Viti Volcano Crater in The Region of Askja
Updated: Sep 13, 2019
For those who are planning a trip to Iceland, especially in summer, we have a message for you: Northern Iceland is a must-see! It should definitely be on your bucket list. There is no other place like it on earth. Though one might say, some areas do resemble the moon.
In our previous post, we have already had a taste of what Askja caldera has to offer and some information about this amazing place. In this post, we would like to focus more on Viti crater, which is also located in Askja, in the Highlands region.
Grab a cup of coffee and go on a Viti volcano crater tour with us. Askja is waiting for you!
What is Krafla?
Let’s start with some more specific information about the area where Viti crater is located. You have probably seen the term Krafla popping here and there when you google Askja and Viti, and you probably wondered exactly what Krafla is?
The highest peak in Askja used to be called Krafla. But then, as time went by and numerous eruptions occurred, the entire volcanic area nearby and the lava fields formed in the region, ended up being called Krafla. To make it easier to understand, Krafla now refers to the volcanic area; it is not just a peak anymore. In this zone, you can find the Hverir geothermal area, which is a well-known tourist destination among visitors.
It is also the area where two main tectonic plates meet: the North American and the Eurasian plate. These plates constantly move away from each other, causing an impressive clash of energy. The result of this massive underground contained power is tough volcanic eruptions.
Where is Viti crater Askja in Iceland
As I mentioned previously, Krafla used to be the highest peak in the area, but after several eruptions, its upper cap got destroyed, collapsing into itself, and thus the caldera was created. That is where Hverir is currently found.
Heading north from here, a few kilometers away, you will find the new peak of Krafla. In its crater, you will find a beautiful lake with mesmerizing sapphire waters. This crater lake is called Viti; this Icelandic word directly translates into “hell.” Icelanders used to believe that the gates of hell were hidden underneath its deep blue water. Viti is the result of the eruption of Krafla volcano which took place in 1724. If you ever wished or dreamed about taking a dip in a peculiar area, this is the place to go. What can beat swimming inside of a volcano caldera with some geothermally heated waters? Absolutely nothing!
How to get to Viti crater
It is quite easy to get there, so there is nothing to worry about! The entrance to Viti crater is free of charge, and there is no need to purchase any tickets. There are designated paths that you should follow. Near Krafla and Hverir, you will find the car park where you can leave your rental vehicle.
If you are planning to go to Askja to visit Viti, you need to remember some important facts:
First of all, to get there you will need to use F-roads, which are unpaved roads that can only be found in the Highlands. This means that your trip will only be possible during those few warm months we get in Iceland. In other words, only during the Icelandic summer. Usually F-roads remain closed from mid- September till mid or late June. There is no fixed date for closing or opening those roads as it mainly depends on the weather and roads conditions. These conditions change year to year so it is impossible to have an exact opening date throughough the years. Do remember as well that having those F-roads open to the public does not mean they are any easier to drive. They are quite tough and smooth driving cannot be guaranteed in any way.
Especially after the winter, the roads are covered with snow, mud, and sometimes it can really be a challenge for inexperienced drivers.
In the case of Askja, there is an additional challenge: you will be forced to cross rivers. The level of the water in rivers might be so high, that crossing them is not recommendable if you have no experience with fording rivers or very little knowledge in this area. In such cases, it is better to ask for help and tips from a local and cross the river in groups of two or more cars.
There are two routes that you can take to get to Viti in Askja.
The first one is easier so for those who are driving in the Highlands for the first time, we would recommend you to choose this one. You need to take road 901 and then turn onto F905. As you can see from the name of the road, it is an F-road. You will then turn onto F910 and drive up to Drekagil and then take F894, which will take you directly to Askja. Do know there are two rivers you must ford when choosing this route.
The second option is a bit more complicated as it includes crossing two large rivers: the Linda and Grafarlandsa rivers. They are quite deep and you will definitely need some guidance if it’s your first time doing this. The road you will drive on is the F88 which will lead you straight up to Askja.
There is of course a parking lot where you can leave your car. From there up to Viti is just a short walk. You can walk on the edge of the crater and circle it to get the best views.
In both cases you will need a 4x4 vehicle. We do not recommend renting small cars like Suzuki Jimny although we know tourists love this model. This car is not too sturdy and it has a low ground clearance. Please remember that no 2WD vehicles are allowed on F-roads. Most of those vehicles have a low ground clearance and are not suitable to drive on bumpy roads.
Lake Mývatn is located in North Iceland, quite close to your main destination - Viti crater. The area is well worth the detour, reaching the lake, and this picturesque place is a decision you will not regret. It is a 2.5-hour drive from Askja approximately. The area has been a landmark for most visitors, and it appears on most travel recommendations for those interested in coming to Iceland.
The area was formed around 35,000 years ago, and it is the fourth-largest lake in Iceland, approximately 35 square kilometres. In its deepest spot it can reach up to 4 meters of depth.
The name of the lake literally means the lake of midgesmý ("midge") and vatn ("lake"). Those insects in this region are extremely numerous, especially during the summer. The water in the lake is rich in minerals and algae which results in a blue-green color. The water is so transparent that you can spot the fish swiming and the rich vegetation.
You will be able to see many lava formations just above the lake surface. How is that possible, you may ask? Well, when the eruption took place, and the hot lava met the cold water of the lake, it froze, creating the craters you see today.
A fun fact is that the lake never fully freezes even though it is located around 100 kilometres away from the Arctic Circle. The reason behind it is the lava fields and active volcanoes beneath the ground that provide warmth and prevent the lake from freezing.
The parking area is located near the lake, so you can leave the rental camper there and enjoy the unique scenery of the lake and its surroundings.
Krafla Power Plant
Regardless of how dangerous and destructive the power of volcanoes may be, they also have a significant role in the Icelandic economy and infrastructure.
It’s worth mentioning here that almost 30% of the electricity in Iceland comes from geothermal power plants.
The energy solutions used here are thus both economically advantageous and ecological.
Krafla power plant has a significant part in the production of renewable energy. It is located both close to lake Myvatn and Krafla volcano, and it is the largest power station in Iceland. It produces 60 MW of electricity with 22 boreholes. It is one of the most important power plants in Iceland and one of the tourist attractions in North Iceland.
Magma brewing beneath the surface of the earth warms the shell in a way that it provides a neverending source of energy. Icelanders decided to take advantage of that fact and built a geothermal power plant here. The construction of the power plant started in 1974, and due to volcanic activity in the Krafla area, it has to be postponed. Fortunately, there was no damage to the construction and could move forward to be put into use in 1977.
Geothermal energy is one of the most difficult types of renewable energy to obtain. This is because the energy is gathered deep under the surface of the earth. The whole process requires drilling, and the tools used are similar to the technology used for digging oil wells. The execution and location is what makes a difference between the two processes. Geothermal energy can be collected using round-source heat pumps or deeper wells. The main way to acquire geothermal energy is to create wells for hot geothermal water reservoirs. The water is then sucked and extracted from the ground. At a certain distance from the main hole, a second well is made where the geothermal water is forced back into the ground once its heat has been used to produce energy.
In Iceland, geothermal energy is mostly used for central heating and for electricity production. Fun fact: Almost 87% of the houses in Iceland use heating produced by using geothermal energy.
Viti Volcano Crater in The Region of Askja
Viti crater in Askja is definitely a place you must see at least once in your lifetime. If your trip to Iceland is during summertime, do not miss the opportunity to see it! Prepare your tour to Askja today! You will be stepping onto a surface where magma is constantly moving underground. It’s still active, and even volcanologists estimate the eruption could take place at any moment. Take special care, and enjoy your trip to the volcanic part of Iceland.