Hveradalir in Kerlingarfjöll – see this geothermal wonderland
It is a cliche to say that a place is so beautiful that you are overwhelmed and can’t find the words to describe it. It is also not credible to say that a place is changing all the time. From one minute to the next, its colors shift or transform. However, I find this to be true of Hveradalir in Kerlingarfjöll mountain range in the Icelandic highlands.
Struggling to take in the beauty of Hveradalir in Kerlingrafjöll
When we got there I felt myself struggling to take it all in. There were multi-colored rock formations that have color hues of yellow, orange, redd, and green. Yellow clay ridges, deep blue colored streams, constantly moving steam which emits from powerful hot springs or openings in the ground. Distant snow-covered mountain tops who appeared and disappeared behind clouds. There was the gleaming white of Hofsjökull glacier in the distance. I have the privilege of living in a beautiful country so there are many places that fill me with awe. But perhaps Hveradalir in Kerlingarfjöll is one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. Its beauty is rugged, colorful and transformative. I may say the same thing about another place later I will discover. That is the peril of traveling around Iceland.
Dreamland for photographers and geologists
Hveradalir has an incredible number of solfaratas, boiling pots and mud pots. The whole area steams, boils and hisses. It is not only the photographer’s dream, but it must also be super fun for geologists to go there.
Hveradalir in Kerlingarfjöll is a hard place to reach
Hveradalir in Kerlingarfjöll is not an easy place to reach. It is about four-hour drive to Reykjavik and a good part of the way are very rough gravel roads. So if you are considering going up there, you are going to need to rent a good 4×4 car and be an experienced driver. Make sure that you are insured for driving on F roads. Don’t try to get up to Hveradalir in winter on your own. Go with a private guide with an experienced mountain guide. Respect all road markings. If the authorities say that the road is closed, it is closed and you will get in serious trouble by trying to press on.
Follow the master photographer
If you are going to Hveradalir in Kerlingarfjöll you will need your camera and a lot of time. This is a photographer’s paradise. So it was fitting I was with my great friend and master photographer Martin Schulz. He graciously invited me to share his day trip to Kerlingarfjöll. He had been there before but this was my first time. It shows how well he knows Iceland. You can get many great insights from him by reading his book. Note that the photographs with the article are mine, not his. My photographs will not do the beauty at Hveradalir in Kerlingarfjöll justice by a long shot. But Martin’s photos will. You will be able to see them on his social media accounts. He is on Instagram, Facebook, and on the web.
One of the most powerful geothermal area in Iceland
The name Hveradalir literally translates into ‘Geyservalleys.’ It is located a short distance from the Kerlingarfjöll resort and camping ground. Check out their website for web cameras from the area and information about hiking trails in the area. This is an incredibly powerful and active geothermal area. In fact, this is probably one of the most powerful and highest temperature geothermal area in Iceland. The steam from hot pots has been recorded at 150 celsius. Water boils at 100 degrees celsius.
The boiling water and the steam that spouts from the ground are dangerously hot. Step into something like that and you will find the skin peel off your legs. This is the Icelandic highlands so dress accordingly. The weather may change at any time. Be ready for rain, sleet, strong wind, sunshine and everything between. The ground at Hveradalir is in large part wet clay and some of the ridges there are steep. So even if there are bridges over streams and wooden steps up the steepest of ridges, mind your step.
Wear sturdy waterproof shoes with a good grip. The ground is sensitive so don’t go off the marked path. It is there to keep you from boiling your legs off and ensure that the ground is not trampled. Like in other precious places in Iceland, you should stay on the marked path.
Surrounded by glaciers
The mountain range of Kerlingarfjöll sits between Langjökull glacier and Hofsjökull glacier. These are the second and third largest glaciers in Iceland. The name Kerlingarfjöll is composed of two words, Kerling, which is a derogatory word for an old lady (Kerling) and Fjöll which means Mountain. The word Kerling refers to a 25M (82 feet) high Columnar Rock residing on the east side of mt. Tindur, one of the mountains in the mountain cluster that is Kerlingarfjöll. Langjökull is perhaps best known for the incredible ice tunnel which has been excavated deep into the glacier.
Gorge and waterfall
On the way to Hveradalir you will pass the waterfall Gýgjarfoss and a massive gorge where the glacial river Jökulfalls runs in. Jökulfall originates in the massive Hofsjökull glacier which is clearly visible from Hveradalir. You will see it on the horizon, clouds permitting, bright white. Final thing to mention. Kerlingarfjöll is located near the wonderful Kjölur hiking trail.
Get your heart stolen and visit planet Hveradalir. It will be worth it.