Running between Gullfoss in the south and the Ringroad near Varmahlíð, at 200km long Kjölur is the shorter of the two inland routes across Iceland. Pioneered by the earliest settlers and recorded in the Book of Settlements, Kjölur was always considered a safer route than Sprengisandur, though it passes between the Hofsjökull and Langjökull ice caps and was abandoned after the death of a large party in 1780. Today it qualifies as a highway – if any Interior route can claim to be one – with buses, coaches, four-wheel-drives and even ordinary family sedans bouncing along it during the summer months. All the rivers have been bridged, but be aware that Kjölur’s rough gravel track is still capable of shredding tyres, tearing off exhausts and puncturing sumps: keep your speed down, especially if driving conventional, low-slung vehicles. Note that ordinary rental vehicles are not allowed along this route.

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