Hike Krafla Stora-Viti Crater, Iceland

Overview of the Stora-Viti crater near the town of Myvatn in Iceland.

Stora-Viti, also known as Viti crater, is circular in shape and around 300 meters in diameter. Viti is actually a water filled marr, or explosion crater, on the slopes of the Krafla volcano and part of the Krafla fissure area of northern Iceland.

The Color Of the Lake at Viti Crater

Set amidst colorful mountains and a geothermal active landscape the lake that’s formed at the bottom of the Viti crater is what adds so much visual appeal to the location.

The color of the lake will vary with the changing color of the light throughout the day. Factors that will affect the color of the lake include the following:

  • The time of day that you visit the lake

  • Where you’re standing in relation to the light

  • The weather conditions under which you’re making photos

Ideally you’ll experience beautiful turquoise blue or turquoise green colored waters like I did.

I had a great time hiking around the entire rim of the Krafla Stora-Viti crater making great photos along the way.

Viti Crater - A Blast From The Past

In the Icelandic language viti means hell and the term is applied here in reference to the geothermal violence that occurred at this site in the past.

Stora Viti was formed during an ongoing period of eruptions, lasting 5 years from 1724, on the West side of the Krafla volcano at the beginning of a period known as the Myvatn Fires.

Iceland - The Land Of Fire and Ice

Known as the land of fire and ice Iceland makes great use of the geothermal energy upon which it sits. There’s even a power station on the mountain just south of the lake at Stora Viti.

How to Get to Krafla Viti Crater

Viti is a part of a large geothermal area near the tourist town of Myvatn in northern Iceland.

Famous for Lake Myvatn and the surrounding attractions Myvatn is a great place to base yourself for several days of hiking and exploration in this part of Northern Iceland.

To get to Krafla Viti crater from Myvatn simply drive east on Road 1 for 6 km then turn left and head on until after you pass the power plant.

Keep driving past the first carpark and continue onto the end of the road where the Viti crater carpark awaits you.

Signage could be better, which is probably why I was unsure if I was going the right way. But, as the distance is relatively short, there’s really no need to panic. It might even save time to ask someone in town to draw you a map.

When to Visit Viti Crater

I visited Viti crater on a relative bright and warm day in July, right in the middle of the Icelandic summer.

Apparently the surface of the lake can freeze over during the winter months which, in itself, would provide interesting photo opportunities.

As with most landscape locations arriving very early in the morning or late afternoon would likely provide the best and, possibly, most dramatic lighting conditions.

Unfortunately, with so much to see in the region, I arrived mid morning.

Hiking Around Viti Crater

Surrounded by lava fields and a very colorful landscape Viti is a great place to hike and photograph.

What’s more you’ll find a carpark conveniently situated on the lower edge of the crater walk.

Actually I’d been up most of the night driving and making photos so I was a little unsure about undertaking the hike around Viti crater.

But it proved to be an easy, though windy walk and the views were spectacular.

From memory it’s about a 1 hour walk around the rim, though as I stopped to make photos, it might have taken me a little longer.

One word of warning. You’re quite exposed to the elements, particularly at the higher elevations, while hiking around the rim of Viti crater.

With the in mind it’s advisable to carry a fleece and/or windproof jacket with you.

I also wore good quality hiking boots. While the ground is hard in summer, it’s important to have shoes with good tread on the narrow and steep pathway.

A detailed view of ice at the edge of the water at the centre of the Stora-Viti crater near Myvatn in Iceland.

Safety First For Photographers at Viti Crater

Just be careful to stay on the marked paths as the sides of Viti crater are steep and the surrounding area is still active.

What's more, as the path around the crater is narrow, you might want to avoid making the trek on a very windy day.

Windy days produce the kind of conditions when it’s wise to limit, if not completely avoid, changing lenses outdoors. To do so would be to risk dust landing on your camera's sensor.

Hundreds of tiny particles of dust are not so easy to clean off, particularly if you’ve never done it before and you’re only part way through a major photography adventure.

Photographer hiking around the edge of the Stora-Viti crater near the town of Myvatn in Iceland.

People in the Landscape at Viti Crater

Notice the human figure on the far side of the Viti crater. Including a human figure in a landscape is a great way to bring a sense of scale to your photograph.

Scale is one of the ways by which we can encourage people to view our photos longer and, hopefully, in a more considered way.

Despite the fact that this photo features only one part of the much larger Viti crater rim our human figure gives us a pretty good indication of the size of this significant geographic feature.

In addition to scale, the texture on the side of the Stora-Viti crater and the color contrast between the warm earth and the cool blue color of the sky were my main considerations in making a pleasing composition.

I also waited until the figure moved to a point where he seemed to be standing, as it were, between earth and sky. I think that’s a good metaphor for the Human Condition and I hope you like the image.

Landscape Photos And A Super Wide Lens

I made the photo of the photographer hiking around the edge of the Stora-Viti crater with a Canon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105 mm f/4 IS lens zoomed in to its maximum focal length of 105 mm.

As the foreground was quite a long way from the camera I easily achieved a large depth of field at the relatively moderate aperture of f/8.

Incidentally, f/8 to f/11 is the aperture range at which most lenses with a maximum aperture of f/4 produce optimal sharpness.

I did manage to squeeze in quite a bit of the Stora-Viti crater in the photo at the very top of this post. It took every bit of the 24 mm focal length on my (then) full frame Canon camera to do so.

Nowadays I use a Sony a7RII camera and several lenses, including the fabulous Sony/Zeiss 16-35 mm f/4 lens.

As well as being sharper than my former Canon lens, the significantly wider angle of view offered by this Sony lens would have made it far easier to compose the image.

In particular it would have allowed me to include much more of the crater and the surrounding landscape into the image.

I really love that lens and it's great fun to use.

A small green pool of water and mineral rich soil near the Stora-Viti crater in the Krafla volcanic region of northern Iceland.

How to Photograph Krafla Viti Crater

As you can see the colors in the mineral-rich landscape around the Viti crater are highly saturated.

The landscape around the Krafla Viti crater should photograph well under overcast conditions.

However, you might want to experiment with different natural light white balance settings (i.e., Sunny/Daylight, Cloudy or Shade) to achieve the particular color rendition that most pleases you.

On a bright, sunny day you might want to employ a polarizing filter to reduce the likelihood of color and texture being reflected off the surfaces of earth, snow and water.

If you’ve wondered about the value of polarizing filters to your own photography you’ll want to know the following:

  • How does a polarizing filter improve your photos?

  • How a polarizing filter work?

  • When to use a polarizing filter?

  • What polarizing filter do I use and recommend?

You’ll find the answers to those questions covered, in clear and understandable language, on my post titled Polarizing Filters - Why I Love Them

Myvatn Adventure in North Iceland

You’ll find the Stora-Viti crater located a short drive out of the tourist town of Mÿvatn in northern Iceland. It’s well worth a visit and the hike around the crater is a lot of fun.

The views offered along the route are really quite spectacular and there’s lots of opportunities for great photos on the hike and also while you explore the landscape near the carpark.

Myvatn and the Krafla region are just a few of the jewels for the adventure driven tourist travelling around Iceland on the fabulous Route 1, also known as the Ring Road.

If you have a week or two up your sleeve driving around Iceland is really the best way to experience this diverse and spectacularly beautiful island nation.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru