It’s not often that a campsite in Iceland is deserted when you arrive, but Haukafell is one of those rare places. Set at the end of a valley with mountain peaks starting to climb and the Fláajökull Glacier, part of the UNESCO Vatnajökull Ice Cap just a short distance to the east it is an escape from the bustle of the nearby attractions.
It is a basic campsite; the water may or may not work and if you want a shower then you will be out of luck, but the natural beauty that surrounds the campsite is perfect for exploring and makes up for the lack of first world necessities. Sheep wander around, shouting as they arrive. Some even pause for a photograph if they know you are watching. The meadows leading to the woodland and river towards the glacier are full of wild flowers and fungi making the uphill hike a pleasure.
Haukafell Farmhouse exitisted a short distance from what is now the campsite from 1880 until 1936. It was moved to this location when the glacier threatened the original farmhouse. Life on this small farm was harsh. The land was not the best, the climate was colder than it is today and the hayfields were much smaller. Many people farmed the land but very few stayed for very long. In 1936 it was abandoned and the materials used to build other farms nearby. Today the remains are visible if you know where to look.
Haukafell campsite, the surrounding woodland and meadows as well as the mountains are perfect for photography. A small track runs from the campsite to the remains of the farmhouse and an information board. The meadow surrounding the farmhouse is full of harebells and grasses. Further on the path cuts through a small pine woodland and then becomes more rugged. All of these areas have interest with flowers and fungi with the large landscapes ever present.
A longer lens works really well here. The mountains are imposing and so smaller areas work better. The same lens can then be used for the flowers and sheep that graze the meadows and hide in the woods.
How to Find Haukafell
Haukafell is off Route 1 in southern Iceland. You should see the signs on route 1 for road 986 to Rauðaberg. This a dirt track but is okay for most vehicles in the summer months even if it is a little bumpy. There are no big drops or hills involved! Follow the road to the very end which is where you will find the camping ground and the start of the trails to the glacier.