On our 4th day, Vedur announced much better weather so we could do what we had planned to do: Kerlingarfjöll and Hveravellir before heading to Northern Iceland. The road was long and the hike we had planned was a big trail so we left quite early, around 8:30AM from the friendly guesthouse in Steinsholt in the direction of trail 35.
This Kjölur trail was really superb, the impressive panorama and the sun playing hide and seek in the clouds over the mountains made for some very beautiful photos.
We finally took no time at all to arrive at the Kerlingarfjöll site since we managed to leave a little before 11AM for our hike.
The first time we visited this place we went up above the campsite for an impromptu hike but this time we wanted to do the Hveradalir hike (the official trail number 2). Read about the Hveradalir hike in detail
I was warned, this was a steep one, and they weren't kidding! But some friends did this hike with their 10-year-old child, so it was obviously doable for us.
The hike started right next to the car park, we had to cross the small bridge in the direction of the mountains.
Immediately, a sign indicated 2 directions, one leading to the Kerlingarfjöll hot spring (1 km), the other indicating Hveradalir (6.5 km). I think you needed to plan 3H30 to do this round trip hike and its 13 km.
The first part was an endless climb offering an incredible view of the region.
From above and on a clear day, you could see extremely far away, and after 30 minutes of climbing, the small red and green houses on the campsite looked tiny.
It took 2 hours to reach the plateau, including several fairly steep climbs into the magnificent mountain peaks. Here, we were at altitude, and the snow was very present, even in July, when we started to climb.
After walking for almost 1 hour and 45 minutes, we arrived at the sign indicating Hveradalir, 1.1 km away. Already we were beginning tos pot fumaroles with their sulfur scent. Everything seemed immense here, and the contrasts between the white firn and ochre mountains were striking.
Down we went towards Hveradalir and the view there was almost too much to bear... The panorama was indescribable and, moreover, the photos could never do it justice as every direction was beautiful as you spun in a complete circle.
It felt like being in front of an immense painting, the contrasts were too perfect, and seeing the hikers in the distance gave a real sense of the immensity of the place. Outstanding experience! We stayed for a good half hour enjoying the show before resigning ourselves to the return trip. We even hesitated to keep going as there was another trail going around the mountains, but without the right preparation it wasn't safe so we went back the same way we came, towards Asgardur (the campsite).
The return was much easier being mostly downhill. Running in the snow like children will also remain a fond memory... We finally put in 4 hours to make the return trip, including our break in Hveradalir, but it was quite possibly one of our best memories of Iceland after our 3 separate stays there.
On the way back, we made a short stop at the Gýgjarfoss waterfall before reaching Hveravellir, the oasis in the middle of the desert. This place really takes you by surprise, just appearing out of nowhere. As we didn't swim in Kerlingarfjöll we chose to do so in Hveravellir in the turquoise waters of its pool.
The water was very hot, actually too hot, over 40° so we didn't stay in the bath for too long. It was a chance to walk around on the footbridges among the fumaroles and astounding geothermal phenomena, boasting vivid and almost alien reds, yellows, and greens.
The road to Saudarkrokur felt endless and we were very tired when we got back to our guesthouse, but rallied to go out for a delicious meal at the “KK” restaurant in Saudarkrokur. In the evening, took road 748 to Grettislaug. Two very well-equipped hot water pools surrounded by stones with a superb view of the sea awaited us there. Just leave 1000ISK in a box to swim at your leisure, a great way to end a memorable day in style.