Eldgjá Crater: The Largest Volcanic Canyon in the World:


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Iceland is one of the most leading travel destinations that act as a magnet to travel enthusiasts, globetrotters, environmentalists, and also for adventure freaks. Iceland is not only about the landscapes with snow-blanketed mountains, this place, which has been titled as “the land of Fire and Ice” has so much more than expected! From human-sized icebergs, glacial lakes, to the massive lava fields, and geysers, everything at one place. Isn’t that amazing? Now, amidst this, there is one more destination, which is sure to leave you in awe, it is Eldgjá. Ever witnessed volcanic craters? If not, then don’t forget to visit Eldgjá. Let’s find out more about this place.

woman hiking in Eldgjá Crater in the highlands of Iceland

The Largest Volcanic Canyon in the World

Located in the highlands of Iceland, Eldgjá covers a significant part of Iceland. Eldgjá is one of the largest canyons in the whole world. It is approximately 40-50 kilometers long, 270 m. deep and 600 m. wide that looks gigantic and is a sight to behold. Eldgjá, which is the largest basalt flood lava eruption (took place around 938 AD) is a part of Katla Geopark, which is home to another basaltic flood lava eruption site – Laki in 1783-1784. The first Eldgjá eruption was one of the powerful ones and had a worldwide impact. Eldgjá, which translates to ‘Fire Canyon’ well-justifies its name. Eldgjá volcanic crater that looks like a complex volcanic graben structure, stretches from Landmannalaugar (hiking area and a popular hot spring), Icelandic highlands to a village named Kirkjubæjarklaustur, which is on the south coast. That volcanic eruption resulted in the largest basalt flood in history; the lava spreaded to an area of approximately 800 square kilometers. Agriculture and the effects on locals and abroad were seen. You will surely be in awe when you will visit Eldgjá, the whole landscape seems to narrate a story and you must not miss this place.

Eldgjá lava flow was not only the largest on the Icelandic scale, but it is considered the largest on Earth, to which Eldgjá volcanic crater is the result and the massive size is enough to make someone realize how big the eruption would have been. There is another major attraction at Eldgjá, Ófærufoss, which is a two-stream waterfall (flowing from river Ófærá) and looks magnificent. You can hike to the waterfall and spend some time witnessing the beauty around.

Eldgjá Crater in the highlands of Iceland

Directions to Eldgjá Crater:

When heading towards Eldgjá volcanic crater from the main capital city Reykjavík, then it will take approximately 4 hours to reach. Start driving from Reykjavík and get your way to the Ring Road (Road 1). Follow the Ring Road to the South Coast of Iceland until you reach Skaftártunguvegur (road 208). Keep following road 208, that will soon change to F208. When roads in Iceland start with the letter F, it means that it is a highland road and a 4×4 vehicle is required. Drive on this road until you will reach a sign that will have you turn to right and take you towards Eldgjá volcanic crater and Ófærufoss waterfall. 

Eldgjá Crater in the highlands of Iceland

Eldgjá Crater on a map

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