#easternregion

Although the landscape, natural wonders, geology, and geography are among the main attractions in Iceland, adventure tours, museums and other interesting things to do also play a role.  In all of the regions in Iceland, you will find interesting tours related to hiking or adventure connected to interesting local things like an island, an old volcano, an ice cave, and a seal colony.

When in the Eastern Region you should not miss the fabulous and unique museum at Stöðvarfjörður.

A combination of a short hike and a waterfall is always a delightful and enlightening experience.  You get your bloodstream moving as you walk along a river upstream and you get to see a stunning waterfall.  Fardagafoss is the perfect example of this kind of outdoor activity and as such a good option for families and children traveling in Iceland.  It is an outdoor activity with an adventure and takes about one to one and a half hour.  Great option if you are traveling the ring road in the Eastern Region and need to release some energy before continuing in the car. Even along the way up the gully, you can see another beautiful waterfall, Gufufoss. And the path by the waterfall seems harder than it actually is.

Fardagafoss and the stories

In addition to the natural phenomenon, the waterfall also has a remarkable story and a mysterious cave behind the falling water.  For centuries a troll lived in the cave behind the waterfall and guarded Fardagafoss until the cave collapsed.  Although you can still walk behind the waterfall and still see what remains of the cave, in the past the cave was much bigger and deeper.  It was even thought to have a tunnel going through the mountain all the way to the fjord Seyðisfjörður.  The story of the troll makes the waterfall even a better option for families and people traveling with children.  It is not only a waterfall but also part of a mystical folklore. 

Fardagar refers to old laws and regulations

The name refers to the period from May to end of June when, in the past people bound by law to live in one place particularly one farm, had the permission to change their home address and place of residence.  It may seem strange today, but it was part of an agrarian society in need of labor stability.  But at Fardagar you had a short window to move to another farm, and the waterfall is named after that time.  And Fardagafoss and Gufufoss are located just five kilometers from the town Egillsstaðir in the Eastern Region and one of the places you should visit if you are in the area, or at least if you are planning on visiting the beautiful fjord and town Seyðisfjörður. 

Fardagafoss is the perfect example of this kind of outdoor activity and as such a good option for families and children traveling in Iceland

Even if your main objective when traveling in Iceland is to see natural wonders and beautiful landscape, it is also worth it to stop at some of the beautiful and charming towns and villages.  For those who are traveling by car, an obvious option is to stop at one of the many camping sites in a town or a village around the shoreline.  Most of the towns and villages offer good overall services for tourists and most of the also offer a museum or an adventure tour.   It is also common to come across a fine restaurant and a good café in most small towns and villages.

Needless to say, almost all of the communities around the shoreline are set in a stunning landscape surrounded by beautiful mountains.

Natural wonders are by far the most appreciated and the most popular attractions in Iceland.  When you are traveling and taking a vacation, it is priceless to have the option to stop by a beautiful waterfall, a rare sight by a lagoon or to view a hot spring with boiling clay and blasting steam.  But while driving it is also priceless to have a spectacular view of mountains or drive through a beautiful fjord.  Although natural wonders are the main attractions in Iceland, some places and areas can stand alone as a spectacular scenic drive.

Five most interesting scenic drives in Iceland

When you are driving in Iceland a consideration regarding the type of car you rent when heading for a road trip is an important factor when planning a trip. Although most main roads are asphalt roads, you must keep in mind that some of those roads are two lanes and you are always meeting other cars.  And even if you plan to drive on asphalt roads only, you will probably find yourself in a situation discovering a major natural wonder along the way that you must visit. A visit that requires a change in plan and a drive on a gravel road.

Even a gravel road covered with dark fog for miles at the top of a mountain

When you are traveling the Ring Road in the Eastern Region Iceland, you should take some time to visit some, if not all of the beautiful and charming fishing villages on the shore.  Each and every village has their distinct history and uniqueness and are a good place to stop and take a rest.  All have good, but different camping sites and accommodations and many have interesting museums and exciting adventures. 

The charming and beautiful fishing villages in the Eastern Region

Although sometimes referred to as one canyon, Hafrahvammagljúfur, this large canyon is actually two canyons, Hafrahvammagljúfur and Dimmugljúfur canyon.  And even though the attraction is the spectacular natural wonder, the history of the canyon, both the geological history as well as its place in modern Icelandic history is also fascinating.  The impressive canyon stretches about seven to eight kilometers from the northern part of Vatajökull icecap towards the valley Jökuldalur (Glacier Valley). With its 200 meter high walls and only about hundred to hundred and fifty meters width they seem narrow and intimidating as everything is dark and steep. It is believed that the river Jökla dug the canyon over millions of years through the palagonite layer and formed the canyon with some help from other natural forces. The river was the second most powerful river in Iceland for thousands if not millions of years. And you have to be impressed when you stand in front of a natural wonder of this magnitude and scale that is was made with flowing water.

Just recently man stepped in with his engineering know-how

Icelanders have been quite smart in building hydroelectric power plants and utilizing their many rivers to produce electricity for almost a century.  For a long time, many viewed the rivers as a key to progress through the power plants rather than a natural wonder to view and enjoy. Unavoidably many Icelanders looked to the mighty river Jöklu as a logical and natural selection for a power plant. It wasn't until the eighties and nineties that this option became real and the power plant Kárahnúkavirkjun took a step from the drawing board into reality. The decision was hand in hand with the huge aluminum smelter you see right outside of the small fishing village Reyðarfjörður.  The aluminum smelter was the customer who purchased the electricity.  It was a massive project that changed the path of the river as well as the view of the canyons not to mention the size of the mighty glacial river that became a rather small spring fed river.  A dam was built across the canyon to collect water in a humongous reservoir and simultaneously sinking beautiful waterfalls, part of the canyon and other unrecoverable natural wonders.  It goes without saying that the project initiated a landslide of disputes between those who wanted to switch the natural wonders for the dam, the aluminum smelter and sacrifice the natural wonders on the one hand and conservationists on the other hand.

There are pros and cons, but most people might stop and wonder

Although Hafrahvammagljúfur and Dimmugljúfur are two canyons and part of the spectacular nature in Iceland, the whole project provokes serious questions. Approaching the canyon on an asphalt road deep in the highland is a bit odd for anyone who loves Icelandic nature. Only a few years ago this was a profoundly remote place, and you could not travel from the east site of the mighty river Jökla to the west side, both because of the canyon and the river.  Today you drive over both on a dam on a concrete road. For many residents in the declining small fishing villages in the eastern region, on the other hand, it was a welcomed boost for the economy of the area, and a worthy sacrifice for people to have the option of continuing to live where they most preferred.

Access is quite simple today

Access to Hafrahvammagljúfur is quite simple.  From the town of Egilsstaðir in the East Region, you drive south on Road 1, the Ring Road.  About seven kilometers south you take a turn to the east to Road 931 all the way over the bridge and take a turn to the south again on Road 933. You drive a short distance on 933 and turn to Raod 910 and drive all the way to Hálslón, the new reservoir by Kárahnúkar.

Although Hafrahvammagljúfur and Dimmugljúfur are two canyons and part of the spectacular nature in Iceland

Streitishvarf is a small peninsula between the fjord Berufjörður and the bay Breiðdalsvík in eastern Iceland. The small 12-meter high lighthouse called Streiti at the tip of the peninsula is quite visible from the main road. A parking lot is on the road, and this is an excellent place to stop, take a short hike, admire the landscape north and south of the lighthouse and rest from your drive.  Hiking by the shore gives an excellent view of the mountains as well as to the sea and the coastline. It is actually a place where the locals like to come and hike.  Down by the coast, there are many interesting photo opportunities with rocks and cliffs in the foreground and mountains in the background.  It is an ideal place to stop and relax and enjoy the nature, the view and the rich birdlife by the cliffs. 

A gentle giant lives in a rock by the road

According to folklore in the eastern region, a giant lives in the rock near the road.  He has two brothers; one lives in the island Skrúður, not far from Steinshvarf and the other one lives in Papey island near the coast.  It is believed that this giant is good natured and is on good terms with his brothers. Once a year around Christmas time they meet for a chat. It has been documented that on at least one occasion some decades or centuries ago a very tired traveler stopped outside his rock or home called Srkúðskambur and sang a small verse he had composed himself. As he finished his verse the cliff opened, and a table of food and a bottle of wine was put in front of him. Although this is a true story we are not sure, this will be repeated for travelers today.  It might be worth it to try to sing a verse out loud once you are at the parking lot and see if the gentle giant will hand you a table of food and a bottle of vine.

Access is as easy as possible

As the parking lot is only a few steps or few meters from the main road Ring Road Nr. 1 access to Streitishvarf is quite simple.  It is basically a turn to the parking lot.  Even if you only stop for a short time, a walk to the lighthouse is a good way to stop and stretch your legs and rest from the driving.

Streitishvarf is a small peninsula between the fjord Berufjörður and the bay Breiðdalsvík in eastern Iceland.

On some of the routes in Iceland, there aren't  many natural wonders like waterfalls, hot springs or lagoons, but mountains and valleys which make these routes quite scenic. They are first and foremost pleasant drives, and any stop you make is to view spectacular surroundings rather than a particular place. The fjord Álftafjörður in the East Region in Iceland is one such place. It opens up on the Ring Road, Road Nr. 1 in Iceland, soon after you pass the spectacular Eystrahorn, it is a joy to drive and a place to stop for a picnic while leaving the South Region and entering the beautiful Eastern Region.

Put yourself in the middle of a natural wonder

The fjord is a natural wonder in itself, quite shallow with its sand bottom and sand reef and small islands closing it from the forces of the Atlantic Ocean, making it a perfect calm resting and living place for large birds like the Icelandic Whooper Swan.  Probably the reason that the name of the fjord is Álftafjörður or The Whoopers Swan Fjord. The fjord has a perfect lowland for a short hike if you park your car and wander out towards the shore on the south side of the fjord. Here you most likely will find the kind of peace, and quiet anyone traveling to Iceland should look for. Especially if you are not in a rush to go between natural wonders and check your list.  Álftafjörður is more like a place to find relaxation, a place to put yourself in the middle of a vast natural wonder rather than to view it and document with one camera shot.  Although quite photogenic it is more like a place for the mind.

West of the fjord in the mountains surrounding the four valleys

Up from the fjord are two valleys, Hofsdalur Valley and Geithelladalur Valley, where Hofsdalur also splits into tow valleys. So there is a lot to see and sense in addition to the spectacular view from the shore.  The fjord is also surrounded by many stunning mountains which some are accessible to gain a better view, especially on the southern side.  The mountains on the northern side are all quite high and steep.

The fjord Álftafjordur is a natural wonder in itself

Flögufoss is an impressive waterfall in the valley Breiðdalur in eastern Iceland.  It is a fairly high waterfall, around 60 meters, and located in beautiful surroundings with geology speaking out loud from every angle. In the midst of the geologically fascinating valley Breiðdalur.  Near the top of the waterfall, there is another small waterfall falling on a terrace and from that terrace the waterfall runs through a small stone arch all the way down to the bottom of the cliff.  Interestingly although the whole setup is thousands of years old, the waterfall changed its path to run through the stone arch only two decades ago.  The old waterfall path can be seen at the top by the arch’s side. Possibly some elves anticipated the growing tourism in Iceland and wanted to give the waterfall a natural wonder makeover. Whatever the reason, this has given the waterfall Flögufoss a much more striking look.

A waterfall with stunning surroundings

Behind the top of the waterfall, there is a magnificent mountaintop called Smátindsfjall or Smallpeakmountain. These are a group of steep and high peaks made of basalt over thousands of years ago. The peaks can also be seen from the next fjord Berufjörður south of Breiðdalsvík and Breiðdalur.  On that side, on the other hand, they are called Smátindur or Smallpeak.

Flögufoss is easily accessible from route one on the Ring Road

Flögufoss is easily accessible and only a few minutes drive from the main road 1 on the Icelandic Ring Road in Breiðdalur to a parking lot.  From the parking lot, there is a 15 minutes light hike to the waterfall. Wen driving from Breiðdalsvík you take a left turn on road 966 or a right turn coming from Egisstaðir, and you can't miss it The best way to get a good view is to walk up the slope on the left side until you see the whole waterfall, the stone arch and the mountain peak in the background.  But for photographers, there is a great challenge to combine this from a new angle and bear in mind that this waterfall has not been photographed very often.

Flögufoss is easily accessible and only a few minutes drive from the main road one on the Icelandic Ring Road in Breiðdalur to a parking lot.

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