#triptoiceland

The weather is one of the most unpredictable factors people live with and need to accept in Iceland. This applies both visitors and citizens all year round, independent of seasons.  Although the Meteorological Office in Iceland issues a daily and weekly forecasts the weather often behaves differently.

If you plan a holiday in Iceland it is a good idea to study the weather

When is the best time to visit Iceland and take a tour to see the many natural wonders and the amazing landscape Iceland offers?

The summer is the best time to visit 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.

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

Hafragilsfoss waterfall in Jökulsárgljúfur

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.

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,

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.

We were gifted with a trip to Iceland for my boyfriend, Oliver’s 21st by his family. He’s a freelance filmmaker local to Cambridgeshire. He’ll always take his camera wherever we go and decided to make some memories there.

We were gifted with a trip to Iceland for my boyfriend, Oliver’s 21st by his family.

 

Hjörleifshöfði is a huge rock or an island on dry land, standing approximately 220 meters high above the black sand by the coastline at Mýrdalssandur in the South Region in Iceland.  The history of Hjörleifshöfði goes back as far as the Book Of Settlement.   When Ingólfur Arnarson, the first settler in Iceland, came here around the end of the eighth century, his foster brother Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson accompanied him. On their way from Norway, they drifted apart.  Ingolfur landed at Ingólfshöfði on the east side on the south shore, and Hjörleifur landed at Hjörleifshöfði, more to the west.  At that time, the shoreline was at the cliffs of Hjöleifshöfði, not kilometers farther south as it is now.  That was before the many powerful eruptions in the volcano Katla up on the top of the glacier Mýrdalsjökull, carried the sand down to the shore and extended the shoreline. To make a long story short, Hjörleifur met his fate here at Hjörleifshöfði as his slaves turned against him and killed him.  His bones are still on the top of the rock where he was buried in accordance with paganism.

Hiking around Hjörleifshöfði is a relatively light hike

A walk around Hjörleifshöfði is a time well spent. The hike is about seven kilometers and shouldn't take more than two to three hours.  It requires a bit of wading but is a spectacular walk passed the high cliffs and the two rock pillars on the south side; Arnardrangur and Lásdrangur.  Here it is nteresting to see the pillars standing on the sand and compare them to the rock pillars Reynisdrangar nearby that are constantly fighting the Atlantic Ocean. If you have more time a walk up to the Rock from the west side gives an impressive view of the south coast and the two glaciers, Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull and much more.  It is also interesting that not so long ago people lived and farmed here on top of Hjörleifshöfði.

Hjörleifshöfði cliff on the South Shore in Iceland

The many interesting forms around Hjörleifshöfði cliff / rock in Iceland - South Shore

Hjörleifshöfði is easily accessable

Hjörleifshöfði is easily accessible from the Ring Road in Iceland.  It only takes about five minutes to drive to the parking lot on the west side of the Rock if you are driving your own vehicle or have a rent a car. It is also a great spot for a quiet stop and lunch or afternoon nap while traveling in Iceland.  

Below is the location of Hjörleifshöfði on the map of Iceland

Hjörleifshöfði is a huge rock or an island on dry land, standing approximately 220 meters high above the black sand by the coastline at Mýrdalssandur in the South Region in Iceland.

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

A place that has always captivated Icelanders throughout centuries

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 not harm 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.

A challenge

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. But in recent years few have taken on the challenge.

A fishing station at Snæfellsnes Peninsula

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.

 

Below is the location of Gerðuberg on the map of Iceland

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.

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