#iceland

 

At the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, some interesting places are delightful to visit and explore.  Apart from Skarðsvík bay the road to visit all of the places is a gravel road and bit difficult to drive.  Not necessarily a 4X4 road but a narrow and bumpy gravel road.  Svörtuloft is a lighthouse and a four-kilometer long cliff that is worth visiting during summer, especially if the tide is low and the weather is calm.  The formation of the cliff is quite spectacular as they are dark and black lava cliffs. An excellent viewing panel was put up by the cliffs not long ago for a better and secure view of the most interesting part of the cliff.  The natural arch by the lighthouse is a spectacular part of the cliff, and with the stack that stands up from the sea line, the sight and experience are great.

A place feared throughout centuries

Sailing in the Faxaflói bay and the Breiðafjörður bay in the western part of Iceland might be secure and calm, but traveling from one to the other can be quite tricky.   The sailing by the tip of Snæfellsnes peninsula, past Svörtuloft is still a serious business.  Throughout the centuries there have been drastic incidents and casualties.  Ships have stranded, and as anyone can imagine looking at the sharp and black lava cliffs, this is not a good place to strand a ship. Most of them are quickly blown to pieces by the shore.  When you add the strong currents attacking the shore from the Atlantic Ocean, it is most likely a place impossible to survive.  This is perhaps one of the reasons that a lighthouse was built on the cliffs. 

Finding your way to Svörtuloft

From the main road at the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula called Útnesvegur in Icelandic, Nr. 574, the distance to Svörtuloft is about five and a half kilometer after you take a turn west of Öndverðarnesvegur Nr. 579.  At the end of the road, you take a turn south to Svörtuloft and drive a few kilometers. Here you will find a small parking lot that gets overcrowded if there are more than eight vehicles.  If you turn to the north, you will find another interesting part of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula tip, Faxi the well. 

Svörtuloft is a lighthouse and a four-kilometer long cliff that is worth visiting during summer

 

Skarðsvík is a small and rather exceptional beach in the landscape in Iceland.  Surrounded by harsh and bare black lava, the soft orange-yellow beach conveys a convenient contrast to the surrounding landscape.  Due to the depth and the bright and clean ocean by the beach the color is a bit light blue and turquoise only enhancing the whole experience of visiting the beach.  Because of its location in front of the mighty Atlantic Ocean, it is recommended to visit the place at low tide.  The waves can be quite aggressive and even dangerous when high tide and strong winds play together and anger the Ocean.  A spectacular sight also but a game you would prefer to view from a distance.

Part of the beauty and scenic drive around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

From the main road around the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula called Útnesvegur in Icelandic, Nr. 574, the distance to Skarðsvík is short when you take a turn west of Öndverðarnesvegur Nr. 579.  The road to Skarðsvík has asphalt although further driving in 579 is a narrow gravel road.  So the drive to Skarðsvík is quite simple and easy for any vehicle.  It is a place where you can see the kind of artwork Mother Nature puts to display giving you one of those places that are immensely relaxing.  Particularly when the weather is calm, sunny and the tide is low.  So if you are driving the Snæfellsnes Peninsula Drive, you should take the short drive to Skarðsvík.

Other interesting places on Road Nr. 579

If you choose to continue on the gravel road, it will take you to other interesting places here at the tip of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.  The lighthouse at Svörtuloft and the Saxhóll cliffs in addition to Faxi well to name a few.  Near Skarðsvík you will find also find interesting tracks leading through the lava if you have more time to spend at the tip of Snæfellsnes Peninsula.  

Skarðsvík is a small and rather exceptional beach in the landscape in Iceland.

If you intend to drive the traditional and popular Highland road Nyrðri Fjallabak, Hólaskjól camp site is a good place to start or end depending on the direction you choose.  It is placed in a beautiful surrounding quite near Eldgjá the famous canyon and Ófærufoss waterfall.  The campsite and all the facilities are excellent but remember and take into account that this is a mountain hut.  It is a campsite away from all the convenience of urban campsites which also gives it another kind of charm.  When you are in Hólaskjól, you are in the mountains.

Start your Nyrðri Fjallabak drive at Hólaskjól

Our recommendation is to drive from the east to the west when driving Nyrðir Fjallabak mountain road.  One of the reasons is Hólaskjól; it is a good place to start your drive early in the morning.  Another reason is the surrounding area. When you have settled in there is an excellent short hiking trail at Hólaskjól up by the river Syðri Ófæra.  It is a good evening walk where you will see interesting basalt column and a magnificent waterfall Silfurfoss.  Just a short hike into the lava field that takes less than an hour and is quite relaxing and good before you a good night sleep in the mountains.


How to get to Hólaskjól

If you plan to visit Hólaskjól, you are probably planning to drive Nyrði Fjallabak. The best way to access the road to Hólaskjól is from the Ring Road some 23 kilometers west of the village Kirkjubæjarklaustur.  Here you take a turn north on Road nr. 208 and drive approximately 16 kilometers until you take a left turn and enter the Mountain Road F208 Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri. On this road, you need to drive about 20 kilometers to reach Hólaskjól camping site.

Hólaskjól campsite in highland in Iceland

The name Silfurfoss is almost unknown, both the waterfall and the name, as it is an unofficial name.  Silfurfoss or Silver waterfall is a reference to the mighty Gullfoss or Gold waterfall as many visitors have felt that there is a certain resemblance between the two.  Silfurfoss, of course, has few visitors when Gullfoss is one of the largest attractions in Iceland. Nevertheless, this waterfall, the surrounding area, and the relatively short hiking trail is a fantastic choice for those who seek to stay out of the main stream tourism and experience the wonders of nature quietly and peacefully.

Located near the camping site Hólaskjól

Silfurfoss is at the edge of the Icelandic Highland near Hólaskjól.  The camping site marks the beginning of one of the most popular Highland roads in Iceland, Nyrðri Fjallabaksleið.  It is one of the entrances to the highland.  The waterfall is part of the river Syðri Ófæra, a fascinating river that originates much higher in the Highland at Syrði Fjallabak and the Torfajökull glacier area.  By Silfurfoss the river runs through a small fissure which is also near the hiking trail.  It is a beautiful place to take an evening or morning hike when you plan to drive Nyrðir Fjallabaksleið and a wonderful place to take children although caution is recommended when near the waterfall.  There are also other cracks and fissures nearby with unusual basalt column formations. 

How to get to Silfurfoss waterfall and Hólaskjól

If you plan to visit Silfurfoss or Hólaskjól, you are probably planning to drive Nyrði Fjallabak. The best way to access the road to Hólaskjól is from the Ring Road some 23 kilometers west of the village Kirkjubæjarklaustur.  Here you take a turn north on Road nr. 208 and drive approximately 16 kilometers until you take a left turn and enter the Mountain Road F208 Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri. On this road, you need to drive about 20 kilometers to reach Hólaskjól camping site and Silfurfoss waterfall. And remember, Hólaskjól is a great place to camp overnight at the camping site has excellent facilities and magnificent landscape and surroundings.

Silfurfoss or Silver waterfall is a reference to the mighty Gullfoss or Gold waterfall as many visitors have felt that there is a certain resemblance between the two.

 

In some unexpected places in Iceland, you can find a small spot that sticks out, even a small oasis.  One of these locations is Fossabrekkur near the turn to Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri and Dómadalsleið Highland road where two small rivers meet by the source of the river Rangá.  It is located at the root of the volcano Hekla not far from the waterfalls Tröllkonuhlaup.  The area is a vast spread of sand and volcanic ash with some creeks and rivers.  In the middle of nowhere as it seems, you will find this refreshing oasis, Fossabrekkur.  What makes it interesting is the beauty of this small spot.   At a small slope by the river, a collection of vegetation has found roots around a few small waterfalls leaking down the slope. Like many waterfalls in a horizontal position, not like Klifbrekkufossar in the East and Dynjandi at the Westfjords where the many waterfalls are in a vertical position.  And this is what makes it so interesting, the vegetation and the clear water.  On a good day, the blue sky only enhances the beauty and calmness of this spectacular place.

It is a good idea to stop at Fossabrekkur in summer

Although someone put a sign on the road pointing to this interesting place doesn’t mean that it is always interesting.  We can only recommend that you visit this place from the beginning of June until the end of August.  It is not a place you want to visit during winter even though some of the nearby places like Þjófafoss can be interesting during winter.  This is also a great place to stop for a picnic if you are driving to Landmannalaugar or starting your journey through the North Fjallabak road.

How to drive to Fossabrekkur

The road is more or less the same from Reykjavík as driving to the start of Landmannaleið or Nyrðri Fjallabak. When you drive from Reykjavík you look out for the road Landvegur Nr. 26 after you pass the bridge on the mighty river Þjórsá on the Ring Road Nr. 1.  You need to drive approximately 50 kilometers north, and by the mountain Búrfell, you will find the sign to Fossabrekkur.   When you have made your stop it is recommended to go on F225 and continue on Landmannaleið and along the way you can stop at some fascinating places like Rauðifoss, Ljótipollur and of course Landmannalaugar.  But remember that for this road we recommend a good 4X4 vehicle. 

 

In the middle of nowhere as it seems, you will find this refreshing oasis, Fossabrekkur.

Every river and every creek have some beginning, a source.  Often the source is hidden under a glacier, in a lake or a ground spread over vast moorland.  But sometimes you can actually see the source floating from a slope of a mountain or running from under a lava field.  It is always a fascinating sight. But occasionally you can find a place where clear, clean, beautiful water is flowing from below as a spring and feeding a creek or a river.  This is the case in Rauðufossafjöll and the small river Rauðufossakvísl. 

The beautiful spring at Rauðufossafjöll

At Rauðufossafjöll you will find one of these sources, one of those rare springs, forming this beautiful pound.  And even when you look through the surface it looks even more mystical and strange, as the hole in the spring gives you this creepy feeling that someone is livening in the hole. Possibly a Gollum like creature that will crawl to the surface, only adding to the magic of nature.  It is a stunning sight. Adding to the sight and mystical nature of the spring is the red bottom of the floating water, the river Rauðufossakvísl that runs from the source.  The bottom is orange and almost or red at the first three to four hundred meters, which is very unusual.  This is truly one of a fascinating phenomenon in the Icelandic landscape.

Take great care and caution in this sensitive area

But there is a warning if you intend to find and visit Rauðufossafjöll.  It is a natural phenomenon, and a treasure only intended for viewing. And it is only possible to visit this place from the end of June until the middle of September.  At other times the surrounding area is more or less covered with snow and extremely difficult to visit.  The river leading to Rauðfoss (Which also has a red background) has a highly sensitive surrounding and vegetation, so walking by the river is a bad idea.  There is enough room on the banks and the land a bit higher, and from there the river is a joy to view with its odd color and the noon green dýjamosi Moss all the way from the waterfall to the source.  So be careful and enjoy from a distance. 

At Rauðufossafjöll you will find one of these sources, one of those rare springs, forming this beautiful pound.

Valagjá is a name of a volcanic crater located near the mountain road Landmannaleið in the southern part of the Icelandic highland.  The geological term for the crater is maar, and it is a similar phenomenon as a few other craters like Víti, Grænavatn and the nearby Hnausapollur and Ljótipollur, but without the water.  The meaning of the term maar is actually an explosion crater.  Although Valagjá might not be a major attraction, it is an interesting stop for visitors that are not in a hurry and are interested in geology and landscape as Valagjá is actually more than one crater.

Landscape like you can envision at the planet Mars

Arriving at Valagjá, you get the feeling of a distant place and isolation.  The surrounding seems lifeless, as vegetation is struggling.   It is a landscape of sand, volcanic ash and mountains.  But interestingly there is color in the lava, which gives it a more mystical atmosphere.  A walk along the brim gives you a better overview but remember to have your hiking shoes on.  This is a harsh landscape and a bit difficult place to walk, but a short hike is worthwhile.

Landmannaleið road

When you drive from Reykjavík, and you plan to drive (Dómadalsleið) Landmannaleið it is recommended that you rent a good 4X4 vehicle.  On the southern part of the Ring Road, you look out for the road Landvegur Nr. 26 after you pass the bridge on the mighty river Þjórsá.  You need to drive approximately 50 kilometers north, and by the mountain Búrfell, you take a right turn on Landmannaleið mountain road Nr. F225.  About 15 kilometers drive will get you to a split on the road with a sight pointing to Valagjá, which is only about two kilometers from this intersection.  When you have made your stop it is recommended to go back on F225 and continue on Landmannaleið and along the way you can stop at some fascinating places like Rauðifoss, Ljótipollur and of course Landmannalaugar.

Arriving at Valagjá, you get the feeling of a distant place and isolation.

One of the fascinating museums in Iceland is The Herring Era Museum or Síldarminjasafnið in Siglufjörður in the Northern Region.  The museum is also the largest maritime museum in Iceland.  The herring era spans more than five decades of the 220th century, and herring and the catching and processing of herring were the driving force behind the buildup in Siglufjörður.  It was the central herring town and in the thirties and the forties one of the most populated towns in Iceland. Today it is more like the icon town of the herring frenzy.

One of the fascinating museums in Iceland is The Herring Era Museum or Síldarminjasafnið in Siglufjörður in the Northern Region.

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.

Although Rjúkandi is one of only a few waterfalls you can see from the Ring Road in Iceland (Road nr. 1), many visitors do not stop by Rjúkandi or tend to stop by that waterfall.  One reason is the fact that along the way at Lower Jökuldalur valley in the Eastern Region between Egilsstaðir and Akureyri there are many “road side” waterfalls running down the slopes.  Rjúkandi just seems like one of many if you don’t take the time to walk the short path to view this beautiful attraction.  The waterfall Rjúkandi is a lovely waterfall and most defiantly a place to stop by.

Take the short path to the Rjúkandi Waterfall

Rjúkandi is part of a stunning landscape at Jökuldalur valley in the Eastern Region; some attractions that are yet to be discovered.  Attractions like Stuðlafoss and Stuðlagil are places you should also consider. Through the valley lies the magnificent river Jökulsá á Brú that used to be a large glacial river running through the many small gorges hidden in the old Jökusá á Brú long canyon. Ysta Rjúkandi river is a spring fed river, one of many that today feed the beautiful river in the canyon after the glacial river was moved to Fljótsdalur valley in a massive dam project at Kárahnúkar.

On the Ring Road in Iceland just before you hit Skjödólfsstaðir

The waterfall Rjúkandi in the Eastern Region in only less than hour away from Egilsstaðir on the Ring Road nr. 1 in Iceland.  You can stop by the parking lot, and the walk up to the waterfall takes a few minutes. The parking lot is located by the road just before you reach the farm, restaurant, and accommodation at Skjöldólfsstaðir.  You also get a great view at the viewing panel in front of the waterfall, to the Jökuldalur valley.   If you want to get a view of the upper and lower waterfall you can climb a bit up the slopes. 

Rjúkandi is part of a stunning landscape at Jökuldalur valley in the Eastern Region

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