Lómagnúpur and the protector of the south coast.
Lómagnúpur mountain is a big mountain, which stands 688 meters above sea-level, almost like an omen west of Skeiðarársandur. It is the south end of the mountain called Björninn "The Bear".
In 1780 a big chunk of the mountain fell off and you can see the rocks on the sand nearby. It is in between Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Skaftafell before you start on the long drive of Skeiðarársandur.
The Saga of Njáll speaks of a dream Flosi on Svínafell had when he saw a giant of Lómagnúpur step out of the mountain.
If you get a chance step out and have a look at Lómagnúpur while driving on the south-coast. It is just mesmerising and a little scary at the same time. It is also possible to hike up on Mt. Lómagnúpur and it is said easier than it looks. I must confess that I am find the mountain too forbidding to hike on it ;)
Drangshlíð rock - the elf-story
There is a peculiar rock in South-Iceland under the Eyjafjöll mountains. It is called Drangurinn in Drangshlíð and there is an elf-story linked to this rock. It goes like this:
"In Drangshlíð by Eyjafjöll mountains there is a big rock in the field, almost the height of 20 men. On one side of it there are caves and big spaces beneath it, and the farmers kept there all of their hay and their cowshed.
In the cowshed no lights would live, as it were, no matter how hard people would try to keep it alive (i.e. candle light). When a cow was about to give birth the farmer or his assistants would never have to keep awake and stay by the cow. If a cow would give birth at night, as often happened, then the calf would be in her stall in the morning, and the cow would be well and have no problems. But if a new farmer would buy the farm and would, as he was used to, have his assistants stay with the cow while she was giving birth, something would go wrong, and the assistants would not be able to stay inside in the dark cowshed due to something they saw or heard...
There is a story of a man who had been in Skarðshlíð (above Drangshlíð) and who had been missing for days. He had been with the elves in the Drangurinn rock, and told people that an elf woman wanted to marry him. And he said that many people lived in the rock and it was lovely being with them; they were decent and orderly and as beautiful as human beings. He said that they went to church in Skóganúpur; there was a big church and another church in the valley, as there were so many people.
He said that they owned sheep, cows, horses and ships and the men would very often row and catch fish as we do. They would carry the fish home on horses and there were many similarities between them and us; they had lamplight and candles.
And as the year had passed and he was free from his service on the farm - as he was a worker on the farm - it was common knowledge that he had disappeared and was never seen again. People did not search for him because they knew where he had gone, even though he hadn´t told them".
(Translated into English from the Folklore of Jón Árnason "Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar").
But I read another excellent book on this area "Íslensk þjóðfræði" - Icelandic Ethnology by the very knowledgeable Þórður Tómasson. There the elf-stories are more detailed. There he talks about the cowsheds in Drangurinn in Drangshlíð. The distance from the farm to the cowsheds in the rock was a long one, ca 200 metres, and on cold, dark, stormy winter nights it was not an easy walk. But the elves in the rock would take care of the cows in the cowshed while they were giving birth to their calves. Human beings were not allowed to sit by the cows while they were giving birth. If the farmer could see that a cow were about to give birth that night he would leave the milking bucket, filled with good hay, by the window above the door of the cowshed.
The elves would then attend to the cow, they milked it after it gave birth, fed the calf and the cow. And the milking bucket was in the same position where the farmer had left it - but with the beestings!
If this tradition was not followed strange things would happen: once the farmer wanted to check in on the cow, which was about to give birth when he left it, and the newborn calf was thrown out of the shed and into his arms when he opened the doors to the cowshed!
Another such incidence happened in the first part of the 19th century: the farmers asked two of their workers, a man and a woman, to sit by a cow while she was giving birth, as it looked like the cow would have some problems giving birth. Well into the night the man told the woman to go make some coffee for them. But as she came back with the coffee the man was asleep in the cowshed. The cow had given birth and the calf was by its mother´s side, dry and clean. And the milking bucket was in its place with the beestings (broddur). All this happened while the man was asleep.
There are many stories of the elves in the cowsheds, f.ex. of one of the stalls, which had to be kept vacant for the elf-cows.
Scenes in the well known Icelandic film "Hrafninn flýgur" - "When the Raven flies" a Viking film made by our noted film director Hrafn Gunnlaugsson, was filmed in this location.
According to folklore then Grettir sterki (the strong) Ásmundarson tested his strength on this rock by pushing it from Hrútafell mountain, leaving the gap in the mountain. Not very likely, but there are many tales like this one, which make the landscape become more alive, as it were.
Here is a short version of this folklore, as told in the Folklore of Jón Árnason (5 volumes all in all!): "Grettisskarð" or the Gap of Grettir is the name of a gap on the northern side of Mt. Hrútafell. Legend has it that that Grettir the Strong Ásmundarson performed one of his herculean tasks there on his travels. He pushed an enormous rock from the mountain. The rock, called Drangur, is for sure the height of many men and huge in perimetre. The farm Drangshlíð gets its name from that rock, but the farm Skarðshlíð gets its name from Grettisskarð gap.".
The peculiar rock with the Rútshellir cave.
There is a peculiar tuff pillar of rock in one place under the Eyjafjöll mountains. It must have fallen in one piece from the mountain above during an earthquake. We always stop by it when travelling in this area.
There are small rocks in the cave and there are some structures in front of the caves, which have been erected through the centuries, so it looks like somebody lives in the rock. The main cave is arched and ca 15-20 meters long and it was used for storing hay. There is another cave, the small cave, is ca 8 meters long and is called Stúkan and might have been a heathen temple, but it might also have been a smithy.
The story goes that the man Rútur lived in the man-made cave, some say he was an evil troll, others say he was a looter and still other people say he was an evil chieftain. The people in this region attacked him and killed him by making a hole in the cave underneath his bed and killed him with spears in his bed, others say that they made a hole in the cave from outside and killed him through that hole with spears. They were too afraid to meet him outside. After killing him they were still afraid of him even though he was dead and one of his killers, Björn, ran away up to the mountain, Bjarnarfell, which bears his name ever since, and yet another fled into the wilderness of Iceland.
There is another version of this legend though. On the website of Katla Geopark I found another version of this legend: "One such legend involves a man called Rút and his slaves who wanted to kill him. They proceeded to carve a hole under the ledge where Rút slept, so they could later on kill him with spears while he was sleeping. One night after arriving home, as he prepared to sleep he discovered their plot to kill him. He chased the slaves into the mountains and killed them all. The last slave, Guðni was killed on the glacier and this place is called today Guðnasteinn or Guðni’s stone".
I don´t know which one of these 2 legends is more accurate.
In 1936 Nazis from the science wing of the SS-troops, Ahnenerbe, investigated this cave thoroughly. They were looking for ruins of old temples in Iceland.
There is an old sheepcote in front of the cave. When I visited it we found a dead sheep inside and the smell was awful. When we passed it on our way back 2 days later a ram was standing proudly on the top of the sheepcote. It was quite a magnificent sight. Next time I visited 3 horses were grazing by the rock and came running towards me in search for food :)
One can stop to take photos and enter the cave Rútshellir - there are several passages here. This is maybe the first man-made dwelling in Iceland and there seems to have been a forge there.
The rock is on the Natural Heritage Register.
If you enter the rock don´t wear your best shoes as the floors of the caves are covered in sheep droppings.
Jökulsárlón - Glacial lagoon.
Jökulsárlón is a glacial river lagoon in S-Iceland on ring-road 1. It is a breath-taking experience visiting the lagoon, like out of this world. It is one of Iceland's greatest wonders of nature. I say "wow" more than once here no matter how often I visit.
The glacier's name is Breiðamerkurjökull and huge blocks of ice (more than 1.000 years' old) are constantly breaking from it and large chunks of iceberg float in the lagoon. The lagoon only appeared "recently" or in 1935 and has grown to ca 20 km2 due to the melting of Icelandic glaciers.
It is the lowest point below sea-level in Iceland and is now the deepest lake in Iceland ca 248 meters deep. The lagoon is getting larger and moving closer to the ocean. The river used to run 1,5 km to the ocean before 1950, but now it is much closer and seals swim from the ocean up to the lagoon and rest on the icebergs there.
There is also some fish in the lagoon brought in by the tides. And several types of birds.
And remember that only 1/10 of the iceberg is visible, which makes this an even more thrilling experience.
There is a restaurant by the lagoon and the company Jökulsárlón offers boat-trips on the lagoon. On their website they have added "Questions and answers" which explains more about the boat-trip.
The James Bond films Die another Day, A View to a Kill were filmed here. Also Tomb Raider and Batman begins.
The second weekend in August every year there is a firework show there after dark. It started as a farewell party to the staff working there, but is now a big show and ca thousand people attend. The fireworks light up the icebergs and the lagoon with brilliant colours.
I have added a video from Jökulsárlón and a travelogue with more photos from this breathtaking place. And a webcam of Jökulsárlón. There are guided tours to Jökulsárslón glacier lagoon and South-coast and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon to name a few.
Iceland's Diamond Beach!
The most popular tour in Iceland is the Golden Circle tour, but we also have a Diamond Beach by Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon! You can stop on both sides of the bridge and go towards the ocean as well where the icebergs meet the Atlantic ocean, which, I must confess, is a bit scary, I don't want to be there at high tide.
Some of the icebergs have an astounding bright blue colour and one can follow them from the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon and down to the ocean. The ice chunks by the ocean make for very good photo opportunities.
Some of the ice-chunks are polished by the ocean and wash ashore again. There are heaps of them like glass all over the black sands. Just beautiful.
Do not miss going there when you are visiting Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. I go there every year and cannot wait to check out this ever changing beach and see what the ice chunks look like.
The old cave in Þakgil canyon.
There are several caves by Þakgil. Just before you enter Þakgil there is an old cave and if you don´t know it is there, then you won´t even notice it. But all the same it is the most remarkable of all these caves. It is a cave where the men searching for sheep sought shelter. In Icelandic this cave is called "gagnamannahellir".
This cave was used for decades as a sleeping place or until 1920. If you visit it you will see that the walls of the sandstone cave are covered with initials and dates. The oldest date I could find was from 1795! But there are supposed to be even older dates there, even as old as 300 years old.
This remarkable cave is protected and it is forbidden to add to the writings on the walls of the cave. The people running the camping site in Þakgil are reluctant to show the cave to visitors, as some people don´t treat such sites with respect. So it is maybe best to leave this cave alone.
Dettifoss - the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
Dettifoss is Europes most powerful waterfall and has got the wow factor big time. It has a flow of 193 m3/s. It is 45 meters high and 100 meters wide.
Dettifoss is situated in Jökulsá á Fjöllum, which is a glacial river, and the second longest river in Iceland. The water in glacial rivers is milky white and greyish - and icecold, so let´s be careful here. The river originates in Vatnajökull glacier, which is one of the biggest glaciers in Europe.
It is possible to walk right down to it and it is almost impossible to tear oneself away from it. If the sun is shining one can expect the most beautiful rainbows here.
You can reach Dettifoss from two sides, from road 864 to the east side, and road 862 to the west side. There is now a new (opened in 2011) paved road on 864, a fantastic road and a big paved parking lot. The road used to be in very bad condition, like a washboard, and one could only drive there 20 km per hour. So it took a long time and effort getting to Dettifoss as road 864 is 20 km. Now it is a walk in the park.
Road 862 is a gravel road, but some people prefer seeing the waterfall from the other side, as one can walk right down to it and get wonderful photos.
There is only one toilet by the parking lot, and it is a latrine, so with all the visitors here... Something has to be done about this.
There are two other waterfalls here, Hafragilsfoss and Selfoss, which I have visited, and yet another one, which I haven´t visited yet.
If one wants to drive further on to Hljóðaklettar, then one follows road 862. There is traffic on this road and one can expect to meet buses there, so use the shoulders in the road for meeting traffic. Two buses meeting here is a kind of a stretch, but can be done.
SOUTH ICELAND TOUR IS A "MUST"
I did the Grand Circle Tour and enjoyed the trip and the information that we learnt from our driver/guide i decided to ask the driver if there were any available seats for the South Island Tout the next day. luckily enough there were so i am glad that i went on this tour. Here is the itinerary for the trip.
Depart hotel at 8 am
Snack stop on the way to Vik (190 kms )
Two photographic stops in the way
Sólheimajökull Glacier where we had an hour to explore and take photos
Lunch at Vik and an hour to explore the church, the black sand beach and eroded cliff in the sea
return to hotel at 7pm
The Golden Circle tour with floating
I went on the guided Golden Circle tour combined with very relaxing floating in a secret lagoon in South-Iceland. I was picked up at the BSÍ, bus terminal in Reykjavík at 2pm by a luxurious jeep. It was going to be a 10-hour-tour! I had been on this tour before, but only the floating on which I have written another tip.
The Golden Circle is by far the most popular tour in Iceland. The first stop on this tour is at Þingvellir National Park, 50 km away from Reykjavík.
Þingvellir National Park is situated on the tectonic plate boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the North-American and Eurasian continents. The tectonic plates are visible above ground here at Þingvellir. And here the Vikings established a parliament in 930. We walked down the Almannagjá rift and met up with the guide at Nikulásargjá rift, which we Icelanders call Peningagjá rift as it is the only place in Iceland where it is allowed to throw in money and make a wish :)
After our walk in Þingvellir it was time for an ice-cream stop at Efstidalur farm, where they make their own ice-cream. The restaurant is located next to the cowshed with windows for watching the cows while you eat.
Our next stop was at the Geysir geothermal area. I think this must be the most popular place to visit in Iceland as this is the only place in Europe where this natural phenomenon can be seen. Although this geothermal area is named after Geysir then the "geysir" which erupts most frequently (like every 5-10 minutes), is called Strokkur.
Only 10 km away from the Geysir area is the breathtakingly beautiful waterfall Gullfoss. Gullfoss is the best known waterfall in Iceland, 33 metres high, with two cascades, the first one is 11 metres high, and the other one is 22 metres high.
On our way back from Gullfoss we stopped by another beautiful waterfall, the 20-22 meters high Faxi waterfall. This waterfall used to be overlooked by many people, but now more and more people have discovered it and include it in their Golden Circle tour.
By now it was 7:30 pm - dinner time. We had dinner at Café Mika in Reykholt, which is a geothermal village in the vicinity of Faxi waterfall. At Café Mika the owners sell hand-made praline. There we had a lovely dinner with praline (chocolate) for dessert.
After dinner we went to the secret lagoon at Flúðir for the floating part of the tour, the part I had been looking so much forward to. And I must say that it exceeded my expectations. The estimated time for entering into the lagoon was at 10pm as by then only floating was allowed in the lagoon. The weather was perfect, it was a calm, bright June night. We arrived at 9:30pm and the guide took us to one of the hot springs behind the lagoon to dig up rye-bread, which he had been cooking in the hot spring for 24 hours. We got to taste the bread for supper after the floating experience.
Now it was time to enter the 38-40 degrees hot lagoon! We got the floating kit; a floating cap and floating straps for our legs, so we could be totally relaxed in the lagoon and experience the heavenly feeling of floating.There are underwater speakers in the lagoon and the popular Icelandic band Sigurrós played soft, relaxing music. We floated for an hour in the pool and then was the icing on the cake - a 15 minute's massage in the lagoon!
After getting out of the lagoon and changing it was time to boil the eggs for supper - in the hot-spring Vaðmálahver! We got a fishing rod and a net in which to put the egg and there we stood by the hot-spring for ca 8 minutes and boiled our supper. In the olden days this hot-spring was used for washing clothes.
Now it was time for supper at 11:30pm! What we had was the egg we had cooked in the hot-spring, fermented shark (an acquired taste), "brennivín" which is the Icelandic Black Death shot, the rye-bread cooked for 24 hours in the hot-spring and tomatoes and cucumbers from the local green-houses.
There are several other combinations of the floating tour - f.ex. Aurora floating, where one can float in the pool and watch the Northern lights. Or you can be picked up in Reykjavík in the evening and driven to the secret lagoon.
I opted for the Golden Circle tour & floating as I wanted to find a really special addition to the traditional Golden Circle tour, which I could recommend to people. And I can for sure recommend this tour to anybody.
Visit a brand new man-made Ice cave tunnel
Now this is an extraordinary tour - a visit to the brand new attraction in Iceland - a man-made ice cave in Europe's second largest glacier, Langjökull glacier. The cave opened on June 1st 2015 and I visited it on June 11th 2015! This is quite an exceptional experience - to walk hundreds of metres inside a glacier.
The bus stopped at Deildartunguhver hot spring and the waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafoss on its way to the glacier. And there was a lunch break at Húsafell.
The bus drove us to the edge of the glacier and there we were greeted by this 8-wheel monster glacier truck, a former NATO missile-launcher truck! This monster truck took us on the 40 minute drive up to the mouth of the ice cave tunnel, from 750 m above sea level up to 1260 m above sea level! I can tell you that it is quite an adventure to sit inside such a truck driving on the second largest glacier in Europe!
After the 40 minute drive in the monster glacier truck we finally saw the ice cave tunnel with the sign "Into the Glacier". I had been following up on the building of the ice cave tunnel on the news since the idea for this tunnel was first discussed in 2010.
There was an English speaking guide, who guided us through the ice cave tunnel. We first stopped just inside the entrance to get some crampons, which were provided to us for the walk inside the ice cave tunnel. I was glad as even though I was wearing good hiking shoes, then it made all the difference wearing these crampons. Do wear something warm, as it is cold inside the glacier.
I had quite a few "WOW" moments on our 1-hour-tour inside the ice cave tunnel. It is just amazing. There are several chambers lit up with LED lights. The blue and violet colours are out of this world! I couldn't stop taking photos! So I kind of missed what the tour-guide was saying. But a picture is worth a thousand words ;)
I caught up with the guide in the chapel. Here people can get married - now that would be a unique experience in beautiful surroundings - in the heart of Europe's second largest glacier. The digging of the ice cave tunnel took 14 months and 7,000 tonnes of ice was removed! The ice cave tunnel is 550 metres long and reaches 30 metres down into the glacier. There are 5 man-made chambers, beautifully aquamarine in colour.
In several places there are information signs on the walls of the tunnel, with information in Icelandic and English on the glacier. The ice layers of the ice walls show the chronological story of the glacier and each black line shows a volcanic eruption - one can even see ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption here.
In one spot the tunnels were so narrow that I could reach both sides with stretched out hands! Behind me on the photo there was a hole in the ice tunnel where we could look inside the glacier outside of the tunnel. Looking into the hole in the ice cave tunnel was quite eye-opening. I had kind of got used to walking in the tunnel and when I looked into the hole or window, as it were, it made me realize that I was actually deep inside a glacier!
In another place we walked onto a timber bridge and stood in the middle of a crevasse - all beautifully lit up with icicles. It was both scary and extremely beautiful. These crevasses are so dangerous, that is why people are not allowed to walk on the glaciers without a guide. There have been fatal accidents on Langjökull glacier, where people have been killed when falling into a crevasse on the glacier. And standing in the middle of a crevasse deep inside the glacier was surreal.
The final stop in the ice cave tunnel tour was by this beautifully lit up blue wall, ideal for taking photos before leaving the ice cave tunnel.
It is cold inside the ice cave tunnel, so dress warmly and bring a hat, a scarf, woollen socks and fingerless gloves, as I am sure you will want to take tons of photos like I did. And bring sunglasses as well as you will be blinded by the reflection from the glacier when you exit the ice cave tunnel. We didn't know about this and we could not open our eyes when we got out of the cave and it took us a while to get back to normal.
Since the glaciers are moving all the time it is not known for how long the ice cave tunnel is going to last. But it is presumed that it will last for at least 10 years with maintenance.
Floating in a secret lagoon in South-Iceland
I went on a truly fun tour recently, a very relaxing floating in a secret lagoon in South-Iceland. I have actually been twice on this tour, once only on the floating tour and the first time I went I went on the Golden Circle tour and floating. Am going to write another tip on that tour.
I was picked up at the BSÍ, bus terminal in Reykjavík at 9:30pm. I was expecting a small bus to pick me up, but was delighted to see the luxury jeep that was going to be driving me around for the day :) There were 2 other tourists on this tour, which were picked up at their hotel.
We were driven to the secret lagoon at Flúðir for the floating tour. The estimated time for entering into the lagoon was at 10pm as by then only floating was allowed in the lagoon. The guide took us to one of the hot springs behind the lagoon to dig up rye-bread, which he had been cooking in the hot spring for 24 hours. We got to taste the bread for supper after the floating experience.
Now it was time to enter the 38-40 degrees hot lagoon! We got the floating kit; a floating cap and floating straps for our legs, so we could be totally relaxed in the lagoon and experience the heavenly feeling of floating. There are underwater speakers in the lagoon and the popular Icelandic band Sigurrós played soft, relaxing music. I can tell you that this experience was heavenly.
We floated for an hour in the pool and then was the icing on the cake - a 15 minute's massage in the lagoon! It was pure heaven. I cannot remember when I have felt more relaxed than during the massage, just floating, listening to this soft music of Sigurrós :) That is why I went twice on this tour!
By the way, these are not the changing facilities seen in the photo of me getting a massage - this lagoon is actually the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, made in 1891, and these are the old changing facilities. There are new, modern facilities now on the other side of the lagoon.
After getting out of the lagoon and changing it was time to boil the eggs for supper - in the hot-spring Vaðmálahver! We got a fishing rod and a net in which to put the egg and there we stood by the hot-spring for ca 8 minutes and boiled our supper. In the olden days this hot-spring was used for washing clothes. There are several other hot-springs around the pool, one of which is called Litli-Geysir, as it erupts every 5 minutes!
Now it was time for supper at 11:30pm! What we had was the egg we had cooked in the hot-spring, fermented shark (an acquired taste), "brennivín" which is the Icelandic Black Death shot, the rye-bread cooked for 24 hours in the hot-spring and tomatoes and cucumbers from the local green-houses. It was superb, very Icelandic.
There are several other combinations of the floating tour - f.ex. Aurora floating, where one can float in the pool and watch the Northern lights. I must try that next winter!
This is a very good tour if you want to try something different :)
Dyrhólaey - the southern most part of Iceland.
Dyrhólaey is a 120 m high cape and the southern-most part of Iceland.
I add two tips on Dyrhólaey, this tip is on the rock formations before you drive up on top of the island.
Off Dyrhólaey there are beautiful natural rock pillars. Arnardrangur or "Eagle Rock" is a beautiful columnar basalt pillar standing on the sand east of Dyrhólaey. It stands on the beach but when the tide comes in it is surrounded by the ocean.
There is another extraordinary lava arch on the east side of Dyrhólaey. One can take beautiful photos there.
Be careful not to go close to the ocean, this is the Atlantic ocean and the suction of the waves at this particular shore is powerful and treacherous. People have been climbing in the basalt rocks and putting up tents in a cave in the rocks there and on the shore by Dyrhólaey. There is no waking up after that.
Reynisdrangar - rock formations at Vík.
Reynisdrangar are rock formations on the coast of Vík in Mýrdal in S-Iceland and can be seen clearly from the village of Vík. As we Icelanders believe in trolls and elves legend has it that Reynisdrangar were formed when two trolls were dragging a three-masted ship to land. When daylight broke they turned to stone as trolls cannot tolerate sun-light. The 3 rocks are the masts of the ship and the highest one is 66 metre's high.
The names of the masts are Langsamur, Landdrangur og Háidrangur (Skessudrangur). You can sail by boat from Dyrhólaey around Reynisdrangar.
The sand on the beach is black as it is mainly grounded lava from various volcanic eruptions in this area. In 2010 Eyjafjallajökull glacier started erupting and blew millions of tons of ash into the atmosphere.
At the coast in Vík there is a remembrance pillar in honour of the German fishermen who lost their life at sea around Iceland. I include a picture of the pillar and the inscription says: "Zum Gedenken an die Seeleute die in der Deutschen Islandfischerei ihr Leben verloren" and "In Dankbarkeit und Hochactung den Islandern die viele Schiffbruchige retteten".
There is another monument in remembrance of fisherman (see my photo) called "Voyage" with a sister sculpture in Kingston upon Hull. It symbolizes the bond between Hull and Iceland and the many fishermen who have come here to Iceland for more than thousand years.
Reynisdrangar can be seen both from the beach by Vík, but also from the other side of Reynisfjall mountain, by Hálsanefshellir cave.
Go walking on a Glacier
We booked a day trip from Reykjavik that included a 2 -3 hour hike on a glacier. The transport was a small coach that was perfectly comfortable for the journey to Sólheimjökull, a narrow tongue of ice, extending out towards the southern coast from the larger ice sheet called Mýrdalsjökull.
After a brief comfort break at a petrol station we continued on the main Route 1 ring road turning left onto the dirt track which lead up to the tip of the glacier. There was an extensive meltwater river pouring out from the glacier and the whole area was covered in the black ash blown out from the previous years eruption of the nearby volcano, Eyjafjallajökull. Other glaciers further away from the volcanic ash cloud we were told, are not as black as this one.
We were met by our guide Johan who worked from a group specialising in leading small parties up onto the glacier. After explaining safety basics and showing us how to install the crampons onto our boots we set off onto the glacier. It was clear we needed the crampons - the ice was certainly slippery but none of the route was particularly steep and all of the group could manage the walk fairly comfortably. Johan explained some of the folk lore surrounding the glacier and gave us some of the more scientific explanations for the various features we saw such as the small cones covered in black ash, the deep cauldrons and the crevasses.
We really enjoyed the trip despite the wet weather. The glacier was an environment I'd not experienced before. It wasn't very challenging but very interesting and pleasurable. Other visitors we met had been on much more challenging full day hikes so if you're up for more than 2 - 3 hours walk then you might wish to consider something even more exhilerating.
On the return journey we stopped off at the two spectacular waterfalls of Skogarfoss and Seljelandsfoss.
All in all a very good day but don't forget to take your lunch with you or buy something at the petrol station. There's no other facilities available thereafter.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
HOLIDAY HOMES FOR THE LOCALS
When you travel to the countryside you will see some ares where there are many isolated houses in the middle of nowhere. Those cottages will more than likely be holiday homes where the city people take a vacation now and again. It is not permitted to live in these homes permanently due to the lack of infrastructure (at least that is what i think our tour guide said). Some people buy the lot and construct the house while others just lease the land, but one thing is for sure i would not mind a couple of weeks close to nature in one of these cottages.
We have just returned from a long weekend break in Reyjavik and thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the...more
Why do I say 'thanks Icelandair' ... ? Well, our 1 night stay in this hotel was paid for by...more
Hafnarstraeti 87 - 89, Akureyri, IS-602, Iceland
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