Faroe and Iceland - Facts and Information
Iceland - Myvatn to Jökulsárgfljúfur and home
An itinerary of our trip in Iceland between Myvatn and Seydisfjördur for the ferry
Comments on our experiences and what we enjoyed.

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Godafoss
About fifteen miles beyond Myvatn the Ring Road drops down into Bádardalur. Though not amongst Iceland's biggest or more impressive waterfalls Godafoss is significant and, being easily accessible from the road, gets a lot of visitors. There is a park by the service station on the east side from where a path runs along the side of the little gorge to the falls themselves. We thought this was the best view and well worth the short walk on an easy path. However most people use the main car park on the west side of the river which is very close to the main fall. There is a path along the west side back to a footbridge to the service station.

Laufás and Grenjadarstadur
The Ring Road continues toward Eyjafjördur and just after it descends to the shore Highway 83 turns north to Laufás. Laufás is pleasantly set on the shore with nice views down the fjord. For us the attraction there was the museum set in the old church farm which is an example of a traditional, large farm (a sort of upmarket Sel) which survived because it was a church farm. There is also a nice craft shop on site.

From Laufás we headed back past Godafoss to turn north to Grenjadarstadur which is between Highways 845 and 87. This is another museum very similar to Laufás but with an interpretation centre. We enjoyed and spent a lot of time in both of them, but the degree of similarity means that people short of time could choose whichever is closest to their route.

Husavík and Tjörnes
Going north on Highways 87 and 85 brings you to Husavík, one of Iceland's larger towns and the only really nucleated settlement we saw. The harbour is the jumping off point for whale-watching trips. We didn't like Husavík which seemed busy and a bit scruffy, perhaps because it had been a long day and we were getting tired - but it did have an excellent supermarket. Highway 85 continues round the headland of Tjörnes (locals say you can see whales from up there most nights) then drops down to Öxarfjördur where it crosses behind some beaches covered with driftwood from Siberia. We wished we had spent more time along this stretch before reaching our destination of the old school at Skúlagardur - home for the next four nights.

Jökulsárgljúfur National Park and Ásbyrgi
This was our main draw to this part of the country. The park has two large gorges and Europe's greatest waterfall. There is a range of walking, some quite easy, some very hard. Skaftafell had been quite busy, a week further into the season Jökulsárgljúfur was almost deserted; being well off the sight tickers' route round the Ring Road probably keeps it fairly quiet. Despite, or perhaps because of, its ruggedness we found this an incredibly attractive area.

There is a service station with small, but comprehensive, shop on Highway 85 at Ásbyrgi where you turn off to the National Park Centre. Here you can get a good map with paths. From the Centre you can drive or walk into the large horseshoe shaped canyon of Ásbyrgi. From the park at the far end there are short trails through the woods to the foot of the cliffs. Also from the centre there is a walk to the top of the gently sloping hill of Eyjan (= island, several places have this name) which gives excellent views.

From the service station we took a day walk along the west side of the Jökulsá gorge where the views are impressive. We went up to the viewpoint on Áshöfdi (but couldn't see through the trees) and as far as Kvíar, at which point it started to snow and sleet just as we were furthest from the car and were turning into the weather. The next stretch across Klappir is a rather boring, sometimes wet, trudge until you come to the view into the Ásbyrgi canyon. This is classic, except on this day it wasn't because of the weather. The path had been good and easy but here there was one bit we did not like at all. This involved lowering yourself down a sheer face of rock with a lot of fresh air beneath you on one side. There was no alternative. Beyond there the path is easy back to the service station. There is a short cut onto this route from the Centre which was shown as 'rope assisted' on our map. The park ranger had told us there was now a staircase, but closer inspection showed this to be a series of ladders with an awful lot of scrambling with a rope.

Vesturdalur
Highway 862 runs up the west side of the park. It's a fairly narrow road which we took to the carpark at Vestrurdalur (it was still closed beyond here to Dettifoss and the very rough F862 continuation to the Ring Road was apparently closed all summer). We had an excellent day's walking here in superb weather. First we headed south through Vesturdalur to the remains of the old farm at Svinadalur through a mixture of cliffs, lava, woodland and moorland. The return north along the rim of the Jökulsá gorge is exhilarating. A good path all the way.

In the afternoon we continued north through the incredible lava formations of Hljódaklettar (some easy, safe scrambling) to go up to the viewpoint of Raudholár high above the gorge (steep and a bit loose but optional). Return was via the parallel route a short distance away. An incredible day. Both sections are probably best done in the direction described so you have the sun behind you for views into the gorge.

Dettifoss
Highway 864 (which was closed until just before we used it) runs up the east side of the park and through to the Ring Road. Unsealed it gets fairly heavy use. There is a spur to a park for Hafragilsfoss (worth a trip) but the main draw is the car park for Dettifoss. From the park you can get quite good views down the gorge but you have to go down the rocky, stepped path to see the fall itself which is in a deep part of the gorge. This fall is huge and scary as it thunders over a fairly narrow ledge.

From Dettifoss there is a path on south (mainly easy, some climbing over rocks, places wet) to Selfoss where the falls run diagonally across the gorge. Many people go on to Selfoss. It's a worthwhile walk with good views into the gorge.

However a better walk is to go north from the Dettifoss park along the rim of the canyon to look down onto Hafragilsfoss then climb to the viewpoint of Sjónipa. This is all good and gives excellent views of Dettifoss returning to the car. Few people do it which is surprising because it is a good, easy walk.

Beyond Dettifoss Highway 864 runs on across the level interior plateau. It gives a good experience of this sort of landscape and offers a convenient short cut to the Ring Road.

Hallgeirsstödum
Our last night was at the Hótel Svartiskógur part way down the valley of the Jökulsá á Brú. The turn off the Ring Road onto Highway 917 is just before the bridge over the river. (Just over the bridge is a small picnic area with nice views into the narrow cleft the river runs through.) The hotel is off the main road and in the evening we took the opportunity for a number of gentle walks in the woods and across the road towards the river.

The next morning saw us hot footing it to the bakery at Fellabær before joining the suddenly very busy road to the ferry at Seydisfördur.

More information
A number of worthwhile web sites are shown on the external links page for Iceland.

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