A visit to Landmannalaugar – Iceland
Landmannalaugar means “hot springs of the locals” and owes its name to the numerous geothermal phenomena of the surroundings which have colored the rocks with hues as pretty as they are amazing. The site lies southeast of Hekla volcano and was largely created by the activity of the subglacial Torfajökull volcano. Several hot springs dot the landscape, one of them being directly developed in the immediate vicinity of the site campsite. Landmannalaugar is part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, established in 1979 to protect the incredible geological phenomena that still occur there today, to the delight of travelers like yours truly.
In the heart of a land of a thousand colors
As we leave the Icelandic capital, the road takes us first through Iceland’s richest farmlands before venturing into the scenic Þjórsárdalur region with its glacial river and famous Hjálparfoss waterfall, near which we mark our first break. We have time to admire the double waterfall and even to climb a nearby hill to admire the beautiful surrounding landscape. It cannot be seen in the photos, but we are harassed by small midges, harmless but very annoying!
We take the road again through a desolate landscape on a rocky and gravelly road. The driving is somewhat chaotic and we are swayed on all sides as we follow what can be called a “road” to the top of a promontory. At the top of the latter, we mark a new stop, just in front of the glacier lake Ljótipollur. It occupies the bottom of a maar created during the volcanic eruption of Brennisteinsalda in 1477. It is one of the most famous and photographed lakes in this region of the country because of its waters of a magnificent dark blue, its shores with reddish lava and the frequent presence of snow, these three colors reminiscent of those of the Icelandic national flag. The place is sublime, enchanting and I look forward to continuing this trip in order to admire the other natural wonders of the region!
The scenery begins to change, quickly, inexorably. We drive on mountain roads, cross several rivers in this rocky region to finally reach the oasis of Landmannalaugar. I haven’t set my foot down yet as I’m literally blown away by the scenery around me and I’m seriously lacking in words to describe what I’m seeing. From my travel guide, I knew that the mountains of the region are known for their multiple range of colors, but what I see is way beyond my imagination: it is a veritable cacophony of yellow, pink , fluorescent green and purple, brown, black and white, ocher, etc. So I will take advantage of my free time there to do a short hike of about 2 hours through the different sites to the top of Blahnjukur, the “Blue Peak” which dominates the valley to the east.
As I climb, the landscape changes and transforms. I zigzag between rocks in the middle of an ancient lava field, then come to more grassy terrain, surrounded by snow-capped peaks on one side and rocky mountains on the other. It’s really beautiful and I am ecstatic with every step! Yes really, the best way to discover Landmannalaugar is on foot, no doubt about it! With good shoes (and a good windproof and waterproof jacket, you never know), you can venture as close as possible to the most interesting places on the site. Maps and all the essential information are available at the reception of the site’s refuge / campsite. There is something for all tastes, and all physical conditions too: several marked loops ranging from 30 minutes to 3-4 hours are available and leaving in almost all directions!
The best known of Iceland’s treks is quite possibly the Laugavegur, which traditionally starts from Landmannalaugar and takes motivated walkers for 4 days through the country’s most impressive natural and desert sites, before bringing them back to the haven of peace. trees that constitutes the Thorsmork nature reserve. It is possible to continue for a fifth day