There are probably few cities in the world that have a river running through its districts.  Let alone a river where people can go fishing and catch a salmon.  But in Reykjavík the capital of Iceland you will find a river running through a beautiful valley Elliðarárdalur. The river has its origin in the two square kilometer lake Elliðavatn.  The lake is quite shallow as most of it is only 1 meter in depth. The valley is a great place to take two to three hours to hike.

Kermóaafoss, the largest and most exciting waterfall in Elliðaárdalur

Iceland has many natural wonders and many places you can visit and enjoy.  Although some of our natural wonders like Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir hot spring have gained popularity among visitors, there are still many peaceful and exciting places that people rarely visit. Places that are not as accessible and require more effort to visit.

What is the reward of getting to the top?

We have often discussed the highland of Iceland.  It is by any measure a very exciting and fascinating place.

The Highland in Iceland is soon covered with snow

In the heart of the Icelandic highlands is Nýidalur (New Valley). This is the perfect place to experience the true remote, but often extreme conditions of the highlands. Positioned right of the Sprengisandur Route - Highland Road Nr. F26, Nýidalur is also in between two glaciers: Tugnafellsjökull and Hofsjökull. There are a few hikes to be taken around the Valley, and The Icelandic Touring Association have two huts there, perfect as accommodation after a day out.

In the heart of the Icelandic highlands is Nýidalur (New Valley).

What is special about Ófærufoss is the amount of viewpoints you can see it from, giving you a new perspective of this impressive waterfall each time. At first, when driving towards Ófærufoss you will see it from above, along with a curve of basalt rock formation leading to the waterfall. After driving down to the canyon you can take an hour long hike towards the waterfall. When you have reached it you can walk/climb to see the pool in which the water falls down. That is where this photo is from, but we should mention it can be a bit slippery to take this detour.

When you have reached the waterfall you can walk/climb to see the pool in which the water falls down.

Fimmvörðuháls, the Five Cairn Ridge, is one of the most popular hiking trails in Iceland.  Although quite challenging, and even dangerous, many Icelanders and visitors walk this 22 km and 1000 meter high track every summer. Obviously, it has something to offer.  It is a spectacular hike with stunning views and many natural wonders: waterfalls, craters, canyons, glaciers and breathtaking landscape.   In 2010, a small eruption started on the track almost by the most challenging part of the track, Heljarkambur or Crest of Hell.

Most of the hikers walk from the well-known waterfall Skógarfoss to Þórsmörk. At the peak, the track is on the east side of Eyjafjallajokull and west side of Mýrdalsjökull.  Both glaciers house powerful volcanos that can erupt with short notice.  Even the most notorious volcano in Iceland's history as well as geological history, Katla in Mýrdalsjökull, has been due for a long time. 

In 1970, a group of eleven hikers started the trail in good weather determined to walk to Þórsmörk. There was nothing exceptionally unusual about the weather or the condition.  On the top near Heljarkambur, a severe weather hit the mountain and three of the hikers became exhausted and died within hours.  The rest of the group made it to Básar in Þórsmörk with enormous hardship and difficulties.  The story is a constant reminder of the unpredictable weather that two glaciers can produce. It is also a reminder of the necessity to prepare to hike over Fimmvörðuháls thoroughly and take all the percussion possible. 

The track is only accessible from late May until September and is only for highly trained and experienced hikers at any other time of the year.   

Although quite challenging, and even dangerous, many Icelanders and visitors walk Fimmvörðuháls 22 km and 1000 meter high track every summer.

Intimidating or scary heights, none stop noise from birds, stunning sight of monstrous cliffs.  How should we describe the westernmost place you can reach in Iceland. Yes, you are at Látrabjarg, but you might as well be at the edge of the world. Látrabjarg is simply not easy to describe; it has to be experienced. It consists of four cliffs, Keflavíkurbjarg, Látrabjarg, Bæjarbjarg, and Breiðavíkurbjarg. Altogether 14 km long and the height is 441 m., and as steep as steep can get. Standing by the edge gives you a whirling sensation, which doesn't fade the longer you stay. Indeed, it will stay with you for a long time afterward. If you are near the edge with a camera in your face, don't move until you have a clear sight and the camera away from your eyes and nose.

One of the largest bird colony in the world

The cliffs are home to millions of birds, including puffins, northern gannets, guillemots, and razorbills. Látrabjarg is, indeed, Europe's largest bird cliff. The area is free of foxes, making the birds quite fearless. Especially the puffins, frequently venturing into the upper, grassy parts of the cliffs. Látrabjarg is a fantastic place to observe them in their natural habitat. But please understand the danger involved if you try to approach the edge.

Hiking is always the best and most rewarding way to travel in Iceland

Hiking along the edge is like being on top of the world. But, take care. Don't cross the white line painted on the sheer side. The dizziness may result in one fatal misstep. If you want to observe and photograph the birds, lay down on your stomach with only your head over the edge. There are some hiking trails in the southwest part of West Fjords, one of the most interesting is the one by the cliff.  If you decide to hike the Látrabjarg contact some of the guesthouses, like Hnjótur Guesthouse, and find out the best route.  Some of those trails are quite difficult but highly interesting. 


Látrabjarg is not easy to describe. It has to be experienced.

Probably the most famous hiking trail in Iceland today is the Laugavegur trail from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork. It is a fascinating highland path where people go through all kinds of landscape and many geological wonders. A typical time for the hike is four days and five nights as most people spend a night in Landmannalaugar, the base camp, before starting and one night in Thorsmork, the oasis, at the end. Although the hiking trail is not particularly challenging, it requires some serious perpetration. The trail goes through some difficult terrain, and that requires good shoes.

The most famous hiking trail in Iceland today is the Laugavegur

The Icelandic Highland is a huge uninhabited area of Iceland basically covering the center and sometimes stretching to places near the shore.  The whole highland area is loaded with natural wonders, hiking trails, places to visit, fascinating geology, mountains, geothermal pools, waterfalls and much more. It is characterized and defined by altitude as the term Highland implies. It is mostly above 900 meters and thus usually rather cold and seldom specifically warm.  In any sense of the word, it is extremely sensitive. The soil, the lava, the vegetation, the roads, the hiking trails. 

Most of the time the whole area is under snow.  Almost nine months of the year.  Only in the summer does the Highland reveal itself and starts blooming and exposing its vegetation, crystal clear creeks and beautiful mountains with thousands of colors.  In large areas, it consists of vast black sands, dark lava, suspiciously looking rocks, powerful rivers flooding from under glaciers and long horizons. If there is one message or one thing an Icelander would tell you about the Highland it would be to understand the sensitivity of this harsh landscape.

Like many Icelanders, it looks harsh and tough but under the surface is a very sensitive soul.  It is a place where people need to drive carefully on a good 4X4 vehicle with good preparation on marked tracks only.  Anyone trying to drive the Highland in a vehicle not fit for the task is both irresponsible and possibly compromising a wonderful experience.  If you decide to travel in the Icelandic Highland, please take care and understand the sensitivity of the whole are. And remember that most of the Highland is only open from the beginning of July until the end of September.