GPS: 64.002897252767, -19.12723026941
Founded in 1979, the Fjallabak Nature Reserve is considered one of the most beautiful regions in Iceland. Covering an area of 450 km², it is made up of three glaciers supplying a multitude of rivers and lakes in ancient volcanic valleys. The landscapes of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve are provided with a prodigious mineral environment, generated by the simultaneous action of fire, water and ice. They are more broadly part of the Highlands of Iceland, a huge wild and sparsely populated region. It is through its situation on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet, that the intense volcanic activity of the archipelago has its origin. This has shaped Icelandic landscapes for 150 million years and the plates continue to deviate by some 3 mm per year.
In exceptional geothermal activity, the Fjallabak Nature Reserve is sculpted by its various craters including the most active stratovolcano Hekla in the country. This Icelandic protected area offers constantly changing mountain landscapes. It is also often compared to Yellowstone National Park (United States) or to the Valley of Geysers in Kamchatka Peninsula (Russia) for its numerous fumaroles and hot water sources gushing from the highlands of Landmannalaugar. Meaning “the hot baths of the local people”, this rugged massif alone testifies to the intense volcanic activity of the foundations of the region of the south of Iceland. Craters, lava fields, solfataras, hot water basins and ash deposits are characteristic of the natural sites of Fjallabak and Landmannalaugar.
Despite poor vegetation, the wild lands of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve are full of fantastic colouring. They will delight hiking enthusiasts as much for its many trails traversing rhyolite massifs (multicoloured rock from ancient eruptions) as geothermal enthusiasts for its various formations of fumaroles, geysers or hot springs. According to the minerals, the volcanic rocks present a formidable rainbow of colours: blue and black from the obsidian lava stone (vitrified under the effect of rapid cooling of the lava), yellow from sulphides, red and orange from iron oxides and then green from lichens (Iceland foams).