Regions

Highlands and Interior

Highlands and Interior

The Icelandic highlands. A vast and unforgiving wilderness.

This rugged and barren landscape covers most of the interior of Iceland.

Situated on average over 400 metres in altitude, these areas of the country truly look like a world that has changed little over millions of years.

In truth, little has changed.

With such small amounts of moisture to sustain plant life, the highlands are classed as a desert and remain devoid of many animals that live throughout the rest of the country.

Any water from rain or snow is so quickly soaked into the dry and dusty earth that it has no time to form pools, lakes or rivers that can support vegetation, animal or bird life.

With no settlements, villages or farms, the highlands are areas of Iceland where you really can feel like the only person left in the world.

This hostile environment is open to visitors only during the summer months. In the winter the roads simply become too difficult to travel on and are either declared closed by large signs, or are literally snowed over.

The highlands for most of the year remain sealed in snow and ice, with seemingly never-ending lava fields making the land look like something from a prehistoric age.

The Icelandic sagas and legends speak of the highlands as being home to outlaws, those banished from society for often despicable and heinous crimes.

Historical tales speak of those banished as having often never returned, their bodies eventually being lost out in the desolate wastelands for ever.

Trolls are said to live high in the jagged peaks, and many visitors often report that they have the strange sensation that they are being watched by something, or someone, that they cannot see.

Exploring these areas are not for the faint-hearted.

Roads in the highlands are all gravel-surfaced and as such are only accessible by 4 x 4 vehicles and Super Jeeps.

First time visitors and those with not much experience of hiking and mountain climbing are strongly recommended to visit the areas with tour guides who know the pitfalls and dangers of the mountains, glaciers and lava fields.

With the nearest medical facilities often very far away, a trip on uneven ground or a slip on jagged glacial ice can cause life-threatening injuries.

But despite these dangers, the highlands are a stunning and picturesque part of the country. Providing you have come well-prepared and clothed, this part of Iceland is a place that truly can be described as the land that time forgot.

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