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Reykjanes - Valahnjúkur.
The area by Reykjanesviti lighthouse and Valahnjúkur is extraordinary.
Valahnjúkur is a beautiful rock precipice. There is a very easy walk up to the top of Valahnjúkur, and it looks so amazing - it is like the earth just raised on one side as Valahnjúkur is covered in grass all the way up. There is a warning sign that you can fall off the cliff - you will see why once you reach the top. There is no looking down there without lying down and grabbing onto the earth.
The old shack by Valahnjúkur used to belong to the old light-house before it was moved.
Too bad the sun was in the "wrong" place for taking good photos.
This area is so worth visiting - it is amazing.
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A very strange rock formation.
Just west of The Bridge between two continents there is a very strange rock formation, it is quite amazing and I don´t understand how it doesn´t fall down.
I will add more information about these rocks if ever I happen to come across them, but until then here are photos of this strange phenomenon.
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Reykjanes - Gunnuhver geothermal area.
I have made a special page on Grindavík village, but to get to Gunnuhver geothermal area you will have to drive to Grindavík. Coming from Reykjavík on road 41 take a left turn on road 43 leading to The Blue Lagoon and Grindavík. From Grindavík take road 425 which takes you along the shore towards the geothermal area. The road is paved to Reykjanesvirkjun power plant, but from there on it is a soso paved road leading to Gunnuhver. Turn left almost at the end of the road. I know, difficult and lengthy road-directions ;)
The geothermal area here is one of many on Reykjanes with Gunnuhver being the best known hot spring. There is a folktale that the ghost of a woman called Guðrún (Gunna for short) had made problems in this area, allegedly killing a man after her death, and a minister named Eiríkur from Vogsósum in Selvogur helped to send the ghost of Guðrún into the hot spring - thus the name Gunnuhver. So now you know it, there is a ghost in Gunnuhver!
There are new wooden paths and railings with view-platforms by the hot springs, but all the same this is a dangerous area, so be cautious while walking here. Also the sulphurous fumes can give one headache and nausea if one is exposed to them for too long. This geothermal area isn't that big though, but in windy weather one gets kind of lost in the fumes and doesn't see where to go. This area was closed off by the civil defence for 2 years when there was increased activity in this geothermal area and opened again in 2010.
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Njarðvík town in Reykjanes peninsula.
Njarðvík town is divided into Ytri-Njarðvík and Innri-Njarðvík or outer and inner Njarðvík. Njarðvík merged with Keflavík and Hafnir in 1995 and is now called Reykjanesbær town. We never call it that though, we always refer to the towns by their name. Together with Keflavík there are ca 14.100 inhabitants here.
There is a lovely stone church in Innri-Njarðvík built in 1886.
By the church is the Monument for sea-men and a little further on a statue in remembrance of Jón Þorsteinsson, who was headmaster at Skálholt, the seat of the bishops in South-Iceland, from 1697-1759. He has been called the Father of Children´s Education and the monument depicts him teaching two children.
There are several other monuments here by the church.
By the ocean is a weathercock in the shape of a whale.
In Ytri-Njarðvík there is a Viking World Museum. And a more modern church.
In Ytri-Njarðvík is the coffee processing for Kaffitár, which is a popular café-chain here in Iceland, with 9 cafés (2014).
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After the drive from Grindavík through this wilderness the next village is the lovely fishing village Sandgerði. It is located on Rosmhvalanes peninsula. There is something so likeable about this village, I cannot put my finger on it, but I love visiting Sandgerði.
The inhabitants in Sandgerði are ca 1.581. Sandgerði got badly hit by the financial crash in 2008, which reduced the number of the inhabitants at Sandgerði to a certain degree. In 2007 during the boom the inhabitants were 1.660.
The museum here is Fræðasetrið or the Nature Centre. Part of the centre is dedicated to the Pourquoi Pas, which sank in 1936 close to Sandgerði. I have added a tip on that exhibition. The Nature Centre is in the forefront worldwide and the research facilities here are excellent. They research fish diseases and pollution in the ocean, to name a few, and work closely with laboratories, universities and other companies. Marine biologists from all over the world come here for research. The ocean is pumped directly into the Nature Centre from borholes, and it is very clean and unpolluted.
There are also small galleries here and a walk through Sandgerði makes for a lovely walk.
The rescue ship of the Live Saving Association (Slysavarnarfélagið), Landsbjörg, operates from Sandgerði. It is called Hannes Þ. Hafstein. The sea by Sandgerði is a thoroughfare as the tramp steamers coming to and leaving Iceland, sail through here. So the rescue ship has to be alert at all times.
Sandgerði is only a couple of km away from Keflavík with 7.991 inhabitants, and the international airport. If you drive north on road 45 there is the village Garður and the lighthouses (see my next tip).
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Reykjanes - Hanging Rocks.
On my drive along Reykjanes on road 425 I took a left turn after Hafnir village on road 44 which leads one to road 45 behind our Keflavík airport. Here you will notice clearly that the US-army base was located in this area. And there is a lot of wilderness here until suddenly two rocks stand out of the wilderness, one with grass on top of it. These rocks are called Gálgaklettar or Hanging rocks.
In the olden days criminals were hanged here. I can tell you that it is a little gloomy to visit this place knowing that it was a place of execution.
There are strange rock formations here and some people come here to practice climbing. The Hanging Rocks consist of 2 mountain castles separated by ca 6 metres.
The name of the rock, Hanging Rock, in Icelandic Gálgaklettar, can be found in ca 100 places in Iceland.
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Hafnir village and the lovely church.
Hafnir village is one of the small villages on Reykjanes with a population of only ca 87 people. Together with Keflavík and Njarðvík Hafnir is now called Reykjanesbær. Hafnir used to be a thriving, big hamlet, but with new fishery technology people moved to other villages in Reykjanes.
The oldest church in Reykjanes is in Hafnir and is called Kirkjuvogskirkja church. It dates back to 1861 and behind it are remains of a settlement lodge which was found by excavation in 2002.
In front of the church there is a big anchor (see my last photo) which came from a deserted ship, Jamestown, which landed by Ósabotnar in 1881. It was a huge ship full of fine wood which was used for building timber houses in the vicinity.
The biggest fish drying company in Iceland, Haustak, is located between Hafnir and Reykjanesviti lighthouse. Their produce is mainly exported to Nigeria and Scandinavia. The fish is dried by geothermal heat, coming from Reykjanesvirkjun power station. Haustak is the only food company, that we know of, that uses this method for drying. The owners of Haustak are Vísir and Þorbörn in Grindavík village.
Two of our most beloved pop singers, the siblings Elly and Vilhjálmur grew up in Hafnir. Their songs make me ever so nostalgic.
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Grindavík is a hamlet with ca 2.830 inhabitants. Despite it being so small it is one of the most important fishing towns in Iceland.
Grindavík has got a church, a swimming pool, a golf course, horse-rental, 5 restaurants and a hotel and there are many interesting things to visit in this area. There is also The Icelandic Salt Fish Museum (650 fm2) which displays the story of salt fish production which has been really important for the Icelandic economy.
5 kilometres west of the town-centre, is Grindavík's main attraction, The Blue Lagoon, visited by almost all tourists who visit Iceland, and frequented a lot by us Icelanders as well. See my tips here on The Blue lagoon and on my Iceland page. I created a special Grindavík page when I started out on VT, as The Blue Lagoon belongs to Grindavík, but the tips got kind of lost on that page. That is why I moved them to my Iceland and Reykjanes pages.
There is a lovely little old house in Grindavík, called Gestahús Einars in Garðhúsum. It is 135 years old and serves as a small Information center and there is Icelandic embroidery for sale.
There is an excellent football and basket ball team at Grindavík.
Vísir is the name of the fishing operator in Grindavík. It is one of the leading fishing operators in Iceland, family run, with 5 ships and a 16,000 tonne quota. They also operate from several other places in Iceland, in Germany and Newfoundland. 70% of their catch is sold as salt fish.
In 1627 some Algerian thugs came to Grindavík and more places in Iceland and kidnapped a lot of Icelanders and sold them into slavery :(
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Vogar village in Vatnsleysuströnd.
Vogar village in Vatnsleysuströnd is a small village by the ocean just before you reach the turn off to Grindavík and The Blue Lagoon. The inhabitants in this village are ca 1.000. The settler here was a kinswoman of our first settler Ingólfur Arnarson, Steinunn the Old. There was a manor here at Stóru Vogar for centuries.
Vogar is a typical small Icelandic village with a school, a kindergarten, a swimming pool, a community centre, a sports center, a hotel, a golf-course and a library to name some. And of course health-service and a police man, even though it is so close to Keflavík and Njarðvík (Reykjanesbær).
There is a lovely park in Vogar and a harbour. If you go down to the shore you will see the memorial for seamen, which ever little hamlet in Iceland has got. And by the shore there is lava with fissures in it and on a sunny day it makes for quite a lovely walk.
By the Vogaskóli school there is a rock of 450 kilos but the story goes that Jón sterki Daníelsson from Storð (born in 1771) carried that rock a long distance. Jón Daníelsson was Iceland´s strongest man and the rock now stands by the school as a monument for Jón.
Rye pancakes (flatkökur) are made by the marina at Vogar, called Tótuflatkökur. They can make up to 1.500 rye pancakes a day.
The Vogar House of Culture is located in a renovated barn.
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Lake Kleifarvatn in Krýsuvík.
Kleifarvatn lake is a lake in Krýsuvík. It is the largest lake on the Reykjanes peninsula, covering an area of 8-10 km2. Beneath the lake are the fissures of the Mid-Atlantic ridge.
Trout was put in Kleifarvatn around 1960. Something was killing the fish in lake. It is believed to be caused by hydrogen sulphide which has found its way through cracks in the bottom of the lake. This is believed to have started after the earthquake in this area in year 2000 when the water level lowered one meter in one year.
There is a serpent like monster as large as a whale in the lake.
There are hot pool areas in Krýsuvík close to Kleifarvatn and beneath the lake.
By the lake the rocks are made of sandstone, making it quite an interesting area.
One of the most famous writers in Iceland, Arnaldur Indriðason, wrote a novel called Kleifarvatn - The Draining Lake, where he has one of his characters, the detective Erlendur, go to Kleifarvatn where human remains have been found. Arnaldur Indriðason´s books have been published in 26 countries and I have encountered people on so many of my travels who were reading his books.
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The mud pools at Seltún - Seltúnshverir.
Seltùnshverir geothermal area is the main mud pool area (solfataras) in Krýsuvík. Like all these geothermal areas in Iceland Seltùn is amazing.
The colours here are just out of this world, you will see different nuances of red, grey, yellow, white, silver, brown - all in one area - with steam coming up from all over the place. And mud pools boiling and simmering in all directions.
This area is relatively big and there are wooden paths and view platforms, so one can walk straight throught the area and up to the view platform to get a fantastic look over this multi-coloured area. One just has to visit to see it, there is no describing what nature is offering here.
There is a parking lot here and from here there are hikes up to the mountains in this area.
Take care as the sulphur is poisonous, and one can get a nasty headache and nausea if too much of it is inhaled. There used to be sulphur mines here until 1880 as sulhpur was a popular commoditiy in the 13th century and onwards.
The heat here is 80-100 degrees C, so let us keep to the market trails and pathways.
There are guided tours to Seltùn.
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Krísuvíkurkirkja (small church)
UPDATE 2012 - Apparently this church has since burned down.
This church is close to Grindavík and was built in 1857. It is unlocked and contains a small donation jar on the front table. Bibles in icelandic are also located for reading along with a guest-book to sign in. It looks small from the outside and feels even smaller on the inside. Enjoy.
PARKING - FREE
ADMISSION - FREE
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Fúlipollur mud pool.
Just before you reach the main mud pool area in Krýsuvík, coming from the south, on your right hand side there are two big mud pools. They are called Fúlipollur or Foul pool as they stink.
They look man made, but they are not. I find them amazing really, how the landscape can all of a sudden turn into a geothermal mud pool area like this, with two big holes in the ground. The colours here are amazing, red, grey, dark grey, silver and white and you can see the mud boiling.
There is steam coming up from the mud pools, this awfully smelling sulphur steam. I hate the smell of it, but love going to these areas as they are like out of this world.
Take care as the sulphur is poisonous, and one can get a nasty headache and nausea if too much of it is inhaled. The heat here is 80-100 degrees C, so let us not go too close to the mud pools.
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The Green lake in an explosion crater.
Grænavatn lake - or The Green lake is right by the road in Krýsuvík, maybe a 10 minutes drive from the mud pool area there.
I stopped by this lake as it has got this most amazing colour, I could not believe that this colour was for real. It is not green per se, more out of this world blue and reddish.
The lake is in an explosion crater, but such craters often have lakes in them, see my tips on Landmannalaugar and Kerið in Grimsnes.
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Keflavík - The Beatles' Town.
I have made a special page on Keflavík with several tips on what to do there and on hotels there. Keflavík is the largest of the 3 towns known as Reykjanesbær with a population of 14.137. The other towns are Ytri- and Innri-Njardvik and Hafnir and they were joined together in 1994.
Keflavík is a lovely town only 10 minutes away by car from the Icelandic international airport "Flugstöð Leifs Eiríkssonar" and sometimes before going abroad with the early morning flights I stay over at one of their Keflavík hotels. There are a lot of guesthouses, a cinema and a main street with nice shops. Its closeness to the Nato-base (evacuated in 2006) and the airport made it a booming town as well. It is often called Bítlabærinn "Beatles' Town" because a very popular Icelandic sixties rock band lived there. In Reykjanesbær there is a Waterworld (Vatnaveröld) with a 50 m indoor-swimming-pool and an indoor water park for the family.
Among the things to do in Keflavík is visiting Viking world museum/Smithsonian museum with its exact replica of a viking ship, visiting an evacuated NATO base where Icelanders are now building up a new "town". And in a cave by the ocean you can visit The Giantess in the Black cave. There are also several museums here. Have a look at my tips on my Keflavík page for more photos and tips.
The Blue lagoon is only 15 minutes away from Keflavík.
A lovely town which I visit often.
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