#iceland

When you are driving the roads in Iceland, you can't avoid the feeling that you are on a long scenic drive journey. Sometimes on a road trip in almost any region, it feels like you are in a landscape painting.  It doesn't matter whether you are on the Ring Road or any other road in the countryside. On a bright and sunny summer day, the landscape seems to call out for attention everywhere. Mountains, waterfalls, rivers, glaciers, volcanos, fascinating animals and beautiful small villages with clear blue skies in the background. 

Take care when stepping out of the car

Although you are not places near a specific natural wonder or some well-known tourist attraction you often come across a place in the landscape that urges you to stop.  One such place is the river/waterfall Fossálar. Fortunately, there is a small parking space on the south side of the road so you can park there.  But keep in mind that it is very dangerous to stop a vehicle anywhere on the shoulder of the road and rush out, to take a photo, view the landscape or try to pet a horse or a cow by a fence. Another car can appear on a short notice and both the driver and people standing, walking or running on the road are in immediate danger.

Park your car in a parking lot, and you will enjoy Fossálar

If you park at the small parking space and walk with caution to the other side, you are in for a treat as the flowing water in this part of the river is gorgeous and the place peaceful despite the fact that the Ring Road is only a few meters away. Trout fishing is allowed by permission in the river, and it is a courtesy to be extra cautious when someone is fishing and avoid getting too close to the riverbank or the river.

Fossálar waterfall/river

It is rare to find a region, area or place in Iceland covered with trees, and a forest is impossible to find anywhere on the island. Tere are only two to three areas in the whole country that even resemble anything that could be defined as a forest.  This is completely different from large areas in Europe and in the US and many other countries where you drive for hours and only see trees on both sides of the road.

Atlavík

If you are trying to figure out how to plan an exciting vacation, Iceland should be on your list. It has many interesting places to visit. But although there are many reasons you should visit Iceland, the country that many think of as exotic, you should plan before you take a decision.  And you should seriously consider one or two of the many road trips you can drive to enjoy the various natural wonders.

Most roads are relatively easy to drive although caution is required and slow driving recommended

Skólavörðurholt in the Reykjavík City Center district is a hill that for decades and even centuries was the highest point in the town of Reykjavík.

Hallgrímskirkja church

Iceland is an island of many volcanos, and according to one of our most prominent geologists, at least four major volcanos are due.

Katla, on the other hand, can possibly burst with devastating and dangerous consequences.

The walking path along the Reykjavík coastline by Sæbraut Street has in recent years become a popular walking route in our city. It is a convenient two-kilometer walk from downtown Reykjavík past the conference hall Harpa, Sólfar the Sun Voyager sculpture, the Partnership sculpture and eventually leading you to Höfði House.

The sculpture was given to Iceland in 1991 to celebrate, at that time, the 50 years of good diplomatic relationship between Iceland and the USA.

Some of the most popular attractions in Iceland are sometimes described as overcrowded. This is true during the high season in summer and often during the peak hours on a busy day in other seasons.

Some of the most popular attractions in Iceland are sometimes described as overcrowded.

Some lakes in Iceland are placed by the edge of a glacier. Probably around five or six.  All of those lakes get their source of water from the melting glaciers and glacier tongues, and in many cases, also from spring-fed water flowing from mountains hidden under the ice cap. In some cases, the lake is full of icebergs falling from the glacier tongue, like the famous Icelandic tourist attractions Fjallsárlón and Jökulsárlón. Hvítárvatn (White River Lake)  is one such lake in the Highland near the highland road Kjalvegur or Kjölur by the glacier Langjökull and the glacier tongue Norðurjökull. In addition to the sources mentions above the lake has other sources from rivers and creeks in the surrounding area.  Icebergs are seldom seen on this lake or lagoon. As the primary source is glacial rivers, the lake always looks a bit milky which probably contributed to the name.  The size is approximately 30 square kilometers, and the average depth is about 30 meters and the deepest part around 90 meters. Hvítárvatn lake is placed at an altitude of 420 meters. The lake is the main source for one of Iceland's largest rivers, the river Hvítá (White River).  Just south of the lake in the river Hvítá is Iceland's most spectacular waterfall Gullfoss.

The haunted hut and the young female ghost

On of many huts in the highland is the mountain hut at Hvítárnes, Sæluhúsið í Hvítárnesi, near the lake, famous for being one of the most haunted places in Iceland. The hut was built in the forties in the last century.  According to many stories and complaints, stories from the forties up until last year a young female is often seen in the hut.  Many guests, particularly male guests, complain about disturbances from a young female ghost while in the state between awake and sleep.  Many visitors have also claimed to have seen her in one of the windows from outside when arriving late at night, and then learning that the house was empty. A particular bed in the hut is believed to be particularly unsafe and almost impossible to sleep in. And on many occasions, guests have been kicked out of the bed during the night, by “no one”! It is a mysterious place and a challenge for adventurers who have the courage to "sleep in her bed." 

Access to Hvítárvatn is not for small cars

Hvítárvatn lake is located in the Highland on the Kjölur highland road Kjalvegur nr. 35. If you drive from Reykjavík or the southern part of the Ring Road by the south shore to Gullfoss, you are basically on the road to Hvítarvatn when you pass Gullfoss. The road is quite rough, and we recommend a good 4X4 vehicle.   
 

Some lakes in Iceland are placed by the edge of a glacier. Probably around five or six

Although most visitors drive around Iceland going from one natural wonder to another, they are usually driving through quite a scenic landscape most of the time. Even when driving from one beautiful waterfall to another visitors are often driving on the road with an extensive view over a vast area of black sand or a picturesque countryside.  In the background, you usually have mountains, a glacier or even a glacier tongue forcing its way to the ocean. You never drive for a long time through a forest with a limited view on both sides and nothing but trees mile after mile.

Beautiful horses are almost part of the landscape

The waterfall Öxaráfoss (The waterfall in the Ax River)  in the ravine Almannagjá at Þingvellir is one of the best-known waterfalls in Iceland, at least among Icelanders. Like everything related to Þingvellir and Almnnagjá the waterfall has a sentimental reference and historical value. It is an important place in our most precious and sacred place Þingvellir. It is positioned inside Almannagjá in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The waterfall is rather small, only about 20 meters high, but is an important part of the overall natural wonders in the Þingvellir National Park. Depending on the season, the waterfall may differ in volume as the source, the river Öxará or Ax river, is quite different from one season to the next.

Not entirely the work of mother nature

Interestingly the waterfall Öxarárfoss is actually a human-made waterfall. As strange as this may sound geologists and historians have discovered that the river Öxará was moved hundreds of years ago, to channel the water into the ravine Almannagjá in the ninth century. The purpose was to provide water for the members and visitors of the Icelandic parliament Althingi in the 9th century. This was documented in the saga Sturlunga written in the 12th and the 13th century.   The name, according to folklore, came from an Ax that killed a notorious and a very unstable female troll famous for killing and terrorizing visitors, inhabitants and travelers in the Hengill area not far from Þingvellir.  Long after the blade was put into her back, between her shoulder blades, it surfaced near the place where Öxarárfoss is now.  According to another folklore, the river changes to wine on new year's eve. If true you should be able to sit by Öxarárfoss and drink good wine from the waterfall until midnight when the river changes back to wine. Not something we recommend as king winter has all the power at Öxarárfoss and Þingvellir at that time. He might be drinking from the waterfall and probably quite drunk. 

Access is relatively simple but requires a short walk

When driving from Reykjavík, you take the Ring Road Nr. 1 through Mosfellsbær and take a turn west on Þingvallavegur Nr. 36. When you reach a sign that says Öxarárfoss near the entrance to Þingvellir National park you park the car.  You can also go to the Service Center for Almannagjá and walk through the riff to Öxarárfoss. 

 

Interestingly the waterfall Öxarárfoss is actually a human-made waterfall

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