#iceland

Travelling specifically around the westfjords of Iceland is a trip on its own. Preferably one should spend at least a week threading each fjords with their powerful mountains and their small and charming towns. This is photo is from Arnarfjörður, the second largest fjord of the westfjords. Situated between Tálkanafjörður and Dýrafjörður is 30 km long and 10 km at its widest. With this in mind, it makes sense that within Arnarfjörður there are a few smaller fjords one of them is Dynjandavogur where the majestic waterfall Dynjandi is along with a camping area.

This is photo is from Arnarfjörður, the second largest fjord of the westfjords.

Everything about the sculpture Sun Voyager is fascinating.  The Artist Jón Gunnar Árnason was a mechanic who left a successful career as a mechanic in his early career to become an artist.  As an artist, he was a pioneer and a philosopher with a vision. In his life nothing had a higher priority than art. He is considered by many to be one of Iceland's most remarkable sculptor and artists. Jón Gunnar was born in 1931 and passed away in 1989 only 58 years old.

Solfar is not a Viking ship but a dream machine

The mountain ridge Jarlhettur, “The Earls Cap" is easily visible from many places and many angles in southern Iceland. The ridge is 15 kilometers and consists of 20 mountains where each peak is similar to the next, although the height and diameter differ. It is a spectacular sight seen by most visitors driving the Golden Circle with the ice cap Langjökull glacier in the background. The direction of the ridge is the same as most geological fissures in the area, from southwest to the northeast. The visibility is on the east side, and most of the west side is attached to the glacier. It is almost odd to find the name Earl in the Icelandic landscape since Iceland hardly ever had any real Earls governing the land or the people. On the other hand, Icelandic Viking traveled a lot to Europe and was acquainted with Earls and Kings. Unfortunately not alway not always in a polite manner.

Jarlhettur mountain ridge is in contrast with many natural wonders in Iceland

The mountains are of palagonite nature and almost entirely lack vegetation. The lakes and small rivers at the bottom of the mountains are all glacial waters, so everything is gray and somewhat from another planet.  This contrast with many of the magnificent natural beauties in the Icelandic nature makes Jarlhettur ridge, also interesting. Most of the mountains are around eight hundred to nine hundred meters high but the highest one Tröllhetta or Troll Cap, little less than eleven hundred meters.  Most of the mountains are barely climbable as the surface of the steep palagonite mountains is made of small rocks and hard to climb. But those who prepare and dare will enjoy a spectacular view.

Access by car to enjoy the view to Jarlhettur requires a good 4WD car

There are mainly two roads to see Jarlhettur in proximity.  One is to drive from Þingvellir north on the Road Uxahryggjavegur Nr. 550 and take a turn on the rugged mountain road Skjaldbreiðarvegur F338.  On the second part, a few kilometers before you reach Kjalvegur you will have a good view to Jarlhettur in the north.  The second one that will bring you to a proximity of Tröllhetta is to visit Nýifoss waterfall.  

The mountain ridge Jarlhettur, “The Earls Cap" is easily visible from many places and many angles in southern Iceland.

The waterfall Nýifoss or “New waterfall” is actually quite new.  Sometimes referred to as Leynifoss or  The Confidential Waterfall. According to geologists, the waterfall was formed in 1939 when the lake Hagavatna decreased substantially due to the glacial flood coming from under the glacier Langjokull. In the period between 1929 and 1939, the lake Hagavatn changed dramatically, and a part of its eastern side collapsed, burst in the glacial flood and gave way to the water.  Consequently, the water level lowered in the lake and the waterfall Nýifoss was born.  Although Nýifoss is hardly one of our most beautiful waterfalls, it is an interesting one.  Probably because it is quite different than most waterfalls people like to visit.

Different things about Nýifoss compared to many other waterfalls

In addition to being quite, new Nýifoss is located in a sandy gray landscape. A large area around the waterfall and lake Hagavatn is almost without any vegetation.  On the northern side is the southern edge of the glacier Langjökull.  On all other sides is either sand or raw lava.  Because the water is 100% glacial water it is colored with mud, clay, dirt and all kinds of soil that the melting ice carries from under the glacier.  The whole surrounding is like being in a desert or on the moon, but with a lot of water. 

Access is not easy and requires a 4WD of the larger kind

Nýifoss is not far away from Gullfoss, sometimes referred to as Iceland's most spectacular waterfall.  If you continue north on Kjalvegur Nr. 35 from Gullfoss you drive 10 kilometers and you will come to a left turn (west) to Hagavatnsvegur Nr. F35. This road like many F roads in Iceland, mountain roads, require a well equipped 4X4 vehicle. We recommend that you stop in the parking lot in front of the waterfall and walk the last few hundred meters up the track by the waterfall.  There is no point in driving up the steep and difficult part of the track up to the lake.

The waterfall Nýifoss or “New waterfall” is actually quite new.

Katla under the glacier Mýrdalsjökull is an active volcano in the southern part of the Icelandic Highland.  “Active” in a geological sense is measured in tens and hundred of years of an interval between eruptions.  In the past, Katla has had the habit of erupting at least once-twice every century and has erupted twenty times since the Icelandic settlement in the tenth century. It has been a long time since the interval was as long as the current one. That is why Katla is monitored by the Icelandic Met Office and geologists around the clock all year round.

Katla long overdue volcano is roaring and might erupt at any time

One thing that Iceland doesn't lack is water.

Five “two for one waterfall” in Iceland

Tonight an unusually strong appearance of the northern lights are forecasted by the Icelandic Met Office in Iceland. Strength is estimated to be around 6 on a scale of 0 to 9. Usually the highest strength during winter, the whole northern lights season in Iceland, is around 5.  Most of the time the strength is around 3 to 4 which gives quite a satisfactory and often spectacular Northern Lights but requires a dark area. A strength of 6 and a clear sky makes it easier to see the Aurora Borealis in a city or in any urban area.

City of Reykjavík and Capital city neighbours turn of city lights for better view of Aurora Borealis

Selfoss waterfall is located in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in the Northern Region in Iceland only one kilometer south of the mighty waterfall Dettifoss. Both waterfalls are part of the natural wonders in Jökulsárgljúfur as well as the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. The glacial river in the mountains. Although Selfoss has always stood in the shadow of Dettifoss it is a great construction of nature and equally as enjoying to visit. The height is only 10 meters, but the width is more than Dettifoss. And of course the visit is only half an hour hike from Dettifoss, and both waterfalls share the same parking lots, both on the east side and the west side. If you are visiting Dettifoss, be sure not to miss this beautiful waterfall.

Which side should you visit?

Not surprisingly, because there are parking lots on both sides of the river, it is common to ask the question which side is more captivating, and even which side is more beautiful. This of course is a matter of individual taste. For Selfoss, we recommend the east side of the waterfall because the amount of water and its form is more visible from that side as most of the water falls on the west side. It is also much harder to see the whole waterfall on the west side.

Access to Selfoss

Selfoss is easy to find, and it is also easy to visit although a short walk is necessary from the parking lot to the waterfall. On the Ring Road Nr. 1 in the northern region in Iceland east of Mývant we recommend that you turn on Road Nr. 864 Hólsfjallavegur.  This is a turn after you pass the bridge on the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. The Dettifossvegur Road Nr. 862 is on the west side and leads to the west side of the river and the west side of Dettifoss waterfall and Selfoss waterfall. Our recommendation is the east side.

Selfoss waterfall is located in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in the Northern Region in Iceland

The entrance into our lives this winter is spectacular.  The show that this wonder of the world put on tonight was nothing less than magnificent and lasted for hours.  This was the view from my balcony on the sixth floor in the downtown area in Reykjavík around 11 pm. I could not resist taking my tripod and camera out to the balcony for a few shots. How convenient is that, just stepping out to your balcony to photograph the Aurora borealis having a great night.

The northern lights or Aurora borealis are back in business

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