Oskjuvatn Lake in Askja
Iceland, the land of fire and ice honors its title like no other. Iceland is actually all about heat and cold. In our country, you will encounter many volcanoes, glaciers and snow, lots of snow.
Today we will talk about the fiery part of Iceland: The Highlands Region. Our highlands will show you the mightiest ridges, lava fields, and craters that have formed magnificent lakes for both tourists and locals to make the most of! One of those lakes is Oskjuvatn Lake!
Oskjuvatn Lake Facts
Oskjuvatn Lake is in fact a formation of a crater, in the Askja caldera, an otherworldly landscape that will be hard to forget.
The depth of Oskjuvatn is 217 m (712 feet) and it has a surface area of 11 km². The lake was formed in the volcanic eruption of 1875, Same with its young sister: the small yet beautiful Viti Crater. The latest eruption was back in 1961 and there are no reports of a major eruption, just normal volcanic activity.
Where is the Oskjuvatn lake located?
Oskjuvatn Lake is not only a breathtaking lake, it is in fact the largest one in Iceland and the best. The most curious thing about it is that it is a crater, a very curious fact considering that it is the largest and deepest one.
As previously mentioned, the crated is located in the volcano Askja, which is in the northeast of mighty Vatnajökull (which refers to a complex of calderas) glacier.
How to get to the lake?
To get to this natural wonder, you must take the F-road from the ring road. Depending on your location, there are different alternatives. However, the safest and best one is to heading to Akureyri and taking the F26 as it is not as risky as the F910.
The F-roads are only accessible during the summertime (June to September) but bear in mind that it might vary depending on the weather, it might extend or eventually shorten if the weather gets rough. These roads are located in the center region of our beautiful island.
Since you will probably come from Reykjavik, the distance is approximately 266 KM (165 miles) and it takes about 2 hours and a half to get there.
It is also good to keep in mind that you need a 4x4 to access the F-roads, as they are not as the ring road, which is paved and always in neat conditions. Most people get something like a Dacia Duster, which is in fact, the most demanded vehicle in car rentals in Iceland.
Once you reach Askja, you will see a shelter. I highly suggest you talk to the shelter staff, they will be delighted to inform you where to park your car, the lot is about 20 minutes uphill.
After the parking lot is where you start the real adventure. You will spend 45 minutes hiking into a volcanic valley to finally reach the beautiful Viti and Oskjuvatn lake.
Here is a very recommended website to check the weather and road conditions, keep it close to you, it will be quite handy when you start your adventure.
is Oskjuvatn Lake worth visiting?
Oskjuvatn lake, and Askja itself, is the most beautiful landscape of the whole island for many of us. So yes, it is worth visiting. It is one of a kind experience that will certainly remain in your heart forever.
If the weather is on your favor, you’ll get to witness the Dyngjufjoll Mountains almost perfectly reflected on the lake. Many travelers that were unable to see the mountains reflected in the lake, returned and they got to fully experience the stunning views of this enchanting part of Iceland.
If you slightly tilt your head to the right, you will see the crater Viti, which means hell. A great name indeed for a little crater that once had a taste of hell. Do not get me wrong, I am referring to the eruption and sulfur that once happened here!
Bathing in the Viti Lake
Speaking a little more of the Oskjuvatn sister, you might in fact be able to bath in it. Yes, you’ve read right! If you want to bath in the beautiful Viti lake, you shall first speak to the ranger in the shelter I previously mentioned, as he is the only one allowed to give you permission to bathe in it, as will mostly depend on weather conditions and the water conditions as well, which is by the way, not as warm as you might desire. The Blue Lagoon’s water is actually more heated with 38 degrees Celsius (100,4 F).
Please do it under your own responsibility; there are no lifeguards here, so you must be careful if you do not know how to swim, we highly discourage you from doing it.
Apollo Program in Askja
This is probably one of the best parts of this post, most exciting and appealing if you are into astronomy. Some people might know about Askja due to this amazing fact:
This area was used as a training ground hosted by NASA to prepare astronauts for the lunar missions where the main purpose of the training was to study its geology. This event happened back in 1969 prior to the moon trip. You can find further information in this dedicated post here.
Oskjuvatn Lake in Askja
To wrap this chapter up, it is good to give extra options to get there. Some of you would rather go on a day tour and be picked up directly from Reykjavik.
Askja is a one of a kind place, not everyone has the chance to be in a crater, and certainly not with a perfectly milky blue water. It is without a doubt one of my top 3 places in Iceland.
Lastly, do not forget to bring the right gear, keep hydrated, be respectful with the mother nature, and enjoy your trip!