SOLHEIMAJOKULL --- MOUNDS IN THE GLACIAL LAKE
In front of the glacial lake you will see small islands and on some of the islands there are small mounds which consist of sands and gravels. They vary in shape, size and stratification and are formed when the ice melts and the debris is left behind to form the mound which is called a kame. Eventually the kame will collapse as the debris underneath moves or washed away.Related to:
- National/State Park
SOLHEIMAJOKULL GLACIER --- SOME FACTS
The glacier is 14 kms long which advances along a 1-2 km wide valley from .Mydarsjokull. During its journey it drops from 1,360 m to an elevation of 100 m. A few hundred years ago the glacier was more than 2 kilometers longer. Between 1930 and 1969 the glacier shrank by 970 m , but colder weather meant that the glacier actually advanced 495 m until 1995 and since then it has shrank tremendously. If the climate change continues it is possible that the glacier will disappear altogether in 100-200 years.Related to:
- National/State Park
THE DISAPPEARING GLACIER
Sólheimajökull Glacier is one of the easier and accessible glaciers to reach and it is located not too far east from Skogur. The glacier tongue comes from the main Myrdalsjokull ice cap and can easily be reached from the ring road by the 4.2 km road that leads to the car park. From the car park it is probably a 800 m walk along a path on the right before you reach the glacier. About 200 m before you reach the glacier you will come to a sign which forbids people to pass this point, but pay no attention to it as the glacier has been shrinking in size and nobody has bothered to move the sign. You will eventually reach the glacial lake on your left hand side and soon you will be at the base of the glacier which you will be able to see melting before your own eyes. From here it is dangerous to proceed any further.Related to:
- National/State Park
TAKE TIME TO VIEW THE VOLCANOES AND ICE CAPS.
While driving on the road to Vik you will have the chance to see Eyjafjallajokull, the volcano that erupted in 2010 and caused havoc with some of European Airlines as thousands of fights were canceled. the volcano will be on the left side as you are driving towards Vik and depending on the time of year you should have a stunning view of the snow/ice covered volcano. The volcano is situated north of Skogar and is covered by an ice cap at an elevation of 1,651 m. The ice cap covers an area of 100 sq. kms and feeds many glacier outlets. The actual crater has three main peaks and is up to 4 kms in diameter. In the 2010 eruption it actually erupted 3 times, March, April, and June with the April eruption forcing the evacuation of nearby residents.
VISIT THE FALLS WHILE THEY ARE STILL THERE
Urridafoss is a waterfall on the river Bjorsa in SW of the country and has one of the largest flow of water of any of the falls in Iceland. The 230 km long river is the longest in the country and actually has a catchment area of 7,620 sq. kms which flows along the eastern side of Bjorsarhruan Lava Field. The lava field is one of the biggest on the planet from a single eruption since the Ice Age. The Bjorsa river starts in the interior wilderness and is a combination of springs, and melting glaciers. The river has many tributaries and waterfalls along the way but by the time it reaches Urridafoss the average flow is 350 cubic metres a second, but in spring this can rise to 1,500 cubic metres per second. When visiting the falls be careful of the slippery path.
The river is a breeding ground for salmon and trout , and occasionally seals looking for fish can be seen by the falls.
Plans are underway to build a hydro plant by the river at Urridafoss and if they go ahead the river will be dammed above the old Bjorsa bridge and will pass through tunnels to the east of the falls which will greatly reduce the water at the falls, and in winter the falls could be dry. The harnessing of the river makes a conflict between nature conservation and the use of the river for profitable energy resources.
MORE INFORMATION ON SELJALANDFOSS AREA
Once you have seen Seljalandfoss you can continue along the path and find some more waterfalls that drop over the edge of the old sea cliff. Don't forget to check out the souvenir shop by the car park----it sells the usual stuff and also woolen sweaters should you be feeling a little cold. Next door to that is a snack bar where you can buy sandwiches and drinks. There is also a toilet for the men and a separate one for the women, but when i was there there was quite a long queue of tourists waiting to use them as they can only accommodate one person at a time.
There is also a bridge over the river just 50 m from the falls where some tourists have thrown coins in, probably for luck.
WALK BEHIND A WATERFALL
Between Selfoss and Skogafoss you will find Seljalandfoss, a special waterfall because you can actually take a path and walk behind it, but be prepared to get wet or bring your raincoat. Be very careful if you do decide to go behind the falls as the path is extremely slippery and muddy. The falls come over the edge of the cliff and drop 60 m into a deep green pool at the bottom. On sunny days it is quite likely that you will see rainbows over the pool. The cliff used to be by the sea at the end of the last Ice Age. There is quite a large car park there and the falls are just a 100 m or so away.
The falls are part of the Seljalandsa River which springs up from Seljalandsheidl and Hamragilsheidl Heath and passes through Trollkonigul (Trollwomans Gorge) . According to legend an old trollwoman was trying to cross the gorge but gave up when she heard the bells ring from a nearby church.
Sólheimajökull - The black glacier
When driving from Skogafoss to Vik, you'll pass a sideroad on the left. This road 221 is about 25 kms to the west of VIk and 12 kms to the east of Skogar.
It leads up to the Solheimajökull glacier. The road itself is a gravel road, but - when careful and driving slowly - it can be driven in a regular car. We had a 4x4 so we could so about it a bit faster than the small car we passed on the way. But if you want to be sure about not damaging the rental car, I wouldn't drive it in a normal car as there are a lot of holes along the way. From the ringroad up to the parking it's about 5 kms.
This glacier is a side-glacier of the larger Myrdallsjökull, which is Iceland's 4th largest glacier. This is the glacier that covers the Katla volcano.
Due to the eruptions of this volcano, the ice of the Solheimajökull is mostly grey/black because of the ashes it carries.
The movement of the ice is clearly visible in the wonderful lines you see all around in the ice.
Driving up there takes you through an amazing landscape. This at one time was completely filled with ice.
At the end of the road there is plenty of parking space.
There's also the 'Solheimajökull Café', where a very friendly owner greets you. This is a welcoming place for a hot chocolate after the walk to the glacier.
The walk to the glacier itself takes you over uneven terrain. On the way you'll pass some small lagoons.
It takes about 20 minutes to reach the actual ice itself, but it is worth the hike.
It's not a too difficult hike. The first time we were there our kids were only just 4 and 6 and they could easily do it.
When you're at the ice's edge, it is tempting to climb on it and go for a little walk on the actual glacier. Please do not go on the ice without a guide!!! Glaciers are constantly moving. There are a lot of crevasses in it and there are dangerous sinkholes in the ice.
It might be that you see something that looks like an icecave, but going inside is also dangerous.
On our first visit there was a huge opening right at the end of the glacier, so I quickly went in to the very first meter to see the airbubbles in the ice (which are probable a couple of hundred years old). But looking back at it afterwards ... it wasn't the most sensible thing to do, even if it was only at he very beginning and for a few steps ... This is just to stress on how tempting it can be to still do stuff that isn't very sensible!
Unfortunately this glacier is the fastest shrinking glacier in Iceland. It is said that it retreat with about 100 metres every year!Related to:
- Family Travel
- Hiking and Walking
The view-dial at Kambabrún
There are 2 view-dials on Kambar overlooking Hveragerði town and the planes of South-Iceland. One of them is easily accessible if you are driving eastbound. The view-dial at Kambabrún is lesser visited as one has to drive on a bad gravel road from ring-road 1 to be able to visit it.
I remember when this bad road used to the be main road down the mountain called Kambarnir. A new road was built and this old road was cut off. But as we are on the look-out for view-dials in Iceland, then we drove down to this old view-dial.
The view-dial at Kambabrún was designed in 1950 by Ágúst Böðvarsson and erected in 1950 or 1951 by the Touring Association of Iceland. It is a copperplate on a molten quartz coated pillar. It is in a bad state, the pillar is broken in one place and it is not easy to read on the weather-beaten plate. But I don´t believe that many people visit this place.
The view-dial at Kambar in Saurbæjarhraun
There is a view-dial at Kambar in Saurbæjarhraun lava field with a fantastic view of the plains of South-Iceland, overlooking Hveragerði the hot spring town of Iceland.
The view-dial was designed by Jón J. Víðis, the instigator of view-dials in Iceland, in 1973. His assistance was Jakob Hálfdanarson, my father-in-law. The view-dial was then erected in 1975 by "Vegagerðin" the Road Administration of Iceland.
The view-dial is a copperplate with a flange showing a time of three hours and mountains. It lies on a molten tube, which is coated with Norwegian granite. The podium is made of lava. The copperplate has unfortunately started to fade.
There is easy access to the view-dial. It is just as you descend from Hellisheiði heath. There is a parking lot by the road and ca 4 minute´s walk down to the view-dial. I adore the view from here.
Hellisheiðarvirkjun, the Hellisheiði Power Plant.
The Hellisheiði Power Plant is the largest geothermal power plant in Iceland and the largest geothermal power plant in the world. Production capacity of the Hellisheiði Power Plant is 303 MW electricity and 133 MW thermal energy.
The Power Plant provides geothermal water for heating and cold water for consumption, plus electricity to 67% of the Icelandic population. It is so close to Reykjavík that if the wind is blowing from the east then I can smell the sulphur coming through my window.
There is a lot of steam coming from the Power Station, which is visible from ring-road 1. It makes for beautiful photos, white steam rising from this vast lava field. If you want to visit the Hellisheiði Power Plant turn left from ring-road 1 onto road 378 before driving up on to Hellisheiði heath.
This area, Hengillinn, is a highly geothermal area covering 112 sq.km, which makes it one of the most powerful geothermal areas in the whole of Iceland.
Ca 11 km away from Hellisheiði Power Plant is another Power Plant, the Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Plant.
Hengillinn is an active volcanic ridge right between the 2 tectonic plates, connected with 3 volcanic systems.
There is an interactive Geothermal Energy Exhibition at the Hellisheiði Power Plant´s Visitor Centre. It is very informative and it is advisable to get a guided tour from the staff at the Energy Exhibition. There one can learn all about the harnessing of geothermal energy at the Hellisheiði Power Plant. And get to know all about this highly geothermal area and experience big earthquakes in earthquake simulators. You can also create your own earthquake!
In 2011 waste water was pumped down into the earth at Hellisheiðarvirkjun Power Plant, creating earthquakes in the neighbouring area. The earthquakes could be felt in Hveragerði town, up to 3,5 per Richter. This is the area in Iceland, which gets most affected by the big earthquakes in Iceland, so people were not happy about these man-made earthquakes. Earthquakes can still be felt here in 2014.
The Geothermal Energy Exhibition is included in the popular Golden Circle tours by the bus-companies Iceland Excursions and Reykjavík Excursions.
On the ground floor is a lovely café, called Café Energy :)
Opening hours: 09:00-17:00.
Entrance fee: ISK 900.
Þorlákshöfn is a small fishing town in S-Iceland ca 50 kilometres from Reykjavík.
The population of Þorlákshöfn is ca 1.600 and the town is named after Bishop Þorlákur Helgi, who lived in the Middle ages. The town is the center of local government administration and has got a swimming pool, a church, camp-site, a guest-house, a library and a folk-museum. The Tourist information is at Town-hall (Ráðhúsið).
The main industry in Þorlákshöfn is fishery and fish processing. One of the largest lobster fisheries in Iceland, Rammi hf., is in Þorlákshöfn.
One of the best surfing places in Iceland is by Þorlákshöfn and even though the ocean is ice-cold, the surfers can be in the ocean for 5-6 hours if they are wearing a wet-suit.
From Þorlákshöfn the ferry Herjólfur used to leave for the Westman islands. On the 21st of July 2010 Herjólfur left for its first trip from Landeyjarhöfn and stopped sailing from Þorlákshöfn. So only on special occasions the ferry leaves from Þorlákshöfn.
There is a lovely church at Þorlákshöfn, consecrated in 1985 and another church in between Þorlákshöfn and Hveragerði called Hjallakirkja (1928).
There are two roads leading to Þorlákshöfn, one through the so called Þrengslin, in between the mountains. The other one is high-way one and takes you up on the mountain called Kambarnir.
Stokkseyri - the museum town!
Stokkseyri is the town next to Eyrarbakki, they are only 7 km apart, and jokingly these towns are often referred to by Icelanders as "Stokkseyrarbakki".
It is a small town with ca 470 inhabitans, but a lot of activities, surprisingly so for such a small town. There is a very good restaurant there (see my tip on that) and people come especially there from Reykjavík (65 km) to get the lobster-soup and visit the museums. There is the "must-see" Icelandic Wonders museum, with its elves, trolls and Northern lights. There is also a Ghost museum in the same building and art galleries and art studios, where one can buy handmade Icelandic craft.
At Stokkseyri there is also "Veiðisafnið" or the Hunting Museum and is the only place in Iceland where you can see a giraffe :) Now my sister just moved to Stokkseyri into the Hunting Museum!
Plus there are organised Kayak tours, both on lakes, in the swamps and in the ocean.
The shore-side is very popular as well - I have added a tip on that. This town is just so worth a visit!
I have made a special page on Stokkseyri with tips on the museums there.
Next stop - the South Pole
Eyrarbakki village is situated by the ocean and there is a lovely shore here. When I visit this lovely place I always visit the shore as well.
In one spot of the shore you will find a sign saying: "Next stop - the South Pole 10.632 miles". The sign refers to the fact that if you sail straight south from Eyrarbakki then you will reach the South Pole after 10.632 miles without reaching land on the way. There is nothing between Eyrarbakki and the South-Pole but the open ocean.
The land you would reach after 9.525 miles would then be Lyddan Island by the shores of Coats Land on the Great Antarctica. If you add 1.107 miles you and you will stand on the actual South Pole - it says on the sign.
We have always known about this spot and stopped here, so I am happy that there is a sign here now.
This spot is by the shore of the west side of Eyrarbakki just as you enter the western part of the village.
Urriðafoss - The Waterfall of the Trout/Salmon.
Urriðafoss waterfall - The Waterfall of the Trout/Salmon flows with the highest volume of all waterfalls in Iceland with a quantity of 360 m3/second!! The fall is 6 meters and the power is more than 100 MW. It is greyish in colour as it runs in the glacial river Þjórsá. In the winter Urriðafoss can freeze up with the depth of the ice reaching up to 20 meters. There is a smaller "waterfall" which runs into the river, called Urriðafosslækur "Urriðafoss-stream".
I visited Urriðafoss again in May 2014 and Urriðafoss-stream, which is usually small, had turned into a reddish roaring waterfall, which coloured the Þjórsá river red in parts.
Take care while walking by the river and don't get too close, it can be dangerous as the area is really rocky and the ground is uneven, so stay off the grassy areas and only walk on the path-ways.
Years ago there were plans of building a power plant in Urriðafoss and make a railway from Reykjavík to Urriðafoss. These plans did not come through at that time. Now there are plans again to build a power plant there. Should this happen Urriðafoss would all but disappear.
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