POSTCARD FROM INSIDE THE VOLCANO

I’ve just been ‘Inside the Volcano’ and I highly recommend it!

Inside the Volcano is a new tour that takes you inside Thrihnjukagigur (prizes for saying this correctly!) volcano, close to Reykjavik. But beware – this tour is only available this summer, until 20th August.

In future years, there are plans to build a tunnel and viewing platform to let more people see this amazing underground world, but if you want to descend into the very mouth of the (dormant!) volcano and then walk around its insides, this is your only chance.

We first mentioned this tour back in April, and you can find out more on the Inside the Volcano website too. But here’s my take on it…

You descend 120 metres on a lift, just a few people at a time. As we left the surface behind, the inside space reminded me of a tall genie’s bottle, as high as the Statue of Liberty.

The walls are extremely varied in both texture and colour – this was the most surprising and spectacular aspect of the tour. Reds, oranges, greys and blues decorate the volcano’s innards, with patterns of giant lava drops, frozen in time, next to smoother sections of rock and the occasional tunnel – once outlets for lava, gases or exploding rock.

Walking around the loose rocks at the bottom was awe-inspiring. As I watched the lift disappear towards the tiny smudge of light way above, I felt the sheer size of the place and yet a tremendous calm. It felt like being on another planet.

The volcano last erupted about 4,000 years ago, and part of the experience is walking for more than half an hour across the lava field that this volcano helped create all that time ago. During the walk, you see other signs of the volcanic landscape – part of the continental drift is visible, and there are other mountains, volcanoes and craters within sight.

For me, it felt as though descending into the volcano was the first time I’d completed the experience of the landscape. So this is where the land was born.

You can scare your fellow travellers with a sudden “Coo-eee” or by bursting into song, but it can also be a highly meditative experience.

At one point, when there were just four of us down there while others were being fetched from the surface, no-one else was in sight and I sat on a cool boulder to eat my apple inside the volcano. Why not?

On the way up, I felt once more as though I were exiting a giant genie’s bottle – though grateful that there were no puffs of smoke, and no giant cork suddenly blocking the exit! As I stepped into the outside world, I felt my sense of proportion had forever been adjusted. Looking around at the surrounding mountains, we were all suddenly aware of the wonders hidden beneath the surface.

Tags: , ,