Plan Your Visit to Meradalir Volcano

Volcanic fissures appeared in Meradalir valley on August 3rd, signaling another eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula. Within the next several hours, thousands of tourists flocked to the region to witness the eruption up close. And a lot of you got in touch with us with two primary inquiries: can we visit the Meradalis volcanic eruption site and is it safe to travel to Iceland at the moment? So, we’ll go through everything you should know before visiting the eruption site in this blog article.

the glow of volcanic eruption in the dark

How safe is Iceland right now?

First came the earthquakes, then the eruption. We understand the headlines can look scary and many still remember the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010 that disrupted flights all over the world. There are currently no flight delays, and the eruption location is fairly remote from any significant infrastructure, so there is no need for you to worry and reschedule your vacation. Have you booked your camper yet?

Is it dangerous to visit the eruption site in Meradalir?

Area map of Meradalir volcano

Even though thousands of travelers successfully reached the Meradalir volcano and safely came back to their cars, a few were not so lucky and needed to rescue. The ongoing eruption is relatively tourist-friendly, still there are lots of risks along the paths, and it is not for the ill-prepared. Here are some of the dangers in the area, according to the ICE-SAR team.

  • Gas pollution. Toxic gasses are being released along with hot lava. It is more dangerous on less windy days when the gas can accumulate in the valleys. There is a risk of gas poisoning and it could be lethal. It is not recommended to take children to the eruption site because they are more sensitive to toxic gas.
  • New fissures. There is a chance that lava will make its way through at some other point and new volcanic fissures can open up suddenly with little to no warning.
  • Unpredictable lava flow. Hot lava rivers are cool, and many try to get close to the hot lava. However, the flow of lava is unpredictable, and even slow streams can quickly descend from the lava’s field. It can be difficult to escape melting lava so try to keep a safe distance.
  • Do NOT walk on the fresh lava fields. Whether it is new lava or the black lava from the last year’s eruption in 2021 is strongly prohibited to walk on it. There is still hot lava moving below the surface which is very dangerous.
  • Check the weather. The trek up the volcano is not easy even on the good days, and the weather in Iceland can change quickly. We recommend visiting volcanoweather.is and safetravel.is for the latest information on hiking conditions. Do not go if the conditions are poor.

Preparing for the hike to Meradalir volcano

Make sure you are well prepared for the hike. Remember, the Meradalir volcano is in a remote part of the Reykjanes peninsula, there is nothing but lava fields and steep hills on the way to the volcano.

Choose the right clothes

There are a few simple rules on how to dress in Iceland:

  1. Layers! You gotta have your base layer, mid layer, and outer layer. For base and mid layers, a good option is wool or fleece (no cotton!). The outer layer should be waterproof and wind-resistant, best if still breathable.
  2. Wear warm socks (wool socks are the best, no cotton!)
  3. Pack extra clothes in case you get wet or cold.
  4. Must bring a warm hat and gloves or mittens.

Packing for the hike

  • Backpack to fit all your gear.
  • Headlight or flashlight, especially if you plan to visit the volcano at night/early morning. Additionally, bring some extra batteries as well.
  • Good hiking boots, best if waterproof. Most injuries have occurred due to improper footwear.
  • Hiking poles (if you have them).
  • Fully charged phone (power bank might also be a good idea).
  • Water. Make sure to have plenty of water on you for the whole trip and then some more.
  • Bring something warm – coffee or tea – to warm yourself up.
  • Food. The hike itself takes 4-5 hours round trip. Pack plenty of snacks and food depending on how much time you plan to spend at the eruption site.
  • Bring trash bags. Make sure not to leave anything behind.

How to get to the Meradalir Volcano

Within a few days, new trails leading up to the eruption site were marked. The starting points are the parking lots created during the previous eruption. From there, depending on your parking lot, it is a 10-16 km hike.

Visit Reykjanes has created useful hiking and parking map of the area:

Visiting the volcano is free (unless you take a tour) but visitors must pay for the parking next to the hiking path. It costs 1000 ISK per car. To pay for the parking, visit Parka.is

Stay safe and enjoy the trip!

Check out more useful resources:

Cheap Campervans on Instagram. Let’s connect on Instagram! Don’t forget to share the best moments with us and tag us @cheapcampervans.

Happy Campsite Keflavik. Looking for a place to spend the night – Happy Campsite is a short drive from the Meradalir Volcano and close to the airport!

Iceland Camping Community. Join the Facebook group with over 5,000 campers to share their best tips, experience, and questions.