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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Hvítárvatn lake

Hvítárvatn lake in the Highland in Iceland
Hvítárvatn lake in the Highland in Iceland

Some lakes in Iceland, probably around five or six, are placed by the edge of a glacier. All those lakes receive water from the melting glaciers and glacier tongues and, in many cases, from spring-fed water flowing from mountains hidden under the ice cap. In some cases, the lake is full of icebergs fallen from the glacier tongue, like the famous Icelandic tourist attractions Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón. Hvítárvatn (White River Lake) is one such lake in the Highland near the highland road Kjölur (Kjalvegur/Road Nr. 35), which is located by the glacier Langjökull and the glacier tongue Norðurjökull. In addition to the above-mentioned sources, the lake is fed by rivers and creeks in the surrounding area. However, icebergs are seldom seen on this lake or lagoon. One of the main reasons is that the glacier tongue or the outlet glacier is dead and doesn't reach the lagoon anymore.

Map of Highland in Iceland
Map of Highland in Iceland

As the primary source is glacial rivers, the lake always looks a bit milky, which probably contributed to the name. The size is approximately 30 square kilometers, and the average depth is about 30 meters, with the deepest part reaching around 90 meters. Hvítárvatn is placed at an altitude of 420 meters and is the main source for one of Iceland's largest rivers—Hvítá (White River). In Hvítá, to the south of the lake, is located Iceland's most spectacular waterfall—Gullfoss.

The haunted hut and the young female ghost:

Located near the lake, mountain hut Sæluhúsið í Hvítárnesi is one of the many huts in the Highland. It is famous for being one of the most haunted places in Iceland. The cabin was built in the 1940s. According to many stories, complaints, and reports from the 1940s to the present, a young female is often seen in the hut. Many guests, particularly male guests, complain about disturbances from a young female ghost while in the transitional state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep. Many visitors have also claimed to have seen her in one of the windows when arriving late at night and then learning that the house was empty. A particular bed in the hut is believed to be exceptionally unsafe and almost impossible to sleep in: Apparently, on many occasions, guests have been kicked out of the bed during the night by "no one"! It is a mysterious place and a challenge for adventurers who dare to "sleep in her bed."

Access to Hvítárvatn is not for small cars:

If you drive from Reykjavík or the southern part of the Ring Road along the south shore to Gullfoss, you are basically on the road to Hvítárvatn when you pass Gullfoss. The road is quite rough, and a robust 4X4 vehicle is recommended, especially for the dirt road that takes you to the shoreline of Hvítárvatn.


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