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Iceland

Leiðarendi Lava Tube

A winding, blood-red tunnel of hardened lava navigable by foot.  

Iceland is world famous for its glaciers, fjords, and beautiful landscapes, but few visitors to the Nordic island ever set foot underground. If you venture just 25 minutes outside of Iceland’s capital, however, to a village called Hafnarfjordur, you’ll find a 3,000-foot-long lava tube that looks like you’re entering the depths of a hardened lava hell.

Translating literally to “The End of the Road,” the Leiðarendi lava tube resembles the inside of an artery more than it does a typical geologic feature in Iceland, giving it the nickname of “volcanic veins.” At the length of over three football fields and easily walkable, the red lava tube of Leiðarendi serves as the perfect getaway for those intrigued by both natural history and adventure, requiring a modest amount of hunching and climbing to complete the caving journey. 

Along the voyage, the tour guides bring visitors to “the world’s darkest place,” a section of the cave that couldn’t possibly be any more pitch black. Complete with drip stalagmites, shark tooth stalactites, lava flakes, and “lava hands,” Leiðarendi was created relatively recently at an estimated two thousand years ago. The lava tube was formed when the Stóri-Bolli (“Big Cup”) crater was ruptured in a volcanic eruption, causing lava to flow outward, molding out Leiðarendi.