Drive American

Published on Monday, August 6, 2012

Iceland's newest tourist attraction will blow your mind

In a country that's not short of awesome, jaw-dropping sights, it's Iceland's newest tourist attraction that's grabbing the headlines this year - a trip 400 feet down inside the magma chamber of the dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano.


Astonishingly, it's not hard to experience this - the volcano is only 30kms outside Reykjavik so it's easily accessible, even to those on a mini-break or short stopover in Iceland.


However, you must tell your clients to hurry if they want to be among the 2000 or so people in the world to descend into the bowels of a once-active volcano as the company is only running tours until August 20 and there's no guarantee they will be available again next year.


The company's long-term plan is to drill a tunnel to provide easy access to the volcano, situated just 30kms outside Reykjavik, but they don't yet have permission and much depends on how much damage this year's tours have caused to the local environment.


The tour costs ISK 37,000, about £190 per person, which is expensive, even for Iceland, but for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (this is the only place in the world where you can go into a magma chamber) there seems to be no shortage of tourists prepared to stump up the cost. Tours were originally only due to run till the end of July, the they proved so popular they were extended until August 20.


It's hardly surprising there has been such demand for this unique experience; as I said in the video, the images barely sum up the feeling of awe you experience inside the vast chamber, where the colours of the once molten rock are beyond belief.


Among the lucky few to have joined expeditions since they started in June are movie stars Tom Cruise and Ben Stiller and, joining us in the bowls of the volcano, British actor Paul Bettany (The Da Vinci Code) and his wife, actress Jennifer Connelly, who is currently filming the biblical epic Noah in Iceland alongside Russell Crowe.


The tour takes a total of five to six hours. Clients are picked up in the centre of Reyjavik and dropped close to Iceland's largest ski resort, from where it's an hour's trek over lava fields to the crater. Tell them to take a good pair of trainers or hiking shoes, a sweater, gloves and a waterproof jacket, it can be chilly even in the summer and inside the chamber it's no more than 5 degrees, and wet.

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