Highlands of Iceland
Before heading to the South Coast of Iceland, we spent a few days in the Highlands. There are plenty of highlights in the south but the Highlands were so spectacular, we wanted to stay longer. Hiking in Landmannalaugar is like being on another planet. En route to the popular hiking destination there were also a number of highlights (and waterfalls, naturally), in particular Sigöldufoss and Gjáin are quite easy to reach by car.
You can get quite far on the main roads but a 4X4 is basically a necessity in Iceland. Some dirt roads can be traversed with a regular car, but dirt roads in Iceland are quite rocky and potholey and some are worse than others, so a car with 4-wheel drive is essential for Iceland - especially if you want to get to Landmannalaugar, which is also an essential stop if you are visiting in the summertime. Approach on the F208 from the north, the road is especially bad. We were on an elevated Greyhound Bus which I thought was going to fall apart, the steely nerves of the driver were the only reassurance. We arrived safely at the campsite, bought a hiking map and quickly got on our way.
We stayed at the Highland Center Hrauneyjar, it was our base in the Highlands and where we caught the bus to get to Landmannalaugar - our little Peugeot 108 wouldn't have made it. On the drive between the Highland Center and Reykjavik or Selfoss there are plenty of great spots. Near the Sigöldufoss is the spectacular Sigöldugljufur waterfalls, but we didn't make it that far due to the bad weather - one way or another it's good to have a reason to go back.
Gjáin Valley and Hjálparfoss
The Gjáin valley is like many other attractions in Iceland, things look quite barren and uninteresting and as seemingly out of nowhere a spectacular canyon or valley appears.
The Highlands were one of our first stops in Iceland, it seemed as if the bar was set very high for the rest of the trip, however our next stop touring around the South Coast of Iceland was very different and offered a great contrast to the Highlands. If (when) we go back however I think the Highlands are worth a second, long, good look.