Iceland, the land of Fire and Ice


From the time the first settlers, the Norwegian Vikings came to Iceland around the year 874, people have lived in the shadows of volcanoes and glaciers. Icelanders have learned to deal with the harsh weather, floods from the glaciers and eruptions for the past 1000 years.

Iceland is a geologically young land located on the Iceland hot spot and Mid-Atlantic Ridge which runs through it. It is known worldwide for its immense geological activity and large glacier and has therefore often been nicknamed the land of Ice and Fire.

In Iceland it can be expected to have new eruption every 3-5 years. Most of them are small and happens in volcanoes far in the highland and usually not affecting many people. But in the year 1783 on 8th June it started an eruption that was going to change the life in Iceland and in the whole world for many years. In fact, the devastation from the 1783 eruption was far more widespread than Iceland. In Iceland, the fallout from the eruption was known as the “Móðuharðindin” (Mist Hardships) as the poisonous gases the craters released were so deadly that 80% of sheep and 50% of horse and cattle perished, as did 20-25% of the human population.

The gases released by Laki contributed to several years of unusual weather patterns across Europe, North America and Africa. North America experienced longer, colder winters. In Europe the weather remained erratic, with the impact on crops in France greatly affecting poverty, spurring the French revolution in 1789.

All in all, millions around the world died in the aftermath of these historic Laki eruptions.

This was the largest eruption since the settlement of Iceland and the accompanying lava flow (Eldhraun) was the third largest on earth since the last Ice Age. Eldahraun is thought to be around 600 square kilometers and up to 15 cubic kilometers.

The stories from the time Laki was erupting only 230 years ago becomes live when Trausti and Guðmann tell you about their own experience during the Grímsvötn eruption 2011. Waking up in total darkness not seeing your own hands because of ash falling from the sky. About the total silence because the ash was so thick it suffocated all sound. It is maybe hard to compare with the farmers 1783.  They lived in turf houses and of course no information available about the situation except when going to church and getting some comfort by listen to the priest compared to today’s people in modern houses with radio, internet and TV to get the latest news. Lakagigar eruption lasted for 8 months comparing to Grímsvötn only 8 days.

Lakagigar is a part of Vatnajökull National Park.  On the 5th of July 2019 Vatnajökull National Park was inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. The decision, which was taken at a meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan confirmed that the natural environment of the Park and the Nature Reserve at Lónsöræfi have a unique value to humankind.


You will travel in a specially modified huge super jeep with experienced local guides.

Super Jeep is a four-wheel drive, all-terrain vehicles equipped with massive suspension systems and tires ranging from 38″ to 46″ size.  Besides using enormous tires, these vehicles have reshaped bodies to house the larger wheels, extended suspension, and a special lift kit to increase the ride height.

Click here to learn more about the specially modified Super Jeep 



The founders of Secret Iceland are the brothers Trausti Ísleifsson and Guðmann Ísleifsson.

They were born in the small southern village Vík í Mýrdal. They moved later to Reykjavík with their mother but always kept a strong bond to Vík and their aunts farm Efri-vík in Kirkjubæjarklaustur were they often spend the summers as kids.

In 1992 they started their successful business together as contractors working for Reykjavík City. The main work was to make roads and pavements. The business started small but soon grew to be quite big on Icelandic scale with more than 35 people on pay role.

In the year 2008 everything changed as the Icelandic banks became too large and collapsed all as one in the bank crisis that started in USA. Many companies got bankrupted as well as many families. The brothers saw it coming and started to prepare for the crisis two years earlier. It helped but Reykjavík City almost got bankrupted and stopped all constructions meaning the company lost all work. While waiting for things to get better something happened that were going to change everything.

On 20th March 2010 started a small eruption in Fimmvörðuháls between the glaciers Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull. The eruption was rather small and if you got a super jeep you could easily get there by crossing the glacier Mýrdalsjökull. People were eager get there to see the eruption so just few days later the brothers got the idea of taking tourists to the eruption using the specially modified super jeep they had together. This turned out to be great success and people loved to see eruption in progress. In general, most eruptions are dangerous but this one turned out to be quite “harmless” and “tourist friendly” were you could see it in close proximity and people even tried to barbeque food in the hot lava.

This eruption lasted for few weeks and slowly faded out and stopped. Only two days later Eyjafjallajökull started to erupt and that was not tourist friendly. The dark ash covered large part of Iceland and even caused problems in the international flight. The fun was over. Airplanes were grounded all over the world and people were stuck on airports as in Iceland as well. Maybe going into tourist business would not be so good idea after all. Maybe people would hate Iceland for all the problem it caused.

It turned out to be the opposite. People were interested and wanted to visit this little volcanic Island in the north that caused all this problem, especially after seeing pictures of the landscape.

The brothers decided to proceed the project and started to offer guided tours to Lakagigar (craters of Laki) in summer 2010. They know the area of Lakagigar as their own hand as they started to go there with the farmers when they were only 12-13 years old. Icelandic farmers have put their sheep to the highlands since the settlements and must collect them back before the winter comes. In the tour they tell stories from the old days when they were helping to collect the sheep on their horse and the fact that their father and uncle made the road to Lakagigar in 1964.  Today the the road is maintained by the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration.  It is still a rough track and is not suitable for smaller 4×4 cars.

Secret Iceland is a licensed tour operator, authorised by the Icelandic Tourist Board since 2010.


Wilderness First Responder Badge from NOLS Wilderness Medicine


Contact us for more information on the tours or anything else you need to know.

Tel +354 660 1151

Fjölverk ehf - Secret Iceland.

ID. 630195-2259
Sudurengi 7
800 Selfoss

Monday - Friday: 10.00 - 17.30

If you have any questions or comments then please don’t hesitate to send us a message and we will do our best to accommodate you.

Send message