On the South West peninsular of Reykjanes lies a unique lake called Kleifarvatn. Kleifarvatn is a fairly large lake by Icelandic standards. It used to be the deepest lake in Iceland until some large holes were discovered in Jökulsarlon. Kleifavatn is in an active volcanic zone on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Hence the landscape changes every few hundred yards. You will see this if you follow the road on the higher American side. Kleifarvatn is unique because there are no rivers running in or out of Kleifarvatn. The lake is fed by underground lava tubes.


Kleifarvatn is just a short drive from Reykjavik and is a feasible detour on the way to or from the airport. The road is track and is usually fine for a regular car, but in the Winter the route can often be difficult or impossible.

There is an interesting hot spring area at the Western end of the lake called Seltun. Here you can bath in the steam coming from the Queens Hole as you watch bubbling mud. Careful though this place has exploded a few times in recent history.

Just past Seltun is Grænavatn (Green lake) which is also worth a visit.


Kleifarvatn can be tricky to photograph. A lot of the landscape is ugly with some grotesque shapes that make a regular composition difficult. Luckily there is a lot to explore mostly on the road side of the lake.

Winter is more interesting because the ice and snow break up the boring browns. The lake is affected by wind so it is common to have huge ice flows on one side of the lake.

When the lake level drops steam vents are revealed at the Southwest end of the lake. Continuing past this end of the lake takes you to Krisuvik and the Southern edge of the Reykjanes peninsular.


The lake side is littered with caves which can be interesting in Winter and can provide welcome shelter from the changeable weather. Here we have some Winter icicles on the left and the cover for The Icelandic Naked Yoga Project on the right – by Hanna Birna Geirmundsdóttir (model: Vesna). This picture was shot from a cave on a rainy day.

I you time your trip right with some nice light, Kleifarvatn can be quite rewarding.


These images from Lake Kleifarvatn are for sale in my gallery:


Travel tips:

Possible with regular car in good conditions. In Winter check access on Road.is

Photo Tips:

Allow plenty of time for exploring, any chance to stop the car safely, hop out and take a walk around looking for interesting shapes and colours in the foreground. These shots were all taken with 24mm.

Djúpalónssandur Snæfellsnes

Snæfellsnes Photo tour Djúpalónssandur Snæfellsnes This is the beach at Djúpalónssandur on an early August tour of Snæfellsnes peninsular in West Iceland. The Djúpalónssandur bay in on the Southern shore of the Snæfellsnes peninsular and quite close to...

Summer colour peaks

Summer Night trip Time for some colour on an Icelandic Summer night! I had promised myself some 135mm Magic Cloth for a while. Long exposure telephoto is fun!! Things move across the frame quickly so you don't need a super long exposure for a long exposure...

Black sand Iceland photo workshop

Dramatic Landscapes from the land of ice and fire This picture is a 10 for my friend Pepe from Mexico city. I told him I would get a photograph to keep on this morning. This was facing Dýrholaey from the black beach near Vik. Iceland photo workshops Tony Prower is...

Pin It on Pinterest