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As one of Iceland's most remarkable place to visit and a natural wonder, Þórsmörk is not only beautiful but also packed with things to see and experience plus hiking trails.  A place where you can find peace and quiet and your own little sanctuary by a small creek or under a hunted cliff.  It is an ideal place to take a bus from Reykjavík the capital equipped with hiking shoes, a tent, and supplies for a few days stay.

Þórsmörk is not only beautiful but also packed with things to see and experience

Deep in the Highland of Iceland you will find a very remote and highly interesting place, Kverkfjöll, located at the northeast part of Vatnajokull ice cap, the largest glacier in Europe.  It is a combination of ice and magma lurking under the surface filling it with a warmth that melts the ice from beneath, forming melting ice caves at the edge of the glacier. In few places is it more obvious where fire meets ice. It is the home of Iceland's largest geothermal area, warm geothermal pools, ice caves, challenging hiking paths and harsh landscape between two glacier tongues, Brúaárjökull and Dyngjuökull that regularly deliver signs of possible eruptions.  Kverkfjöll is a place for people who are serious hikers seeking real life adventures and interested in visiting the most exotic places in Iceland. It is not a place to visit for a quick selfie or short visit. It is a place of proper preparation and sufficient gear. It is a place for outdoor enthusiasts who like to hike, ski and climb fascinating mountains.

Kverkfjöll is a place of many options

As part of the Icelandic highland, it is a highly sensitive place in any respect.  Mostly covered with snow a large part of the year Kverkfjöll mountains are only accessible during the months of July through September. The area is always a bit wet and lacks vegetation.  Even in those three months, it is a place where you need to take extreme care when visiting.  Because of its many attractions and natural wonders Kverkfjöll has a good service center, available accommodation, and a camping area. It is an “out of this world” place to visit but harsh and unpredictable. 

Access is not easy and requires a full-size 4X4 vehicle

For the drive to Kverkfjöll, you need a large size 4X4 vehicle, a Toyota Hilux, Toyota Landcruiser, VW Amarok, Land Rover or similar.  It is not a road for a small 4X4 as some of the roads are difficult, and there are rivers to cross.  Rivers that can change rapidly with rain or change in heat. The best route is to drive from Mývatn lake towards the east on Road Nr. 1 and take the mountain road F88 Öskjuleið. After driving approximately 75 kilometers, among other places by Herðubreið the queen of Icelandic mountains, you take a turn on the mountain road F910 Austurleið. After driving approximately 12 kilometers on F910, you take another turn on the mountain road F902 Kverkfjallaleið. After an about 40 kilometer drive, you are at Sigurðarskáli cabin and in Kverkfjöll.  It is about 130 kilometers drive into the most remote area in the Icelandic Highland, and you are now truly in a natural wonderland of landscape and geology. 

Deep in the Highland of Iceland you will find a very remote and highly interesting place, Kverkfjöll,

The mountain ridge Jarlhettur, “The Earls Cap" is easily visible from many places and many angles in southern Iceland. The ridge is 15 kilometers and consists of 20 mountains where each peak is similar to the next, although the height and diameter differ. It is a spectacular sight seen by most visitors driving the Golden Circle with the ice cap Langjökull glacier in the background. The direction of the ridge is the same as most geological fissures in the area, from southwest to the northeast. The visibility is on the east side, and most of the west side is attached to the glacier. It is almost odd to find the name Earl in the Icelandic landscape since Iceland hardly ever had any real Earls governing the land or the people. On the other hand, Icelandic Viking traveled a lot to Europe and was acquainted with Earls and Kings. Unfortunately not alway not always in a polite manner.

Jarlhettur mountain ridge is in contrast with many natural wonders in Iceland

The mountains are of palagonite nature and almost entirely lack vegetation. The lakes and small rivers at the bottom of the mountains are all glacial waters, so everything is gray and somewhat from another planet.  This contrast with many of the magnificent natural beauties in the Icelandic nature makes Jarlhettur ridge, also interesting. Most of the mountains are around eight hundred to nine hundred meters high but the highest one Tröllhetta or Troll Cap, little less than eleven hundred meters.  Most of the mountains are barely climbable as the surface of the steep palagonite mountains is made of small rocks and hard to climb. But those who prepare and dare will enjoy a spectacular view.

Access by car to enjoy the view to Jarlhettur requires a good 4WD car

There are mainly two roads to see Jarlhettur in proximity.  One is to drive from Þingvellir north on the Road Uxahryggjavegur Nr. 550 and take a turn on the rugged mountain road Skjaldbreiðarvegur F338.  On the second part, a few kilometers before you reach Kjalvegur you will have a good view to Jarlhettur in the north.  The second one that will bring you to a proximity of Tröllhetta is to visit Nýifoss waterfall.  

The mountain ridge Jarlhettur, “The Earls Cap" is easily visible from many places and many angles in southern Iceland.

The waterfall Nýifoss or “New waterfall” is actually quite new.  Sometimes referred to as Leynifoss or  The Confidential Waterfall. According to geologists, the waterfall was formed in 1939 when the lake Hagavatna decreased substantially due to the glacial flood coming from under the glacier Langjokull. In the period between 1929 and 1939, the lake Hagavatn changed dramatically, and a part of its eastern side collapsed, burst in the glacial flood and gave way to the water.  Consequently, the water level lowered in the lake and the waterfall Nýifoss was born.  Although Nýifoss is hardly one of our most beautiful waterfalls, it is an interesting one.  Probably because it is quite different than most waterfalls people like to visit.

Different things about Nýifoss compared to many other waterfalls

In addition to being quite, new Nýifoss is located in a sandy gray landscape. A large area around the waterfall and lake Hagavatn is almost without any vegetation.  On the northern side is the southern edge of the glacier Langjökull.  On all other sides is either sand or raw lava.  Because the water is 100% glacial water it is colored with mud, clay, dirt and all kinds of soil that the melting ice carries from under the glacier.  The whole surrounding is like being in a desert or on the moon, but with a lot of water. 

Access is not easy and requires a 4WD of the larger kind

Nýifoss is not far away from Gullfoss, sometimes referred to as Iceland's most spectacular waterfall.  If you continue north on Kjalvegur Nr. 35 from Gullfoss you drive 10 kilometers and you will come to a left turn (west) to Hagavatnsvegur Nr. F35. This road like many F roads in Iceland, mountain roads, require a well equipped 4X4 vehicle. We recommend that you stop in the parking lot in front of the waterfall and walk the last few hundred meters up the track by the waterfall.  There is no point in driving up the steep and difficult part of the track up to the lake.

The waterfall Nýifoss or “New waterfall” is actually quite new.

Driving a well-equipped 4WD vehicle through the Highland when traveling in Iceland is an exciting and probably a once in a lifetime experience for most people. Although a spectacular drive the scenery is quite different from driving the great scenic drive in the West fjords or the in the Eastern Region. The Icelandic Highland is a place where you drive mile after mile or kilometer after kilometer through black sands with a view of gray mountains with limited vegetation.  But fortunately, there are some fascinating places in the Highland that we could label as an oasis that are in striking contrast to the black sands, glaciers, muddy rivers, dusty gravel 4X4 tracks and sandy mountains. One such place is Laugafell in the northern part of the highland road Sprengisandsleið.  

A geothermal pool in the middle of nowhere

At Laugafell you will find one of the many fantastic geothermal pools that are located in the Highland in Iceland. On an island that is relatively young on the geological timeline and basically sits on a magma, it is no surprise to find a warm geothermal pool here and there. The pool in Laugafell is one of the best and most impressive geothermal pools in Iceland. Not surprisingly it draws a lot of visitors to the Highland. The temperature is perfect, and The Touring Club of Akureyri has built a very nice facility to make your visit as wonderful as possible. 

A quarantine for the rich lady from Möðruvellir her people and stock

Unlike many spots and places in the Icelandic Highland Laugafell has been known to Icelanders for centuries.  One reason might be the fairly short distance from the lower inhabited areas north of Laugafell. Another might be the fact that here you find vegetation and warm water.  An old folklore tells the story of a very wealthy woman that moved all her family, servants and stock to Laugafell in the middle of the 14th century to avoid contamination from the severe black death plague.   Apparently, this decision saved everyone as the stayed in a kind of a quarantine while the plague killed over one hundred million people worldwide.

Access to drive to Laugafell is not simple

As the Icelandic highland is only open from the beginning of July until the middle of September, it defines the time you can visit Laugafell.  If you are driving north on F26 Sprengisandsleið, you need to take a turn west on the mountain road F752 and follow that road. If you are in the northern part of Iceland, you drive from Akureyri south on F821 up to the Highland and the road will take you to Laugafell.

Laugafell and the geothermal pool is located at the northern part of Sprengisandur in Iceland

It's already September, and that means that the Highland roads in Iceland are more or less closing down.  Most of the cabins and service on the Highland is also closing, and any service has been terminated. It is the beginning of winter and soon the whole area will be covered with snow.

A mistake many visitors make when traveling in the Icelandic Highland is to hire a small car and to drive it into a river and put themselves in danger when they get stuck in the middle of the stream.
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