Hekla is one of Iceland's most active volcanoes. With a long history of dangerous eruptions, this volcano was long considered as a 'gateway to hell'. Luckily is remained calm while I was climbing part of it. Below is my guide to approaching and hiking Hekla to the lower crater.
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Hekla Volcano Iceland - Facts
Culminating at 1491 meters (4892 ft), Hekla is one of the most famous active volcanoes in Iceland. My stop there was not planned. I did research for that post after my climb and I am now scared to have climbed it as it is quite active and does not give much warning!
Hekla is a stratovolcano part of a volcanic ridge which is 40 km long (25 miles). The most active part is a 5.5 km fissure called Heklugja. There are a series of craters all along. Hekla has an unusual form quite rare around the world.
Hekla was called the Gateway to Hell in the Middle Ages. Since then frequent eruptions have devasted farms, disrupted nature and killed people reinforcing this impression and it was not climbed until the 18th century. Major eruptions have been estimated at 20 and minor at 25. Some lasted several months to a year uninterrupted and others had 14 to 18 craters active at the same time! On top of that I have read that Hekla is quite aseismic which means activity is only visible 1/2 hour to 1& 1/2 hours before the eruption. Almost no warning!
PLANNING TIPS - how to visit the Hekla Volcano
Getting to Hekla
- Route 26 and then a trail heading East
- From Landmannalaugar take the Landmannaleid and then a track in the South direction (but no indication)
- 4WD imperative
Visiting Hekla - Hiking
- It is not recommended to hike without a guide
- It is an active volcano so you are taking a risk when you climb it.
- No facilities
- The easiest way up is from the north
- Part of it can be climbed with a Superjeep before you have to continue on foot - I booked a Superjeep with a driver with a tour like this one - we were able to adapt to what I wanted - We drove up part of the volcano and I continue for a little while on foot. It is so worth it! - Check out this tour similar to mine
- if you climb all the way to the top you should have glacier gear (head to Wild Iceland for pictures taken of the glacier part)
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Drive from Landmannalaugar to Hekla, Iceland
I drived towards Hekla from the colorful mountains of Landmannalaugar first on the Landmannaleid and then on a 'track'. My driver knew the direction and found tracks (although not all the time). I drove past incredible scenery and were lucky with interesting clouds. We had a lot of fun 4 wheel driving through a lava field (the photo was taken where it was flat but then it became a roller coaster 🙂
View from where I left the Superjeep
At one point we could not drive further. We stopped the car and I was gratified with stunning views on one side: there were different layers of mountains and at the back the top of the Vatnajökull glacier.
Climb to the first crater of Hekla - hike
From there my guide pointed out a trail leading up...
I jumped on my feet and walk the slippery trail up to the first crater.
I am not fit so I can tell you that this section is only moderate difficulty as I was able to reach the first crater, a small one but still it is pretty cool. Next to the crater was a recent lava field.
View from the first Hekla crater
Once I reached to top and breathed again, the scenery was really stunning. It was not easy to photograph but l loved the various colors, the large valleys and the strange looking mountains. I was running out of time and stamina so I decided not to push further and walked back down.
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