We are still on earth ... right? Askja is one of the most desolate places on the planet.
It is a stratovolcano surrounded by absolutely nothing but a moon-like desert landscape of lava rocks. There is a lake inside the huge crater where the temperature is suitable for swimming. Holuhraun is Iceland's newest lava field that still smolders in some places!
The crater duet of Askja and Viti is among those things which you have to see to understand. Word alone cannot do justice to these places which are so extraordinary to experience - like being on the Moon!
Askja has had several known eruptions, the last one was in 1961. This eruption was reasonably small and caused no problems. However, in 1875 a major eruption took place which caused this crater to be well known. The tephra and ash from this eruption resulted in famine across Northern Iceland and Scandinavia causing the widespread death of livestock. These events also sparked Iceland's greatest emigration to North America.
Today there is a very large lake which half fills the crater. Until a few years ago this was Iceland's deepest lake at 220 meters, however, Jokulsarlon is now deeper. There is also a smaller lake situated in another small crater inside the Askja crater. The English meaning of the name Viti is "hell" and it never freezes! (Have you ever heard of Hell freezing over?). This lake is boiling in parts, whilst in other places the water is perfect for a hot bath, making it one of the most popular places to visit in the North Icelandic highlands.
Holuhraun Lava Field was formed in an impressive eruption in 2014. The eruption created an immense lava field of more than 85 sq km. Holuhraun is still cooling, making it Iceland's freshest lava field.
Experience the barren interior of Iceland, the lunar-like landscape where NASA trained Apollo astronauts, and where the Icelandic outlaws lived in the middle ages. Not to mention the various trolls, ghosts, and other creatures in this area which have haunted travelers for many centuries.
From Myvatn we travel straight to the highlands on a rugged mountain track towards Mount Herdubreid, the national mountain of Iceland. A short stop is made at Herdubreidarlindir, an oasis in the desert.
Next, we walk to Lake Askja and Viti, an explosion crater formed in 1875. There will be an opportunity for the more adventurous people to take a bath in the crater pond. Just don't forget your towel!
To cap off our adventure, we'll stop at the Holuhraun 2016 eruption sight, one of the main highlights of our journey in North Iceland. Marvel at the still-warm lava field and ponder the power of nature!