The farm of Sænautasel, situated up in the highland of Jökuldalsheiði, was inhabited from 1843-1943. In the years 1875-1880, however, it was left abandoned as a result of the lavish ashfall emanating from volcano Askja during an 1875 eruption.
Rumour has it that the farm served as a model for “Independent People”, the most popular novel of Iceland’s only Nobel Prize winner, Halldór Laxness. Now rebuilt, the interior and exterior of the turf buildings are open to visitors during the summer. Guided tours help reveal the conditions of earlier Icelandic generations. Refreshments in traditional style are offered.
Lake Saenautavatn is among the largest lakes in the Jokuldalsheidi area. It stretches from north to south with the ruins of the farmstead Rangalon Sænautasel(abandoned in 1924) to the north and the rebuilt farmstead Saenautasel (abandoned in 1942; now a living museum) to the south. Its area is 2,3 km², its greatest depth is 23 m and it is situated 525 m above sea level.
Its discharge, Lonskvisl, tributes to the fine salmon river Hofsa, which spills into the bay Vopnafiord. Road no. 1 passes just north of it and a passable road lies to the south along it.