highland

 

There are eight main glaciers in Iceland.  There are a few more, but very small, rapidly disappearing.  Although all of them are in decline and some have large glacier tongues, there are only a few places where you will find a lake or a lagoon by the edge of the glacier.  Among the better known in Iceland are both Jökulsárlón and Fjallsárlón. Hagavatn lake is one such lake that is fed by streams from the glacier and from under the glacier. Located on the south side of Langjökull glacier it is one of two such lakes connected with Langjökull. The other one is Hvítárvatn.  The main characteristic for these lakes is the milky color and, as sometimes is the case, icebergs falling into the lake from the glacier tongue.

A very different landscape, kind of gray and lacking vegetation

The highland of Iceland has its own kind of attraction and fascination, vast horizon, black sands and gray color.  You will find places in the Highland that have vegetation, moss, flowers and grass, but they are rare and usually in a small area around spring-fed rivers.  The Highland is a very different animal when it comes to beauty. The Hagavatn lake area is quite typical for the Highland. The view from the 440 meters altitude is magnificent, the mountains Jarlhettur north-east of the lake are stunning as well as the lava and landscape surrounding the lake.  Also, you have the glacier in the background. If you are in Iceland and you want to see something very different we encourage you to visit Hagavatna and the waterfall Nýifoss.

Access is not easy and requires a large 4WD vehicle

Hagavant is not far away from Gullfoss.  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. The same road leading to Nýifoss.  This road like many F roads in Iceland, mountain roads, require a well equipped 4X4 vehicle. It is a highland road and requires caution and preparation.  We recommend that you stop in the parking lot in front of the waterfall and walk the last few hundred meters.  There is no point in driving up the steep and difficult part of the track up to the lake.

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Hagavatn lake on the map of Iceland

Hagavatn lake south of Langjökull glacier in Iceland

Torfafhlaup is a fascinating place where spectacular nature meets captivating folklore.  Deep in the Icelandic Highland you will find this captivating canyon, Torfahlaup; named after a young man named Torfi.  He had fallen in love with a daughter of a wealthy farmer that also was his master. 

Spectacular nature meets captivating folklore

The wide view with a faraway horizon and no trees or a forest is something many visitors and Icelanders like about the Icelandic landscape in the Highland. You can take photos with many kilometers of depth loaded with mountains, rivers, cliffs, valleys, and ravines or canyons. Even in late summer the snow hasn’t had a chance to melt. And you stand there, and the silence calms your mood, and the whole atmosphere is more relaxing than any tranquilizer.

The Icelandic landscape in the Highland

Hiking is an incredible activity for many reasons. The experience of walking through the beautiful landscape at a slow speed is an experience that one cannot describe. It is something you have to do. Even though the hike with all its physical effort is marvelous, it is also the feeling that hits you after the hike is over that is so great. It is a combination of many factors that blend in with the memory of the landscape that follows you around for a long time as a natural mixture of relaxation. And often there are surprising moments like the one in the photo.

The little house in heaven

After a few dry weeks in the summer, the moss in the Highland turns gray. From a distance, the larger picture and the wide view looks like a black and white photo. Even our magnificent Lakagígar or Laki looks kind of dull from the mountain Blængur under those circumstances. The moss is an interesting phenomenon that often covers a broad area of lava and changes color in a matter of hours when it rains and when it dries up. Not to mention the magnitude of green and yellow colors that appear when the sun starts to shine after the rain.

How weather affects the colors in Icelandic landscape

There are vast areas in the Highland in Iceland covered with black sand. But those areas are not necessarily completely without some vegetation, as some plants are robust enough to sustain the altitude and the cold in the Icelandic Highland during summer. In the winter, everything is packed with snow. Then some places seem like exceptions, oasis-like spots in the middle of nowhere; Herðubreiðalindir being one of the most interesting examples.

Oasis-like spots in the middle of nowhere

Icelanders are highly concerned about off-road driving in the Highland, which is prohibited. The main reason is the sensitivity of the whole area. This regulation applies to the area and places outside marked mountain roads. Fortunately, many marked mountain roads can take you to unusual and exotic places. Places of colorful vegetation, waterfalls, lakes and mountains of many colors. Many of the roads require specially equipped 4X4 vehicles that can easily cross rivers and drive through rough terrain.

Off-road driving in the Highland

To travel over a glacier is both thrilling and dangerous. In recent decades, many Icelanders have learned how to travel over glaciers, and they have also learned when it is safe. Even though the first glacier explorers in Iceland were geologists and hikers that walked over the glaciers, today most of us snowmobile or use extremely well equipped 4X4 vehicles with huge tires. If the weather is excellent the view from the top of any accessible glacier in Iceland is usually spectacular. The photo is taken on Myrdalsjokull or Myrdal glacier.

To travel over a glacier is both thrilling and dangerous

The Highland of Iceland is the perfect place for those who seek peace and quiet. The only sounds you hear are the birds and the total silence if you can hear it. There are many small ravines all over the Highland with small rivers and beautiful landscape; you can almost always find your little sanctuary. The ravine in the photo is at Hellisá, or Cave River not far from Lakagígar. It is a beautiful place that few people have visited. It is not easy to access but for those who take the few kilometer hike, it is quite rewarding.

A perfect place for those who seek peace and quiet

Herðubreið is the queen of Icelandic mountains. The mountain is considered by many Icelanders to be the most beautiful mountain in the country. Herðubreið rises 1677 meter up from Ódáðahraun lava desert and stands alone without any competition from other mountains and can, therefore, as a queen deserves, proudly express her dignity from any angel. Near Herðurbreið on the east side is an oasis called Herðubreiðalindir. At Herðubreiðalindir, there is a camping ground and a mountain hut where accommodation is available during the summer months.

The oasis Herðubreiðalindir was a hideout for an outlaw

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