descend into a magma chamber. To the bewilderment of scientists, the magma that would otherwise be filling the chamber has apparently drained away.
Not only is it the only magma chamber in the world that visitors can enter, but it also has an impressive depth of 213 meters or 699 feet.
- Depth: 213 Meter or 699 Feet
- Last Eruption: 2,000 Years Ago
- Chamber Size: 3,270 Square Meters or 35,200 Square Feet
As one descends into the depths, not only will one be enthralled by its sheer size, but also the incredible coloration within its depths. One will be dazed by the vivid shades of red, yellow, green, and blue within it.
To get to the tour of the chamber. one needs to manage a short but uphill hike. For those who can't make the hike, there is also the option of taking a helicopter to the visitor center. Tours inside the crater only operate during the tourist season (from May to October). So one will need to choose between seeing the volcano or seeing the Northern Lights from Iceland (though it could also be possible to see the Northern Lights at the beginning and end of the tourist season). Iceland is one of the stunning places to see the Northern Lights.
Iceland is just one of those otherworldly locations that is full of things that can't be seen anywhere else. Descending into the heart of a volcano just adds to this very long list.
When one sees the outside of the volcano, it may seem a little underwhelming. It only rises around 130 meters above the surrounding plain - not the thousands of feet or meters that many other volcanos do. But it is actually partly its small size that helps to protect the chamber so that it didn't collapse afterward.
The Tour Into the Belly of The Beast
Tours of the volcano are operated by Inside the Volcano who offer the trip of a lifetime. It takes around 6 minutes to be slowly lowered down into the volcano. The tour is really a tour into another world. They have all the necessary gear and equipment
- Tour Duration: 5-6 Hours (With Around 35-40 Minutes Actually Inside the Volcano) - Alternatively it Take around 4 Hours If People Drive Themselves
- Fitness Level Needed: Moderate
- Descent: 120 Meters or 400 Feet
- Distance Hiked: 2 Miles Or 3 KM, it Normally Takes around 45-50 Minutes to Hike Each Way
- Dates: From May 10 to October 31
- Departures: Several Per Day, First Leaves At 8.00 and The Last Is In The After Afternoon
- Minimum Age: Limited To Those 8 And Older
- Pricing: Adults: ISK 44,000 ($341) | Children: ISK 22,000 ($170) (Aged 8 to 12 Years Old)
- Included: Pick-up From One's Hotel In Reykyavik, Traditional Icelandic Meat Soup (or Vegetarian Soup), Coffee, Tea
- Bring: Good Shoes And Warm Clothes (The Temperature Inside The Volcano Is Always Around 3°C (37°F)
Iceland is a trip of a lifetime, one will not run out of utterly awe-inspiring and stunning places to see and visit there. Just bear in mind that Iceland is expensive - really expensive - so budget accordingly.