Kerið: A Volcanic Crater Lake in South Iceland

iceland tourism private land

Kerið is a volcanic caldera in the Grímsnes volcano system in southern Iceland, formed as a result of an inward collapse of a volcano about 6,500 years ago. The caldera is about 270 m [886 ft] long and 170 m [558 ft] wide, with a depth of 55 m [180 ft]. Its lake’s depth varies between 7-14 m [23-46 ft]. Kerið is known for its visually attractive palette. The lake has a distinct teal colour due to the soil’s minerals. Its surrounding hills are composed of low bushes, moss and red lava; the red colour is due to the oxidation of the magma’s iron (hematite). 

Visiting Kerið

Kerið is located on a private property owned and managed by Arctic Adventures. As of 2024, the entry fee is ISK 450 [$3.25, €3], and it is open all year. Swimming or drinking the water is not allowed. It is one of the destinations on the famous Golden Circle route, which includes stops such as Gullfoss waterfall, Haukadalur geothermal area and Þingvellir National Park. 

It is easily to get to if you are on a self-drive tour and it is also a featured stop in many of the best Golden Circle Tours. Below you will find a list of recommended Golden Circle Tours with a stop at Kerið:

How to get to Kerið

Via Route 1 and Route 35, Kerið is a 67 km [42 mi] drive from Reykjavík city centre. From the capital, drive south on Route 1 for about 55 km [34 mi] before turning left on Route 35 towards Laugarvatn lake. Drive for about 13 km [8 mi], and you will see the parking area on your right. Kerið is right by the parking lot, so hiking is not required; however, there is a 1.4 km [0.9 mi] trail around the caldera for added vantage points.

Climate and weather conditions

Kerið is accessable all year round. Overall, Kerið experiences relatively cool temperatures throughout the year, with precipitation occurring in all seasons. Visitors should be prepared for variable weather conditions and dress accordingly, especially if visiting during the colder months.

For photography, the best times to visit Kerið will differ by season:

  • Summer (June-August): Early morning or late evening during the golden hour for soft, warm light.

  • Spring (April-May): Aim for golden hours to highlight the thawing landscape and contrasting colors.

  • Autumn (September-October): Early morning or late evening for warm foliage tones, with midday clear days offering crisp light.

  • Winter (November-March): Daylight hours, especially late morning to mid-afternoon on clear days, for stark contrasts between snow and volcanic rock.

Remember, Iceland’s weather is variable, so stay flexible and consider how light affects your composition.

In summary, Kerið is a scenic volcanic crater lake, ideally located on the Golden Circle Route. It is very easy to access, it’s photogenic and suitable for kids, seniors and anyone in between.

Tour Operator Arctic Adventures Buys Kerið Crater

iceland tourism private land

Arctic Adventures has acquired all shares of Kerfélagið, the main asset of which is Kerið in Grímsnes, a popular tourist destination in South Iceland. Viðskiptablaðið reports.

The tour operator bought the shares from Óskar Magnússon, Ásgeir Kristinsson, Sigurður Gísli Pálmason, and Jón Pálmason, who held a quarter stake in the company.

A natural gem

In a statement to the press, Óskar Magnússon, chairperson of Kerfélagið, stated that “everything has its time.” The company has owned Kerið for 23 years, he stated, but it is clear that the next phase of development in the area is approaching.

Óskar continued: “We consider this an opportune time to pass the torch so that new owners can build according to their vision. Arctic Adventures is a reliable and thriving company that will undoubtedly continue to enhance Kerið. At this juncture, we, as shareholders, have decided to establish a dedicated fund to support sustainable environmental protection in the spirit that has proven successful in the development of Kerið. We have had a unique collaboration with the farmers and other neighbours in the area. It is our firm belief and experience that this type of operation is best served with strong local involvement, as we have been fortunate to enjoy.”

In their announcement, Arctic Adventures stated that their policy is to offer sustainable and eco-friendly travel services. Among other destinations managed by the company are the Raufarhólshellir caves on the Reykjanes peninsula and “Into the Glacier,” a tunnel and popular tour destination in Langjökull glacier.

Ásgeir Baldur, CEO of Arctic Adventures, stated: “Kerið is one of the most remarkable natural gems in the country. We believe there are good opportunities for further development in the area, as well as ongoing nature conservation efforts. Kerið is on a popular route and accessible for longer or shorter sightseeing trips. We are pleased to have secured these acquisitions and are planning developments. Arctic Adventures is committed to environmental protection, and our relationship with nature is of utmost importance to us.”

Many of Iceland’s most popular tourist sites are located on privately owned land, though Icelandic law ensures that the public can access these areas. Other notable tourist destinations on privately owned land include Geysir, Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, and Reynisfjara beach.

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