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Visitor's Guide to Eldgjá Canyon

Eldgjá Canyon, located in the southern part of Iceland, is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and geological significance. As the largest volcanic canyon in the world, Eldgjá spans approximately 40 kilometers in length, reaching depths of up to 270 meters and widths of 600 meters.


This guide provides an in-depth look at Eldgjá Canyon, offering valuable insights for visitors looking to explore this unique destination.


Eldgjá Canyon

The Formation and History of Eldgjá Canyon


Eldgjá Canyon was formed during a massive volcanic eruption in 939 AD, which is considered one of the most powerful eruptions in recorded history. The eruption resulted in the release of approximately 18 cubic kilometers of basaltic lava, covering an area of about 800 square kilometers. The effects of the eruption were profound, influencing both local and global climates.


The ash cloud generated by the eruption led to the coolest summer in 1,500 years, impacting temperatures as far away as Central Asia.


The name "Eldgjá" translates to "Fire Canyon," a fitting description given its fiery origin. The canyon's formation not only shaped the landscape but also left a lasting mark on Iceland's cultural and environmental history.


Exploring the Canyon


Eldgjá Canyon offers a variety of natural attractions that make it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers. The canyon itself is part of the larger Vatnajökull National Park, providing visitors with access to a diverse range of volcanic landscapes, including the Lakagígar craters, which were formed by a similarly massive eruption in 1783.


One of the highlights of Eldgjá Canyon is the Ófærufoss waterfall. This stunning waterfall, which flows from the river Ófærá, features two distinct cascades and was once spanned by a natural stone bridge that has since collapsed. Hiking to Ófærufoss offers an opportunity to experience the raw beauty of Eldgjá up close.


exploring Eldgja canyon

Best Time to Visit


The best time to visit Eldgjá Canyon is during the summer months, when the weather is most favorable for hiking and exploring. The high season provides not only better accessibility to the sites, but also longer daylight hours, allowing for more time to enjoy the stunning vistas and geological formations.


Tips for Visitors


  • Prepare for the Weather: Weather in Iceland can be unpredictable. Visitors are advised to dress in layers and be prepared for sudden changes in weather conditions.

  • Respect the Environment: Eldgjá Canyon is a protected area. Visitors should follow all guidelines to minimize their impact on the environment, including staying on marked trails and carrying out all trash.

  • Safety First: The terrain in and around the canyon can be rugged and challenging. Adequate preparation, including proper hiking boots and safety gear, is essential.


Eldgja tips

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the interesting facts about Eldgjá?


Eldgjá is the largest volcanic canyon in the world. It was formed during a massive eruption in 939 AD, which led to significant environmental and cultural impacts both locally and globally.


What type of volcano is Eldgjá volcano?


Eldgjá is a volcanic canyon, not a traditional volcano. It was formed by fissure eruptions, which are characterized by a linear crack through which lava erupts, usually without any explosive activity.


Is Eldgjá Iceland a shield volcano?


No, Eldgjá is not a shield volcano. It is a volcanic canyon formed through fissure eruptions associated with the rift zones of Iceland.


When did Katla last erupt?


Katla, a nearby and much-monitored volcano, last erupted in 1918. Its eruptions are closely watched due to their potential to impact air travel and climate.


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