Mælifell is a composite cone volcano located in the highlands of South Iceland.
Mælifell is a 791 metre tall volcano that stands out in a desert of black sands. It was once concealed under Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the third largest glacier in the country, but became exposed when the glacier retreated at the end of the last Ice Age. This occurred approximately 10,000 years ago.
The volcano remains close to this ice cap, just to its north. As such, it is surrounded by volcanic landscapes and many pristine glacier rivers. It is particularly renowned for its vivid green colouration in summer, which contrasts starkly with the black sands that encircle it. Because of its beauty, Maelifell has been featured in films such as Noah and television series such as Game of Thrones.
Mælifell’s name translates to ‘Measuring Hill’; nine other mountains in the country share this name, as they were used as points of navigation for early Icelanders.
Like the vast majority of locations in Iceland’s Highlands, Mælifell is only accessible at the height of summer, usually between June and September. This is because the roads and hiking routes leading towards it become inaccessible due to snow, and attempting to cross them is extremely dangerous for both travellers and rescuers.
The site can be accessed by car from Reykjavík by driving the Ring Road, travelling east. At the village of Hvolsvöllur, turn left onto Route 261, which will soon become the Highland Route F261. Continue along this road north of the Þórsmörk Nature Reserve, before turning right on Route F210. You will soon discover Mælifell on your left, after approximately three and a half hours of driving.
This journey can only be taken in a four-wheel-drive, as it involves river crossings and very bumpy terrain.
Mælifell is also visited on several highland hiking tours. The most notable of these is the Laugavegur Route, the most popular multi-day hiking route in Iceland. This journey takes guests from the Landmannalaugar area to Þórsmörk over four to six days, past an array of magnificent sites that include Mælifell.