#austurland

 

The Hengifoss waterfall is one of the best-known landmarks in East Iceland. At 118 m high it is the island's third highest waterfall and certainly one of the most picturesque. Cutting through steep walls of Tertiary lava strata you will find layers of red clay pressed between the basaltic lava giving providing the cliffs with their striped façade.  From the landscape surrounding Hengifoss, you can practically read the history of geology. Fossilized conifer and other tree-trunks, as well as lignite, will tell you the weather used to be much milder and warmer throughout the Tertiary.

Two for one on the Hengifoss trail

Hengifoss is in the Hengifossá River and runs into the Lake Lögurinn. A little further downriver you will find another fascinating waterfall, Litlanesfoss that is no less impressive. Surrounded by beautiful, long and hexagonal basalt columns formed over 60 million years ago.  Alonge the trail from the parking lot to Hengifoss, there is a deep and beautiful canyon that gives the walk an additional enjoyment.

A walk that is rewarding

Hengifoss is not lightly accessible.  The walk from the parking lot to the falls will only take you about 40 to 60 minutes and has an elevation of approximately 400 metes. It is a relatively light trot and well worth your time. Even the Icelanders consider Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss to be an absolute treasure, and that's saying a lot in a country that has the natural wonders like waterfalls, canyons and loads of natural wonders like ice and fire all over the place.

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Below is the location of Hengifoss waterfall on the map of Iceland

Hengifoss is in the Hengifossá River and runs into the Lake Lögurinn.

 

Once upon a time in Iceland, there was a mountain full of the material spar. It was at a remote location by the Helgustaðir farm, east of Eskifjörður. It existed simply to please those who were living in the area – or traveling from Eskifjörður to Vöðlavík. Then, spar became a commodity and mining commenced. Spar is a type of calcite crystal, completely transparent and can split light into two parallel beams. It was a vital component in the early microscopes, and the Icelandic spar was exceptionally clear. As a result, large quantities were exported to Europe from the 17th century, until the quarry was closed down in 1924.  The largest piece removed from Helgustaðanáma weighed 220 kilos and can is to be found in the British Natural History Museum.

A preserved mine with an interesting history

Today, Helgustaðanáma is preserved. It is partially open to visitors who will have to brave a 50 m hike uphill to reach the mouth of the quarry. Inside the cave left over from days of mining and money you can still see rocks sparkling with calcite. The area has been a natural reserve since 1975. It is strictly forbidden to remove even the smallest of samples from the quarry.

A great place to have a view over the fjords

And, as you are already there, you might like to enjoy the uninhabited country to the north of the mine, with hiking trails crossing mountains and valleys.  Even at the mine you have a spectacular view over the fjords, Reyðarfjörður, and Eskifjörður.  

hallormsstaðaskógur

Below is the location of Helgustaðanáma on the map of Iceland

Helgustaðanáma

 

One of the visitors to Iceland during the settlement era, over 1100 years ago, claimed the island to be covered in lush forest. His claim has always been mind-boggling to the Icelanders who can't help but wonder what happened to their trees. Some say the wind swept them away. Others claim the "bloody" sheep gnawed them away with the farmers turning their livestock into game roaming heaths and moors and mountains all summer long.

After our trees had disappeared a new plan was implemented

Whatever the reason, at the turn of the 19th century, trees were practically extinct in Iceland. So, a plan was launched. Forestation became the new rave. Trees were planted in crucial locations. One of them was Hallormsstaður.  It all started in 1899 when the Parliament passed a law aimed at protecting what little was left of forest in the area. The locals were instructed to shape up and plant trees. Today Hallormsstaðaskógur forest covers 760 hectares and is the largest forest in Iceland.

A great location for a forest

Hallormsstaðaskógur is perfectly located a little south of the town of Egilsstaðir. The climate in the area is quite fortunate. It is breezy rather than windy. Summers are usually warmer and sunnier than for the rest of the island. During winter, the snow covers the entire flora, sheltering the roots from any frost-damage.  Hollormstaðaskógur is a wonderful place to visit with many interesting hiking trails and a great camping site.  Here you can also see many samples of trees that grow in Iceland.

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Below is the location of Hallormstaðarskógur on the map of Iceland

Today Hallormsstaðaskógur forest covers 760 hectares and is the largest forest in Iceland.

 

Icelanders have always been keen mountain climbers; they have even written poems about climbing mountains, falling, scraping and cutting themselves – but always getting to the top. Still, there is at least one mountain in Iceland you simply can't climb: Eystrahorn in the southeast part of East Iceland. It is a mere 756 m, but made up of gabbro and granophyre and extremely steep, Landslides are almost a constant, so much so, that even the great Sysiphus wouldn't even be able to get started.

Unusual materials that give Eystrahorn a wonderful color

Still, Eystrahorn is impressive to look at. During the ages precious minerals have been found there, such as gold, silver and mercury. Much to the Icelander's dismay, only in small quantities so don't even take out you teaspoon to embark on a quest to get rich quickly. The presence of those minerals gives Eystrahorn a wonderful color, emphasized by the black, sandy beach running all they way to its sister mountain, Vestrahorn.

The whole surrounding is a feast for the eye and photographers

The area between the mountains Vestrahorn and Eystrahorn is called, "Lón," meaning lagoon and sports an incredibly varied birdlife. It is the first stop after a very long flight for millions of migratory birds.  It is usually packed with birdlife and quite an impressive stop.  When you pass the slopes at Eystrahorn on the Ring Road heading further east, an even more impressive sight opens up.  It is fully worthed to stop and view the cliffs by the shore.  There are at least three stops where you can take your time and view the magnificent cliffs that constantly are battered by the Atlantic Ocean.

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Below is the location of Eystrahorn on the map of Iceland

Eystrahorn in the south-east part of East Iceland

Although a small village, Djúpivogur has been around for a long time.

Djúpivogur is a small town in the Eastern Region in Iceland

Breiðdalsvík (Broad Valley Bay) is a tiny village in the East Region on the Ring Road with the same name as the bay where it stands. Like many small communities in Iceland, Breiðdalsvík traces its origin to trading in the 19th and 20th century.  Although by the seashore, the bay is shallow and loaded with large rocks and small islands.

Breiðdalsvík is a small town in the Eastern Region in Iceland
Stöðvarfjörður is a small town in the Eastern Region in Iceland

Most of the towns and villages around the coastline in Iceland owe their existence mainly to one or two prerequisites:  rich fishing grounds and trading posts.  Most of the small communities developed in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.  Fáskrúðsfjörður or Búðir as the village's name was before people gave it the same as the fjord, is no exception.  The village has two other unus

Fáskrúðsfjörður is a small town in the Eastern Region in Iceland

The town of Reyðarfjörður is one of the larger towns in the Eastern Region in Iceland. The town's recent history is one of a kind compared to any other town or village in Iceland. Reyðarfjörður is a town that we can categorise and an entirely modern small town with all the modern service people require.

Reyðarfjörður is a small town in the Eastern Region in Iceland

The town of Eskifjörður has been around for a long time, and the towns origin can be traced to trading and fishing, like most of the towns and villages in Iceland.

Eskifjörður is a small town in the Eastern Region in Iceland

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