Kjölur and Kerlingarfjöll

Date 29 June 2012

Kjölur and Kerlingarfjöll

Kjölur and Kerlingarfjöll

We had a big day ahead of us and we were excited. was reporting bright sunshine all day and even in the evening in the inland regions, and that was great news for our crossing of the Kjölur, tour of Kerlingarfjöll, and end of day in Hveravellir.

After a quick photo break in Gullfoss (before the tourist buses arrived), we took the famous Road 35 north. The first part of the trail was really superb, between Mount Blafell, Lake Hvìtarvatn, and the Baltic of the Clouds on the very rocky Kjölur trail.

The road was not in the best condition but we still progressed relatively quickly compared to what we had expected, finally arriving at the junction with the F347 that led to Kerlingarfjöll around 11:30AM.

Next stop: Kerlingarfjöll!


After helping out a group of tourists (French once again...) who got their 4x4 stuck driving over a big rock, we took the F347 trail which was also rather smooth compared to everything I had read.

No more fords to reach Kerlingarfjöll, so we arrived quickly at the car park and the Kerlingarfjöll camp, where we did not stop because we wanted to start a hike from the second car park. You then had to continue the now very bumpy trail for 4.5 km to reach a second “parking lot”.

This was where we had a picnic under a splendid sun without a cloud on the horizon. However, this was also where my wide-angle lens decided to fail entirely which was a sad moment even though I'd been expecting it. And so it was in Kerlingarfjöll that my wide-angle became an 80mm...

Nevertheless, the place was perhaps the most impressive site I'd ever laid eyes on in Iceland, and I've seen some magical places, but this... We were completely lost in the Kjölur desert, bathed in this very unique sunlight the orange flanks of the mountains Kerlingarfjöll were absolutely unreal.

One of the most beautiful panoramas in Iceland


The place was grand in every sense of the word. I'd seen it in pictures tons of times, but they don't translate the scale and the incredible magic of the colors. Add to that the fumaroles, the smell of sulfur, the snow, and bright green grass in places, Kerlingarfjöll was now my favourite place in Iceland.

Quite simply, this place was amazing! It's out of this world. Seeing the people walking along or around the mountains helped you really realizedthe scale and immensity of the place. On-site, numerous hiking trails are laid out for your enjoyment.

From the second car park, we decided to take the trail to Hveradallir (list of hiking trails available on the Kerlingarfjöll website). It was not too difficult for our 5-year-old son and allowed us to see the “most impressive” parts of Kerlingarfjöll according to a guide.

We left at 4:00PM for Hveravellir after a short stop at Gýgjarfoss on the F347. We planned to swim in Hveravellir, but out of nowhere 2 buses packed with German tourists descended on the place and crowded us out.

We still visited the site, mud pots, fumaroles, with the ever-present smell of sulfur and beautifully contrasting colors, and it was great but when you've seen Kerlingarfjöll, it's hard to be impressed after that by other volcanic landscapes.

The second part of the route was slower and more boring than the first. We slept in the evening in Saudarkrokur where the very friendly manager of the tourist center told me I could find a solution for my camera in Akureyri (on our route) at “Pedro Myndir,” the only photo shop outside Reykjavík.

The long but magnificent day ended in the excellent Olafshus restaurant in Saudarkrokur where we enjoyed their fish specialties, an absolute delight.