#northernregion

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.

Húsavík in the Northern Region is the whale watching capital of Iceland and possibly the world.  North Sailing has operated their tours for more than two decades and is the most experienced whale watching company in Iceland.  It was our first choice when looking for a partner to offer a whale watching tour on Hit Iceland. A tour that we have experiences with great joy as you can read about in our article.  If you are looking for a once in a lifetime experience and come into proximity with the fascinating animals that whales are, the “Original Húsavík Whale Watching tour” is an adventure tour for you.

 

Discover and enjoy nature

Here you will discover the great nature of Skjálfandi bay observing whales, dolphins, and seabirds in their natural habitat. There is always the possibility of seeing a 16-ton humpback breaching which is an electrifying sight.  And dolphins “running” around in the ocean. You will enjoy the smooth, safe sailing of a traditional Icelandic oak boat and treat yourself to a cup of hot cocoa and a cinnamon bun.  North Sailing also has many highly experienced guides that are trained to spot exciting activity and interesting animals in the ocean.

 

A tour that thousands recommend

Recommended by thousands of satisfied travelers worldwide the Original Husavik Whale Watching tour is an authentic wildlife adventure by the pioneers of whale watching in Iceland.

If you are ready for this once in a lifetime experience interacting with natural wonders book your tour and dive into the adventure.

 

Oct 8 2016

Autumn is a beautiful time to travel in Iceland.  As the leaves start to change color in late September the overall color of landscape with trees and vegetation begins to change. When driving from Reykjavík to the northern part, you drive through a landscape that during summer is more or less green through the landscape of many colors. Red, yellow and orange starts to take over large areas giving the whole landscape scenery a new look.  This is very true if the weather has been calm during the period of color changing, from the middle of September through late October. 

As we are traveling in the north of Iceland and staying in Akureyri, we noticed that the autumn is exceptionally beautiful

If you were to build a perfect fortification and place it in a strategically important place, you could probably not match the rock formation Borgarvirki. That is to say, if you were also in medieval times where weapons of choice were a sword and a shield.  Located approximately 180 meters above the sea level with a magnificent view in every direction it has a perfect placement.  Although it looks very much like a man-made fortification when you approach it, it is actually a natural formation. 

More interesting as a natural wonder of basalt columns

Borgarvirki or The Rocky Hill Fortification as it could be translated into English is a rocky hill made of basalt columns.  The rocky hill is 10 to 15 meters high with a hollow in the middle, surrounded by 6-meter walls and has an entrance to the east. It is not big and probably never housed a large group of armed men.  Although much of the time from settlement to medieval times are quite well documented in Iceland in the Sagas, no battle is mentioned at Borgarvirki. So the taught that it was ever a fortification are only speculations. One of the reasons that stories about fortification have developed is the fact that at the entrance is a stonewall built hundreds of years ago. But as a natural wonder, Borgarvirki is interesting to visit and an interesting geological formation.

Easily accessible from the Ring Road in Iceland

Borgarvirki is located only 10 kilometers from the Ring Road or Road 1 in Iceland on a turn to the north on Road 716. It is also only a short walk from the parking lot up to the top of Borgarvirki. There you can both enjoy the magnificent view over Vatnsdalur to the south and Vatnsnes to the north.  You also have a good opportunity to see the magnificent basalt column formation.

 

If you were to build a perfect fortification and place it in a strategically important place, you could probably not match the rock formation Borgarvirki.

The canyon Ásbyrgi is a joy to view and a pleasure to visit.  Although a separate part of the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon it is considered to be geologically a part of that canyon and made by the same catastrophic floods and eruptions some thousands of years ago. It is formed like a horseshoe and guarded by 90 to 100-meter cliffs on all sides except the northern side where the cliffs descend to the lowland.  In the middle is a cliff island of the same height that helps enhance the horseshoe form of the three and a half kilometer long and one-kilometer wide canyon. 

Made by Odins horse Sleipnir

Even though there are geological explanations, the canyon was formed by Sleipnir the eight-leg horse owned by the god Óðinn (Odin) when it put one of its hooves down to earth.  This event was documented in the Nordic mythology, ages and hundreds of years before anyone started to write about geology and geography. 

A vegetation beauty that offers peace and quiet

In the bottom of the horseshoe canyon, is a small pound, Botnstjörn, surrounded by vegetation and astonishing cliffs.  The canyon has an unusual variety of vegetation and lively birdlife during summer.  It is a great place to stay for a day or two and walk some of the convenient and not so difficult hiking trails in Ásbyrgi and also up on the cliffs that give the place such a wonderful feeling of a peaceful sanctuary. Today Ásbyrgi as well as the whole area of Jökulsárgljúfur is part of the Vatnajokull National Park and is managed by the park authorities. Part of the Jökulsárlón canyon are the magnificent waterfalls Dettifoss, Hafragilsfoss, and Selfoss.  From Ásbyrgi you can also visit the remote villages of Raufarhöfn and Þórshöfn in the north east as well as whale watching at Húsavík village nearby.  All interesting places to visit.  

A great place to stay on your visit to Iceland

Ásbyrgi is easily accessible although in a considerable distance from the Ring Road or Road one in Iceland. It is located in the northeast part of Iceland and is connected to the Ring Road with Road 864, the same road that takes you to the east side of Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon and the east side of Dettifoss waterfall.  At the end of that road, you take a left turn by the bridge over the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum onto Road 85 and you can't miss it. You can also drive to Húsavík town to access the Ásbyrgi from the west side.  In Ásbyrgi is one of the best camping sites in Iceland and a great place to stay for a few days to explore and experience.

 

The canyon was formed by Sleipnir the eight-leg horse owned by the god Óðinn (Odin)

Húsavík is the whale watching capital of Iceland and possibly the world.  The whale watching companies running services out from Húsavík have a very high success rate at finding large animals and members of the whale family in the Skjálfandi Bay. Some of the companies have over twenty years of experience and are offering state of the art service in every way, like North Sailing, the one we choose. They have a variety of wonderful old oak fishing boats and schooners that have been modified to safety standards and convenience for whale watching.

Suddenly and literally out of the blue, one of them suddenly breached.

Jökulsárgljúfur or Glacial River Canyon is a 25-kilometer canyon in the northeastern part of Iceland. The canyon is two and a half kilometer wide and in many places, the height of the cliff on both sides is about one hundred meters. The canyon is a product of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum ( The Glacial River in the Mountains), a powerful river that has its source in the unstable part of Vatnajökull, Bárðarbunga. Throughout thousands of years, the river has shaped its path with water and devastating floods from the melting glacier in times of eruption. Jökulsárgljúfur is truly a natural wonder and carries with it a load of interesting places like powerful waterfalls, fantastic basalt columns formations, cliffs, pillars, unusual rocks, beautiful spring-fed rivers and a spectrum of vegetation. With all its many beautiful hiking trails and spectacular sites, it is a place where you can stay for days, and you never stop being amazed.

Is the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon still on the drawing board?

Although most of us see the natural wonders and all the beautiful products of Mother Nature as her grown up children, this is not true about many places in Iceland. Iceland is still a geologically young child and erupts here and there unexpectedly.  Just in 2015 a large eruption occurred south of Bárðarbunga, the glacier that feeds the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum.  If the eruption had occurred under the glacier, which was expected while geologists mentored the origin of the earthquakes leading to the eruption, the outcome would have been catastrophic for the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. A flood from a melting glacier would possibly have changed forever all the natural wonders that we love to visit.  And we must remember that one such flood occurred only about two hundred years ago.  It is also a matter of interest that although we are looking at one of the largest canyons in Iceland, an even larger one lies buried under lava in the South Region. The canyon Skaftárgljúfur was once the largest canyon in Iceland approximately 30 kilometers long and 200 meters deep.  In the devastating eruption in Lakagígar in 1783 and the massive lava flow that came with it, the canyon disappeared forever as the canyon was filled with glowing lava. And this was only about 230 years ago, which is only a heartbeat in geological times.

Accessible from both sides and hiking is a great way to experience the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon first hand

There are many ways to see and experience the canyon Jökulsárgljúfur.  You can see a large part of it when you visit Dettifoss the magnificent waterfall.  You can also visit Vesturdalur, which has a campsite, and there you will get a good view of Hljóðaklettar on a short and easy hiking trail from Vesturdalur. One of the best overviews is from the parking spot by Hafragilsfoss.  Here is where you truly see the scale of the canyon.  To experience the beauty of this delightful natural wonder a three to four-hour hike from Dettifoss through Hólmatungur all the way to Vesturdalur is recommended.  For a place to stay, we can highly recommend the camping site at Ásbyrgi, which is one of the best in Iceland.

 

 

Jökulsárgljúfur or Glacial River Canyon is a 25-kilometer canyon in the northeastern part of Iceland.

 

This beautiful waterfall Goðafoss is in the glacial river Skjálfandafljót. The river has its origin deep in the Icelandic highland and runs from the highland through the Bárðardalur valley, all the way from Sprengisandur in the Highlands. The fall itself is only 12 meters high and 30 meters wide but the rock formation in and around the waterfall make it one of the greatest natural wonders in Iceland. According to many Goðafoss waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. According to the locals, it is often labeled the "Beauty," versus its neighboring Dettifoss, the "Beast."

The waterfall Goðafoss is part of our religious history

Goðafoss means the waterfall of the gods and tracks its name back to the year 1000.  It was the year the law-speaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði declared Christianity to be the official religion in Iceland. When the parliamentary representatives at the Althing couldn't find a solution to the question whether Iceland should stay heathen or convert to Christianity, Þorgeir was given the task of making that decision. He crawled into his tent, buried himself beneath a stack of hides and three days emerged with his decision. The Icelanders would be Christian. It was, of course, socio-economically sensible.  Þorgeir was a chieftain in the northeast region. Upon returning home after the momentous declaration (which, by the way, didn't meet one objection) he threw all his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall. As Þorgeir had hitherto been a heathen priest, this was a highly symbolic gesture.

Goðafoss is easily accessible

The waterfall Goðafoss is easaly accessible as it is just by the Ring Road Nr. 1 in the northern region. You don't even have to leave your car to admire it though it is worth it. There are great paths on both the east side and the west side of the waterfall, and it is equally as stunning in winter and summer.  It is a time worth spending at least one to two hours to admire and even more if you are a serious photographer.

 

Nearby places

Jökulsárgljúfur - Dettifoss - Ásbyrgi - Selfoss waterfall - Mývatn - Dimmuborgir - Námaskarð - Herðubreið

Goðafoss in summer

 

Dettifoss is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. You will find this beast of a fall in North Iceland; in the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum, which flows from the magnificent Vatnajökull glacier. The falls are 100 meters wide and have a drop of 45 meters down to advance its flow down the mighty Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. It is indeed powerful in volume, having an average water flow of 400 m3/s during summers.  The origin of the water is south of the waterfall and can be traced to the many outlet glaciers and glacier tongues on the northern side of the large icecap/glacier Vatnajökull.  Dettifoss is on many lists of most spectacular waterfalls in Europe and even in the world.  It is no. 4 on our list of most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. 

Dettifoss and the Canyon is one of the most spectacular sights in Iceland

Standing by the thundering waters cascading into the wide canyon is an experience you are not likely to forget. But, you better take care. The footpath down to the falls on the eastern bank is rough. On the western bank, the slopes are grassy and can thus be slippery in wet weather. But, like the saying goes: "Feel the fear and do it anyway."

Dettifoss is the largest of a series of waterfalls in the Jökulsá river. A little downriver you will find Hafragilsfoss, smaller indeed but just as geologically interesting. A little further upriver there is Selfoss, a nice place to sit down and contemplate after the whirling (and rather wet) experience of Dettifoss.

Dettifoss waterfall

Dettifoss is often listed as one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Europe

Dettifoss is easily accessible from the Ring Road

You will be able to spot Dettifoss a mile away, spraying its waters high up in the atmosphere, thus creating a rainbow bridge across the fall. Dettifoss is easily accessible from both the east side and the west side of the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. When driving on the Ring Road in Iceland coming from the east you can thus either choose road 864 or road 862.  The main parking lot for Dettifoss in on the west side and an asphalt road.  Road 864 is a gravel road and often in a rather bad condition. 

Nearby places

Jökulsárgljúfur - Ásbyrgi - Selfoss waterfall - Mývatn - Dimmuborgir - Námaskarð - Herðubreið - Hafragilsfoss - Goðafoss

Dettifoss is indeed powerful in volume discharge, having an average water flow of 400 m3/s during summers.