In the heart of Iceland at Dyngjufjöll a volcanic eruption in early 1875 rumbled on for months. Pumice was thrown from the crater and towards the end of the eruption a small eruption crater Víti was formed. This deep crater is located on the northeast shore of Öskjuvatn a water filled caldera formed during the same eruption.
Víti means ‘hell’ in Icelandic and this vivid blue geothermal lake with boiling vents around its edge may well be the entrance. After walking across the barren lava fields Öskjuvatn comes into view before the hidden Víti crater is seen.
The path to the shore is steep following a river bed which even in good weather is slippery and difficult, but the rewards are worth the effort.
The water is pungent and murky. Bubbles rise to the surface as pockets of gas are disturbed, the smell of sulphur clinging to your hair, skin and clothes as a reminder of your visit for days. Despite the smell the water is an inviting temperature. Perfectly heated by the volcanic rumblings just below the surface.
The shoreline is coated in crystals. All colours of the rainbow from deep blue to vivid orange. A chemistry lesson surrounds you as you stroll the short distance from the path into the crater to the small waterfall.
This may be one of the most beautiful and unique places to swim in Iceland.
Víti crater can be photographed at any time of the day and in most safe weather conditions. From the rim of the crater it is possible to include Öskjuvatn behind within the photograph with the use of a wide lens.
Once inside the crater it is best to focus on the details. There are so many colours and patterns that it really is impossible to not find a unique perspective.
Safety at Víti Crater
Before visiting the crater you really should speak to the rangers at Drekki. They will advise you on whether it is safe to walk out to the crater and what the water conditions are like. The walk takes 45 minutes each way and the weather can change in a moment. The rangers will be able to give advice and local knowledge.
The path out to the crater is marked but in poor visibility it would be easy to wander off the path, if visibility does drop return rather than continue in the hope of not getting lost.
Walking down into the crater is very steep. In dry weather it is difficult but in wet weather whilst you may get down into the crater coming back up would be impossible. If the rangers have put signs saying you should not go down into the crater then do as you are told!
Within the crater on the shore line there is a clearly marked geothermal area. It is difficult to miss as it is boiling away. There are signs incase there is any doubt about the boiling steam that it is constantly emitting. To the right of the path down there is a small rope barrier. Stay to the left of this as there are constant rock falls from the crater walls.
How to get to Askja Víti Crater
Getting to this amazing location is difficult. The parking is at the end of F910, about 100km from Route 1. The road is rough with a number of river crossings and takes over 4hours even in a 4WD. From the parking it is then a 45 minute walk across barren lava fields to get to the crater before the scramble down to the water.
The road is not open all year round so checks should be made before leaving route 1 to ensure that you will be able to get to Askja.
There are tours which head out to Askja and there are daily guided walks out to the crater.