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5. Ljótipollur Crater Lake

Ljótipollur, a crater lake, shines with bright blue water surrounded by red hues from the rocky flanks.
Calling this wonder an “ugly puddle,” feels a bit cruel, doesn’t it?

“Ljótipollur” translates to “ugly puddle,” a deceptive name to say the least.

How Ljótipollur came to be

Back in the fifteenth century, a violent explosion created the massive crater (1,500 meters / 4,921 feet across) to the north of Landmannalaugar. It’s subsequently filled in with water, which emanates in heavenly blues, a stark contrast to the surrounding prismatic rock.

No lollipop walk in the park: Getting to Ljótipollur

Geographically, Ljótipollur is a bit set back from the other hikes I’ve mentioned, so there are typically fewer people. Leaving from Landmannalaugar campground, the lollipop hike (out, around the lake, and back) is about 13 kilometers (8 miles) and typically takes about 4 hours. The hiking is mostly flat, with views of rhyolite mountains the whole way. 

Alternatively, if a guide is taking you to Landmannalaugar, Ljótipollur is only a quick detour from the road in or out of the valley. In that case, you’d park the Super Jeep near the crater and hike about 20 or 30 minutes up to the lip.

Take it slow

It’s difficult to put into words the beauty of Ljótipollur. The crater’s red rocks are streaked with hardened lava striations, and the deep turquoise pool is brilliant in the late afternoon sun.

For this hike especially, I recommend taking your time. You’ll want to see the crater in the shifting daylight and enjoy the solitude of a trail that only sees a few people daily. The turquoise waters are even home to trout, and you may catch sight of folks trying their luck with the rod. 

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