Iceland // Eastern and southeast Iceland //

The highlands

The highlands southwest of Egilsstaðir form a huge, wild and impressively bleak expanse of moorland around the edges of the Vatnajökull ice cap. Overlooking everything is the permanently snow-capped, sharply ridged peak of Snæfell which, at 1833m, is the highest freestanding mountain in Iceland, formed from the eroded core of a long-extinct stratovolcano. While climbing Snæfell needs experience and equipment, you can approach the base on the way to the Kárahnjúkar hydro dam, built to provide power for an aluminium smelter down on the coast in Reyðarfjörður. You’ll also pass by Snæfell if you’re hiking the increasingly popular five-day route through Lónsöræfi. Either way, keep eyes peeled for reindeer, geese and whooper swans, all of which breed and feed up here in large numbers.

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