#crater

Laki is a rather small mountain similar to many other mountains in Iceland but unlike other mountains, as it has an extraordinary reputation.  Laki Mountain is approximately 820 meters high and stands 300 meters over its surrounding area deep in the highland of Iceland. Before June 8th, 1783 Laki was just an ordinary lonely and peaceful mountain. But all that changed when large fissures opened both to the west and east side of the mountain forcing an unprecedented amount of magma to the surface.  Although Laki was more or less unharmed, the eruption ripped the northeastern part of Laki apart leaving some interesting cracks in that part of the mountain.  Contrary to outspread writings and wrong information Laki had nothing to do with the Skaftáreldar eruption. Laki is not even a crater or a volcano. But when people came to the source of the catastrophic events when things cooled down in 1784 they named the craters on both sides after Laki, the Laki craters. 

A rewarding trip to go to Laki

The mountain Laki is deep in the Icelandic highland.  It is a place you could easily call a geological and geographic wonderland.  After the eruption, Laki became an excellent place to climb to view the magnitude and source of the Skaftáreldar eruption.  As time passed, more and more people became interested in this one of a kind place.  Today it is becoming one of the main attractions in the Icelandic highland and probably soon one of the main attractions in Iceland.  A path to walk up to the top is on the south side and another to go down on the west side of Laki.  It is a good trail that is quite easy to walk and very rewarding, as the view is stunning.  The cracks on the northeastern side are also quite impressive, especially when you think about how they were formed.

The trip and drive to Laki is a day tour

The drive to Laki is a rough, hard road with rivers to cross, and only fit for a real 4WD.  This part of Iceland is only accessible during summer from the end of June until the middle of September.  The drive also requires a lot of patience as your average speed the whole 40 kilometers is probably under 30 kilometers per. hour.  The same applies for the drive back. You start your drive by turning north on the Ring Road Nr. 1 on the south shore a short distance west of the small village of Kirkjubærjarklaustur. Here you turn to Holtsvegur Road Nr. 206. After driving just two kilometers past the farm Hunkubakkar, you turn north again to the Lakavegur Highland and Mountain Road Nr. F206.  Follow the road for 40 kilometers, and you will reach Laki.  You can even make more of the tour by visiting Fagrifoss Waterfall and Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon on your way back. 

The Laki trail is a good walk that is quite easy to walk and very rewarding, as the view is stunning.

Valagjá is a name of a volcanic crater located near the mountain road Landmannaleið in the southern part of the Icelandic highland.  The geological term for the crater is maar, and it is a similar phenomenon as a few other craters like Víti, Grænavatn and the nearby Hnausapollur and Ljótipollur, but without the water.  The meaning of the term maar is actually an explosion crater.  Although Valagjá might not be a major attraction, it is an interesting stop for visitors that are not in a hurry and are interested in geology and landscape as Valagjá is actually more than one crater.

Landscape like you can envision at the planet Mars

Arriving at Valagjá, you get the feeling of a distant place and isolation.  The surrounding seems lifeless, as vegetation is struggling.   It is a landscape of sand, volcanic ash and mountains.  But interestingly there is color in the lava, which gives it a more mystical atmosphere.  A walk along the brim gives you a better overview but remember to have your hiking shoes on.  This is a harsh landscape and a bit difficult place to walk, but a short hike is worthwhile.

Landmannaleið road

When you drive from Reykjavík, and you plan to drive (Dómadalsleið) Landmannaleið it is recommended that you rent a good 4X4 vehicle.  On the southern part of the Ring Road, you look out for the road Landvegur Nr. 26 after you pass the bridge on the mighty river Þjórsá.  You need to drive approximately 50 kilometers north, and by the mountain Búrfell, you take a right turn on Landmannaleið mountain road Nr. F225.  About 15 kilometers drive will get you to a split on the road with a sight pointing to Valagjá, which is only about two kilometers from this intersection.  When you have made your stop it is recommended to go back on F225 and continue on Landmannaleið and along the way you can stop at some fascinating places like Rauðifoss, Ljótipollur and of course Landmannalaugar.

Arriving at Valagjá, you get the feeling of a distant place and isolation.

Although nothing but, this beautiful maar or volcanic crater bears the name ugly as a name.  Ljótipollur translated means ugly puddle or ugly pound.  But most craters that have lakes within them are exceptionally scenic and photogenic.  Ljótipollur is no exception with its read and vegetated slopes and visible lava layers at the brim.  Maars are usually quite deep as the water originates in ground water below and do not have any creeks into or out of the lake, only underground.  Most often craters with small lakes have this beautiful turquoise blue lake which gives the crater an enhance value for photographers.   All such craters are great attractions for photographers.

Ljótipollur crater is quite accessible

Like its neighbor Hnausapollur, the meer Ljótipollur is part of the Veiðivötn volcanic fissure system.  It is easily accessible from the mountain road Fjallabak Nyrðri F208 only a few kilometers from Landmannalaugar. And like all natural wonders in the highland of Iceland, only accessible during summer.  If you are going to visit Landmannalaugar, you might want to take the hike from the camping area to Ljótipollur and enjoy the magnificent lava and rhyolite mountains along the way in a peaceful manner. The crater is around 1.5 kilometers long, and the brims are quite high.  The form makes it a bit difficult to capture in one shot son prepare yourself with a 12 to 15 mm lens on the camera.

The view from Ljótipollur is also spectacular

One advantage of driving up the short distance from F208 to the brim of Ljótipollur is the view.  Although the elevation from the road is less than 100 meters, the view to the east and south is spectacular.  All this adds to the photo opportunity, as the view is also a great background to the many colors by Ljótipollur.  Red lava rocks, layers of lava, green vegetation and turquoise blue water on the lake. 

 

Ljótipollur is no exception with its read and vegetated slopes and visible lava layers at the brim.

The crater Tjarnargígur or Pond Crater is one of many craters created in the infamous 1783 - 1784 eruption Skaftáreldar in Iceland. The row of craters stretches over an area of 25 kilometers. Because of the young geological age of Tjarnargígur, the whole area around the crater is very sensitive consisting mostly of lava and moss.  Although there are many craters at Lakagígar, Tjarnargígur is one of the most impressive. One of the reasons is the water that forms a small pond within the crater.  The water is pristine and because of the small diameter and the 12 meter depth the pound has a beautiful turquoise color, at least on a clear day.  Consequently, the crater Tjarnargígur is quite photogenic and worth it to visit if you decide to take the driving tour to Lakagígar and Laki.

One of the most impressive natural wonders in the Highland

Lakagígar, The Laki Craters, is located int the middle of the Icelandic Highland. Like all places in the Highland, it is only open part of the year. Usually, the road opens late June or in the first two weeks of July depending on how fast the road dries up after the snow melts during spring. Most of the interesting places around Tjarnargígur and other craters were created in the Skaftáreldar eruption.  There is a parking lot by Tjarnargígur with excellent facilities to stop and have a picnic.  By the crater there are two interesting walking paths; one around the pound and another, a bit longer, in the lava. Both have a mystical atmosphere as the whole surrounding along the way is unusual, due to the peace and quiet while walking through a lava covered with thick moss.

Access is not easy and requires a 4WD vehicle

The crater Tjarnargígur is located approximately 6 kilometers west of Laki crater and mountain.  To drive to Laki and Tjarnargígur is a rugged, difficult road with many rivers to cross, and only fit for a good 4WD. It also requires a lot of patience as your average speed the whole 40 kilometers is probably under 30 kilometers per. hour.  The same applies for the drive back. You start you drive by turning north on the Ring Road Nr. 1 on the south shore near the small village of Kirkjubærjarklaustur. Here you turn to Holtsvegur Road Nr. 206. After driving just two kilometers, you turn north again to the Lakavegur Highland Road Nr. F206.  When you reach Laki, you turn west on the Highland Road F207 to go to Tjarnargígur. 

The crater Tjarnargígur or Pond Crater is one of many craters created in the infamous 1783 - 1784 eruption Skaftáreldar in Iceland.

Just a few kilometers south of the Geothermal area Seltún at Krísuvík is a small lake, Grænavatn (Greenlake). The lake is a volcanic crater that got its name from its unusual green color. The color is due to a high level of sulphur in the water and its depth.  The lake is only about few hundred meters in diameter and offers a perfect trail for a refreshing walk, as it only takes about 20 minutes to walk around the lake.  For a small lake it is quite deep, though, or 45 meters.  This is visible as you stand by the brim, and you can see how the color changes by the shoreline where the lake gets deeper. Grænavatn is considered by geologists to be one of the most noteworthy geological phenomena of its kind in Iceland.

A failed venture that almost destroyed the lake

Many visitors wonder what the deal is with the two silage towers and the decaying cowhouse right by the lake.  This is one of those unfortunate projects initiated at a time when understanding of nature was limited, and respect for natural wonders easily gave way for economic ventures. Although this was not such a long time ago, in the fifties, the whole project almost ruined the lake as some of its surroundings were altered in the process.  Needless to say, the whole venture failed, and the people and the Hafnarfjörður municipality behind it have not yet had the decency to remove this horrible building and heal the area around the lake.

Grænavatn and folklore

Due to its unusual nature and color, the lake has been a source of folklore stories throughout the centuries.  Only as recently as the middle of the 16th century an odd creature was spotted coming from the lake.  The lake is almost on the main road Krísuvíkurvegur (42) and can be seen as you pass by it only a few hundred meters from Seltún the geothermal area. 

 

Just a few kilometers south of the Geothermal area Seltún at Krísuvík is a small lake, Grænavatn (Greenlake).

 

The crater Eldborg is extraordinary for many reasons. It has a beautiful shape and is quite noticeable as it stands alone and rises 100 meters above sea level, high over its surroundings. You just can't miss it when driving road 54 at Snæfellsnes.  The crater has a regular oval form with a length of 200 meters and a depth of 50 meters. The sides are quite thin and steep on the inside and outside.  It is an amazing natural structure, like a fortress or a castle, protecting the 32 square kilometers of lava that it delivered from the magma below.

Eruption in historical times

The crater erupted in historical times, right about when people were first coming to settle on this challenging island, around twelve hundred years ago. The eruption is even mentioned in our Book of Settlement telling a story of a farm that the fire consumed right where the crater stands today. And then the lava started cooling and begun to foster all kinds of plants moss and small trees. 

How to find and go to Eldborg

Eldborg is easily accessible although it takes a bit of an effort. You take a left turn if you are driving from Reykjavík and coming from Borgarnes to the farm Snorrastaðir, road S610.  There is a parking lot by the farm which offers accommodation as part of the Icelandic Farm Holidays. Here the walk to the edge of the crater is around 3 kilometers or approximately 40 minutes walk.  So if yo decide to take this excellent walk through a beautiful lava up to the crater, expect two and a half hour or more, depending on the time you spend taking photos. 

 

The crater Eldborg at Snæfellsnes is extraordinary for many reasons.

Lakagígar, the Laki craters, is composed of a 25 kilometers row of craters near the eastern side of Vatnajökull ice cap in the Icelandic Highland. In June 1783, the largest eruption in historical times Skaftáreldar began here with terrible consequences for people, not only in Iceland but also in Europe, America, and Asia.  Skaftáreldar eruption is considered to have killed more people around the world than any other eruption. Some have even made the claim that Skaftáreldar initiated the French Revolution as it caused crop failure and devastation in France.  It is the biggest volcano activity on the planet in the last one thousand years, and the lava flow streaming from the craters covered little less than 600 square kilometers of land.   Even the well known Eyjafjallajokull eruption pales in comparison with the consequences of Skaftáreldar. 

A dangerous event produced a stunning landscape

Although an enormous area of land glowed with lava flow and threatened life with toxic steam only about 230 years ago, Skaftáreldar eruption also formed a breathtaking landscape. The activity was such, that enormous carpets of lava flowed on both sides of the mountains between them all the way to shore.  On the west side, the lava filled the (then) largest canyon in Iceland which was 25 kilometers long and is now sleeping under the lava. The whole event changed a large area of landscape forever.

Location in Highland requires 4X4 vehicle

Located in the Icelandic highland it is only accessible from late June until the beginning of October.  It is approximately 40 km from the Ring Road number 1 in the South Region in Iceland on a rather rough road with two unbridged rivers to cross.  The visit requires a good 4X4 vehicle and proper preparation. But although the trip is rather harsh the scenery and the craters are just stunning. 

Lakagígar in the Icelandic highland it is only accessible from late June until the beginning of October.