#highland

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.

People have different reasons when visiting a country like Iceland with such a high selection of natural wonders, stunning landscape and fascinating history.  Often the tour is organized to see the most popular places that have gained the most attraction. Places that have even become landmarks in the worldwide flora of attractions on an international scale.  The good thing about Iceland is the fact that there are many places that are highly attractive that few people visit.  Many of these locations are interesting from a geological perspective and as a landscape to experience. Some are even famous for their connection to history and folklore.  Most of those places are fantastic places to visit for photographers and people interested in landscape photography.  Places that are different and have a lot to offer. One such place is Hnausapollur.

Hnausapollur is on the road Sigölduleið to Landmannalaugar

Like most volcanic craters that have small lakes within its boundaries, Hnausapollur is a maar, formed and erupted about 11 thousand years ago. Usually, the reason for the lake within the crater is the depth of the that goes down to subsoil water or ground water. This combination of water, crater, and vegetated brims is usually a beautiful sight where colors interact fabulously. Similar maar volcanic craters in Iceland are Grænavatn and Víti in Askja. Hnausapollur also has another name, often called Bláhylur because of the turquoise blue color of the water. It is a highland lake in an altitude of about 570 meters above sea-level. You might think that this a remote place, but don’t be surprised if you see someone fishing down in the crater. The lake is packed with trout although quite difficult to catch.

Located on the Icelandic highland road Fjallabak Nyrðir

Hnausapollur might not be one of those natural wonders in Iceland worth a particular trip to the highland.  But if you are traveling on the Highland road Fjallabak Nyrðri or visiting Landmannalaugar on F208 it is a must to stop by Hnausapollur.  It is the next door neighbor to its similar brother bearing the awful name Ugly Pound or Ljótipollur.  Both extraordinary sights and perfect for photographing.

 

Hnausapollur is a maar, formed and erupted about 11 thousand years ago

Hólmsárgljúfur is a small but beautiful canyon in the river Hólmsá.  The river originates in the small glacier Torfajökull in the Highland and finds its way through a large lagoon in the Syðri Fjallabak area, Hólmsárlón, flowing through the beautiful landscape of Brytalækir all the way to the river Kúðafljót near the Ring Road.  About 20 kilometers before merging with Kúðafljót the river enters the canyon by the small mountain Atlaey or Atlis Island, an island on dry land.

A spectacular peaceful place that few visit that requires a small hike and a 4X4

Visiting Hólmsárgljúfur is a short but interesting drive from the Ring Road. The drive is about 15 kilometers north on road nr. 209 Hrífunesvegur.  You only need to drive about 5 kilometers on that road and take a turn west on the mountain road F232 to drive the ten additional kilometers.  If you like hiking, you might want to hike around the small mountains Atlaey and Háey as part of that tour. A walk that gives you a great view of the small canyon and the landscape at Syðri Fjallabak. This is a great option in Iceland for those who want to take the time to prepare, get a glimpse of the Highland and visit a place few people visit.

A river and canyon at risk because of a plan to build a dam and a power plant

One of the advantages if you climb the two small mountains Atlaey and Háey are to get a view of the Highland. To the west and north of the mountains, you see an area that the power company Landsvirkjun plans to drown to build a dam.  Another sad plan to build a hydroelectric power plant.  It is also recommended to walk by the canyon a bit to the east before circling around the two mountains.   It is fascinating for photographers to get a view of the river on the sand west of the canyon and it is also a great view to enjoy.  On the west side of the two mountains, both bearing the names of islands, there is a beautiful creek with wonderful birdlife. 
 

The Hólmsárgljúfur canyon that few have visited

Spring has arrived early in Iceland.  April is not always part of spring but more often part of winter, but the weather can change all that. At least in the minds and heads of Icelanders.  We at Hit Iceland are always touring around the country and took a day trip to Þórsmörk yesterday on Good Friday.

Early spring in Þórsmörk

Although sometimes referred to as one canyon, Hafrahvammagljúfur, this large canyon is actually two canyons, Hafrahvammagljúfur and Dimmugljúfur canyon.  And even though the attraction is the spectacular natural wonder, the history of the canyon, both the geological history as well as its place in modern Icelandic history is also fascinating.  The impressive canyon stretches about seven to eight kilometers from the northern part of Vatajökull icecap towards the valley Jökuldalur (Glacier Valley). With its 200 meter high walls and only about hundred to hundred and fifty meters width they seem narrow and intimidating as everything is dark and steep. It is believed that the river Jökla dug the canyon over millions of years through the palagonite layer and formed the canyon with some help from other natural forces. The river was the second most powerful river in Iceland for thousands if not millions of years. And you have to be impressed when you stand in front of a natural wonder of this magnitude and scale that is was made with flowing water.

Just recently man stepped in with his engineering know-how

Icelanders have been quite smart in building hydroelectric power plants and utilizing their many rivers to produce electricity for almost a century.  For a long time, many viewed the rivers as a key to progress through the power plants rather than a natural wonder to view and enjoy. Unavoidably many Icelanders looked to the mighty river Jöklu as a logical and natural selection for a power plant. It wasn't until the eighties and nineties that this option became real and the power plant Kárahnúkavirkjun took a step from the drawing board into reality. The decision was hand in hand with the huge aluminum smelter you see right outside of the small fishing village Reyðarfjörður.  The aluminum smelter was the customer who purchased the electricity.  It was a massive project that changed the path of the river as well as the view of the canyons not to mention the size of the mighty glacial river that became a rather small spring fed river.  A dam was built across the canyon to collect water in a humongous reservoir and simultaneously sinking beautiful waterfalls, part of the canyon and other unrecoverable natural wonders.  It goes without saying that the project initiated a landslide of disputes between those who wanted to switch the natural wonders for the dam, the aluminum smelter and sacrifice the natural wonders on the one hand and conservationists on the other hand.

There are pros and cons, but most people might stop and wonder

Although Hafrahvammagljúfur and Dimmugljúfur are two canyons and part of the spectacular nature in Iceland, the whole project provokes serious questions. Approaching the canyon on an asphalt road deep in the highland is a bit odd for anyone who loves Icelandic nature. Only a few years ago this was a profoundly remote place, and you could not travel from the east site of the mighty river Jökla to the west side, both because of the canyon and the river.  Today you drive over both on a dam on a concrete road. For many residents in the declining small fishing villages in the eastern region, on the other hand, it was a welcomed boost for the economy of the area, and a worthy sacrifice for people to have the option of continuing to live where they most preferred.

Access is quite simple today

Access to Hafrahvammagljúfur is quite simple.  From the town of Egilsstaðir in the East Region, you drive south on Road 1, the Ring Road.  About seven kilometers south you take a turn to the east to Road 931 all the way over the bridge and take a turn to the south again on Road 933. You drive a short distance on 933 and turn to Raod 910 and drive all the way to Hálslón, the new reservoir by Kárahnúkar.

Although Hafrahvammagljúfur and Dimmugljúfur are two canyons and part of the spectacular nature in Iceland

Camping and hiking in Iceland are among the great options for people planning a vacation, a trip, a drive along the coastline or a road trip to Iceland.

Camping and hiking in Iceland

Located northeast of the glacier Mýrdalsjökull by the Highland track Syðri Fjallabak, Brytalækir or “The Pursers Brook” is a beautiful spring fed stream.  The source of the water is near the Mýrdalsjökull glacier in the lava partly beneath the sand.  The stream runs through a beautiful green landscape filled with vegetation and flora during summer. It is an unusually lively and luxuriance place for this attitude, almost like a small oasis.  A significant portion of the stream spreads out and gives the illusion that you are standing by a small lake or a pound. The surrounding area on the north bank is filled with small hillocks or knolls that give the place a bit of a mysterious atmosphere. It is one of the gems in the Icelandic landscape that few visit and is also a peaceful place to enjoy.

The name has a peculiar origin like many places at Fjallabak Syðri

A few centuries ago a Purser named Ólafur was working at the famous episcopal see Skálholt. At the same time, a female housekeeper with witchcraft knowledge was also working for the bishop. She was full of anger and had limited tolerance for disagreement.  At one point Ólafur apparently offended the woman who immediately cast a spell over him with her magic. As the magic took over his mind, he ran out of the house as fast as he could eastward to a small mountain called Lyklafell, or Key Mountain, where he left his keys to Skálholt. Then he ran through a mountain pass that since has had his name Ólafsskarð. Not being able to stop running because of the spell he continued to run all the way to this creek, Brytalækir, where he was found dead by the stream.  And when found the stream was named Brytalækir to honor his fate and run.

Part of the 4X4 mountain road and small dirt road Fjallabaksleið Syðri

For those who like to travel to Brytalækir, it is a place that unquestionably requires a good solid jeep or a large 4WD vehicle. It is not even a road that people should try to drive in any other kind of vehicle.  But for those who like to take on a well prepared adventuresome 4X4 jeep tour on challenging roads and crossing rivers, the Fjallabaksleið Syðri is the most exciting option in Iceland. 

Located northeast of the glacier Mýrdalsjökull by the Highland track Syðri Fjallabak, Brytalækir or “The Pursers Brook” is a beautiful spring fed stream.

The Icelandic highland is a vast area in Iceland and a large portion of the island. It is the inland area mostly above the altitude of 500 meters. There are many interesting places in the Highland, natural wonders, hiking trails, and roads. The whole area, without exception, is highly sensitive and requires caution from everyone traveling in the Highland.

Kjalvegur - Kjolur - Highland road

Some lakes in Iceland are placed by the edge of a glacier. Probably around five or six.  All of those lakes get their source of water from the melting glaciers and glacier tongues, and in many cases, also from spring-fed water flowing from mountains hidden under the ice cap. In some cases, the lake is full of icebergs falling from the glacier tongue, like the famous Icelandic tourist attractions Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón. Hvítárvatn (White River Lake)  is one such lake in the Highland near the highland road Kjalvegur or Kjölur by the glacier Langjökull and the glacier tongue Norðurjökull. In addition to the sources mentions above the lake has other sources from rivers and creeks in the surrounding area.  Icebergs are seldom seen on this lake or lagoon. As the primary source is glacial rivers, the lake always looks a bit milky which probably contributed to the name.  The size is approximately 30 square kilometers, and the average depth is about 30 meters and the deepest part around 90 meters. Hvítárvatn lake is placed at an altitude of 420 meters. The lake is the main source for one of Iceland's largest rivers, the river Hvítá (White River).  Just south of the lake in the river Hvítá is Iceland's most spectacular waterfall Gullfoss.

The haunted hut and the young female ghost

On of many huts in the highland is the mountain hut at Hvítárnes, Sæluhúsið í Hvítárnesi, near the lake, famous for being one of the most haunted places in Iceland. The hut was built in the forties in the last century.  According to many stories and complaints, stories from the forties up until last year a young female is often seen in the hut.  Many guests, particularly male guests, complain about disturbances from a young female ghost while in the state between awake and sleep.  Many visitors have also claimed to have seen her in one of the windows from outside when arriving late at night, and then learning that the house was empty. A particular bed in the hut is believed to be particularly unsafe and almost impossible to sleep in. And on many occasions, guests have been kicked out of the bed during the night, by “no one”! It is a mysterious place and a challenge for adventurers who have the courage to "sleep in her bed." 

Access to Hvítárvatn is not for small cars

Hvítárvatn lake is located in the Highland on the Kjölur highland road Kjalvegur nr. 35. If you drive from Reykjavík or the southern part of the Ring Road by the south shore to Gullfoss, you are basically on the road to Hvítarvatn when you pass Gullfoss. The road is quite rough, and we recommend a good 4X4 vehicle.   
 

Some lakes in Iceland are placed by the edge of a glacier. Probably around five or six

Pages