Panoramic Landscapes of The Dyngjufjoll Mountains
Askja is no doubt one of the many regions that spark big interest in travelers coming to Iceland. For many, it’s a desired destination that takes first place on their bucket list. There are people coming to Iceland only to visit the Askja caldera. Its name literally means “box” or “caldera”, which makes sense as Askja is actually a volcano. It’s located in the Dyngjufjöll mountains in the Icelandic highlands in North Iceland. Its height is 1510 meters above sea level. The location of Askja, especially its proximity to the Vatnajokull glacier, results in lower temperatures. which also means that even in summer you can find the mountains covered with snow. This only makes the landscapes incredible. The Dyngjufjöll mountains create stunning scenery. The best place to admire it’s from the shores of the two lakes formed in the caldera. These two volcano lakes are the main reason and main destination for most trips. In this post we want to highlight the Askja region, mainly the Dyngjufjöll mountains.
Dyngjufjöll Mountain Range
Dyngjufjöll is a cluster of mountains surrounding the Askja caldera. The Dyngjufjöll mountain range is surrounded by glacier rivers. It lays on the Odadahraun lava field. These mountains are the remains of the eruption of a volcanic zone during the ice age around 14,000 years ago. The rocks are mainly made of palagonite. 10,000 years ago when the ice retreated, a massive explosion took place which emptied the volcanic chamber below the mountain. The roof of the chamber then collapsed, which resulted in creating the main crater in the Dyngjufjöll mountains.
In some places new lava formations can be found. Due to the harsh climate and fertile soil, there is almost no vegetation in this part of Iceland. The Dyngjufjöll mountain area is inhabited. The strong winds from Vatnajokull bring tons of ash and sand which covers the mountains.
The highest peak of Dyngjufjöll mountain range is Þorvaldstindur (1510 m), which is located on the south rim. Its name comes from the 19th century geologist Þorvaldur Thoroddsen.
In order to get to Dyngjufjöll you will need a 4x4 vehicle. The roads that lead to Askja are called F-roads and these are gravel roads with loose stones that might be challenging for an inexperienced driver. It also involves river crossing which is only possible in a car with a high clearance. The F-roads are only accessible a few months a year during the summer time. The only way to visit Askja in winter is by hiring a guided tour. These tours offer well equipped 4x4 super jeeps suitable for the road conditions in this part of Iceland.
Dyngjufjoll and Askja
In 1968 a hut called Dreki was built at the bottom of the mountains. It’s an oasis where everyone heading to Askja will stop in. It’s located on the eastern edge of the mountains. You will find chalets there that can accommodate up to 60 people and also a camping site. It’s well-equipped and you can find facilities like showers, toilets and even a kitchenette. No shops are to be found here, so remember to take some food and water with you. You will also need to charge your batteries after some trekking in the mountains.
There’s also an information center here where you can always check weather alerts and forecasts before heading to the Viti volcano. People working there will be happy to give you some tips and advice on the best paths to take to see as much as you can of the unique nature of the Askja and Dyngjufjöll mountains.
The whole area looks rather out of this planet and remains much a moon-like space. No wonder the NASA astronauts chose the Askja area to train for the Apollo mission. The dark mountains of Dyngjufjöll and jagged cliffs covered in lava can make you feel like you are one of the Nasa astronauts. Just don’t let your imagination flow too much and start walking as if you were on the Moon, that would be weird.
You can start your trip to Dyngjufjöll mountain right in the Dreki center. While in this area you should definitely visit the Drekagil canyon. It’s very narrow and dark with many rock formations that will stimulate your imagination even more. Keep your eyes wide open as the dragon from which the name of the canyon comes from is hidden somewhere between the black rocks. The path running through the canyon is around 600m long, so it’s quite a short walk but really worth it as at the end there is a consolation prize. The Drekafoss waterfall of about 30m high might not be among the most powerful waterfalls in Iceland, but is still impressive.