The greatest show on Earth started in Iceland in March 2021. Reykjanes kicked into action and coughed up a new volcano in Geldingadalur, a secluded valley below Fagradalsfjall. What followed is a series of breathtaking events so incredible it has blown the minds of people around the world. Multiple craters appeared, erupting simultaneously, until one of them took over and turned into a giant lava geyser. Fagradalsfjall is one of the most versatile eruptions the world has ever witnessed. Read all about this extraordinary volcano (and how to get there) in this extensive article.
On the same day that Fagradalsfjall in Iceland subsided, the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma cracked open a new crater and roared into life on 19 September 2021. But this is no friendly flowing volcano like the gentle Fagradalsfjall. Cumbre Vieja Natural Park offers stunning hiking routes amongst volcanic cones and giant craters. Now that this fierce volcano has settled down again, the Cumbre Vieja Ruta de los Volcanes (Volcano Route) is one of the finest walks you can do on La Palma.
Mount Taranaki looms majestically over New Plymouth, on its own peninsula on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The mythical mountain is obscured from view most days of the year, shrouded by its low-hanging clouds. But now it stood there, clearly visible and beckoning in all its glory. I literally skidded to a halt when I saw it, and changed my direction there & then. It was calling me and I had to go. Mount Taranaki draws you in to explore its lofty top and many hiking tracks.
There are few natural phenomena as awe-inspiring as the magical northern lights. When the skies open up and flares of charged particles & energy from out of space come pouring in, it creates a display of light so magnificient it takes your breath away. Massive green curtains dropping down with purple tips on their edges, shifting and changing in all directions. It is literally out of this world. The northern lights will completely overwhelm you, to an extend where you can only utter sounds of sheer admiration, with a fading voice due to being blown away. But when can you see northern lights? Read about hunting the elusive Aurora Borealis in Iceland in this story.
The hot spring valley of Hveradalir in the Kerlingarfjöll mountains is something out of this world. Breathtaking views unfold into a steaming geothermal valley padded with snowfields clinging to the slopes, and shapes and colours so magnificient that you wonder if it’s even real. It’s like you’ve stepped into a surrealistic painting. Find out how to get to this otherworldly landscape and hike around the steaming valleys in the Icelandic highlands.
Mount Rjúpnafell is one of the steepest mountains in the valley of Thórsmörk. It sits on the north side of the Krossá river, and the walking track to the top is quite challenging. But you will be rewarded with sweeping views of glaciers and colourful folded mountain ranges all around. There’s also a sweet litte river valley hidden along the track below its slopes.
Útigönguhöfði is that ridiculously steep mountain you see looming everywhere in Thórsmörk and on the way down from Fimmvörðuháls. Climbing it is as challenging as pronouncing its name… The impressive Hvannárgil canyon runs below its slopes and together they form a beautiful circuit, with jaw-dropping views from one end to the other. See how to get there, and combine this walk with Hvannárgil canyon or the lower part of the Fimmvörðuháls route. Be prepared for some serious crawling up the rocks on either side!
The fabled valley of Thórsmörk is the stuff of fairytales and epic sagas. It’s so beautiful that it almost seems unreal. Thórsmörk is full of folded valleys and convoluted gorges, glaciers with volcanoes underneath and bizarrely shaped mountains. You have to see it for yourself to believe it’s real. These spectacular hikes are a great way to do so.