#northernregion

 

Viewing animals in their natural environment is a great experience far beyond seeing animals in a zoo, especially if you can see them gathered in numbers.  Illugastaðir farm is a place where you can view seals and their natural environment, their quarrels and their love for each other.  A place where the animals are free to leave if they don't like to be looked at or even put on a show if they are interested in putting on a show. You can sit and watch their life in a place where nothing has changed in hundreds of years. This is precisely what you can do at the Illugastaðir seal colony.

Seals at Illugastadir farm in Iceland

A great place to take kids on a Iceland tour

When is the best time

If you don't intend to spend a lot of time at the seal colony, you might want to take the advice from the Seal Center at Hvammstangi town nearby.  It is recommended that you arrive at Illugastaðir two hours before low tide and you will have a good possibility of viewing seals in numbers until two hours after low tide.  During this time seals spend time chilling on the rocks, sleeping and relaxing. If you want to take photos near seals, you need to be careful and walk slowly and keep distance and use a telephoto lens. Most of the seals are quite social in their behavior but most of the time not eager to meet humans. But if they do, you are in luck and  “keep calm and still until the seals’ natural actions have taken it away from your vicinity,” as is stated in the Code of Conduct in the Advice For Sustainable Wildlife Tourism in Iceland.  At Illugastaðir you will find excellent facilities to see and view seals and can easily spend hours to enjoy this spectacular place of seeing animals in their natural homes.

A great place to view seals in their natural environment.

A great place to view seals in their natural environment

How to get to Illugastaðir Seal Colony

Illugastaðir is an old farm located approximately 30 kilometers from the Ring Road in the northwestern region in Iceland. So the tour from the main road is about sixty kilometers and you need to allow for one to one and a half hour for driving as most of the road is a gravel road. You take a turn north on the road Hvammstangavegur Nr. 72 and once to are passed the small town you continue on the road Nr. 711.  And on your way back you must stop at the Seal Center in Hvammstangi and also enjoy some of the nice cafés and restaurants the charming small town offers.  Hvammstangi also has one of the best camping areas in Iceland if you are traveling by car and camping, which is a great idea if you are traveling with kids during summer. 

Illugastaðir farm is a place where you can view seals and their natural environment

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.

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Borgarvirki on the map of Iceland

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.  

Midnight sun near Ásbyrgi in Northern Region in Iceland

Ásbyrgi is a perfect place to stay for the midnight sun at the end of June

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.

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Ásbyrgi on the map of Iceland

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.

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Ásbyrgi on the map of Iceland

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

 

Kjarnaskógur, the "forest" south of Akureyri is so much more than a forest. In 1952, the first trees were planted in Kjarnaskógur with a plan for the woods to encircle Akureyri in the future. Gradually, as the woods grew; the area was also being developed into a leisure and recreation area. Today it has a 2 km long, athletic course, hiking trails, picnic areas with BBQ facilities and a children's playground. At the upper end, you'll find a camping site in the hills with a majestic view over the Eyjafjörður fjord and the Akureyri town.

Apart from various scrubs and trees, the dominant species of trees are birch and larch. The wild vegetation is highly diverse, with more than 210 recorded species; mostly those who are also common in the adjoining wetlands, but also rare species like primrose and bluebell.

The Akureyri townsfolk appreciates Kjarnaskógur. They call it their "outdoors paradise" as they can enjoy outdoors activities there throughout the year. It is family friendly. On any given day, you will come upon local families hiking, playing and picnicking during summer. During winter, they will be playing in the snow, making "snow angels" on the ground, kneading snowmen – or the parents will be teaching mere toddlers to stand on their skis.

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Kjarnaskógur on the map of Iceland

Kjarnaskógur, the "forest" south of Akureyri is so much more than a forest.

 

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.

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Goðafoss waterfall on the map of Iceland

Goðafoss in summer

Pages