Fagradalsfjall Volcano, Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland. Trip 1.

There is something about the raw beauty of an active volcano that draws us - perhaps something from our past as a species that still calls to us; hard wired into modern day humans.

On 19th March 2021, the Fagradalsfjall Volcano, Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland,  became active.  This was the first eruption on the peninsula in about 800 years.  I spoke with one of the volunteers at the Geopark Tourist Information Center in Keflavik, who relayed her feelings about the weeks before the eruption.  She said that all the constant tremors actually made her feel sea sick - such was the movement being experienced there...and this from a woman that has worked on rough seas in fishing trawlers.  It makes one wonder how those who have never journeyed on a boat coped.

Life carried on growing in the Geldingadalir Valley, as the icy grip of Winter gave way to the warmer cycle of Spring.  Perhaps the life forms more deeply connected with the Earth knew what was coming.

Tourists and volcanology enthusiasts have been streaming to Iceland to view the volcano, subject to Covid measures in force at the borders.  Iceland is dependent on tourism and fishing as a nation, so as the Covid related restrictions have been lifting, more flights have been scheduled and there is optimism that things will get back to normal sooner rather than later.  

Lava gathered via molten rivers and burned it's way through valley walls to gather and solidify in different parts of the valley; giving the impression it had solidified, when the truth was that the rivers of lava were still moving within the illusion.

At the time of filming, path A to the site was open and a regular stream of people ventured up at all hours of the day in the Summer time of increased daylight.  Those who are able-bodied and those with various disabilities could be seen making their way back and forth, to witness the beauty of the Earth making herself.

The various rescue services were ever present, assessing the situation to see where the lava would break from next and assisting those who encountered difficulties.

Many of the visitors mistakingly assumed that the solidified lava was safe to walk upon or near.  By using a drone, I was able to see that various streams of lava were freely moving away from the volcano craters and that what seemed like solid ground could easily give way to the possibility of serious injuries or death.

The lava that did move and expand at the edges left a surreal image in my mind because even though it was flowing at this slower rate - it was moving, molten rock that sounded almost tin like when breaking at the edges to let more mobile lava through.

The lava has progressed quite far now and is moving towards Iceland's South Road, as well as to the East.  One farmhouse sits in the path and one wonders whether the government will rehome them if the lava reaches them ... and then there is the Atlantic Ocean.  When the 
lava reaches the ocean, it will provide an interesting interaction - such as I witnessed in Hawai'i...and no doubt, many more will come to visit the wonders to follow.

If you are looking to visit the volcano, be prepared and be careful.  Wear the right clothing for the weather on the day but also take layers as the weather can change very quickly in the valley and the wind can come screaming up from the Ocean.

To get to the Volcano trail from Keflavik Airport, drive down road 43 to Grindavik and then turn left onto Road 427 and follow that road for about 7km.  As you get near the area, you will see a 30km speed sign and then a hut on your left (there are toilets there too) but you cannot enter this site.  Drive further on and you will see a car park on the right.  Enter here and drive all the way to the end and park on the right.  You will see the hut you just passed on the road as you drove down the hill.

Walk to the hut and the trail begins.  You will see a sign for trail C.  Turn left there and look for trail B if it is open.  You will get much better views there and be closer to the crater.

Do not take young children with you!  You will damage their lungs because of the sulphur dioxide present in the valley.  If you suffer from anything like asthma, you should not enter the area without a good mask - please ensure that it has the right kind of filter  (this is an example - make your own choice! https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01M9GW1LT/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1).  Even if you are healthy - take a mask as described.  Please don't walk on the lava; if something goes wrong, another person has to risk their life to help you.

Other equipment:  Good walking boots (not trainers), walking poles, water, mobile phone, goggles to protect your eyes, layers and waterproofs.  Don't eat there if you can smell sulphur.  If it is windy and you have mobility issues, don't go up. Get a good local weather forecast and check out what's happening.  If you can see that the crater is enveloped in fog, the sulphur dioxide will be trapped within it too, so avoid it.

Point A was closed about 2-3 weeks ago now but here is a video of what you missed.  If you continue around to point B and then turn left and work your way around - you can still get pretty close to the crater.  Please subscribe to the YouTube channel if you found this useful, you will see videos of other sights to enjoy around Iceland.
You can also follow me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Wolf.Photographer.  Here is a new video from Point B.

If you're still planning your trip to Iceland, please read this website for their current Covid guidelines and the form that needs to be completed before you fly there.  Please be aware that neither Heathrow Airport nor Iceland accept the NHS issued Covid Vaccination card anymore, following the discovery of fraudulent certificates.  They will now insist on seeing a proper digital certificate - which you can get here. If you're going back to the UK after travelling, you'll need this website.  You must also fill out a Passenger Locator form on that website before being allowed on a flight home and you will need the barcode from a private purchased Covid test.  

Have a safe and wonderful trip.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

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