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At the northern end of Route F26, make sure to stop at the enthralling waterfall Aldeyjarfoss.

Hrauneyjar Highland Center, a year-round highland oasis at the southern terminus of the Sprengisandur Route, has two hotels and restaurants, an information desk, and the last gas station for the next 240km (149 miles). A trail map of the surrounding area is available at reception.

As a base, Hrauneyjar is best for travelers with their own 4WD transport. The Highland Center organizes tours only for groups, and the best local destinations -- such as Veiðivötn lakes, or the lovely Dynkur, a waterfall on the Þjórsá river -- are inaccessible to regular cars. Hrauneyjar is especially handy for visitors who want to explore Landmannalaugar by day and then retire to a private room with a made-up bed. Landmannalaugar is an hour from Hrauneyjar via Route F208, which opens up in late June. (Regular cars can negotiate the route, but this would void your insurance.)

The Hrauneyjar area has some excellent fishing, and the Highland Center sells licenses and rents rods. Prices are steep, however, with licenses starting around 4,900kr ($78/£39) per rod per day in lakes and 9,900kr ($158/£79) for fly fishing in streams.

Veidivötn -- Trout fishermen are particularly drawn to this idyllic and peaceful cluster of fifty volcanic crater lakes, located close to Landmannalaugar but accessed through Hrauneyjar on Route F228. Fishing permits (2,000kr/day/$32/£16) and sleeping-bag accommodation (2,500kr/$40/£20 per person) in four bunk-style cottages are handled by Landmannahellir (tel. 893-8407; www.landmannahellir.is).

Nýidalur -- An overnight stay at this remote desert outpost, combined with a day hike east to Vonarskarð pass, makes for a memorable episode along the Sprengisandur Route. Nýidalur is right on Route F26, about 100km (62 miles) from Hrauneyjar and 20km (12 miles) from the northwest corner of Vatnajökull. Vonarskarð forms a dramatic saddle between Vatnajökull and the small glacier Tungnafellsjökull, and the hiking route skirts some restless geothermal fields. Sudden releases of glacial meltwater can make stream crossings difficult, so speak to the warden before setting out. Those just passing through Nýidalur can still take the short easy hike east to a nearby hill with panoramic views.

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.