Landmannalaugar is a volcanic hotspot in the country’s southern highlands. Landmannalaugar is famous for the multi-coloured mountains caused by the interaction of rhyolite rock and geothermal gasses. It is tough to drive there, the road is tough for a car, but a jeep copes with the rough road much better.
There are 3 roads into Landmannalaugar, they all involve river crossings, be sure that your car is 4x4 and waterproof.
The landmannalaugar mountains are situated in an area called “Fjallabak” meaning behind the mountains. This illustrates the remoteness of the area. The area is a hotspot and has seen a lot of volcanic activity. There are many steam vents which give the mountains a unique appearance. The other unique quality which make this area famous is the colour of the mountains. There are many different shades and colours and the mountains appear as if they have been painted.
There is a naturally heated bathing area in the middle of the campsite. This is totally natural and it can be strange to be swimming with the wildfowl. Apart from a few birds and the mossy vegetation, the area is void of life. The water is undrinkable due to the geothermal properties. The most abundant form of life is the campers, photographers and hikers who frequent the hills. For the fit adventurer there is a famous 4 day hike from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork.
For the semi fit photographer, there are several hiking routes from the campsite to the summits of each surrounding mountain. This shot was from the top of the red mountain which can be see from the campsite. A popular route to this spot is up and through the Lava Field that towers over the campsite building. The trek through the lava field has photo opportunities in all directions. Lava is tricky to compose, but there are plenty of good foreground opportunities, try using a 50mm in the lava field because the background mountains are not so high. Also be sure to stick to the path because the Lava is extremely tricky to traverse and could lead to injury. The hike to the top of Red Mountain is about an hour. You can see the white camper vans in the distance in the picture below.
Best times to visit
It may be possible to visit Landmannalaugar in the Winter, this requires either serious team of 4x4 Super Jeeps or an experienced Skidoo team. But really you are missing the colours, but I have never been so I don’t know what I am missing. If you want to see Landmannalaugar in the Winter, we can arrange it.
During the thawing season, the roads into Landmannalaugar are strictly closed. Any vehicles using the roads during this fragile time can cause extreme damage to the roads. Large fines are laid upon anyone violating this rule.
The roads open around mid June. If you can get in during these first few weeks you will see beautiful snow patterns on the mountains. Later in the Summer the snow is gone, but is replaced with Cotton Grass.
If you can access the park in September you could see Northern Lights over those beautiful Mountains.
This is a hiking area, so be prepared with good walking boots, hat, gloves and waterproofs. A lightweight tripod or mono-pod is convenient. Do take notice of weather warnings and keep to established paths. You will be rewarded with great wide-angle vistas and incredible telephoto scenes. The main challenge is hiking with enough lenses to cover several focal lengths, a good tripod and waterproof clothing for surprise weather without breaking your back.