Ljósártungur and Ljósárfjöll mountains
Updated: Apr 3
Iceland has in its offering numerous natural wonders worth visiting, seeing, and experiencing. Among the best known are waterfalls, hot springs, lagoons, basalt columns, geothermal pools, craters, canyons, and cliffs. Although not many mountains are on the list of natural wonders, there are several mountains and clusters of mountains that are highly interesting. Most of these are basalt mountains formed in an eruption when ice covered the island, and then we also have the colorful rhyolite mountains. One of the reasons that the Laugavegur hiking trail is so popular is that you walk through some very colorful rhyolite mountains within the Torfajökkull caldera for a large part of the trail. The starting point in Landmannalaugar is exceptionally colorful and most of the first day. This is the realm of rhyolite mountains.
An interplay of hot springs and rhyolite:
Ljósártungur is a name for a relatively large area east of the hiking trail Laugavegur near Hrafntinnusker. Although the Ljósártungur mountains seem tempting, they are pretty difficult to trek as they have many ravines, gullies, and ridges. There are also numerous hot springs as well as small ice caves. The whole area is highly colorful and almost unreal. The mountains are located at an altitude of 800 to 1000 meters and, like most places in the Icelandic Highland, are covered with snow during winter. During summer, it usually doesn't get warm enough to melt all the snow from winter. Consequently, snowdrifts from the winter do not melt, adding the white color to the magnificent rhyolite color, the hazy smoke from the hot springs, the green mountain vegetation, and the blue sky—a perfect blend for a great photo.
A difficult place to visit:
Ljósártungur is a fascinating but challenging place to visit. Like almost all parts of the Icelandic highland, the area is only accessible from July until the middle of September. While driving on the mountain road Syðri Fjallabak, you can drive on a dirt road on a ridge in a modified 4X4 vehicle toward the edge of the southern part of the Torfajökull caldera east of the ford, the river crossing, at Markarfjljót river. Here you can get quite close to Ljósártungur and Ljósárfjöll mountains for a great experience and an excellent photograph with a superb view of the rhyolite mountains.