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Wish You Were Here: The Most Infamous Icelandic Volcano of All

Where: Vik, Iceland
May 5, 2014 at 2:45 PM | by | Comments (0)

It's been four years (already!) since the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted and wreaked havoc on international travel. Although volcanologists ranked the eruption low in severity, it was the hulking ash cloud that made headlines. Now, thanks to its having cancelled hundreds of thousands of flights, impacted millions of travelers, and necessitated the development of ash-detection aviation technology, a small parking area with a scenic lookout sees a steady stream of tourist traffic.

Finding the volcano on a map, or viewing some of the seriously humbling photos of the eruption make it seem as though it's in a remote location, far from civilization.

The reality, which we discovered this morning after renting an SUV and driving out to see it for ourselves, is that Eyjafjallajökull is nearly a neighbor of Reykjavik, only a 2-hour drive out along the southern coast. It towers to the left of Iceland's ring road 1, with the whipping whitecap waves of the northern Atlantic Ocean on the right, and precipitous waterfalls chucking down from cliff tops along the route.

The fields and small farm towns around the area are back to business as usual, their fields green and the sky blue, but such a monumental event as that 2010 eruption has had its effect. The tourism demand has even necessitated the creation of Eyjafjallajökull Erupts, a tiny museum run by the woman whose husband snapped the iconic ash cloud photo.

Wish you were here!

Above: the view on the drive out to the volcano is really, ridiculously lovely on a nice day

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher]

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