The following destinations follow a circular path around Lögurinn.
Hallormsstaðaskógur, located 24km (15 miles) from Egilsstaðir on Lagarfljót's southeastern shore, is Iceland's largest forest -- a fact which never fails to draw sniggers from passing tourists. Iceland, which was substantially forested when settlers first arrived, currently leads the world in annual per capita planting of trees. Hallormsstaðaskógur has far more diversity than Iceland's original forests, with larch, red spruce, and other species added to native birch, rowan, and willow. A free trail map of Hallormsstaðaskógur is available at the Shell gas station along Route 931. A more formal arboretum -- the best in Iceland for what it's worth -- is on the lake side of the road, marked "Skógrækt Ríkisins/Trjásafn/Arboretum" on a brown wooden sign. A pleasant trail from the parking area leads to the lake.
Atlavík is a lakeshore campground that is extremely popular with Icelandic families and partiers. To reserve a campsite, call tel. 471-1774 or 849-1461. It is also the departure point for evening cruises on the Lagarfljótsormurinn (tel. 471-2900; www.ormur.is). This 110-passenger ship, named for the Loch Ness-style sea monster dwelling in Lagarfljót, takes groups on lake cruises involving cookouts, fishing, or even live music (mid-June to Aug); call to see if an expedition is scheduled.
Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889-1975) wasn't much recognized in his native Iceland until late in his career, but from 1920 to 1946 he was Germany's second best-selling author, after Goethe. Gunnar was best-known for historical fiction -- notably The Black Cliffs (Svartfugl), based on a double murder case in the Westfjords Along Route 933, 2km (1 1/4 miles) south of the Route 933/Route 910 junction, Gunnar's distinctive stone house, where he lived from 1935 to 1948, is now the Gunnarstofnun cultural institute (tel. 471-2990; www.skriduklaustur.is; admission 500kr/$8/£4 adults; 300kr/$4.80/£2.40 students; 250kr/$4/£2 seniors; free for children 15 and under; May 26-Aug 19 daily 10am-6pm; May 5-25 and Aug 20-Sep 16 daily noon-5pm), which includes a lovingly curated, permanent exhibit on the author (with some of his books for sale), temporary exhibits on local themes, an art gallery, and a first-rate cafe. Outside is an archeological excavation of Skriðuklaustur, an Augustinian monastery founded in 1500. Findings are exhibited inside, where bored children can make use of the kids room full of toys and art materials.
Located 3km (2 miles) southwest of Skriðuklaustur, the Végarður Visitor Center has free exhibits on the Kárahnjúkar hydroelectric project.
A 90-minute round-trip hike with nice views over the lake leads along the Hengifossá River uphill for 2.5km (1 1/2 miles) to two photogenic waterfalls: Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss. The parking area is clearly marked from Route 933, between the junctions with Route 910 and 931. Hengifoss, at 118m (387 ft.), is Iceland's third highest waterfall and has a distinctive pattern of red clay stripes wedged between thick layers of black basalt. Unless the flow is especially strong, you can climb up to a cave behind the falls. Litlanesfoss, halfway along the trail, is no less beautiful, with fantastical formations of columnar basalt.
Snæfell, Kárahnjúkar & The Interior
From Lagarfljót, the newly paved Route 910 winds steeply up the hillside and finally levels off in Fljótsdalsheiði, a highland environment utterly distinct from the lake below. Chances are good you'll see a reindeer herd in this austerely beautiful landscape, dominated by rocky tundra, lakes, clumpy moss, lichen, and scrub. Compared to interior deserts such as Sprengisandur, it's positively lush. Route 910 reaches Kárahnjúkar dam within an hour's drive, passing close to the northern slopes of the imposing 1,833m (6,014-ft.) peak Snæfell.
The Kárahnjúkar project encompasses five dams, of which the Kárahnjúkar dam itself is the largest. Water is tunneled from the new reservoirs to a hydroelectric power station built into a mountainside substation on the northwest bank of the Jökulsá í Fljótsdal River, about 10km (6 miles) southwest of the Route 933/Route 910 junction.
The substation is currently inaccessible to visitors. To find out if tours of this high-tech wonder have been instituted, contact the Végarður Visitor Center (tel. 471-2044; www.karahnjukar.is; Apr 27-Oct 15 daily 9am-5pm), located on Route 933, about 5km (3 miles) southwest of the Route 933/Route 910 junction. Végarður is run by the Icelandic power company Landsvirkjun, and the video presentation on Kárahnjúkar's engineering marvels is very effective PR. If the screening is in Icelandic, ask for the English version.
Visitors to Kárahnjúkar will probably be disappointed by how little there is to see. The paved road ends at a viewpoint overlooking Hálslón Reservoir, which is as large as Lögurinn (Lagarfljót), covering 57 sq. km (22 sq. miles). The more interesting and revealing viewpoint would look downstream from the dam, where the once-raging Dimmugljúfur Gorge has been reduced to a trickle. At press time, walking near the dam is forbidden, though Tanni Travel (tel. 476-1399; www.tannitravel.is), based in the Eastfjords town of Eskifjörður, plans to start tours of Kárahnjúkar.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.