#iceland

In many corners in every part of Iceland, there is a place connected to folklore.  Even in places that are very popular tourist attractions. Stories of trolls, elves, ghosts, mysterious creatures, demons, and zombies.  Stories of communication between humans and all kinds of beings, creatures and entities from another dimension or another world.

In many corners in every part of Iceland, there is a place connected to folklore.

Iceland has approximately 70 towns and villages around the island. Some are tiny hamlets or just a cluster of houses and barely fit into the definition of a village. Most of the towns do not have a long history, as Iceland was an agricultural society for centuries. The first indication of towns traces their beginning to a trading post or a fishing post.

Iceland has approximately 70 towns and villages around the island. This is our top 10 list.

The waterfall Þjófafoss is part of the Þjórsá river that stretches from the Icelandic Highland all the way to the south shore in the Southern Region in Iceland.  It is the longest river in Iceland 230 kilometers from Bergvatnskvísl the northernmost source at Srengisandur.  According to folklore and history, the waterfall got its name from practice in the old judiciary system in Iceland, as thieves were thrown into the waterfall to finish their sentence. Almost without exception, none have ever been seen again. The waterfall is south of the beautiful mountain Búrfell. The river is a "tamed beast" as the water flow is controlled and supervised by Landsvirkjun, the main producer electricity in Iceland. As a consequence sometimes the river dries up, and the powerful waterfall almost disappears. A bit strange, but would probably have been welcomed by some of the criminals who were thrown into the waterfall ages ago.

We recommend the south side

The waterfall is accessible from both sides although there is a considerable distance between access to the north side and the south side as it is impossible to cross the river by the waterfall.  Access to view the waterfall Þjófafoss the south side is easier and also more impressive.  For those interested in photography having the mountain Búrefell as a background is also more impressive than the flatland background from the northern side. But then again you need to view the waterfall when the water is not being utilized by the power company.

Access is quite easy

If you are driving on the Ring Road Nr. 1 in the southern region in Iceland you take a turn on Landvegur Road Nr. 26 between Selfoss town and the village of Hella. You drive approximately 45 kilometers north, and you will see a sign for Þjófafoss waterfall.  The drive to the parking lot by the waterfall is about 4 kilometers. 

The waterfall Þjófafoss is part of the Þjórsá river
Nov 23 2016

Yet again we want to encourage visitors to pay extra attention to the various details, hidden in the overwhelming landscape of Iceland. This photo is taken, on a hike we went on in Nýidalur (New Valley) in the heart of the Icelandic highland. Muddy layers next to the turquoise coloured water form an organic pattern that could almost be mistaken for car tier traces, although this bay-mud is much more beautiful. These soil layers of soft, unconsolidated clay, saturated with water are normally in temperated regions that have experienced cyclical glacial cycles.

Muddy layers next to the turquoise coloured water form an organic pattern.

Throughout the centuries Icelanders have been very efficient and almost pedantic in giving names to every small piece of item in the landscape throughout the whole country.  Wherever you go, everything from a high and mighty mountain to a low hill seems to have a name.  Every creek and every river have a name.  Every waterfall in our extensive variety of small and large falls has a name.  And believe me, we have hundreds of waterfalls.  Every cliff, lava field, every lake, every cave, every hot spring and basically every place in the country has a name. 

The river Kaldaklofskvísl (Cold crotch distributary) and Klámbrekka is between the hill in the background and the mountain Stóra Grænafjall.
Nov 16 2016

Here we have the second highest waterfall in Iceland, which is how it deserves its name, Háifoss or The High Waterfall. Since it is so high, it feels relevant to show it in parts, although you can also see beautiful photographs of the whole waterfall here. This photo shows the very start of it, zoomed in, to also be able to enjoy the detailed layers of different rock and mud around it, including tiny basalt rock formations. Háifoss is situated close to the volcano Hekla, as well as the famous glacier river, Þjórsá making it one of many worthy stops on your way through the south of Iceland.

Here we have the second highest waterfall in Iceland

Many places in the Icelandic Highland are rarely visited due to their isolation and difficulties to visit in a vehicle.  It that sense they are challenging and mostly visited by hikers. This, on the other hand, does not apply to Álftavatn lake, or Swan Lake, located by the popular hiking track Laugavegur and also one of the most exciting 4X4 Highland roads Syrðri Fjallabak. By the lake, there is a popular mountain cabin and a camping site.  Many hikers on the Laugavegur track choose to stay there overnight.  The lake is placed in a beautiful peaceful landscape, surrounded by mountains that are characteristic for the southern part of the Highland. During the summer months, the place is quite busy.

The southern part of the Icelandic highland

Like many places in Iceland, lakes, caves, stacks by the shore, hills, cliffs and other places in the landscape, Álftavatn lake has a folklore story. Early in the eighteenth century, a farmer traveled with his thirteen-year-old daughter to Álftavatn lake to hunt Swans. As he took his horse from the shore into the lake he fell off the horse and drowned.  The daughter traveled back home, a day's journey, and gathered some men and help. Despite a thorough search, the farmer was not found. The next night her mother had a dream where her husband asked the search team to come back a fetch his body under a certain cliff by the lake. The next day the search team went back and found the body of the farmer under the cliff. Although a folklore, it is a true story. A lot of people in Iceland believe that a message from the deceased can be sent through dreams. Well here is your prove, by Álftavatn lake in the Icelandic Highland.

Access is not simple

Driving to Álftavatn is quite challenging and requires a good modified 4X4 vehicle. The Highland track Syðri Fjallabak is the most difficult highland road open to travelers in Iceland.  And it is only open from the beginning of July until late September. But at the same time the most fascinating with such variety of places that we label it as one of our most favorite roads.   

 

Álftavatn lake

Around the country in many of the recommended pitstops the facilities are always getting better. Whether it is a walking path to experience safely a family of geysers, a support rail to step in to the slippery hot spring or a sightseeing platform like this one. As we have mentioned before there are many ways of viewing Ófærufoss, and this particular platform lets one see the waterfall as a whole from above. It is great when these interventions are subtle and don’t disturb the surrounding view.

As if the waterfall wasn’t enough, the mountains around it with its layers of rocks and moss make this a perfect pitstop.

In many places deep in the Highland in Iceland, you can find unusual and almost strange sights. Sometimes dark sites, boiling sites, vast view, strange lava formation and much more.  One such place is near Lakagígar where we have vast carpets of lava, a lot of ash, dust, and black sands.  This is also at an altitude where vegetation has difficulties to grow and sustain.  Sometimes while traveling in the Highland you can experience the dark sand continuing all around you form kilometers after kilometers into the horizon.

A strict line was drawn between the black sand and the vegetation

Hrafntinnusker is a mountain in the Icelandic Highland a few hours hike from Landmannalaugar.  It is a volcano that most geologists assume is not going to erupt anytime soon, though.  The mountain takes its name from the black glass rocks, obsidian, formed when a rhyolite flowing magma cools extremely fast in an eruption. The Obsidian is a fascinating geological phenomenon. Such rocks are scattered around the whole are at Hrafntinnusker. Although a mountain, the second half of its name is Skerry, but not a mountain, and this is believed to be in accordance with naming traditions in the eastern parts of the lowland around Syðri Fjallabak, in Skaftafell.

An exotic place with many unusual ingredients

Hrafntinnusker is a unique place, even in the diverse landscape flora in Iceland.  It is a mountain with a small glacier on top. A relatively large active geothermal area with much of the activity under the ice. The ground is constantly delivering smoke while you visit the place. It is located in a very remote part of Iceland. It has ice caves because of the heat under the glacier and it offers a grand view because of the height of the mountain. As fascinating as the ice caves are they are also very dangerous as no one really knows how and when parts fall from the ceiling or inside the caves.  It is recommended that people do to enter the caves as vast and lethal parts can fall from the walls and ceiling of the caves.

Access only available for hikers and well equipped 4X4 vehicles

There are basically two ways to visit Hrafntinnusker.  One is the hiking trail from Landmannalaugar on the east side of the mountain, and the other is the 4X4 trail from the west side. Although a fascinating place not many visitors get an opportunity to come here.  Most of the people hiking the Landmannalaugar hiking trail only see the east side, and might stay overnight in the hut located there, but miss the west side.  The west side is very interesting and requires a well equipped 4X4 vehicle as the road is quite difficult with many rivers to cross.

Hrafntinnusker is a unique place, even in the diverse landscape flora in Iceland

Pages