#westregion

For many reasons, Reykholt in the west region is a crucial historical and cultural place in Iceland. In medieval times it was the center of power, culture and power struggle among chiefs that fought hard never shy to engage in challenging and deadly battles.  One of the largest persona in all events related to power, accumulation of wealth and leadership was Snorri Sturluson.

Reykholt in the west region is a crucial historical and cultural place in Iceland

Eiríksstaðir is a farm and a museum in the West Region in Iceland.  Placed in this historically rich region it is the place where the Viking Erik the Red lived during his troublesome early adult life.  Eric is a famous person in the Icelandic Sagas because of his lethal disputes with his neighbors and also because of his migration to Greenland after being outlawed in Iceland.  Eric is also credited for being the person that discovered Greenland and gave the land its name. But not the least is he famous for being the father of the Viking Leif the Lucky who was born at Eiríksstaðir where he spent his childhood and later in life discovered America centuries before Columbus. 

A great opportunity to understand conditions at the time of settlement

At Eiríksstaðir museum you will find a house similar to the one Erik and his wife Þjóðhildur lived in during the  10th century before they moved to Brattahlíð in Greenland.  At Eiríksstaðir you will also find ruins of the original farm that was documented in excavations around 1998.  It is a fantastic opportunity to see and understand how exactly people lived in the times of settlement. It is also an excellent opportunity to see the condition that the Viking Leif the Lucky lived in when growing up.  The museum also has on display all kinds of interesting tools and weapons that belonged to people during the early settlement years in Iceland.  At Eiríksstaðir

Easily accessible from Vestfjarðarvegur Road Nr. 60

Eiríksstaðir is easily accessible, and you can visit the farm during summer from the beginning of Jun until the end of August.  If you are coming from Reykjavík the capital of Iceland you turn left on Road Nr. 1 approximately 36 kilometres north of Borgarnes town to Road Nr. 60.  After about 32 kilometer drive you turn right on Road Nr. 586 Haukadalsvegur. The distance from the intersection to Eiríksstaðir is about 8 kilometers.  

Leif the Lucky who was born at Eiríksstaðir

The crater Eldborg is extraordinary for many reasons. It has a beautiful shape and is quite noticeable as it stands alone and rises 100 meters above sea level, high over its surroundings. You just can't miss it when driving road 54 at Snæfellsnes.  The crater has a regular oval form with a length of 200 meters and a depth of 50 meters. The sides are quite thin and steep on the inside and outside.  It is an amazing natural structure, like a fortress or a castle, protecting the 32 square kilometers of lava that it delivered from the magma below.

The crater erupted in historical times, right about when people were first coming to settle on this challenging island, around twelve hundred years ago. The eruption is even mentioned in our Book of Settlement telling a story of a farm that the fire consumed right where the crater stands today. And then the lava started cooling and begun to foster all kinds of plants moss and small trees. 

Eldborg is easily accessible although it takes a bit of an effort. You take a left turn if you are driving from Reykjavík and coming from Borgarnes to the farm Snorrastaðir, road S610.  There is a parking lot by the farm which offers accommodation as part of the Icelandic Farm Holidays. Here the walk to the edge of the crater is around 3 kilometers or approximately 40 minutes walk.  So if yo decide to take this excellent walk through a beautiful lava up to the crater, expect two and a half hour or more, depending on the time you spend taking photos. 

The crater Eldborg at Snæfellsnes is extraordinary for many reasons.

The two large pillars towering over their surroundings at the shore near Hellnar in Snæfellsnes are Lóndrangar. The tow towers are believed to be ancient volcanic plugs that have endured the forces of nature for tens of thousands of years. They have sustained the wind, the forces of the ocean and even eruptions that have pushed more lava around them some thousands of years ago.  The higher one is 75 meters high, and the shorter is 61 meters high.

Icelanders have noticed the two pillars ever since the island was settled around twelve hundred years ago.  In our Book of Settlement, it was documented that a troll was sitting on the larger pillar when gentlemen by the name Laugarbrekku-Einar passed by at one time.  Although the troll did no harm to anyone, it helped us understand that the pillars were always a big part of the inhabitants who lived in the area. Much later when our first natural scientists started to document Iceland's nature, and geology in the 18th and 19th century, Lóndragar were of course among the natural phenomenon they examined.

Pillars like the two Lóndrangar are somehow made to challenge people. Throughout the centuries, they were considered unclimbable. But in May 1735, a daredevil from the Westman Islands by the name Ásgrímur Böðvarsson climbed the taller one.

Although a small fishing station was operated on a small scale by the shore some centuries ago, conditions never developed into a village, like in many other parts of Iceland. Today the pillars are mostly home to many species of birds and a joy to view from many angles.  By the roadside, there is a parking lot, and a viewpoint where you can see the magnificent pillars and the rocky shore on its eastern side.  If you want to see the up close the best option is to drive a bit farther west than the parking lot and take a left turn to the lighthouse at Malarrif. From the lighthouse, there is a relatively easy walking path all the way to Lóndrangar. It is an enjoyable scenic walk where you can experience the power of the ocean if there is a bit of wind. But then again one must always keep in mind when approaching the ocean on a beach in Iceland that waves can be very dangerous although they look innocent. 

The two large pillars towering over their surroundings at the shore near Hellnar in Snæfellsnes are Lóndrangar.

Basalt column (sometimes referred to as Columnar Jointing) is one of those marvels of nature that makes you stop and wonder.  Most of the time you are stunned by the mere sight.  It usually makes you wonder if mother nature is the author of this formation of hexagonal shaped stacks and pillars. Often the regularity of the structure is nothing less than unbelievable. At Gerðuberg cliffs soon after you start your drive at the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland you find one of the most impressive basalt column sites in the country.  One of the reasons is the size of the place and also the regularity of the stacks. 

Proximity is the key to enjoy and experience

Gerðuberg is hardly noticeable from the road when driving even though the cliff is around 500 meters long and quite near the road.  A half a kilometer cliff of hundreds of basalt column stacks standing like an army of pillars in a side by side row.  It is a perfect place to view basalt columns and see the stunning formation of this incredible natural geological structure. Like the cliff, the columns are also quite regular. They are mostly twelve to fourteen meters high and about one and a half meters in diameter. Some are even leaning forward giving the cliff a spectacular view as you walk by the cliff.  And by the way, it is more exciting and more thrilling to walk one of the paths in front of the cliff than to walk on the top, especially the paths that are almost at the bottom of the pillars. There is actually nothing to see on the top so don’t fall into the trap of rushing to the path that leads to another path on top.

Easily accessible from the road

Gerðuberg is easily accessible from Highway 54 and only about one kilometer to a small parking lot.  There is an old walking path just by the columns if you want to experience this incredible natural wonder up and close. It is also a perfect place to take stunning photos and take a relaxing moment as the view to the south from the cliff to Eldborg and Snæfellsjökull is also spectacular.

There is actually nothing to see on the top so don’t fall into the trap of rushing to the path that leads to another path on top.

Rauðfeldsgjá is a deep, high and narrow ravine in the cliffs south of the glacier Snæfellsjökull with a dramatic story and family tragedy attached to its name. The location is near the tiny hamlet of Arnarstapi. Seen from the road, it looks like a small crack in the berg that slid just a bit, enough for people to enter and observe. There is a parking lot by the road and a five to ten minutes walk to the entrance of the ravine.  Rauðfeldsgjá is part of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula road trip.

A narrow path for those who dare

Although entering the ravine Rauðfeldsgjá is a bit of a clamber it is worth it when you come into the main entrance. It is almost like a small and wonderful temple. For those who dare, a further clamber into the narrow crack following the water is possible. It will lead you to a rope where you can pull yourself up a small waterfall, and even go further into the ravine. A very narrow path with cliffs all around you and a view high up to the open air. Those who take this challenge will possibly sense the spirits of the brothers Rauðfeldur and Sölvi, who met their fate in this place about twelve hundred years ago as is documented in a true story the Icelandic Sagas.

A dramatic event that had tremendous consequences

Rauðfeldur and Sölvi came with their father Þorkell, the half brother of Bárður Snæfellsás who was half man half troll to Iceland as children and lived at Arnarstapi. They often played with Bárðurs many beautiful daughters.  One day they lured one of the girls Helga out to an iceberg in an innocent game and pushed her on the iceberg out to the open Ocean. Unfortunately, high winds blew the iceberg quickly from shore and out to the open sea, and she disappeared. The news of her fate and journey on the ice never reached her father as communication were different at that time.  In everyone's mind, she was lost and deceased. Apparently, as the story in the Saga Bárðar Saga Snæfellsás, she reached Greenland seven days later and lived a good live with the family of Erik the Red, father of Leif the Lucky, for many years.  In a poem, she wrote and had been preserved in the Sagas; one can sense that she missed her father, family, and country.  

A life changing event for Bárður Snæfellsás, the half troll half man

When Bárður Snæfellsás learned of the disappearance of his daughter he completely blew up in anger, to put it mildly.  He grabbed the two brothers, one at the age of eleven and the other twelve, and climbed to the cliff above the ravine.  In his uncontrollable anger, he threw Rauðfeldur into the ravine and to enhance the madness he threw the other brother Sölvi of the cliff. Needless to say, both boys lost their lives, but their names have lived as the ravine, and the cliff bears their names; Rauðfeldsgjá and Sölvahamar. After this incident, Bárður lost his mind and eventually walked up to the glacier where he built an ice cave where he has lived for many centuries and according to popular believe, still does to this very day.

 

Although entering the ravine Rauðfeldsgjá is a bit of a clamber it is worth it when you come into the main entrance.
Bárðarlaug is a small lake near the road 574, the ring road that goes around the glacier Snæfellsjökull. When you take the turn to Hellnar, the lake is on your right and a parking spot ten minutes walk from the lake.  The part of the name "laug" in this context means bath.  So the name is really the bath of Bárður Snæfellsás, referring to the mystical person that has hovered over the area around Snæfellsjokull as well as the glacier for centuries. 

A bath for Bárður approximately eleven hundred years ago

Supposedly the lake was his bath when he was among mortals, the son of a human mother and a half-troll, and as everyone knows his spirit is still around as the protector of the glacier and the neighboring area. Many of the names of the nearby landscape have the name bath attached which indicates that when Iceland was settled the lake was warm and used for bathing by others, and not only by Bárður. 

A peaceful crater with a stunning view

In geological terms, the lake is an old spatter cone that has slept silently for ages, finding it more convenient to house water rather than erupting fire. It is renowned for the elliptical form. It is an amazingly peaceful place to visit when you walk the short slope down to the water. If Bárður and the glacier are in a good mood and the beautiful white glacier reveals itself with the blue sky behind, the moment becomes magical, and you might feel the extraordinary power from the Snæfellsjökull glacier. Bárðarlaug was a protected are by law in 1980 and is today an important part of the Snæfellsjökull National Park. 
Bárðarlaug is renowned for ist elliptical form. It is an amazingly peaceful place to visit when you walk the short slope down to the water.

Bjarnarfoss waterfall is an impressive waterfall right by road 54 on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.  The location is where the main road splits to Fróðaárheiði leading to Ólafsvík in the northern part and to Búðir and Arnarstapi on the south shore of the peninsula. Although the waterfall can be seen from the main road, the most enjoyable and interesting part of the waterfall is quite high in the cliffs and takes an effort to walk up the steep slope by the stream coming from the waterfall. 

A fairy woman bathing in the middle of the waterfall

Up here watching the waterfall flushing in front of the magnificent columnar basalt that stretches out on both sides is really what makes this waterfall stand out. It is beautiful from the road but stunning when you stand right in front of it. Here you can also see and almost shake hands with the fairy woman that stands on top of the columnar basalt and seems to be bathing in the middle of the waterfall.

A waterfall on Snæfellsnes Peninsula that is easy to find

The waterfall is quite easy to find, and a parking space has just recently been built and a convenient walking path leading up halfway to the waterfall.  But to go all the way up to the main waterfall you need to climb the relatively steep hill. One of the upsides of this effort is the exceptional variety of vegetation along the way on bothe sides.  It is more like a matter of taste whether you want to go up the right side or the left side, depending on how you want to photograph the waterfall when you approach the waterfall. Remember the slope is steep and you need to take caution.  This path to the waterfall is only accessible during summertime and should not be taken during late fall and winter.

Sometimes the waterfall is blown away in the wind

At times, the water source for the waterfall is limited and from a distance, it is reduced into a small stripe falling from the cliff. When this occurs, and simultaneously, strong winds blow with their immense force on the cliff, the waterfall is sometimes blown into the thin air.

Here you can also see and almost shake hands with the fairy woman that stands on top of the columnar basalt and seems to be bathing in the middle of the waterfall.

Grábrók is a crater formed by a fissure eruption approximately three thousand years ago. The fissure that initially opened during that eruption wasn't very long but left behind Grábrók and her two crater sisters that can be seen when on top. Also, from the top the massive lava about seven square kilometers that surfaced in that eruption is visible.  It is a sight of geological interest comparable to Lakagígar, the Laki craters in the Icelandic Highland accessible from the Southern Region. The view from the top is not only interesting because of the lava. It is an impressive view over the most beautiful part of the Western Region Borgarfjörður and the tiny but beautiful lake Hreðarvatn, that was formed during that eruption.  To the northwest is a view to Baula a cone shaped and colorful mountain.

The walk to the top is quite easy as the crater is only about 170 meters high (560 feet).  There is a good path up to the top with manmade steps.  It is one of the natural sights that are basically on the Ring Road in Iceland and has been popular among Icelanders for decades.

Grábrók is a crater formed by a fissure eruption approximately three thousand years ago.

If you are planning to take a vacation or a tour in Iceland, you might be thinking about how to plan your trip. One of the best options is a self-drive road trip or to drive the Ring Road in a car for hire. The whole drive with all the loops and secondary roads included is around 1.550 kilometers. Notably, although most of the so-called Ring Road in Iceland is on the official road defined as nr. 1, the term Ring Road doesn't necessarily always refer to that particular road, as the Ring Road concept is a travel or tour concept. 

The best option for your trip to Iceland, the Ring Road

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