Iceland’s Grímsvötn volcano, located in the Vatnajökull glacier, erupted on Sunday, 22 May emitting a column of smoke about 18 000 feet high into the air. This is the sight that South Africans Riaan Manser and Dan Skinstad witnessed from the safety of Höfn a small town located below the glacier of Vatnajökull.
Riaan and Dan, who are on a quest to be the first South Africans to circumnavigate Iceland by kayak, arrived in Vatnajökull last week. After conquering the rough seas of north east Iceland, their hope was to paddle through the glacial lagoons of Vatnajökull, one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Instead, the team witnessed the ash cloud rising from the volcano.
Mark von Bentheim, marketing manager of the Windhoek trademark in South Africa and lead sponsor of the expedition said, “We were naturally concerned when we heard about the Grímsvötn volcano erupting. With last year’s volcanic eruption in Iceland and the havoc it caused still fresh in our memories, we were relieved to hear that our guys were safe.
"The team’s courage has to be admired. At the sighting of a volcano erupting, many others would have given up and headed home to safety. They really are living the saying ‘come hell or high water’ in their mission to break this record.”
An excited Riaan Manser said that their arrival in Vatnajökull was well-timed, allowing them the incredible experience of witnessing the volcano first-hand. The pair had been held up by bad weather and had not yet reached the numerous river mouths and estuaries below Vatnajökull glacier which would have put them in harm’s way.
But they are not out of the woods yet. “The dangers are still manageable at this point as the volcanic cloud seems to be blowing to the South. However, once back on the water we may be affected by strong flood waters and debris, caused by the volcano close, to river mouths,” said a cautious Manser.
Currently waiting for the storms on the south coast to ease up, Riaan and Dan have geared up to hit the water in Vatnajökull on their journey towards the South of Iceland.
Watch the latest video footage here: