There are strange geological formations under the bridge leading to Selfoss town - small circular lava pots (1-2 meter in diameter), some of which are quite cute I think. And you can sit inside them :)
These lava pots were traces of large bubbles of gas, which came up in the 8.700 years old molten lava. The walls of the bubbles cooled down before the bubbles burst at the surface. They might be the first stages of pseudo craters in formation. See my tip on Skútustaðagígar regarding pseudo craters.
The lave here is the western edge of Þjórsárhraun lava flow which was formed ca 8.700 years ago. Þjórsárhraun is the Earth's largest lava flow since ice age - so this is quite an interesting sight to visit.
The lava pots are listed in the Icelandic Nature Conservation Register.
I have taken one VT-member here, Dee "Balhannah".
Strandarkirkja church is kind of a magical church in the eyes of us Icelanders. It is a votive church and has saved the lives of seamen.
The story goes that a ship was caught in a big storm and thick fog. It was almost sure death for the seaman, so they knelt in prayer and pledged to build a church if they were to reach land safely. They immediately got an answer to their prayer and saw a bright light ashore. The storm stopped and the fog lifted and the men saw a big figure of light ashore. Where they got ashore has from that time been called Engilsvik or Angels Inlet. The kept to their promise and built a church there.
And Icelanders go there to pledge for special prayer requests and the church has made quite a lot of money on that and is said to be one of the richest churches in Iceland. I have been there as well to make a pledge and am waiting for the answer to my prayer. There have been miraculous prayer answers - so I am waiting and hoping... I didn´t wait in vain as I got the answer to my prayer in July 2013 :D
There has been a church here since 1200, but the current church dates back to 1888. It was renovated in 1968 and again in 1996. One of my fathers cousins used to be the supervisor of the church.
The opening hours are: May 1st - October from 8:30-19:00. In the wintertime make an appointment with the supervisor of the church on phone 483 3910 or the minister of the church on phone 483 3771.
Seljalandsfoss is one of the most popular and most visited waterfalls in Iceland. We visited on our South Coast Tour with Iceland Guided Tours. It's not the biggest or most powerful waterfall in Iceland, but it is somewhat unique in that there is a trail leading behind the waterfall and you can walk all the way around it and take pictures from every possible angle. Just use caution on the trail as it is perpetually wet from the waterfall spray and easy to slip and fall. Seljalandsfoss is visible from the Ring Road (Route 1) right at the intersection with Route 249, which leads to Þorsmörk, and so is easy to access. This makes it a very popular attraction with tours and sightseers. So don't expect to have the falls to yourself. When we visited, there were several tour buses and dozens of cars of people stopping to see the falls. Besides the main waterfall, there are at least three other waterfalls within easy walking distance. There are two unnamed (as far as I can tell) waterfalls and then Gljúfurárfoss. I didn't have time to make it down to Gljúfurárfoss on our tour (I really should have ran to it and at least get a picture or two), but I did see the other two waterfalls. Although they don't seem that impressive next to Seljalandsfoss, on their own, they are quite beautiful and worth the short walk to see them.
Skógafoss is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. We visited on our South Coast Tour with Iceland Guided Tours. It's right off Route 1 about 150 km from Reykjavík or about a 2 hour drive. The waterfall is very large - 25 m wide and 62 m tall - and has an almost perfectly rectangular shape. According to legend, the first viking to settle in Skógar, Þrasi hid a chest of gold behind the falls. A young man tried to get the treasure, but was only able to pull a ring off the chest before it disappeared. The ring was affixed to the wall of the church in Skógar and is now in the museum. They say that when the sun is shining, you can see the gold shimmering in the spray. But it was a cloudy day when we visited so no such luck. We did walk to the edge of the water and got an up-close view of how powerful this waterfall is. And a little wet from the spray. To get another view of the falls, follow the trail up the cliffs along the east side and get a view from the side and the top. The trail continues on here along the Skóga River with many more waterfalls as it leads up to the highlands and on to Þórsmörk. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to follow the river. But nevertheless, Skógafoss is a must-see in South Iceland even if you don't have a lot of time.
Most hikers come to Landmannalaugar to start (or finish) hiking the Laugavegur trail. But if you're only visiting for a short time, there is a wonderful and short 4-km loop trail at Landmannalaugar with absolutely breathtaking sights, without the time and commitment of a long-distance backpacking trip. We visited Landmannalaugar on a day tour with Iceland Guided Tours and only had about 2 hours here. After quickly eating lunch, the tour guide warned us that it could take up to 2 hours to hike the loop, but we assured him we could finish it in time. The loop starts following the Laugavegur Trail behind the huts up into the Laugahraun lava field and proceeds mostly west until it comes out in the most beautiful valley surrounded by the lava field on one side and multi-colored rhyloite mountains on the others. Although most of the area is devoid of life, this valley was full of green grasses and small white wildflowers. From here, the trail turns south and heads towards Mount Brennisteinsalda (sulphur wave). It's easy to tell that this volcano is still active from the numerous fumaroles spewing sulphurous gases. Quite beautiful, but not the most pleasant smell. The Laugavegur Trail continues up the volcano, while the Grænagil trail turns east and heads back into the lava fields. This trail goes through the lava fields and into the namesake gorge, formed by a river flowing between Mount Bláhnúkur and the lava fields. The river is quite small so the gorge is very narrow, but quite beautiful. The trail winds down into the gorge with side trails heading up Blánúkur and approaches the river as it exits the gorge. From here, the trail turns north and heads back to the camping area. We finished the hike in just over an hour, with taking many pictures, and still had time for a quick dip in the hot springs before our bus was getting ready to leave.
Around the area of Landmannalaugar in Friðland að Fjallabaki (Fjallabaki Nature Reserve), there are several beautiful lakes. We had a short stop at two of these lakes during our Landmannalaugar with Iceland Guided Tours - Hnausapollur and Frostastaðavatn. Frostastaðavatn is a beautiful lake just north of Landmannalaugar on F208 with some of the most beautiful blue water I've ever seen. Hnausapollur is a crater lake just north of Frostastaðavatn, also with very pretty blue water. And of course the setting in the beautiful rhyolite mountains makes these lakes all the more beautiful. So if you're headed to Landmannalaugar, consider a short stop and admire a couple of the beautiful lakes.
We reached Álftavatn hut in the early afternoon, and were looking for a short side trip.
We asked the advice of the young and pretty hut warden, and she recommended climbing Brattháls, the ridge on the east shore of the lake, a 45-60 minute hike uphill. It was a relief to leave the heavy backpacks behind in the hut, take a bottle of water and start walking.
Part of the way up was a well trodden path, most of the way we improvised and created our own path. As we climbed the beautiful views started to appear on both sides. They got better and better as we neared the top of the ridge. Strange-looking basalt crags stood like monuments on the clifftop.
To the west there was the dark-blue lake and the mountains surrounding it; to the north there was the Álftavatn hut and the valley leading to it; to the east there were more peaks and valleys, in shades of green moss, white snow and grey lava rocks.
The way down, running towards the lake shore, was fun.
Baugsstaðir creamery is the only creamery left in Iceland with its original equipment. It is now a museum.
The creamery was established in 1905 by the farmers in this area and it was in operation here until 1952. By the creamery is a creek and from there the creamery got its power by a waterwheel.
The products made here were butter and cheese, both for Icelanders and they were also exported to England.
The women working here, who were dairy technicians, had their quarters in a small room in the creamery. My great-grandmother was a dairy technician.
It is quite interesting visiting the creamery. All this old equipment and information and photos of the people working here. It is well worth a visit.
Entrance fee: ISK 500.
Knarrarósviti lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses here in Iceland, in my opinion. It is such a funky lighthouse, I like the shape of it a lot. It is a blnd of funtionalism and art nouveau styles and designed by Axel Sveinsson, an Icelandic engineer.
Knarrarósviti is 26,2 metres and the tallest building in South-Iceland.
The work of The Icelandic State Architect Gudjon Samùelsson influenced Axel Sveinsson.
The lighthouse was built in 1938-1939 and was the first lighthouse built in this way, in reinforced concrete.
We woke up in the Hrafntinnusker hut to a morning of sunshine which came through the loft window directly to our sleeping bags. It was a glorious day for trekking.
The second segment of the trek, from Hrafntinnusker to the Álftavatn hut, is 12 km long, an easier hike than the first day. At first we descended from Hrafntinnusker to the valley below, with beautiful sweeping views of snow and lava fields and snowy peaks beyond them. What looked at first like a large plain to the horizon turned out to be a chain of undulating hills separated by small creeks. Some of the creeks were dry, some had flowing icy water and others contained boiling hot water from geothermal sulfuric springs, creating interesting color schemes on the lava rocks, light green, grey or rusty-red.
On the second day of the trek we also had our first experience crossing a stream wading in ice cold water. We spent some time looking for the optimal spot to cross: neither the narrowest part, where the flow was stronger, nor the widest spot with the largest distance to wade through. My friend changed from his hiking shoes to sandals; I did not bring sandals in my backpack, so I followed the Hrafntinnusker hut warden's advice, took off my shoes and crossed the stream wearing socks (and of course changing them once I got to the other side). This proved a good idea, avoiding some of the coldness of the icy water and softening my step on the pebbles.
During the next part of the trek we came closer to the long descent into the Álftavatn valley, and enjoyed great views of the glaciers ahead of us and the volcanic formations around us. Finally, the long steep drop to Álftavatn was an enjoyable end to this part of the trek.
We set out from the Landmannalaugar hut, and started following the trail marked by red-tipped wooden sticks. Here it was, Laugavegur, the 4-day trek that will take us through mountains and valleys, lava fields and snow, ice-cold rivers and steaming hot springs, to Thorsmork, 55 km to the south-west...
The first day's hike was 12 km long, with a net 500 meter ascent.
We started climbing uphill from the starting point, and were almost immediately rewarded by great views of the Landmannalaugar basin. Continuing a bit further we reached the Storihver geothermal field: you can't remain indifferent to the sight of the rising steam, the bubbling noise and the sulfuric smell!
The trail continued with colorful rhyolite hills on both sides, like a patch-quilt of colors with the white snow patches creating patterns which prompted us to see shapes of animal figures and other figments of our imagination.
We climbed up and down snowy hills, sometimes slushy, following in the footsteps of previous trekkers who had created "stairs" or "ladder-steps" with their shoes in the mountain-slope.
On the first part of the trek there were quite a lot of hikers, and as it turned out most of them were day-hikers coming from Landmannalaugar and returning there. As the trek went on we saw fewer and fewer hikers. We were most impressed by a small group two guys and a girl who carried their mountain-bikes with them; there were very few places where they could ride their bicycles, and most of the time they had to climb the snowy hills carrying their bikes on their shoulders.
The weather changed from partly sunny to cloudy and windy, but fortunately no rain. We were walking against the wind in a desert of lava and snow, following the cairns and wooden sticks that marked the almost imperceptible trail, not sure how far we were from our destination, the Hrafntinnusker hut. It was then that we reached a small peak, and suddenly saw the hut right below us, only 5 minutes' walk away: a very welcome sight!
Go to Landmannalaugar for the natural beauty of the colorful rhyolite hills, for the open hot springs, and for hiking and trekking. We took the "Reykjavik Excursions" bus to Landmannalaugar as the starting point of the well-known Laugavegur trek.
Route F225 road to Landmannalaugar is very scenic. It is navigable in summer to 4 wheel drive vehicles. If you continue further east along Route F208 you will reach the Ring Road near Kirkjubaejarklaustur, so making this road an alternate inland East-West route to the paved Ring Road. A couple of centuries ago, when there were no paved roads or motor vehicles, and the horse was the sole means of transportation, this route was more often used and was deemed safer than the coastal road. Today, in the Ring Road era, this seems very strange: How could one prefer the hardships of the mountainous inland terrain to the convenient coastal plain? However, if you imagine the coastal plain without any bridges, with wide gushing rivers of ice-cold water, the answer becomes clearer.
Landmannalaugar is part of the Fjallabak nature reserve. There is an information hut with friendly rangers who can advise you about the various trails, and also update you about the weather forecast along the way (important piece of information!). For those who wish to stay overnight there is a hut (accommodating 75 people) and a campsite.
We were stunned by the beautiful and colorful mountains, the lava fields and snow patches, and the hot springs giving the area an eerie, bewitched feel. Landmannalaugar is one of the biggest geothermal fields in Iceland. The Storihver field of steaming sulfuric vents is an unforgettable sight.
On our bus ride back from the Laki craters to Kirkjubæjarklaustur we stopped near Fagrifoss.
The bus sometimes stops there on the way to Laki and sometimes on the way back, the decision is left to the driver's discretion.
The beautiful waterfall lookout is an easy 5 minute walk from the parking lot.
Iceland's waterfalls did not cease to amaze me: There are Dettifoss, Gulfoss and a few other big and mighty ones; but many others have their own unique beauty and attraction, and Fagrifoss is one of them. The name means "Beautiful Falls", and beautiful they are indeed: Twin waterfalls tumbling down noisily yet gracefully.
Flúðir is a small village in Hrunamannahreppur in South-Iceland. It has got a very popular camping place. I tried to camp there once, but there was such loud music playing and small "streets" of big RVs parked there with verandas around them. I was there with my small tent and felt really out of place so I opted for another camping place, at Árnes, which is 24 km south of Flúðir. There is other lodging here, guesthouses and an Icelandair hotel. And of course there is a geothermal swimming pool there like in all towns around Iceland. Here is also a supermarket, which comes in handy for stocking up on food when driving in this area.
The population here is 412, but in the whole of Hrunamannahreppur is 774.
There is so much geothermal energy in the ground by Flúðir and a lot of greenhouses, and they specialise in mushrooms amongst other vegetables.
During WW2 the most precious possessions of the National Archives and The Icelandic National Library were moved to Flúðir - just in case an air-raid were to be made on Reykjavík. The British protected us here and the Germans were attacking our ships.
The photos were taken in February 2012, the date on the photos is incorrect, due to me having a new camera and not knowing how to change this...hehe.
Selfoss is the next town after Hveragerði if you drive along the ring-road 1. It is bigger than Hveragerði with ca 6.437 inhabitants and a hospital, swimming pool, hotels, lots of shops, supermarkets, horse farms, a cinema and a lot of activites. The meaning of the name is Seal-waterfall as there used to be lot of seals in the river by which Selfoss stands, Ölfusá river. I know this name is confusing and I have been asked where the waterfall is, but there is no waterfall here. There is a waterfall thought named Selfoss in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in North-Iceland next to Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
Ölfusá river is a glacial river and thus white in colour. It is a dangerous river as it is the most voluminous river in Iceland and very deep by Selfoss. Several people have drowned here - and have drowned themselves here. But as you can see from my first photo the river turns into almost a calm like lake before it reaches the ocean. The current bridge, Ölfusárbrú, is from 1945, but there have been talks on moving the road to another place further up the river and make a new bridge.
As Selfoss is so close to Mt. Ingólfsfjall where the tectonic plates meet it gets hit very hard when there are earthquakes here (last one in 2008).
If you take the first turn left before driving on the bridge leading to Selfoss that road (nr. 35) will take you to Kerið, Skálholt cathedral Gullfoss and Geysir. A right turn in Selfoss just after the bridge (road 34) will take you to Stokkseyri, Eyrarbakki and Þorlákshöfn. So you see that there are many small towns here of which Selfoss is the biggest. But they have merged and are now called Árborg.