Somewhere in the mountainous area of Iceland, just north of Vatnajökull Glacier, there is a special place where real astronauts once practiced landing on the moon. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 team that first landed on the moon. A place in Iceland where ordinary humans can follow giants.
Due to the region’s typical lunar landscape, the area served as a temporary base for NASA’s Apollo space program. When NASA sought a place to train their astronauts, the Askja area was chosen as the ideal location. In a remote spot in the middle of the mountainous region of Iceland, away from any settlement, there is a unique and unparalleled landscape in the world.
Askja is a caldera, which means a huge muzzle of a volcano that collapsed into the core of the magma beneath it. The height of the mountain is 1510 m and its area is 50 km. Askja is located just north of Vatnajökull Glacier and is a testament to Mother Nature’s strength. The eruption that created the original muzzle occurred in 1875, when stones were thrown from the mountain and reached as far as continental Europe more than 1000 km! The volcanic activity lasted thirty years, culminating in another massive collapse of the top of the mountain. The resulting pharynx was filled with water, becoming the deepest lake in Iceland 217 m deep, colored sapphire blue and frozen most of the year. In the younger crater near Askja north of Askjavatn lake is the small Víti muzzle, which contains a thermal lake. The place is considered a popular tourist attraction, although it is only accessible during the summer months and in a 4WD car.
How to get there?
Two main roads come to Askja from the north. Via F88 and F910. Both are mountainous dirt roads that cross several streams, all roads leading to Askja require a 4WD vehicle. Another option to visit Askja volcano is to take a daily hike in a special vehicle / bus with a guide. The road takes around three hours in each direction and it is important to fill the vehicle’s fuel tank before leaving.