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Laki – Eldgjá – Langisjór


General Information about the area

The south-western part of Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður includes many well-known places, such as Lakagígar, Eldgjá and Langisjór. The park contains areas of pristine wilderness and unique geological formations. These formations are due to volcanic eruptions on long fissures, forming surface features such as hyaloclastite ridges, crater rows, and gaping chasms. The area is also influenced by two glacial rivers, Skaftá and Tungnaá. All the land within the national park is highland, shaped by volcanic activity. It has been partially vegetated by vulnerable mosses.

How to get there

The road to Laki crater (F206) leaves the main road (no. 1) by the farm Hunkubakkar, just south of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Eldgjá and Langisjór are reached by the mountain road Fjallabaksleið nyrðri (F 208), west of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The road to Langisjór (F 235) turns off from F 208 about 3 km west of Eldgjá. All roads to the western part of the national park are mountain tracks, only navigable for vehicles with four-wheel-drive; some only for large jeeps. Some sections of road are rocky and full of potholes, and loose gravel is common. It is necessary to ford (drive through) mountain streams or even glacial rivers which can suddenly become swollen, making them difficult, or even impossible, to cross. For further information please contact our visitor centre Skaftárstofa.


Lakagígar hiking routes

Distance: 2 km (4 km circular path)
Walking time: 1 – 1½ hrs. circular path
Path difficulty: Challenging path (red)

From the car park, it is a pleasant walk up the mountain Laki (818 m a.s.l.), standing 200 m above the surrounding area. There are excellent views of the crater row.

Visitor trail
Distance: 500 m circular path
Walking time: ½ hrs.
Path difficulty: Challenging path (red)

At Laki a visitor trail tells the story of the catastrophic Skaftá Fires eruption in 1783-4, and informs the visitor about the natural environment of the Lakagígar craters. The trail, which is about 500 meters in length, passes through one of the craters. The start of the visitor trail is marked by an information sign, where the visitor can pick up a guide leaflet. At numbered posts along the route, the visitor pauses to read a brief story or text in the leaflet about a natural phenomenon nearby. The project is sponsored by the Friends of Vatnajökull.

Distance: 100 m one way
Walking time: ½ hour
Path difficulty: Easy path (blue)

From the car park there is a path to the edge of Tjarnargígur. From there is a beautiful view over the pond in the crater.

Tjarnargígur – Eldborgarfarvegur
Distance: 4,5 km, circular path
Walking time: 2 hours
Path difficulty: Challenging path (red)

From the edge of Tjarnargígur an easy path continues along a curving lava channel Eldborgarfarvegur, through an interesting crater area which is well vegetated.

Lambavatn – Kambar
Distance: 11 km circular path
Walking time: 3-4 hrs
Path difficulty: Difficult path (red)

From the car park at Lambavatn lake in the Laki craters, the trail follows the eastern side of Kambavatn and up the Kambar ridge. From Kambar there is a good view over the lakes and lava in the Skaftá river area, and towards Sveinstindur. The return path follows the northern side of Kambar and back to Kambavatn. Remember to stay on path at all time the moss is extremely sensitive.

Úlfarsdalur – Skaftárgljúfur – Kambar
Distance: 11 km circular path
Walking time: 3-4 hrs
Path difficulty: Difficult path (red)

The trail starts at the car park furthest to the west on the Laki crater row, and goes up to the river Skaftá gorge at the Uxatindar ridge. The return follows the river up the Kambar ridge and down Úlfarsdalssker.

Langisjór hiking routes

Distance: 2 km (one way)
Walking time: 2-3 hrs.
Path difficulty: Challenging path (red)

From the car park west of Sveinstindur is a trail taking you to the top of Sveinstindur (1089 m a.s.l.). The walk is quite steep but the view on a good day is stunning.

Around Sveinstindur
Distance: 11 km (circular path)
Walking time: 4 hrs.
Path difficulty: Challenging path (red)

From the car park at Langisjór, the route follows the southern edge of the lake for about 4 km to a good vantage-point. At the end of Fagralón the path turns south and take you back on the southern side of Sveinstindur. The path follows some old trails but is not posted.

Sveinstindur – Skælingar – Eldgjá
Distance: 30-40 km
Walking time: 2-3 days
Path difficulty: Challenging path (red)

The walk from Sveinstindur, following the Skaftá river along Skælingar and Eldgjá, is accepted as one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Iceland. It is 30-40 km long, depending on which route is chosen, and takes two or three days to walk. There are mountain huts at Sveinstindur, in Stóragil at Skælingar, and at Hólaskjól. The first two huts are owned by Útivist (utivist at utivist.is) and Hólaskjól is own by Veiðifélag Skaftártungumanna (holaskjol at holaskjol.com). Accommodation must be reserved in advance.

Path difficulty: Challenging path (red)

Routes around Langisjór have been more and more popular in recent years, offering the chance to experience the stillness of the wilderness and the glory of the mountains. The route from the car park at Sveinstindur, around the lake, is about 50 km and usually takes three days (two nights). Hikers are often driven to Breiðbakur or the car park at the eastern end of the lake, so the walk can be shortened. Please remember to protect the moss, walk on the existing paths and do not put up your tent on the moss.