Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Midsummer's dream, Part 5: Landmannalaugar, the Laugavegur trail.

My time in Iceland is nearing the end and so does the summer.
We set out on one last, but truly awesome experience.

The Laugavegur hike from the hot springs in Landmannalaugar towards Thorsmork at the coast.
It is a 55 km hike that will take the traveler past beautiful colored mountains, bright green moss, black deserts, glaciers and through raging wild rivers.

From the coast, a 4x4 bus takes us into the highlands to the Landmannalaugar hot springs, where we enjoy a relaxing bath in the natural pool.

The next morning we set of on the first leg of the hike, from Landmannalaugar to Alfravatn.
The clouds are low and it is raining from time to time, but it does make for dramatic photographs.

Then we descent down to Alftavatn, where we'll camp near the lake.

The following morning we experience the first of several river crossings. The water is runoff from a glacier and very very cold.

Onward through the black desert.

Until we reach the next stop at Emstrur. Here we'll camp in this wild and astonishing landscape.

The final leg of the hike takes us through deep canyons, more glacial river crossings until we reach our destination at Thorsmork (Valley of the Gods)

Here we take another 4x4 bus that will get us though more crazy rivers back to 'civilization'.

A Midsummer's dream, Part 4: Sneaffelsness peninsula

When Sif had a week off from work, we set of together to explore the Snæfellsnes peninsula in the west of Iceland.
Not very far from Reykjavik and a beautiful drive up.
On the very tip of this peninsula is the Snæfellsjökull volcano, which is covered by a glacier.

We took our time exploring the coastline and enjoying superb weather.

Little Black Church at Búðir.

Lots of shipwreck evidence along the rough shores.

Until we finally reach the end of the peninsula and find a camping spot with a view on the glacier.

The next morning the weather is still great, so we set out to make an attempt to reach the summit of the volcano.
According to Jules Verne, the entrance to the center of the earth lies on the top, as described in his book "Journey to the center of the Earth",
It is a daunting 1446 meters high, but we manage to drive
my old Opel all the way up to the edge of the glacier.
Getting closer to the summit.
And we have reached the top!
There is actually some smoke escaping from gaps earth
and the whole thing feels very unstable.
We take a quick rest and enjoy the magnificent views, before heading back down.
We manage to get down safely, though we did had to
jump over several crevasses in the glacier.
In hindsight not the smartest thing to do, but we survived.

We spend some more days of relaxed camping.
Took a trip to the small island of Flatey and relax in the sun with the local inhabitants,
before heading back to the capital.

To be continued in part 5: Landmannalaugar hike

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Midsummer's dream, Part 3: The North

It's still the summer of 2002 and while Sif was working, I went off on my own to explore the north of Iceland. I will take you on a tour.

The tarmac soon gives way to loose gravel and the scenery is stunning.

First up is a boat trip to the small island of Grimsey, which is right in the Arctic Circle. My first time above 66°!

Back on the mainland again, I camped in the village center. Almost every small town in Iceland has a communal camping ground, which is free. People from surrounding towns and farms use it to get together in the weekend to drink and eat.

Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods)

Here's something you wouldn't expect this high up, but the Botanic garden in Akureyri was beaming with brightly colored flowers!

Continuing along the shored of lake Myvatn

And onward to the mighty Dettifoss 

South side

The terrain is barren and you might think you're on Mars instead of planet earth.

North side

Further downstream the glacial river is an area with a strange phenomenon.
It's called Hljóðaklettar and due to the distinctive clusters of columnar rock formations the sound of the river seems to come from all sides. Very entertaining to walk among those rock formations.

Close to lake Myvatn is the Krafla volcanic fissure.
The latest eruption was in 1984 and the lava fields are still steaming and hot.
A very bizar experience to see nature's power up close.
After the last eruption the Icelandic people have build a geothermal powerstation and surveys have indicted that magma is only 2 km below the surface here.

The next day I booked an excursion to the Askja Caldera, which is only accessible for a few months of the year. It is right in the middle of the highlands of Iceland and the whole trip by specially prepared bus took over 12 hours. 

The area was actually used during training for the Apollo program to prepare astronauts for the lunar missions!

At the heart of the caldera is lake Öskjuvatn, which is the second deepest lake of Iceland with 220 meter. Next to it is a smaller green volcanic lake, which is always warm. Some brave people take a swim in it.

Near the mountain Herðubreið is a small oasis is an otherwise barren landscape and this is the location where Icelandic outlaws like Fjalla Eyvinur used to hide.

Fjalla Eyvindur's hide-out

Here a wide glacial river funnels through a 10 meter gap with a thundering sound and awesome power.

To be continued!