Fountains of youth: Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago

Fountains of youth: Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago

The Vestmannaeyjar Islands are the spectacular, dynamic throw up from a series of submarine volcanoes and constitute the youngest islands in the world; the latest, Surtsey, arrived on maps with steamy, rumbling surprise in 1963. Embarking on this vast puffin breeding ground at the charming town of Heimaey, you’ll learn that man battled here with nature and, in a rare instance, won: in 1973 Eldfell erupted, opening up kilometre-long fissures and a series of lava flows. These threatened to overcome the harbour, the centre for the island’s all-important fishing industry. The locals spent several months cooling the lava head with sea water to create a bank that eventually diverted the flow and prevented the destruction of their livelihood. A hike up the still-warm sides of the volcano will give you a much closer perspective on the earth’s power, and you’ll perhaps think that, despite great human effort, the harbour’s days are still numbered.

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