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The Highland

The Highland

Iceland’s highlands are spectacular, incomparable and well worth a visit. The terrain is as rugged as it is breathtaking. Guided tours are available but should you prefer to undertake a trip to the area on your own, certain preparations and precautions should be taken. Keep abreast of weather forecasts and road conditions. Ascertain your vehicle is adequate for the task, well maintained and that all emergency equipment is functional; a four-wheel drive utility vehicle is recommended.  Dress warmly and pack extra clothing. Ensure your cell phone is fully charged and consider other means of radio communication. Carry the most current road maps and inform others of your projected route and destination. With proper planning, a highland trek can be a memorable and exhilarating experience.

Blahnukur in Landmannalaugar

The very most popular mountain in the Landmannalaugar-region to walk on top on. It´s a 945 m. above sea-level wiewpoint, with a horizont-disc on the top.

Domadalur

A valley at the west side of lava Dómadalshraun. It has a small lake with brown-trout in it. F225, Dómadalsleið lies through it. Supposingly this was the meeting-point for people from two counties in the flatland, where strong rivers separated them (dómur=judgement).

Hrafntinnusker

Hrafntinnusker in Torfajökull glacier is place you have to look at. The English name of this 1128 m high mountain is The Obsidian Skerry. It is situated some distance east of the infamous volcano Hekla. It is accessible by 4wd vehicles from the north and south

Kerlingarfjöll Mountains

The mountain massif Kerlingarfjöll (The Giantess Mountains; 800 - 1500 m) is the main ornament in the chain of mountains and glaciers framing the Kjölur area. It covers about 150 km² area southeast of The Temple Glacier (Hofsjökull) It derives its name from a single, 25 m high and dark hyaloclastite pillar protruding from the light colored, rhyolite scree of the peak Kerlingartindur. The aforementioned types of rock represent the main structure of the mountain massif and this yellowish tint is the dominant color in the area.
The area is full of small steaming hot springs, mudpools and water fountains. It is truly a hikers paradise. It is one of the largest geothermal areas in all of Europe and there are future plans to construct a large geothermal steam plant here for electricity to harness the massive amounts of energy stored here. The area is very unique, sensitive and beautiful - why such a decision may be controversial if proper conservational steps are not taken when doing so.
It is recommended to use 4wd vehicles because of the various and changing condition of the tracks and unbridged rivers, which have to be forded with the greatest of care. It is also recommended that people read the special brochure on driving in the interior before heading up there and remember, that off road driving is strictly forbidden. Many of those who have visited the interior catch the bug and the only remedy is to come back again and again. It is like an incurable disease. Travelling across the interior was common during the Saga period, but after that up to the middle of the 18th century, superstition kept people away. Nowadays - more and more people enjoy this part of the country the whole year round.
The small glacier patches up there have been retreating fast and now the summer skiing school, which was operated for decades, exists no more. Its complex of houses is now being used to accommodate travelers in the area during the summer months.

The small glacier patches up there have been retreating fast and now the summer skiing school, which was operated for decades, exists no more. Its complex of houses is now being used to accommodate travelers in the area during the summer months.

Landmannalaugar - Nature Reserve

Landmannalaugar derives its name from a hot pool that rises from under the Laugahraun lava field. Landmannalaugar has been a stopping point for people for centuries, and the mountain shepherds on Landmannaafréttur have stayed there while herding sheep off the mountain for as long as there have been reports of such travel.

Many beautiful mountains can be seen from Landmannalaugar: Barmur, Bláhnúkur, Brennisteinsalda, Suðurnám and Norðurnám. There are considerable deposits of rhyolite, obsidian and rhyolite lava in the area, and the Landmannalaugar landscape is famous for its colourfulness and unique environs.

The start of one of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland, Laugavegurinn, is at Landmannalaugar. The trail proceeds along Hrafntinnusker, Álftavatn, Hvanngil, Emstrur and ends in Þórsmörk.

Ferðafélag Íslands (the Iceland Touring Association) provides facilities, such as showers and accommodation, for travellers at Landmannalaugar. In addition, there is a horse rental and a small café operated during the summer.

Langisjór Lake, Fögrufjöll, Grænifjallgarður

Langisjór is a lake that's 20 km long and 2 km wide in some places. The lake is to the southwest of Vatnajökull, between the mountains Tungnárfjöll and Fögrufjöll, in a beautiful and picturesque landscape. Its square measure is 27 km², it reaches a depth of 75 m and the water surface is 670 m above sea level.

Ljótipollur

Explotion crater in the Nature Reserve of Fjallabak. Part of the Veiðivötn volcanic fissure system and was formed
in historical time. The lake inside the crater is
0,43 km² and 14 m deep and has trout fish. Since there is no inlet or outlet to the lake, it is not clear how the fish got there. The naming of the crater translates
to „Ugly puddle“.  

Lónsöræfi

In Lón District, the most eastern area of the Vatnajökull Region, lie the Stafafellsfjöll mountains, also called Lónsöræfi. They dominate the skyline east of Vatnajökull glacier and have long comprised one of Iceland's most extensive protected areas. Besides the deep, rugged canyons, the landscape displays a wide range of colours owing to the presence of rhyolite and other colourful rocks. In contrast, there are also lushly vegetated and sheltered valleys offering a very good chance of spotting reindeer. The numerous hiking
trails make this area perfect for hiking. Keep in mind that getting there can be very dificult and one should seek advice from a visitor- or information centre before attempting to go there.

Ofaerufoss - Nyrdri Ofaera river

Ófærufoss is an extremely beautiful waterfall in the river Nyrðri-Ófæra and falls into Eldgjá in two cascades. There used to be a stone arch across the lower one up until the year 1993, when it fell into the river during spring thawing. From Northern Fjallabaksleið it is possible to drive into Eldgjá and walk from there to the Ófærufoss. A road lies up to the eastern edge of Eldgjá. To get there, one needs to cross the river Nyrðri-Ófæra at a wading place, which can be risky. It is safe to recommend a walk up the mountain Gjátindur, from where there is magnificent view of Eldgjá, mountains by Langisjór and Lakagígur and its surroundings.

Ófærufoss falls into Eldgjá in Skaftártunguafréttur. Eldgjá is an approx. 40 km long eruptive fissure, approx. 600 meters wide in many places, and up to 200 meters deep. When it was formed, probably around 934, there were likely eruptions along the whole extent of it. The fissure is believed to reach under Mýrdalsjökull glacier. From Eldgjá, extensive streams of lava have flowed through Landbrot and Meðalland, reaching sea at Alviðruhamrar in Álftaver. The lava-field is believed to cover 700 km², which makes it one of the vastest lava-fields on earth in historical times, that is, after the last ice age.

Eldgjá is believed to belong to the same crater system as Katla. Eldgjá is a unique natural phenomenon and is listed as natural remnants. Plans to make Eldgjá and its surrounding area a part of Vatnajökull National Park are in place.
Theories have surfaced that suggest that the Eldgjá eruptions had even more effect in Europe then the Lakagígar eruptions. According to newly discovered evidence, crop failure, plagues and other disasters occurred in both Europe and the Middle East at that time. It has also been speculated that these eruptions caused more damage than the eruptions of Lakagígar.

Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajökull National Park, established in 2008, encompasses not only all of Vatnajökull glacier but also extensive surrounding areas. These include the national parks previously existing at Skaftafell in the south-east and Jökulsárgljúfur in the north. Today Vatnajökull National Park covers 14% of Iceland and ranks as Europe's second largest.
In general, national parks are protected areas which are considered unique due to nature or cultural heritage. The unique qualities of Vatnajökull National Park are primarily its great variety of landscape features, created by the combined forces of rivers, glacial ice, and volcanic and geothermal activity.

Description
Vatnajökull is Europe's largest glacier, with a surface area of around 8,100 km2. Generally measuring 400-600 m in thickness and at the most 950 m, the glacial ice conceals a number of mountains, valleys and plateaus. It even hides some active central volcanoes, of which Bárðarbunga is the largest and Grímsvötn the most active. While the icecap rises at its highest to over 2,000 m above sea level, the glacier base reaches its lowest point 300 m below sea level. Nowhere in Iceland, with the exception of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, does more precipitation fall or more water drain to the sea than on the south side of Vatnajökull. In fact, so much water is currently stored in Vatnajökull that the Icelandic river with the greatest flow, Ölfusá, would need over 200 years to carry this quantity of water to sea.

The south side of Vatnajökull is characterised by many high, majestic mountain ridges, with outlet glaciers descending between them onto the lowlands. The southernmost part of the glacier envelops the central volcano Öræfajökull and Iceland's highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur. Sheltered by the high ice, the vegetated oasis of Skaftafell overlooks the black sands deposited to its west by the river Skeiðará. These sands are mostly composed of ash which stems from the frequent eruptions at Grímsvötn and is brought to the coast by jökulhlaups, or glacial floods. Substantial volcanic activity also characterises the landscape west of Vatnajökull, where two of the world's greatest fissure and lava eruptions of historical times occurred, at Eldgjá in 934 and Lakagígar 1783-1784. Vonarskarð, northwest of the glacier, is a colourful high-temperature area and a watershed between North and South Iceland.

Preservation objectives
The objectives of designating Vatnajökull as a preservation area, along with the main regions it affects, are the following:
• To protect the nature of the region, including the landscape, biota and geological formations, as well as cultural features
• To allow the public to get to know and enjoy regional nature, culture and history
• To provide education on nature and nature conservation and on regional history, society and cultural features, as well as encouraging research to gain greater knowledge of these aspects
• To strengthen communities and business activity in the vicinity of the park.

Visitor centres and other tourist information offices working with the park
Visitor centres and other tourist information offices working with the park provide information and services for the park and its immediate environs. The following offices operate along the south coast of Iceland:
Skaftárstofa Visitor Centre | Kirkjubæjarklaustur | open in summer
Skaftafellsstofa Visitor Centre | Skaftafell | open all year
Skálafell farm | Suðursveit | varying hours - all year
Hoffell farm | Nes | varying hours - all year
Gamlabúð Visitor Centre | Höfn | open all year *
*Opening hours for Christmas and New Year celebration can be found on the website http://www.vjp.is

Veidivotn Lakes

Veidivötn Lakes are a magnificent highland oasis. They are a friend in the desert, which no one should miss. The crater formations here are of a true extrarterrestrial character and environment something truly unique. The contrast between black sand and gin clear waters is very unique and many travelers find this to be the highlight of their visit.

This part of the country is among the youngest (1477) and wildest pearls of the central highlands. It comprises about 50 lakes of different sizes, most of which are so-called crater lakes. The area is about 20 km long and 5 km wide and has a southwest - northeast direction. The craters and the lakes lie in two rows. You have to ford the small river between the two Fossvotn lakes to get into the area. Most of the lakes are fed and discharged underground because the lava fields and the scoria are very permeable.

Some of the very best brown trout & arctic char fishing in Iceland (or anywhere) is found here. The lakes are rich in natural trout that are believed to be from one of the oldest stocks in Europe. They vary in size, 3-6 pounders being common, but they can occasionally reach up to incredible 25 lbs in size. They are known for their excellent taste, which many say is naturally spiced. Inquire about fishing here well in advance as the area is usually heavily booked.

The road from Veidivötn continues north to Jökulheimar on the west of Tungnaarjökull, one of the valley glaciers that "flows" from Vatnajökull. This is a destination that is still somewhat of a well-kept secret and undiscovered by foreign travelers. Usually the road here is open 15 June to the middle of October - only accesible by 4WD vehicles. This is a good place to "get away from it all" - the silence is often total, unbroken even by bird calls.

South Iceland

Towns & Villages

The south of Iceland has several towns and villages, each with its own style, charm and points of interest. Selfoss is the largest town and has a variety of shops, services, many restaurants and fast food places. Most towns are close to the main route, making them accessible and enjoyable.

Explore map by categories

Map Höfn Kirkjubæjarklaustur Vík Vestmannaeyjar Hvolsvöllur Flúðir Laugarvatn Reykholt Laugarás Borg Brautarholt Hveragerði Árnes Selfoss Hella Stokkseyri Eyrarbakki Þykkvibær Þórlákshöfn