Sunday, August 4, 2013

Iceland: Inside the Volcano

Today we experienced 'Inside the Volcano' by 3H Travel. It was an absolutely amazing tour. We started at 10am, and drove about 45 minutes to the base of our hike. We then hiked for about 45 minutes to get to the base camp, which was 3km away (we did take a slight detour on the way there to look at a lava cave).

One of the things that really resonated with me was how careful everyone here is about preserving the landscape. They are very careful to make sure that you stay on the marked path, as the moss is 800 years old and cannot be trampled. There is no off-roading with vehicles, or having a campfire in the middle of nowhere - you would be burned at a stake! (Not literally, but it seems that way). One of the guides we had mentioned that their country is almost too careful about preserving their landscape. They are preserving it to the extent that it cannot be truly enjoyed by those who live here, outside of hikers.

Once we reached the base camp, we were divided into four groups to descend into the volcano. We were in the third group, so we took some time to look at some of the other sights around the trailer. At some point recently (not within the last 2 years, but likely not long before that) someone built a shelter on the side of the volcano. It is not known who built it or what the purpose was, but it has not been claimed. There are also some popped lava 'bubbles', which were very interesting to see. Soon enough though, we were suited up and ready to climb the last bit, then descend into the volcano.

The inside of the volcano was absolutely mesmerizing. The yellow colouring is from oxidzied sulphur, and the red is from iron. The black is where pieces of rock fell off the wall. The chamber has been open for 400 years, but this is only the second season the tour has been running. There have only been about 3000 people in the chamber, ever.

When we got back to the base camp we were treated to lamb soup and coffee -- it hit the spot after the windy trek.

We were also treated to the site of a semi-wild arctic fox begging for food outside of the camp. (I say semi-wild because it was approachable as long as you had food, but you wouldn't want to touch it)

We then made the trek back to the van, which took about 30 min (no detour this time).

It was about 3pm when we got back, so we still had lots of daylight left. We began by finding Bonus, Iceland's equivalent to Superstore. Enough food to last us 4 breakfasts & suppers cost ~$100.

It took us some time to find the store, so once we had managed that and returned to put our food in the fridge, it was about 6:30pm. We decided to head out to the harbour and find a restaurant along the water.

We found a nice restaurant where both Gilles and I were satisfied - he was able to get a burger, and I got some red fish with shrimp sauce and roasted potatoes, with some Skyr (frozen yogurt) and blueberries for dessert.

On the way back to our apartment we saw the Google Street Maps car. Ironically, while this would have been big news at home it was the least exciting thing that happened today!

Tomorrow we will be having a mostly free day - we have a horseback riding tour in the morning and then we have the afternoon to do whatever we decide!