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A computerised view of the opening into the stunning cave above the Thrihnukar volcano. PIC VSO

F or many years a number of local people have known about the existence of a gigantic little explored cave above the dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano in Iceland. What is quite remarkable is that this totally unique cave is just minutes away from Reykjavik city.  

Turns out this cave is not just another cave but the eerily empty and massive magma chamber of the aforementioned Thrihnukagigur volcano. It is not only stunning by all measures but also the ONLY place on earth where it is currently possible and safe to explore such a chamber. It is almost a journey to the center of earth as envisioned by Jules Verne.

Although totally unpronounceable, even for locals, we´ll call it Threetop volcano from now on since that is what the name actually means, you will gape in awe should you be so lucky as to take a trip into the abyss. The most northeasterly of the three peaks is a cinder cone standing about 35 m higher than its surroundings. On the top is a funnel shaped opening, narrowing to 4×4 m, the entrance of a huge, 120 m deep, bottle shaped volcanic vault, measuring 49×70 metres at the bottom. Volcanic passages reach down to the southwest tunnel to a total depth of about 200 metres.

Access until recently has mostly been limited to scientists but not anymore. Now anyone can buy access for the tiny amount of 44.000 ISK/ 350$ / 300€). Which is extremely steep price in any language and especially considering that the actual time inside the volcano chamber is but 50 minutes. The rest of the five hour tour is spent getting up and down the crater.

Worth it? You will have to decide for yourself but bear in mind this is truly a unique phenomenon. Indeed, it was the only spot the actor Tom Cruise made an effort to visit while filming Oblivion here in 2013.

The tourism authorities have grand ideas about Threetop volcano in the future. A grand opening will be carved into the rock at base level allowing easy access for everyone. This will take years to complete but will most certainly make it much easier and cheaper to visit. Then again, how much of a natural wonder is a man-made cave opening.

As of time of writing nothing has yet happened to jeopardize the amazing natural phenomena. A good thing too if you ask us. A drilled opening here would see this place flooded day in and day out.

PS: Technically there is nothing stopping folks trying to visit this grand volcanic cave on their own. It is an open spot. However, you´ll need an awful lot of equipment to get down there safely and also carry that heavy equipment quite a ways. Never worth the effort.