Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Kjölur highland route interior F35 in Iceland (Gullfoss to Varmahlíð - Blönduós)

Route F35 through the middle of Iceland, usually called the Kjölur route, is unique among Iceland’s Highland roads in being the only one you can traverse in an ordinary two-wheel drive car. Running between Gullfoss in the south and the Ringroad near Varmahlíð, at 200 km. long Kjölur is the shorter of the two inland routes across Iceland.


Of course two-wheel drive hire cars are not allowed on F-roads at all for insurance reasons; so that’s out of the question. And if you love and care for your own little Yaris, Avensis or Passat then it’s probably best to leave it at home. If, however, you are in someone else’s car, then have a blast!


Despite its convenient ‘unique selling point’ there is little doubt that you will be more comfortable and less prone to mishaps if you stick to a decent 4×4 vehicle along the Kjölur route. That way, things like mud and washboard gravel won’t be able to ruin your day.

As with all Highland roads in Iceland, Kjölur is only accessible in the summer, opening usually in late May or early June. You can check road conditions before you leave on the roads administration website. You should also study SafeTravel.is carefully. We also recommend you to read our article about driving in Iceland.


There are many reasons for visiting the Highlands; most of them involving the desire to ‘get away from it all’ (whatever all of it may be) and to see some of the only wilderness in Europe.


There really isn’t a lot up there – and that’s of course the biggest attraction!


The Kjölur route starts conveniently right by Gullfoss and winds its way up between the Langjökull and Hofsjökull glaciers and right past Hveravellir; a bubbling, glooping, churning geothermal area you’d be mad not to stop off at especially to take a refreshing dip in the hot spring. There is accommodation here if you want to stay the night, and plenty to explore on foot.


Before that, you will pass Lake Hvitarvatn and its surroundings. Langjokull glacier, Thorisjokull glacier, Eiriksjokull glacier, Hrutfell mountain, Hagavatn lake and Hvitarvatn lake.

Langjokull glacier

The glacier is roughly parallel to the direction of the country's active volcanic zone (see volcanism in Iceland): north-east to south-west. It is about 50 km long and 15 to 20 km wide, and has a slightly narrower point roughly between the lake Hvitarvatn on the Kjolur mountain road to the east and the Thristapajokull glacier to the west, near another smaller glacier, Eiriksjokull glacier, which is not quite connected to Langjokull glacier.


It is the nearest large glacier to Reykjavik. The area of the glacier includes some mountains, e.g. Jarlhettur ("The earl´s hat") on the east side of Langjokull glacier, a palagonitic mountain range, which originated in a fissure eruption under a glacier during Ice Age. The mountain Skridufell (1235 m) is situated on the east, above lake Hvitarvatn. Other mountains on the eastern side of Langjokull glacier are Fjallkirkja (1177 m), Thursaborg (1290 m) and Peturshorn (1370 m). A little to the east of Fjallkirkja is the hut of the Icelandic Glacier Research Society (Joklarannsóknarfelag), which includes scientists as well as interested amateurs.


Lake Hvitarvatn

Hvitarvatn (also known as Hvitarlon) is a lake in the Highlands of Iceland and the source of glacial river Hvita (e. White river), Hvitarvatn means 'White river lake'. It is located 45 km northeast of Gullfoss waterfall. It's surface is about 30 km² and it's greatest depth is 84 m. It is a magnificent experience to sail on the lake and the view is amazing.


Langjokull glacier is next to the lake and it goes all the way into the lake. The scenery is very beautiful. This is a place you have to visit. You can take a day tour and see the glacier and its magnificent surroundings.


You can also take a hike on the glacier and the view from there is fantastic.

http://www.glacierlake.is
Teléfono +354 8221006
e-mail info@glaciarlake.is



Hveravellir is a unique nature reserve situated on the Kjolur route in the middle of the west highlands between the glaciers Langjökull and Hofsjökull.


Hveravellir is one of the most beautiful geothermal areas in the world with smoking fumarolees and beautifully shaped with sky blue, boiling water. It is a special experience to have a look around, whether it is in the summer or winter.


As it continues north (assuming you choose to drive south to north…it’s not a one way street), the Kjölur route wends its way through the mini ‘lake district’ around the Blanda river and the Blöndulón reservoir before emerging onto the Route 1 highway (after a short drive along Route 731) in the town of Blönduós, North Iceland.


Blöndulón is one of Iceland’s biggest lakes and was created from scratch as recently as 1984 and not finished until 1991. It is a reservoir for a hydro electric power station and is fed by Blanda one of Iceland’s longest and biggest rivers and one of the best places to catch salmon in all of Iceland, which is already famous for its salmon. This remains true to this day, despite the fact that the dam has stopped salmon spawning as far upstream as they once did.


Anyway, this was not an article about salmon; it was about exploring the Icelandic Highlands. So get out there and do just that…but be careful!

Activities in Hveravellir: 

There are a number of other walking routes in the vicinity, for example to Rjupnafell, Thjofadalir, Jökulkrok and up to or on to the glacier Langjökull. Longer routes, for example to Hvitarvatn in the south as well as over the old route over Kjalhraun or along the borders of the glacier Langjökull, are also available. A fascinating route is also along the northern part of Langjökull and through Hallmundarhraun to Husafell. A further nice route leads around Hrutfell from where one can enjoy an extraordinary view over the area. There are an almost endless number of routes to choose from and everyone is sure to find something to suit their taste.


There is a horse rental at Hveravellir. A number of horse riding trails can be found in the surrounding area. One can choose between tours lasting a few hours, a whole day or even a number of days. The Icelandic horse is used to this rough terrain as it was the only mode of transportation over this route when the first settlers arrived in the country.


Geothermal pool at Hveravellir:

The geothermal pool at Hveravellir is unique. Both hot and cold water flows to the pool, which makes it easy to regulate the temperature of the water in the pool. Over 20 people can comfortably bathe in the pool at the same time. The pool and its entire surroundings are magnificent, offering a beautiful view of the geothermal area, Kjalhraun lava field and Langjökull. There is nothing that can compare to a dip into the pool after a days hike in the highlands.


3 Days - Hiking Route 

The hiking distance is 42 - 44 km. At the starting or finishing point, Hvitarnes, is the oldest hut (1930) of the Icelandic Tourist Association for 30 persons.  


Day 1. The first leg from Hvitarnes is about 12 km long and ends at the Thverbrekknamuli hut with an ascent of 100 m.  

The Hvitarnes hut was the first to be built by the Iceland Touring Association in 1930.  It is located 425 metres above mean sea level.  It comprises the ground floor with two sleeping rooms, a kitchen and the entrance, the attic with mattresses on the floor and a small room.  In the kitchen is a gas-stove and a log-stove, but no utensils.  

A WC is in a separate house and the warden lives in another small house.  The view from the hut is breathtaking, and this hut is the starting or end spot of hikes on the ancient Kjolur Route.

The Thverbrekknamuli hut is situated southeast of Mt Hrutfell, near river Fulakvisl.  It is near the middle of the hiking trail on the ancient Kjolur Route.  

The hut was built in 1980 and accommodates 20 people.  The house is heated with gas and an oil-stove.  There are no utensils in the house and visitors have to take garbage with them. A WC is near the hut and a latrine for winter travellers a bit further away. The fifth bridge across river Fulakvisl was built in 2005.  The others have either been swept away by floods or not withstood the weight of the winter snow.


Day 2. The second leg ends at the hut in Thjofadalir after a 14-15 km hike with an ascent of 100 m. 

The small hut in valleys Thjofadalir was built in 1939 to accommodate 12 people.  It is located at the foot of Mt Raudkollur and the hillock Throskuldur is nearby. It is on the ancient trail across the Kjolur highlands between the northern and southern parts of the country. It has a tiny entrance, a ground floor and an attic above half of the ground floor. There are no utensils in the house.  

The latrine is a short distance away from the house. Visitors have to take all garbage with them. The environment offers short and pleasant hikes, i.e. Mt Hrutfell, Fagrahlid and jokulkrokur at the edge of glacier Langjokull. Mt Raudkollur and Oddnyjarhnjukur are also worthy goals.


Day 3. The third leg ends at the hut in Hveravellir after a hike of 12 km and an ascent of still another 100 m.  There are several booklets available on this hiking route. For further information on the route the Travel Guide is at hand.

Iceland24, Johanna
© 2015 January 2015

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

Located in western Iceland, the small town of Stykkisholmur has become a very popular tourist destination. The town has a number of attractions that make it a major draw, but it is the conservation of heritage and its efforts to be environmentally aware that are among the major elements that pull people in.

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

The growing number of people arriving in the town means that the tourism operators and restaurants have had to adjust the length of their season. They are also now working hard to deliver a wider selection of local products, including food, and arts and crafts.

Things to do

Beautiful views and incredible wildlife can be found at the Snæfellsnes peninsula and Breiðafjörður bay. Taking a boat out to the islands of Breiðafjörður is a great idea for bird watchers, especially those hoping for a glimpse of the white-tailed eagle.

Súgandisey is an island that is now connected to the mainland, with a path that leads up to a 100-year old lighthouse and the romantic Love Nest. That spot offers fantastic views over Breiðafjörður and the islands, and is also where the Ferry Baldur docks.

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

Sæferðir / Seatours Iceland is a great spot for bird watching and getting back to nature. Taking a boat out to the Snaefellsnes peninsula is a great way to see it all. You will encounter an incredible variety of birds, from puffins and cormorants, all the way up to the magnificent white-tailed eagle.

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

The basalt forms of the islands are spectacular, and you can also get a taste of sea urchins and scallops fresh out of the water. Trips run twice daily from June 1st to August 31st, and there are often tours available out of season, too. All you need to know can be found at www.seatours.is

The ferry Baldur sails twice daily in the summer months from Breiðafjörður bay to Brjánslækur, making a stop at the island of Flatey along the way. The old village on the island has been lovingly restored over the past few years, and now has a restaurant, camp site, and sleeping bag accommodation.

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

Dried fish is made by Friðborg at Hamraenda 3 in Stykkishólmur, and can be purchased in a number of different stores. If you want to visit the plant where it is produced, tours can be organized by calling: 898-8516

Norska húsið (the Norwegian House). The government of Snæfellsnes operates this local folk and culture museum, and frequently has exhibitions on display. Daily opening hours are 11:00 to 17:00 and costs IKR 700 for adults and IKR 300 for children.Tel: 438-1640, norskhus@simnet.is

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

Swimming pool. Geothermal waters were discovered near Stykkishólmur in 1996, and they are believed to have many health benefits. The swimming pool opened in 1999, and now the water is used to heat houses in the area, too.(Tel: 433-8150)

Campsite 

Aðalgötu 27
IS-340 Stykkishólmi
Tel: 438 1075 / 849 8435
Mail: mostri@stykk.is

The campsite is in a perfect location, sitting next to the Víkurvöllur golf course, whilst also just a 5 minute walk from amenities such as shopping, dining, and the swimming pool. The fee to stay at the camp site can be paid at the Club house/Tourist Information Center. The camp site opens on May 15th through August 31st and has wireless access throughout.

Stykkishólmur Travel Guide

Kolla, Iceland24
© 2015 Iceland24

Rent a car in Iceland: Car Comparison by price in Iceland + Tips for Renting a Car in Iceland

If you’re planning to tour Iceland by car, then Iceland car rentals provide the cheapest and best way to explore the vast island. With public transportation being scarce outside major cities like Reykjavík, renting a car becomes the cheaper and most viable option for tourists to explore the island fully. Though it may seem expensive initially, it is much cheaper and less strenuous than having to purchase a car or travel by bus. With plenty of car rental companies in Iceland at your disposal, you will never fail to get a deal that suits your budget. 

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

The wide array of vehicles available for hire also makes it possible for you to get a car that can take you almost anywhere on the island from SUVs, four wheel cars, luxury cars, 4×4 rental cars and jeeps just to mention a few. In this article, we give you some tips on picking an Iceland car rental provider as well as taking a look at some of the best car rental companies on the island. 

CAR COMPARISON BY PRICE
July 7th to July 14th - 2015 (7 days)

Option A - New cars:

HERTZ
Toyota Aygo                              790,96€
Toyota Rav4                              1.573,9€

EUROPCAR
Hyundai i10:                               786,4€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:           1.573,1€

REYKJAVÍK CARS *                  BEST COMPANY JULY 2015 (1st place)
Hyundai i10:                                  498,3€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:               863€ 

AVIS
Hyundai i10:                               718€
Suzuki Grand Vitara 4x4:           1.484€

CARS ICELAND                      BEST COMPANY JULY 2015 (2nd place)
Kia Rio Diesel:                            602€
Dacia Duster 4x4:                       922€
*prices with all insurances included


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Option B - Old cars:

REYKJAVÍK CARS (they also rent old models)
Hyundai i10:                              487,8€
Suzuki Jimny 4x4:                     708€

SS CAR-RENTAL
Hyundai i10:                                546,8€
Toyota Rav4 4x4:                        1.030€

SADCARS
Toyota Yaris                               616,34€
Toyota Rav4 4x4                        1.240,2€

ICELAND CAR RENTAL
Hyundai i10:                              585,8€
Toyota Rav4                             1064,2€

GEYSIR
Hyundai i20:                              619,8€
Hyundai Tucson:                       900,2€

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Renting a car is really the best and only way to see the country so be sure to factor it into your budget. We went there thinking we would just take a bus to other areas -wrong. The only buses that exists outside the capital city of Reykjavik are tour buses. So technically you can take a bus but you will pay for it because it will be part of an organized tours and it will add up fast. If you are traveling with another person a car is the cheapest way to see the country. Plus, driving in Iceland is very easy and there isn’t much traffic.

7 TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR IN ICELAND

Renting a car in Iceland may not be the cheapest way to explore Iceland (it’s tough to beat hitch hiking) but it doesn’t have to blow your budget. With public transportation being non-existent outside of the larger cities, like Reykjavik, renting a car gives you the freedom at a fraction of the cost when compared to the sightseeing tours sold at tourist information centers.

Below are seven ways to save money on your Iceland car rental:

Don’t buy it: You don’t need theft insurance for the vehicle. According to our agent, car thefts in Iceland are rare and he actually told us not to bother with any of the additional insurance (yes, they have insurance for ash from the volcano) either, so we didn’t. 

Go online: The best deals can be found online for Iceland car rentals. By booking online, you will find a better deal than renting directly from a tourist center in Iceland. Some online companies even offer discounts if you book online therefore you will be able to save a lot by booking online. There are a variety of car rental companies on the island so take your time and visit their websites, compare prices, and look at their packages and whether or not they offer discounts for booking online. By doing this, you will be able to get a good deal at a pocket friendly price. 

Pick up at Keflavik International Airport: Because the airport is located about an hour from Reykjavik, you will have to spend €15 – €20 each way to get to and from the airport. So, you might as well just rent your car from the airport and roll your shuttle bus fees into the car rental. 


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

Get to know your vehicle: The longer you keep the rental car the cheaper it becomes.

Petrol Blues: When considering renting a car be sure to factor in the cost of gas. In Europe, petrol is sold by the liter not the gallon; therefore, expect to pay about $5 per gallon. 

Choose Your Rental Dates Wisely: Sept. 1 in Iceland signals the beginning of the low season, which runs until May 31. Renting a car in Iceland becomes even cheaper during that time. And by cheaper I mean €35/day vs. €85/day – it’s a HUGE price difference. 

Consider your budget: Look for a car rental company that falls within your budget. Remember you do not have to spend a fortune on car rental therefore try to get a car rental service that will leave you with some cash to spend on the road.


Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

DRIVING IN ICELAND

Driving Conditions in Iceland are in many ways unusual and often quite unlike what foreign drivers are accustomed to. It is therefore very important to find out how to drive in this country. We know that the landscapes are beautiful, which naturally draws the driver’s attention away from the road. But in order to reach your destination safely, you must keep your full attention on driving.

-The speed limit in populated areas is usually 50 km/hr.
-The speed limit is often 60 km/hr on thruways, but in residential areas it is usually only 30 km/hr.
-The main rule in rural areas is that gravel roads have a speed limit of 80 km/hr, and paved roads 90 km/hr.
-Signs indicate if other speed limits apply.

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HIGHLAND DRIVING

Driving in the Icelandic highland is quite different from driving in the lowland. The conditions can change fast due to weather, rain and even sometimes snow. Therefore roads can be closed and rivers can be too big to cross. Before you start your travel you should get information about the area as well as leave your travel plan with someone who can check up on you if needed.

You can make your travel plan here:

-Start by checking if the area you are going to visit is open
-Get as much information about the area as you can
-Information centers, rangers and hut wardens can help you get the information needed
-Are you sure that you have the experience and knowledge needed to go the highland?
-If you are driving be on a 4x4 jeep, other cars will only get you into trouble
-If you are no sure how to cross a river skip it or wait for the next car to assist you over

Car Rental Iceland - Iceland Car Rental - Rent a Car in Iceland

ILLEGAL OFF-ROAD DRIVING

When the fact that the country lies right below the Arctic Circle is taken into consideration, along with the fact that the growing season is short, it is apparent that the environment can take many years, decades or even centuries to recover. For example, many people don't realise that by uprooting or driving on moss, damage is caused that can take at least a decade or, more likely, some hundreds of years to mend – and we're not even talking about the highlands where the summer is much shorter.

Whilst travelling around the country, the highest respect for the Icelandic environment must be shown. It's good to remember to take nothing besides photographs and leave nothing behind except footprints.

-Check out the road map and see where the roads and trails are.
-Get information about the appropriate routes at visitor centres, and from rangers or staff.
-Find out in advance when mountain roads are likely to be open, along with other related information, at visitor centres or here.

While on your trip around the country you’ll quickly see that in many places, road ruts and paths have formed from other people. Often they are closed off with nothing more than a row of small rocks. Don’t be caught in the pitfall of following those paths; only stay on roads and marked trails. Instead, think about the damage off-road driving has caused, take photos and educate friends and acquaintances. See how long such damage takes to heal. Notice that ruts don’t just look ugly; they draw in water and thereby cause even further damage, leading to erosion of soil and vegetation. Walk around a short distance or turn around if you can’t go any farther by driving. That’s the only right thing do. Besides, you can easily expect a sky-high fine or prison term for offences.

We should all set a good example. Together we share the responsibility of ensuring that everyone gets the chance of enjoying a pristine natural environment for years to come.

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CROSSING A RIVER

One thing is for sure when you go hiking in Iceland and that’s that you’ll not get far without coming to the first stream. Usually they’re little brooks, which are good to get a fresh drink from. On the other hand, they can be large rivers and you will need to wade them, in which case you should bear some things in mind:

-Rivers often have less volume earlier in the day, so organising hiking trips accordingly is not a bad idea.
-Look around for suitable locations to ford. Be aware that places that are good for crossing with jeeps are seldom good for crossing on foot.
-Look for meanders in the river which are places where there is loose gravel and sand and the current dies down as the river expands.
-Meanders are usually the best location you’ll find for fording a river though the river may be wider there.
-Preferably wade the river with two or three other people at a time by clasping arms together at the elbows.
-Loosen any straps on backpacks and be sure not to have anything tied tight that could complicate things if you or someone else might fall.
-It’s best to have special wading shoes as it is not wise to cross barefoot - this can increase the likelihood of a fall.
-Before fording, it’s smart to decide on a spot farther down the river where everyone will go to if someone might unfortunately fall.
-If you fall, roll onto your back, keep your feet in front of you and trudge to the place - or near to it - that was previously decided upon.

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When planning your hiking trip get information about rivers, if they are possible to cross on foot and then what time is best and etc. Never cross a river unless you are 100% sure of how to do it and feel safe doing it.

Helpful Tips on 4x4 Driving in Iceland

If you have plans to visit Iceland's country side then you should also pick a 4x4 vehicle since you will most likely be driving on some gravel roads. And should you go off the beaten path to visit the Iceland highland then you are sure to encounter some F-roads that are only driveble by larger 4x4.

Iceland gravel roadsAll major roads in Iceland are paved. But keep in mind that of 13.000 km total roads in Iceland only about 5.000 is paved with asfalt.

Most gravel roads are not difficult to drive on or dangerous, you just need to keep special attention while driving and make sure you are not going to fast. These roads are often narrow and many bridges only have one lane. You are also likely to meet some sheeps and Icelandic horses so make sure you are paying attention.

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List of the most popular F-roads

Here is a list of the most popular F-roads in Iceland and average opening times:
F-RoadNameAvg. opening date
F206 Lakagígar June 12th
F208 Fjallabaksleið nyrðri
(Landmannalaugar and Eldgjá)
June 12th
F225 Landmannaleið, Landmannalaugar June 15th
F35 Kjölur (Hveravellir) June 11th
F26 Sprengisandur June 27th
F88 Askja June 20th
F902 Kverkfjöll June 19th
F52 Uxahryggir June 5th
F550 Kaldidalur June 13th

Driving in snow and difficult weather conditions

Make sure you are always driving according to road and weather conditions. If there is snow and the roads are slippery make sure to take it slow and drive safe. If you are driving outsite of populated areas make sure to find out the conditions of the roads on your route. You should also check out the weather forecast.

Check road conditions in Iceland here:
http://www.vegagerdin.is/english/road-conditions-and-weather/the-entire-country/island1e.html

Check weather forecast here:
http://en.vedur.is

Carpooling in Iceland:
http://samferda.is

Map of Iceland:
http://atlas.lmi.is/kortasja_en/

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Kolla, Iceland24
© 2015 Iceland24

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

When you think about how the immense Ásbyrgi canyon was probably made, it surely ranks among Iceland’s most remarkable natural features. But if you don’t think about how it was made and just take it on face value, then it cannot be described as ‘breath-taking’ like many other Icelandic attractions – it is just an extremely pleasant place to be.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Ásbyrgi is one of the wonders of nature, a wide, horseshoe-shaped canyon with sheer cliff faces up to 100 m high. It is 3.5 km long and over 1 km wide. At its innermost end lies Botnstjörn, a small pond surrounded by luxuriant vegetation. A distinctive rock formation rises up from the centre of Ásbyrgi, up to 250 m wide, known as Eyjan.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

The area is covered in woodland consisting mainly of birch, willow and mountain ash. Several thousand recently planted pines also prosper. Arctic fulmar nest on the steep cliffs, while many other birds prefer the woods and meadows.

Ásbyrgi was formed by two or more catastrophic floods caused by glacial bursts from the northern part of the Vatnajökull ice cap, one between eight and ten thousand years ago and a second approximately three thousand years ago. Since then the bed of the river has moved eastwards.

The original explanation for Ásbyrgi’s existence is that Sleipnir put a hoof down there and left a giant footprint (Sleipnir was the god Óðinn’s giant eight-legged horse). However, at about three-by-one kilometres in size, that would be a pretty big foot. So we’re going to assume that’s quite unlikely.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Although Ásbyrgi is part of the National Park, it is run by the Iceland Forest Service. The canyon has a shop and a restaurant.

Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi

Á-1 Botnstjörn pond
Distance: 1 km (circle) with other possibilities. 
Walking time: ½ -1 hr 
Starting point: At the innermost car park in Ásbyrgi canyon. 
Path difficulty: Easy route (blue)

From the car park to the upper platform, under the west wall of the canyoun - Green route. Other routes in the area are mostly easy - Blue route.

There are several easy and interesting routes in the bottom of Ásbyrgi, starting at the car park. A walk down stone steps leads to a platform at the small pond, Botnstjörn. There is also a nice view over the pond from a platform located underneath the west wall of the canyon. The route to this platform, from the parking lot, is suitable for people with restricted mobility. A few steps from the platform are stone steps that lead up to a small hill with a nice view over the Ásbyrgi canyon.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Á-2 Eyjan hill in Ásbyrgi 
Distance: 4,5 km (back and forth) 
Walking time: 1,5-2 hrs 
Starting point: Car park in front of the service house at the campsite 
Path difficulty: Easy route (blue)  

The trail upon Eyjan (“the island”) in Ásbyrgi starts at the parking lot at the campsite. The trail heads first north and then it goes up the cliff where it is suitable for ascent. Wood steps have been put up for easier access. When up at the Eyjan the path goes soon past an old pile of stone. If you turn around there, the route is 2 km long, but if the path is followed further south, it goes all the way to the edge of the cliff. From there is a beautiful view over Ásbyrgi. This route is an enjoyable evening stroll.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Á-3 Through the woods
Distance: 4 km (one way) 
Walking time: 1,5 hr 
Starting point: Visitor Centre 
Path difficulty: Easy route (blue). 

Biking is allowed on this route. This route starts at the Visitor Centre in Ásbyrgi and goes follows a path that lies below the eastern wall of Ásbyrgi all the way south to the pond Botnstjörn in the bottom of the canyon. The route goes through various forestry plots as during the years 1947-1977 foreign conifers were planted in Ásbyrgi. Various bird species nest in the diverse forest groves.  Prior to more modern lifestyles the birch wood was used for building houses, as firewood and for the grazing of livestock. It is possible to combine this route with route Á-4 and make a ring route.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Á-4 Below Eyjan hill 
Distance: 3,5 km (one way) 
Walking time: 1 hr 
Starting point: Ásbyrgi Campsite 
Path difficulty: Challenging route (red)  

This route starts in the southwest corner of the campsite. First the route goes beneath the cliff wall where you can see the different forms of honey comb weathering. It is also possible to see the nest of the black raven (Corvus corax) which the gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) is fond of using for its own chicks. When at the south cliff of Eyjan the path goes west,you will notice big tussocks which are characteristical of the shrub heats of north east Iceland. The path ends at the old playing field in Ásbyrgi. It is possible to combine this route with route Á-3 and make a circular route.

Á-5 Áshöfði circle (around Áshöfði hill) 
Distance: 7,5 km (circle) 
Walking time: 2-3 hrs 
Starting point: Visitor Centre 
Path difficulty: Challenging route (red)  

The route starts at the Visitor Centre. The path takes you first along the golf course to the east, towards lake Ástjörn where there is abundant birdlife. The path goes past the summer camp and east around the hill, were it starts to head south, past small ravines, a moorland and small ponds. Where the path turns west there is a beautiful view of the Jökuslá river. The path then goes north, along Gilsbakki. To go back to the Visitor Centre there are two routes to choose from: The easterly route goes along Ásgil and Ás. The westerly route goes to the rim of Ásbyrgi, Tófugjá and then you follow the route north, along the rim, towards the intersections at the east side of the golf course where there are a few hundred meters back to the Visitor Centre.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Á-6 Áshöfði circle (across Áshöfði hill) 
Distance: 7 km (circle) 
Walking time: 2-3 hrs 
Starting point: Visitor Centre 
Path difficulty: Challenging route (red)  

This route is mostly equivalent to route Á-5. The route starts at the same site, at the Visitor Centre, and goes along the south end of lake Ástjörn, past the summer camp and east around the hill. But shortly before the view point over the Jökulsá River the route turns west at crossroads and follows a path over the Áshöfði hill. From the west side of the hill is a beautiful view over the old farm Ás, Ásbyrgi canyon and north over the sand which the Jökulsá River has formed, unimpeded for centuries but harnessed with levees today. When across the hill the route follows the same way back; across the summer camp and the south end of the lake Ástjörn.

Á-7 Klappir 
Distance: 9 km (back and forth) 
Walking time: 2,5-3 hrs 
Starting point: Visitor Centre 
Path difficulty: Challenging route (red)  

This route starts at the same place as route Á-8. Please look at that route description. This route turns around at Klappir and goes the same way back. The route offers an excellent view over Ásbyrgi and you can see unique pot holes at Klappir, formed by catastrophic floods in the Jökulsá River.

Á-8 Kúahvammur circle 
Distance: 12 km (circle) 
Walking time: 4-5 hrs 
Starting point: Visitor Centre 
Path difficulty: Challenging route (red)  

This route offers an excellent view over Ásbyrgi and the Jökulsá river canyon. The route starts at the Visitor Centre where there are two ways to choose from to get up the cliff. It is easier to go east along the golf course and turn south at the intersections. From there the route follows the rim of the canyon. The more difficult route is to go ~ 0,7 km south from the Visitor Centre, turn left at the intersection and climb up the cliff from there. There is a rope for support. From there the trail takes you along the eastern rim of Ásbyrgi as far south as Klappir where catastrophic floods in Jökulsá River have carved some amazing shapes into the rock. The view over Ásbyrgi is simply breathtaking. From Klappir your head east over the moor to Jökulsá and then along the gorge, passing Gilsbakki and Ás until you return to the starting point. It is also possible to go the same way back from Klappir (Á-7). Then the route is ~ 9 km long.
Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Á-9 Kvíar circle 
Distance: 17 km (circle) 
Walking time: 6-7 hrs 
Starting point: Visitor Centre 
Path difficulty: Challenging route (red)  

This route gives an opportunity for a whole day walk throughthe diverse landscape of Ásbyrgi and its surroundings. The view on the route is spectacular and one can see unique remains of catastrophic floods in the Jökulsá River. The starting point of the route is the same as in Á-8. When at Klappir, instead of going east as in Á-8, the path is followed south to Kvíar. In Kvíar the various cataracts or enclosed hollows (named „byrgi“ in Icelandic) are clear remains of catastrophic floods. From the crossroads at Kvíar the route turns north and the easterly path along the Jökulsá River is followed. At crossroads in Kúahvammur the route is followed further north, along the same path is in Á-8.


Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

SPECIAL 2 day trip HIKE 
A hike from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss  

Hiking up along the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, from the luxuriant Ásbyrgi to the barren but magnificent environment around Dettifoss, is a unique experience for every hiker. The diversity of the landscape is unique and captures the eye at every footprint: tremendous gorges, quiet ponds, clear springs, rough river, luxuriant forests and bare gravel plains.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Distances:
  • Ásbyrgi - Dettifoss, total: 32 km (shortest way) 
  • Ásbyrgi - Vesturdalur: 12 km or 13.6 km (see route description) 
  • Vesturdalur - Hólmatungur: 8 km 
  • Hólmatungur - Dettifoss (along Hafragil): 11.5 km 
Hiking map 

Here is a hiking map of Jökulsárgljúfur: [pdf 1.8 MB]

Route description 

It takes two days to hike between Ásbyrgi and Dettifoss and normally lodged in Vesturdalur (Hljóðaklettar). The route can be walked in both directions (start ingeither in Ásbyrgi or Dettifoss). In Jökulsárgljúfur it is only allowed to camp at the official campsites in Ásbyrgi, Vesturdalur and at Dettifoss (a small campsite with few facilities).

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

From Ásbyrgi to Vesturdalur there are two paths to choose from: One is to follow the rim of Ásbyrgi, and go south along Klappir and Kvíar, just over 12 km. The other route is to go the easterly path, closer to the river, but that route is 13,6 km long. Both routes start at the Visitor Centre in Ásbyrgi.

From the Visitor Centre, there are two ways to access the rim of Ásbyrgi. An easier way is to go east over the golf course and turn south at the intersection east of the golf course. From there the path goes up the lowest part of the cliff. A more difficult way is to go directly south from the Visitor Centre, towards the intersection at Tófugjá. There, turn east and go up the cliff, where there is a rope for support. It is not recommended to go this way if people have a heavy burden. Up at Tófugjá it is possible to choose which way to go to Vesturdalur (along the rim of Ásbyrgi or along the Jökulsá river).
Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

The route between Vesturdalur and Hólmatungur is about 8 km. The only river that has to be waded during the hike, Stallá, is at this section. Stallá is a spring river that flows into the Jökulsá river. The river is shallow and cold, but wading restores tired legs and makes the trip more memorable.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

From Hólmatungur there is roughly a 10 km hike south to Dettifoss, if you go into the Hafragil lowland (black route).  If you go along the Hafragil ravine the route is 11,5 km. It is not recommended for people with a heavy burden to go down to the lowland. In that case, hikers are advised to go to the campsite at Dettifoss, ease the burden and then explore the lowland.

Accommodation 

On the route there are no cabins and it is only allowed to camp on the park campsites. In Vesturdalur there is a beautiful camp site. There are toilets and running, cold water, but no shower facilities. Please contact the rangers before camping. At Dettifoss there is a small camping area, only intended for hikers. The area is just north of the parking lot. There is no running water at the campsite, but rangers bring fresh water to the site every day. Please use the water spaerly.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Drinking water 
  • Between Ásbyrgi and Vesturdalur there are no streams or springs to take water from. Hikers have to carry all fluids with them. 
  • In Vestudalur there is running water in the toilet buildings. It is not recommended to drink water from the spring river due to high traffic of people in the area during the summer. 
  • In Hólmatungur there ​​are a lot of streams from which is safe to drink water. 
  • Between Hólmatungur and Dettifoss the only spring river is down in Hafragil.   
  • At Dettifoss there is no running water. Park rangers carry water in tanks to the campground. Hikers are kindly requested to moderate the use of that water.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Obstacles on the route 

The trail is mostly easy. The main obstacles on the route are:  
  • Tófugjá in Ásbyrgi is the way that goes up the rock wall of Ásbyrgi canyon. There is a ladder and rope for support. You can choose another way to get up to the rim. See route description. 
  • Stallá is the only river that has to be waded. It is shallow and cold but not a major obstacle for hikers. 
  • Hafragil lowland is the most difficult trail in Jökulsárgljúfur but also the most magnificent. People who carry heavy burdens, are advised not to go down to the lowland, as the path is really narrow in some areas. In Sanddalur the trail is really steep and there is a rope for support to go up/down. Furthermore, the trail goes along large boulders and there is a danger of falling rocks. For those who carry heavy burdens and want to explore the lowland it is better to go all the way to the campsite at Dettifoss, leave the luggage there and then walk back down to the lowland. Those who are afraid of heights are also not advised to go this route.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Travel opportunities 

The trail from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss is a one-way route. Hikers need to have plans to get back from the endpoint. There are two companies that offer regular transport between Ásbyrgi and Dettifoss, SBA and Fjallasýn. SBA offers daily tours between Dettifoss and Ásbyrgi from the 18th of June to the end of August. For more information, visit the SBA website. On reauest, the company Fjallasýn offers transport and/or guided tours between Ásbyrgi and Dettifoss. For more information visit the Fjallasýn website. The school-bus driver Guðmundur Þórarinsson also offers service to hikers and tourist,tel: 892-8928.

Ásbyrgi canyon travel guide: 9 Hiking trails at Ásbyrgi + Route from Ásbyrgi to Dettifoss

Travel Information

The National Park's Visitors Centre, called "Gljufrastofa", is situated in Ásbyrgi.  It is open during summer  Tel.:  470 7100, e-mail: asbyrgi@vjp.is

We want to finish with Sigur Ros performing Hoppípolla at Ásbyrgi :)


Peter, Iceland24
January 2015