Mount Hekla is located in the highly active volcanic zone along the south shore and is the most active volcano in Iceland with more than 20 eruptions since 874. Hekla is part of a volcanic ridge, 40 km (25 mi) long. The most active part of this ridge is a fissure about 5.5 km (3.4 mi) long named Heklugjá, is considered to be the volcano Hekla proper. The volcano resembles an overturned boat, its keel a series of craters, two of which are generally the most active.

Hekla has had at least twenty eruptions since the settlement of Iceland in 874 AD. The biggest eruption was in 1104 AD when it erupted without warning, ejecting millions of tonnes of tephra. It erupted four times in the 20th century, the last time in 2000.

The area around Hekla was once forested. Forest and some grasses are much more resilient to ash and pumice fall than low vegetation, but the combined effect of human habitation and the volcanic activity has left an unstable surface very susceptible to erosion. The Hekluskógar reforestation project is working to restore the previously present birch and willow woodland to the slopes of Hekla. This would stabilize the large areas of volcanic ash and help to reduce erosion. It is the largest reforestation of its type in Europe.

In Icelandic Hekla is the word for a short hooded cloak which may relate to the frequent cloud cover on the summit. After the eruption of 1104, stories, probably spread deliberately through Europe by Cistercian monks, told that Hekla was the gateway to Hell. It has also been called the prison of Judas and there is still a legend that witches gather on Hekla for Easter.


Recommended tours in this area


Landmannalaugar and Hekla Volcano

A unique tour in Super Jeep through the rugged terrain of Fjallabak, a region in the southern interior. Drive along Mt. Hekla towards Landmannalaugar and the renowned geothermal baths.

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Around Iceland

This 10-day/9-night self-drive favorite explores Iceland's rich natural treasures, including national parks, beautiful waterf...

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Active Iceland

Classic sights along the Ring Road on this self-drive tour with fixed dates

Duration: 10 days/9 nights

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