#iceland

The canyon Jökulsárgljúfur is one of the most spectacular and stunning natural wonders in Iceland. The canyon is usually underrated as it is in the northeastern region of Iceland, almost as far as possible from the capital Reykjavík.  But also to being a great place to visit it is furthermore the home of many other spectacular attractions, like waterfalls and places you won't see anywhere else in Iceland or on the planet for that matter.  Although the waterfall Dettifoss is the big attraction in Jökulsárgljúfur, there is another beautiful waterfall Hafragilsfoss a short distance north of Dettifoss in Jökulsárgljúfur.  Although not in a walking distance the drive is quite short.

A great place to view Jökulsárgljúfur canyon

The waterfall Hafragilsfoss is one of the spectacular waterfalls in the mighty river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. The river is one of the largest and most powerful rivers in Iceland and an inseparable part of the canyon Jökulsárgljúfur. The falls approximately 30 meters high and about 90 meters wide is surrounded by cliffs.  Proximity to the waterfall is quite steep on the west side and not so convenient on the east side either, so a telephoto lens is recommended if you want to take a closeup photo.  In addition to being a great waterfall the parking lot for Hafragilsfoss and the path to the panel, is also one of the best places to view the canyon Jökulsárgljúfur.  You can see the canyon almost all the way south to Dettifoss and also north where you have a view of part of Hólmatungur.

Access is quite easy

Like most of the Jökulsárgljúfur and the Natural wonders in the canyon, we recommend highly viewing it from the east side. Although the road is a bit more challenging and a gravel road the view to Hafragilsfoss and the parking lot on the east side is much more impressive. So if you are coming from Myvatn lake on the Ring Road Nr. 1 you must go over the bridge on the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum and take a turn left almost immediately after you pass the bridge north on Road Nr. 864 Hólsfjallavegur. The parking lot by Hafragilsfoss is about 32 kilometers drive.

Hafragilsfoss waterfall in Jökulsárgljúfur

It is easy, when covering Iceland in pictures and writing, as we do here at Hit Iceland to get lost in the subject of overwhelming waterfalls, majestic mountains and other natural wonders. But what is also important to mention are the details that bind all these things together. Whether it be tiny rock formations or the vegetation, like in this photograph. These circles are called Nornabaugar directly translated to English as Witch's Rings. They are formed by a mushroom trying to grow in Iceland’s’ sensitive highland regions.

Nornabaugar directly translated to English as Witch's Rings.

This waterfall is sometimes described as a treasure in the Icelandic landscape and the flora of natural wonders. It's nearby sibling Seljalandsfoss waterfall, only in a short walking distance away, is one of Iceland's most renowned attractions. Gljúfrabúi is, on the other hand, gaining more and more attention and most of the visitors viewing Seljalandsfoss also take the time to look at Gljúfrabúi.  Although coming from the same cliff, there are some striking differences between the two waterfalls.

A beautiful name and stunning waterfall

There is something wonderful about the Icelandic name Gljúfrabúi. It means Gorge Dweller.  It conveys the feeling of a peaceful being living in this cave-like place with water falling from the 40-meter cliff. The name is not very old and is believed to originate in a poem by Iceland's most beloved poets Jónas Hallgrímsson who was also a natural scientist.  And this is the reality of the waterfall rimmed in a narrow gorge producing its drizzle and this cold damp like a cold sauna. You need to be prepared to enter this wet world of the Gorge Dweller.  The crack is narrow and the open cave is muggy. It is not an easy entrance but once inside you might think of a cathedral for creatures from another world. Although mostly dark inside and under the waterfall there is a lot of vegetation on the rocks because of the constant moist. In addition to the inside viewing you can also climb the narrow path on the outside and up to the cliff in front of the waterfall and view it from above.  Both places require extreme caution and good hiking shoes.

Access to get there is easy

This waterfall, like Seljalandsfoss, is conveniently located a short distance from the Ring Road, Road Nr. 1, in the southern region in Iceland.  It is only one and a half kilometer from the intersection of Road Nr. 1 and Road Nr. 249 Þórsmerkurvegur, the road leading to Þórsmörk in the Icelandic Highland.

The crack is narrow and the open cave is muggy.

To be on your own placed in a large landscape with no sound other than the waves on the beach and the songs of birds looking for food in the sand or beneath the surface of the sea is an experience of a lifetime. A sanctuary from all the noises you recognize so well from constantly living in a large city with its traffic, disturbances, threats, intimidation and unclean air.   You are surrounded by beauty and stillness at the same time overpowered by the magnitude of the landscape.

You are surrounded by beauty and stillness at the same time overpowered by the magnitude of the landscape.

Deep in the Highland of Iceland you will find a very remote and highly interesting place, Kverkfjöll, located at the northeast part of Vatnajokull ice cap, the largest glacier in Europe.  It is a combination of ice and magma lurking under the surface filling it with a warmth that melts the ice from beneath, forming melting ice caves at the edge of the glacier. In few places is it more obvious where fire meets ice. It is the home of Iceland's largest geothermal area, warm geothermal pools, ice caves, challenging hiking paths and harsh landscape between two glacier tongues, Brúaárjökull and Dyngjuökull that regularly deliver signs of possible eruptions.  Kverkfjöll is a place for people who are serious hikers seeking real life adventures and interested in visiting the most exotic places in Iceland. It is not a place to visit for a quick selfie or short visit. It is a place of proper preparation and sufficient gear. It is a place for outdoor enthusiasts who like to hike, ski and climb fascinating mountains.

Kverkfjöll is a place of many options

As part of the Icelandic highland, it is a highly sensitive place in any respect.  Mostly covered with snow a large part of the year Kverkfjöll mountains are only accessible during the months of July through September. The area is always a bit wet and lacks vegetation.  Even in those three months, it is a place where you need to take extreme care when visiting.  Because of its many attractions and natural wonders Kverkfjöll has a good service center, available accommodation, and a camping area. It is an “out of this world” place to visit but harsh and unpredictable. 

Access is not easy and requires a full-size 4X4 vehicle

For the drive to Kverkfjöll, you need a large size 4X4 vehicle, a Toyota Hilux, Toyota Landcruiser, VW Amarok, Land Rover or similar.  It is not a road for a small 4X4 as some of the roads are difficult, and there are rivers to cross.  Rivers that can change rapidly with rain or change in heat. The best route is to drive from Mývatn lake towards the east on Road Nr. 1 and take the mountain road F88 Öskjuleið. After driving approximately 75 kilometers, among other places by Herðubreið the queen of Icelandic mountains, you take a turn on the mountain road F910 Austurleið. After driving approximately 12 kilometers on F910, you take another turn on the mountain road F902 Kverkfjallaleið. After an about 40 kilometer drive, you are at Sigurðarskáli cabin and in Kverkfjöll.  It is about 130 kilometers drive into the most remote area in the Icelandic Highland, and you are now truly in a natural wonderland of landscape and geology. 

Deep in the Highland of Iceland you will find a very remote and highly interesting place, Kverkfjöll,

There are seemingly endless different ways of looking at Kerlingarfjöll and during a drive through the highland of Iceland it feels as if Kerlingarfjöll is looking at you, specially when driving by the road Kjölur. It is great to see the way this rugged cluster of mountains with their varied shapes and sizes stand as if they are protectors of their land. Which brings us to their name, Kerlingarfjöll which directly translates Old Woman's Mountains.

There are seemingly endless different ways of looking at Kerlingarfjöll.

Sometimes we get questions through our Facebook or Google+ or even direct through e-mail, and people ask about various things like driving in winter in Iceland, driving on gravel roads in Iceland, when to travel in the highlands, how to cross rivers and much more.  A few days ago we got a question regarding a trip on the Ring Road in the winter. 

Driving in winter in Iceland is often very difficult and can be dangerous

One of the most visited and admired natural wonders in Iceland is the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón. It is a lagoon or a lake at the end of a glacier tongue.  When the ice breaks from the tongue it floats on the lake and melts and finally floats out to the Atlantic Ocean.  The location is just perfect on the coastline by the main road circling around the island, Road Nr. 1. This easy access is one of the reasons the lagoon is so popular.  You are basically in proximity to astonishing melting icebergs recently fallen from the glacier just by parking your car.  Just around the corner by Jökulsárlón another lagoon Fjallsárlón is also quite accessible but smaller and not visible from Road Nr. 1.  

Although smaller Fjallsárlón has an advantage

Approximately 10 kilometers before you come to Jökulsárlón from the west there is a turn on your left to Fjallsárlón.  A new service center has opened and you can also take a tour on the lagoon. You can stop by the parking lot by the service center and over a small hill and you will have the lagoon Fjallsárlón in front of you.  As the lagoon is much smaller you have a better view of the whole lagoon and a much better view of the edge of the tongue where the icebergs fall into the water.  This part of the glacier tongue is ofthe very photogenic and adds a perfect background to the lagoon.

Access to Fjallsárlón is easy

Although not visible from the main Road Nr. 1, ofthe referred to as the Ring Road, Fjallsárlón is practically on the Ring Road.  It is about 110 kilometers east of the small village Kirkjubæjarklaustur. When you stop by the parking lot you need to walk a short path over the hill north from the parking lot to see the lagoon. 

Approximately 10 kilometers before you come to Jökulsárlón from the west there is a turn on your left to Fjallsárlón

When discussing driving plans or road trips or planning any driving tour in Iceland, there is a striking difference between Icelanders and visitors.  For decades, even centuries, Icelanders have referred to places in the landscape by name. Everything has a name. This is also true when we talk about roads.  Every road in Iceland has a name and Icelanders use that name when talking about their summer tour and when planning a driving tour.  Although many visitors are familiar with the term Ring Road which Icelanders call Hringvegurin, most af them talk about Road Nr. 1

This summer we met a young man from France, cycling over the Highland. We met him at Versalir in the middle of the road Sprengisandur or Sprengisandsleið.

In the heart of the Icelandic highlands is Nýidalur (New Valley). This is the perfect place to experience the true remote, but often extreme conditions of the highlands. Positioned right of the Sprengisandur Route - Highland Road Nr. F26, Nýidalur is also in between two glaciers: Tugnafellsjökull and Hofsjökull. There are a few hikes to be taken around the Valley, and The Icelandic Touring Association have two huts there, perfect as accommodation after a day out.

In the heart of the Icelandic highlands is Nýidalur (New Valley).

Pages