Drangsnes to reykjarfjorour

North of Drangsnes, a rough road winds around a series of gorgeous crumbling escarpments and dramatic fjords. There's no public transport and there are few services on this route, but if you've got your own vehicle the utter tranquillity, incredible views and sheer sense of isolation are truly remarkable. The first indent along the coast is Bjarnar-fjordur, where you'll find the Hotel Laugarholl (( 451 3380 www.strandir.is laugarholl sb s dwithout bathroom lkr2500 5300 7000, with bathroom...

Kverkfjoll Route

As its name suggests, this 108km-long route creeps southwards to the amazing Kverkfjoll ice caves. It connects MoSrudalur (65km east of Myvatn, off the Ring Rd) to the SigurSar-skali hut, 3km from the lower caves, via the F905, F910 and F902. Along the way are several sites of interest, including the twin pyramid-shaped Upptyp-pingar hills near the Jokulsa a Fjollum bridge, and the Hvannalindir oasis where there is -you guessed it - another of good ol' Fjalla-Eyvindur's winter hide-outs He even...

Bus Boat

Buses stop at the Esso petrol station on Hafnarstraeti. Local council buses ( 456 4258) run twice daily Monday to Friday from IsafjorSur to Flateyri and Kngeyri and three times daily to SuSureyri and Bolungarvik. The fare to all these places is Ikr250. From June to August there is a bus to Hol-mavik (where you can change to buses for Reykjavik and Akureyri, see pl92) on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday at I0.30am (Ikr4000, four hours) and there are daily buses to Brjanslaakur (Ikr2300), where you can...

Customs

Iceland has quite strict import restrictions. Duty-free allowances for travellers over 20 years of age are 1L of spirits (22 to 79 alcohol) and 1L of wine, or 6L of foreign beer (instead of wine or spirits). Alternatively, you can just bring in 2.25L of wine. People over 18 can bring in 200 cigarettes or 250g of other tobacco products. You can also import up to 3kg of food (except raw eggs, meat or dairy products), provided it doesn't cost more than Ikr 13,000. This may help self-caterers to...

HIKING

There are loads of interesting walks around HveragerSi. Bring the Landmaslingar Islands sheet Hengill 1 100,000, or ask the tourist office for the map Hiking Trails in the Hengill Area (Ikr600). Most trails begin from the small car park in Olfusdalur (follow BreiSamork out of town, and don't turn right into Gufudalur and the golf course). From here it's a 3.5km walk up through beautiful Reykjadalur (see pl25) to the Dalsel survival hut. From Dalsel, several trails cut across the hills to the...

Lomundarfjararlei

In high summer, the relatively little-known mountain route between BorgarfjorSur Eystri and LoSmundarfjorSur is an obscure but very attractive hike. It follows a 4WD track up over the pass and opens up lots of opportunities to explore the pristine surroundings. The required topo sheet is Dyrfjoll 1 100,000 (1986). For 4WD transport to the trail heads or huts, contact Skuli Sveinsson at Borg Travel Services (see p261). The route begins at the farm HvannstoS, 7km south of BorgarfjorSur Eystri,...

Snaefell

No-one seems to know whether 1833m-high Snasfell is an extinct volcano, or it's just hav- 'Why's the dam being built Greed and local politics. It makes no sense. We need to remember what we do today will affect little Vikings in 100 years' time. People need to wake up.' Jonas, Original Haunted Walk of Reykjavik ing a rest Iceland's highest peak outside the Vatnajokull massif is relatively accessible, making it popular with hikers and mountaineers. Snasfell looms over the southern end of...

Myvatn to husavik

The most direct route between Myvatn and Husavik is the partially sealed Rte 87 (54km), which crosses the barren Holarsandur before entering the gentie, grassy valleys of the Laxa and Skjalfandafljot that give few clues to the area's substantial geothermal activity. With a vehicle this whole area can be explored as a day trip from Husavik or Myvatn. Turning off either Rte 85 or Rte 87, the wealthy old farm Grenja8arsta8ur served as a church and vicarage during the 19th century. In the...

Museums

Displays at the National Museum (I> j 5minjasafn Map pp68-9 530 2200 www.natmus.is SuSurgata 41 adult under18yr concession lkr600 free 300,free Wed S 10am-5pm dally May-mld-Sep, 11am-5pm Tue-Sun mid-Sep-Apr) are well thought out and give an excellent overview of Iceland's history and culture. The strongest section delves into the Settlement Era, with swords, silver hoards and a great little bronze model of Thor on display. However, the most treasured artefact in the museum is a beautiful...

Horse Riding

With its many horse farms, dramatic volcanic backdrop and proximity to the highlands, Hella is a good place for hacks into the wilderness. Most places offer trips for more experienced riders - unguided horse hire and longer tours into the interior. Some local horse farms Hekluhestar ( 487 6598 www.lslandla.is hekluhestar AustvaSsholt) Rtes 271 then 272,9km northeast of Hella. Six-to eight-day tours to Landmannalaugar Fjallabak. Herridarholl ( 487 5252 www.herrldarholl.ls) Off Rte 284, 15km...

Sights Activities

Some of the town's lovely wooden buildings date from the late 19th century. The oldest building, Langab 5, is a harbourside log warehouse dating from 1790, which now houses the tourist office, a coffee shop and an unusual local museum (S 10am-6pm Jun-early Sep adult child lkr400 200). Downstairs is a collection of works by renowned woodcarver RikarSur J nsson (1888-1977). They range from lifelike busts of worthy Icelanders to mermaid-decorated mirrors and reliefs depicting saga characters....

Arnarstapi

Heading northeast from Hellnar a scenic 2.5km coastal path leads past rock arches and lava flows eroded into weird and wonderful shapes to the tiny fishing village of Arnarstapi. The legend of BarSur continues here with a strange rock sculpture in his honour. Behind the village, 526m-high Stapafell is supposedly home to the little people, and you'll see miniature house gables painted onto rocks in their honour. Mountain road F570 leads around Stapafell towards the glacier and passes a collapsed...

Sleeping

Hotel Eldborg ( 435 6602 www.hoteleldborg.is sites per personIkr800,sbIkr2500,s dlkr6900 8900 SJun-Aug gl) Basic rooms with simple furnishings are available at this school complex on Rte 567, about 4km from the main road. All rooms share a bathroom, but there's a decent restaurant (three-course meals Ikr3000) and a toasty geo-thermal swimming pool. Horse-riding trips to the nearby beach can be arranged from the hotel (Ikr7000 for three to four hours). SnorrastaOir ( 435 6628...

Orientation Information

North past the airport and over the lake, you'll find EgilsstaSir's twin-town. Fellabaer has some pleasant accommodation options and a petrol station-bakery, but most services are in EgilsstaSir. The tourist office, petrol station, bus terminal, Landsbanki Islands bank (with ATM), a supermarket and the camp site are all located in a single block just off the Ring Rd. With some of the most helpful staff in Iceland, the central tourist office (UpplysingamiSstoS 471 2320 www.east.is S 8am-10pm...

Pop

Small, sleepy and immaculately kept, Hvammstangi is the biggest town in the region but still a quiet place of only passing interest to travellers. A licensed trading centre since 1895, the town survives on shrimp and mollusc fishing today, and brightly coloured fishing boats dot the harbour. Hvammstangi's newest attraction is the Icelandic Seal Centre ( 451 2345 www.selasetur.is Brekkugata 2 adult under 14yr lkr500 250 S 9am-6pm Jun-Aug), where you can learn about seals and their environment,...

Porshamar Home Museum

Set in the middle of nowhere at the tip of the peninsula is this quirky museum ( 464 1957 adult under 14yr Ikr400 free S 9am-6pm Jun-Aug), pride and joy of a local farmer. The eclectic collection contains Viking Age jewellery and other items dating back to the Settlement Era, as well as a large variety of matchboxes and tobacco tins, old photographs, crockery, and household implements. The museum is about 23km north of Husavik on the farm Manarbakki. On the headland just west of the museum is a...

Oxnadalur

If you haven't the time to head north around Trollaskagi, you'll pass instead along the Oxnadalur valley, a 30km-long narrow valley on the Ring Rd between Varmahli'3 and Akureyri. The mountain pass is flanked by dramatic peaks and thin pinnacles of rock. The imposing 1075m spire of Hraundrangi and the surrounding peaks of Haafjall are probably the most dramatic in Iceland. Early settlers considered the summit of Hraundrangi inaccessible and perpetuated legends of a hidden cache of gold that...

Nngvellir National Park

Tiipijjiaiiii > '.' ADrekkinwhyiu,jf , c . -- -V -Skogsrte t.- r X - Xr ' r H Biskupab eg * X - Xr ' r H Biskupab eg * s,a 1 1. o Taa'a yiw I I I * Sra Sssf t Decisions were reached by the Logretta (Law Council), made up of 146 men (48 voting members, 96 advisers and two bishops) who are thought to have assembled at Nedrivellir (Low Fields), the flat area in front of the cliffs.

Sleeping Eating

Camp site (free) There's a good camp site on the outskirts of town. Follow MiSbraut north and turn left at the school. Sy8ri-Vik ( 473 1199 budargerdi fel.rvk.is sb made-up beds lkr2000 3000 S May-Oct) Across the fjord 8km south of VopnafjorSur, this place has cosy wood-panelled rooms in the farmhouse as well as cottages sleeping six to nine guests. There's a guest kitchen, a dining room and a lounge, and horse riding and fishing are available on request. Hotel Edda Tangi ( 444 4000...

Upper borgarfjordur Bifrdst

Heading north along Rte 1 you'll pass through a large lava field belched out by the 3000-year-old cinder cones of Grabrok and Gra-brokarfell, which rise dramatically from the flat surroundings just beyond the village and college complex at Bifrost. There are plenty of walking trails crisscrossing the area, and a well-worn track leads up through the moss, lichen and dwarf birch to the lip of Grabrok (173m), which offers great views over the surrounding lava flow but can be extremely windy....

Old Gaesavatnaleid

If anyone tells you that the GassavatnaleiS is impossible, they're speaking of the old southern route best known as the road followed by the escaping hero, Alan Stewart, in Desmond Bagley's thriller Running Blind. It's not really impossible, but as yet no tour company is willing to brave it and, with the opening of the new GassavatnaleiS, the route isn't being maintained. As a result, this is one of Iceland's roughest journeys, notorious for floods and deep sand drifts. It should be tackled...

Driving Routes Mountain Huts

This chapter covers the main interior driving routes and attractions (although see p280 for the popular Landmannalaugar-t'orsmork trek and see p276 for the Fjallabak Nature Reserve). Most of the routes described in this chapter are strictly for high-clearance 4WD vehicles. It's recommended that vehicles travel in pairs, so if one gets bogged or breaks down the other can drag it out, fetch help or carry all passengers to shelter. Carry lots of supplies, especially if you are only taking one...

Getting Started

Nothing quite prepares you for a trip to Iceland. Most visitors expect wild nightlife, pristine scenery and frighteningly expensive credit-card bills to some extent that's all true, but Iceland offers so much more than this and if you're travelling on a budget there are a few very simple ways to keep costs down. A little planning is the best way to ensure you find the remote but stunningly beautiful fjords, waterfalls and geysers, dig out the best pubs and clubs, and find the country's hidden...

Herjolfsdalur The West Coast

Sheltered by an extinct volcano, green and grassy Herjolfsdalur was the home of Vestman- naeyjaKs first settler, Herjolfur BarSursson. Excavations have revealed remains of a Norse house (not the bizarre construction in the bowl of the volcano, but a more unassuming site near the golf course). The island's camp site is also here. On the cliffs west of the golf course, there's a little monument to the 200 people who converted to Mormonism and departed for Utah in the 19th century. Several...

Eden Other Greenhouses

Ifyou take many bus tours east from Reykjavik, you could end up quite sick of the greenhouse Eden ( 483 4900 www.eden.smart.is Austurm rk 25 admission free S 9am-11pmsummer,9am-7pmwinter)-it's Iceland's nearest thing to a tourist trap, and all passing tour groups are shepherded through its doors. Having said that, there are worse places designed to separate fools and money. Bananas and papayas add a touch of the tropics, there's an enormous postcard selection and it sells HveragerSi's famous Kj...

Riding on the vatnajokull icecap

Although the Vatnajokull icecap and its attendant glaciers look spectacular from the Ring Rd, most travellers will be seized by a wild desire to get even closer. However, access to Vatnajokull is limited to commercial tours unless you happen to be set up for a serious polar-style expedition. The icecap is extremely dangerous the whole thing is riven with deep crevasses, which are made invisible by coverings of fresh snow, and there are often sudden, violent blizzards. But don't be disheartened...

Latrabjarg peninsula

Best known for its dramatic cliffs and abundant bird life, the Latrabjarg peninsula also has wonderful deserted beaches and plenty of opportunities for long, leisurely walks. Joining Rte 612 from Rte 62, you'll pass the rusting hulk of the fishing boat Gardar near the head of the fjord before passing the empty, golden beaches around the airstrip at SauSlauksdalur. About 10km further on it's worth stopping at the entertaining Egill Olafsson Folk Museum ( 456 1569 adult under 14yr Ikr500 free S...

TOrsmork To Skogar Trek

The dramatic and popular trekfrom borsmork to Skogar passes right between the glaciers of Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull. The trek can be done in a long day, but it's more enjoyable to break the journey at FimmvorSuhals Pass (1093m), which has a mountain hut run by Utivist (see following). Although the glaciers seem close enough to touch, this walk is fairly easy and you won't need any special gear. It's best attempted from mid-July to early September, but always keep an eye on the weather...

Around Breiodalsvk Breiddalur Nordurdalur

As the Ring Rd returns to the coast it passes through the lovely BreiSdalur valley, nestled beneath colourful rhyolite peaks. Near the head of the valley you may see reindeer. At the abandoned farm J rvik a forestry reserve harbours native birch and aspen. Hotel Stadarborg ( 475 6760 www.stadarborg.is sb s d tr Jun-Aug lkr1700 7500 10,400 13,400) Onceaschool, this hotel (contact it for winter opening details and prices) has neat, modern rooms with proper shutters to keep out that midnight sun...

Around Nngeyri Pingeyri Peninsula

The Kngeyri peninsula's dramatic northern peaks have been dubbed the 'Northwestern Alps', and the region offers some excellent remote trekking. The mountains are partly volcanic in origin, and the peaks are made up of rock and scree - a marked contrast to the green valleys elsewhere in the Westfjords. For detailed information on hiking in the area, visit www.thingeyri.is. A dirt road runs northwest along the eastern edge of the peninsula to the scenic valley at Haukadalur. If the road isn't...

Fluir

FluSir's mainly known for its mushrooms, grown in geothermal greenhouses, and for its many summer houses where hardworking Reykjavikurs come to throw off big-city cares. This peaceful green settlement is the largest in this area it has all necessary services and makes an alternative base for exploring the Golden Circle (it's around 25km south of Gullfoss and Geysir). There's a swimming pool ( 486 6790 adult child Ikr250 100 S 4-9pm Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat, 1-6pm Sun), a small folk museum at the...

To Whale Or Not To Whale

In 1986 the International Whaling Commission IWC introduced a worldwide ban on commercial whaling Iceland, however, decided to continue hunting. Under the auspices of a 'scientific research programme'the country's trawlers headed out to sea and killed 90 cetaceans in the following three years. Quite where the scientific research came in was never fully explained, as the whale meat was sold to restaurants in Iceland and Japan, and the carcasses were made into pet food, vitamins and lubricating...

Skalholt Laugaras

The name of Skalholt population 184 resounds through Iceland's history. This hugely important religious centre was one of two bishoprics the other was Holar in the north that ruled Iceland's souls from the 11th to the 18th centuries. Skalholt rose to prominence under Gissur the White, the driving force behind the Chris-tianisation of Iceland. The Catholic bishopric lasted until the Reformation in 1550, when Bishop Jon Arason and his two sons were executed by order of the Danish king. Skalholt...

Fagrifoss Hells Back Door

Fagrifoss Beautiful Falls is certainly not a misnomer this must be one of Iceland's most bewitching waterfalls, with rivulets of water pouring over a massive black rock You'll come to the turnoff on the way to Laki, about 22km along the F206. Not far from Fagrifoss is a very deep hole in a small slump crater, about 200m east of the Laki road. It doesn't seem to have a particular name, but locals will jokingly tell you it's the back door to hell Hekla is the front . The hidden entrance is just...

Nupsstadur Nupsstadarskogar

Bizarrely eroded cliffs and pinnacles tower over the old turf-roofed farm and church at NupsstaSur. The farm buildings date back as far as the early 19th century, and the church, which is dedicated to St Nicholas, was mentioned as early as 1200. It was renovated in 1957 by Einar Jonsson and is one of the last turf churches in Iceland. Inland is NupsstaSarskogar, a beautiful woodland area on the slopes of the mountain Eystrafjall. Since it's no longer possible to cross the Nupsa river by raff,...

HUSAVfK Whale Museum

Best visited before you head out on a whale-watching trip, this excellent museum HvalamiSstoSin 464 2520 www.icewhale.ls Hafnarstett adult 6-14yr lkr600 250 S 9am-7pm Jun-Aug, 10am-5pm May amp Sep will tell you all you ever needed to know about these gracious creatures. Housed in an old slaughterhouse at the harbour, the museum looks at the ecology and habits of whales, orcas, dolphins and other marine mammals, whale conservation, and the history of whaling in Iceland. The 'Ocean Odyssey -...

Trekking at hornstrandir

The most popular starting points for hikes are Hesteyri and Hornvik. Many of the peninsula's easiest walks are around Hesteyri, where marked trails make the going quicker and safer. From the abandoned whaling station at Hesteyri you can hike north over the ridge to the coastal village of Saebol in ASalvik in about six hours. From here it's an easy three hours or so to the clifftop lighthouse at Straumnes. Heading east along the lagoon at Rekavik, you can follow the headland north to the pretty...

Hve Rage

To Raufarh lshellir 15km Porl kshofn 20km To Raufarh lshellir 15km Porl kshofn 20km Library 2 B3 Upplyslngaml sto Su urlands Geothermal Swimming Pool 6 C2 Landb na arh sk ll Islands 7 C2 Mlnjasafn Kristj ns Run lfssonar 9 B3 Natttirukeknlngafelag Island Glstlhelmlll Frost og Fun 12 B1 Glstlhelmlll Frumsk gar 13 A2 Hverakaup Supermarket 18 B2 Tian 20 B2 Vin B see 21 Shell Petrol Station 22 B3 483 4531 Sunnum rk2 S 2-7pm Mon amp Wed-Fri, to 9pm Tue, 11am-2pmSat in Iceland. While you're here yes,...

Morsardalur Bejarstadarskogur

The seven-hour hike from the camp site to the glacial lake in Morsardalur is fairly ordinary but enjoyable. There's a footbridge across the lake outlet, and from there you can continue to Kjos. Alternatively, cross the Morsa on the footbridge near the point where the Kamb-gil ravine comes down from SkaftafellsheiSi and make your way across the gravel riverbed to the birch woods at Baejarstadarskogur. The trees here reach a whopping for Iceland 12m, and 80 C springs flow into the tiny but...

The Interior

Travelling in Iceland's interior will give you a new understanding of the word 'desolation'. You may have travelled the Ring Rd thinking that Iceland is light on towns that sheep seem to outnumber people that you haven't run across a McDonald's for many a mile. Well, you ain't seen nothing yet. Here there are practically no services, accommodation, hot-dog stands, bridges, mobile-phone signals or guarantees if something goes wrong. Gazing across the expanses, you could imagine yourself in Tibet...

Midrange

Akureyri has a good selection of guesthouses, but the best places get booked up fast, especially in summer. Most are open all year and offer substantial discounts in the off season. HiU'imi Akurlnn Map p213 461 2500 www .akurinn.is Brekkugata 27a s d without bathroom Ikr3500 5000, with bathroom lkr5200 6800 A cut above most of Akureyri's guesthouses, this heritage home has a variety of rooms with high ceilings, wood floors and period charm. Crisp white linens, pale neutral colours and simple...

Quirky Reykjavik

Held in a huge industrial building by the harbour, the weekend Kolaportid Flea Market Map p72 Geirsgata Sl1am-5pmSat amp Sun is a Reykjavik institution and definitely worth a visit. Browse through piles of second-hand clothes, music, antiques and children's toys, or pick up Icelandic fish delicacies including cubes of hdkarl. For an Icelandic joke, at the beginning of Bankastraeti look north towards the detached building Stornarradid Map p72 , which contains the prime minister's offices. The...

Food Drink

For much of its history Iceland was a poverty-stricken hinterland where food was solely about survival. Its traditional dishes reflect a 'waste not, want not' frugality and are viewed by foreigners less as sustenance and more as body parts from a slasher movie see p58 . Icelandic farmer-fishermen had a hard time sparse soil and long, harsh winters meant crop-growing was limited, and those who lived by the coast wrested a dangerous living from the sea and shore. Sheep, fish and sea birds and...

Isafjorbur

Vin Bu5 Gull au ga the town bore witness to some of the fierce battles between whalers and environmental campaigners that eventually led to the worldwide ban on commercial whaling in 1989. In 1991 a tunnel was constructed to link Isafj rSur and the previously isolated communities of SuSureyri and Flateyri. The three towns and nearby Mngeyri were amalgamated into a single administrative unit called Isaf-jarSarbaer in 1996.

Icelandic Embassies Consulates

Following is a partial list of Icelandic embassies and consulates in other countries. Australia 02-9365 7345 iceland bigpond.net .au 16 Birriga Rd, Bellevue Hill, Sydney 2000, New South Wales Canada 613-482 1944 www.iceland.org ca 360 Albert St, Suite 710, Ottawa OH KIR 7X7 Denmark 33 1810 50 www.iceland.org dk Strand- Faeroe Islands 3011 01 info faroeyard.fo JC Finland 09 612 2460 www.islanti.fi Pohjoisespla- France 01 44 1 7 32 85 www.iceland.org fr 8 Ave Germany 030-5050 4000 www.iceland.org...

Krysuvik Seltun

The volatile geothermal field Austurengjar, about 2km south of Kleifarvatn, is often called Krysuvik after the nearby abandoned village. Even by Icelandic standards, this area is prone to geological tantrums. The temperature below the surface is 200 C and the water is boiling as it emerges from the ground. A borehole was sunk here to provide energy for Haf-narfjorSur during the 1990s, but it exploded without warning in 1999 and the project was abandoned. At Seltun, boardwalks meander round a...

Graenalon

From the southern end of NupsstaSarskogar a good two-day hike will take you over the ridges and valleys west of immense SkeiSararjokull to Graenalon. This ice-dammed lake has the ability to drain like a bathtub. The 'plug' is the western edge of SkeiSararjokull and, when the water pressure builds to breaking point, the glacier is lifted and the lake lets go. It has been known to release up to 2.7 million cubic metres of water at 5000 cubic metres per second in a single burst. To get there...

Namafjall

Produced by a fissure eruption, the pastel-coloured Namafjall ridge lies south of the Ring Rd, 6km east of ReykjahliS. It sits squarely on the spreading zone of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and is dotted with steaming vents. A walking trail leads from the highway at NamaskarS pass to a view disc at the summit. This 30-minute climb provides a grand vista over the steamy surroundings. North of the pass is another ridge, Dalfjall, which sports a large and growing notch - dramatic evidence that the...

Dorshofn

The town of forshofn http thorshofn.com , has served as a busy port since saga times and saw its heyday when a herring-salting station was established here in the early 20th century. Today it's a pretty modest place but makes a good base for visitors heading to the eerily remote Langanes peninsula or on to RauSanes. Tourist information is available at the swimming pool 4681515 S 4-8pm Mon-Thu, 3-7pm Frl, 11am-2pmSat on the Langanes road. There's also a bank with an ATM in town. The annual Happy...

Short Treks

From Rte F249, you can easily hike up to Steinholtsjokull, a tongue of ice extending off the north side of Eyjafjallajokull. The ice has carved a sheer-sided, lOOm-deep gorge, and the short river Stakksholtsa flows out from under it and winds down to Markarfljot. Further west the larger glacier Gigjokull descends into a small lagoon right beside Rte F249, filling it with carved icebergs. To explore the main icecaps at Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull you'll need special equipment - including...

Festivals Events

If you are here in early November, stop by for the unusual 10-day DagarMyrkurs Days of Darkness , when the town perversely celebrates the failing light and the onset of winter with dark meals, dark dances, ghost stories, star walks, Northern Light spotting, and torch-lit processions When life gives you lemons Around the third weekend in June, EgilsstaSir's annual jazz festival Djasshatid Egilsstada www.jea.is takes place at various venues in the area. The possible existence of the lake monster...

Hafursstadavatn

Vesturdalur Hafursstadavatn

The park's southern anchor is Dettifoss, and 8km to the north are the springs and luxuriant vegetation of Holmatungur. Right in the heart of the park is Vesturdalur, with lots of caves and Iceland's most interesting basalt formations. Near the northern end is Asbyrgi, a verdant, forested plain enclosed by vertical canyon walls. From Dettifoss to Asbyrgi on Rte 864 is 25km, about 40 minutes' drive on the rough road. Ranger Station- . Kirkjan amp Camp Site Trollid Ranger Station- . Kirkjan amp...

Snefellsnes Peninsula

To Flatey 18km Brjanslzekur 30km To Flatey 18km Brjanslzekur 30km Dj pal nSSand rQODluPaton StapafeU yOArnarstapi ,- lt iml Gatklettur Purkh lar Hellnar SkarOsvik H U'ngialdsholl ndverdarnesa QS B Jgirfcn E0 lafsv l F k H 579 Modulation- y Vatnshnrf i Rau feldsgj L ,1446ml . iMll.il . ar5ar Holaholar ,0 ' BreiSavik Buoaklettur vtriT,, Dj pal nSSand rQODluPaton StapafeU yOArnarstapi ,- lt iml Gatklettur Purkh lar Hellnar space and good views, and there's a time-warp restaurant mains Ikrl750 to...

The Golden Circle

Gullfoss, Geysir and Mngvellir are unique sites commonly referred to as the Golden Circle. These sites make up Iceland's major tourist destinations, offering visitors the opportunity to see a wild, roaring waterfall, spouting hot springs and the country's most important historical area in one condensed, doable-in-a-day tour. Although they're mobbed by coach parties year-round, they're still worth visiting for their undeniable natural beauty. Hiring a car will mean you'll be able to enj oy other...

The Eastfjords

Unlike the histrionic, wildly folding West-fjords, the Eastfjords wiggle more modestly around the coast. It's like the difference between an overtheatrical actor chewing up the scenery, and an underemoting character in some Scandinavian arthouse film. Despite good surfaced roads and all the smelter-related activity, the Eastfjords still feel pretty remote - a feeling enhanced by immense, dramatic mountain sides and the tiny working fishing villages that nestle under them. The fjords are a...

Reykjahlio

To H sav k 54km Akureyri 100km To H sav k 54km Akureyri 100km Ti' V sar Skin ' Akureyri via t Skutui.ta ir i l04kml f Information Centre 1 B3 Sparisj u Myvetninga Bank see 2 A2 Magma Essentials 4 C3 14 Swimming Pool 5 D2 Ti' V sar Skin ' Akureyri via t Skutui.ta ir i l04kml f A2 Magma Essentials 4 C3 14 Swimming Pool 5 D2 I lt 'i i nrHj',l,in llin . 7 I Gamll Baerlnn12 B2 Hotel Reykjahlid see 10 Slue Lasr-'r'r 0km Bjafnafflaz'Flat m Mvvatrt Nature Batns m i-'rafla 1 Skm , E ilssta in l amp kmi...

Veidivotn

This beautiful area just northeast of Landmannalaugar is an entanglement of small desert lakes in a volcanic basin, a continuation of the same fissure that produced Laugahraun in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. This is a wonderful place for wandering, and you can spend quite a lot of time following 4WD tracks that wind across the tephra sands between the numerous lakes. On the hill to the northeast is a view disc pointing out the various lakes and peaks. VeiSivotn lies 27km off the southern end...

Kaldidalur Langjokull

Southeast of Husafell, the Kaldidalur valley skirts the edge of a series of glaciers and offers incredible views of the Langjokull icecap and on fine days the snows of Eiriksjokull, Okjokull and borisjokull. Although there's no public transport along unsurfaced Rte 550, you can drive south in a private vehicle to bingvellir. Many tour companies including TREX www .hopferd.is engl tours daytours.htm , Activity Group www .activity.is , Mountain Taxi www.mountaintaxi.is and Eskimos www.esklmos.is...

Kroflustod

The idea of constructing a geothermal power station at Krafla was conceived in 1973, and preliminary work commenced with the drilling of 24 test holes to determine project feasibility. In December 1975, however, after a rest of several hundred years, the Krafla fissure burst into activity with the first in a series of nine eruptions and 20 cases of surface subsidence. This considerably lowered the site's projected geothermal potential and nearly deactivated one of the primary steam sources, but...

Keflavik Njarovik Reykjanesbar

The twin towns of Keflavik and NjarSvik, on the coast about 50km west of Reykjavik, are a rather ugly mush of suburban boxes and fast-food outlets. Together they're known simply as 'Reykjanesbaer'. Although they aren't somewhere you'd want to spend a massive amount of time, they're the largest settlement on the peninsula and make a good base for exploring the area. If you've an early flight they're handy for the airport. If you're around at the beginning of September, the well-attended Night of...

South Of Egilsstaoir Lagarfljot

The grey-brown waters of the river-lake Lagarfljot are reputed to harbour a fearsome monster, Lagarfljotsormurinn Lagarfljot Ser pent , which has allegedly been spotted since Viking times. The last 'sighting' was in 1987, when it was glimpsed coiled up in an inlet at Atlavik camp site. The poor old beast must be pretty chilly - Lagarfljot starts its journey in the Vatnajokull icecap and its glacial waters flow north to the Arctic Ocean, widening into a 38km-long, 50m-deep lake, often called...

Emergency Huts

ICE-SAR Icelandic Association for Search amp Rescue 570 5900 www.icesar.is and Felag islenskra Bifeidaeigenda Icelandic Automobile Association 562 9999 www.fib.is maintain bright-orange survival huts on high mountain passes and along remote coastlines. The huts are stocked with food, fuel and blan- Iceland uses the metric system - distances are in kilometres and weights are in kilograms. The electrical current is 240V AC 50Hz cycles North American electrical devices will require voltage...

Landmannalaugar To Eldgja

East of Landmannalaugar the F208 leaves Fjallabak Reserve and skirts the river Tungnaa as it flows past the NorSurnamshraun lava field. After dropping into Jokuldalur the road deteriorates into a valley route along a riverbed and effectively becomes a lOkm-long ford interspersed with jaunts across the odd sandbar or late snowfield. When it climbs out of the valley it ascends the tuff mountain Her8ubrei8, from where there are superb views across the lowlands to the south. Just west of the...

Ondverdarnes

At the westernmost tip of Snaafellsnes, Rte 574 cuts south, while a tiny bumpy track heads west across an ancient lava flow to the tip of the OndverSarnes peninsula. En route you'll pass Skardsvik, a perfect golden sandy beach lapped by blue waters and hidden by black lava cliffs. A Viking grave was discovered here in the 1960s and it's easy to see why this stunning spot in the middle of an otherwise desolate area would have been favoured as a final resting place. From the parking area a marked...

Around pingvellir Nesjavellir

Whenever you step into that pongy shower in Reykjavik, think of the weird shining Nesjavel-lirgeothermal plant, southwest of Pingvallavatn. It's here that boreholes plunge 2km into the earth, bringing up water heated to 380 C by toasting-hot bedrock. It drives a series of huge turbines that produce the city's electricity. Hot water is also channelled off to Reykjavik, 23km away. The whole system is explained at the visitor centre 480 2408 S 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, 1-6pm Sun Jun-Aug , where you can...

Volunteering

A volunteering holiday is a good and relatively cheap way of getting intimately involved with Iceland's people and landscape. One of the most popular programmes is run in conjunction with Umhverfisstofnun UST, Environment amp Food Agency http engllsh.ust.is of-lnterest ConservationVolunteers , recruiting up to 100 volunteers each summer for work on practical conservation projects around the country. For an overview of other possibilities and projects, try Volunteer Abroad www.volunteerabroad...

Reykjanesfolkvangur

For a taste of Iceland's weird and empty countryside, you could visit this 300-sq-km wilderness reserve, a mere 40km from Reykjavik. Its three showpieces are Kleifarvatn, a deep grey lake with submerged hot springs and black-sand beaches the spitting, bubbling geother-mal zone at Seltun and the southwest's largest bird cliffs, the epic Krysuvikurberg. The reserve was established in 1975 to protect the elaborate lava formations created by the Reykjanes ridge volcanoes. The whole area is crossed...

Around hvolsvollur Keldur

About 5km west of Hvolsv llur, unsurfaced Rte 264 winds north along the Rang rvellir valley to the medieval turf-roofed farm Hj 487 8452 at Keldur. This historic settlement once belonged to Ingjaldur Hoskuldsson, a character in Nj l's Saga. The interior was closed to visitors in 2000 after earthquake damage, but it's still worth visiting to see these Saga Age buildings. There's no public transport along Rte 264, but the 12km walk to Keldur is pleasant enough. About 2km before Keldur, good...

Kjolurvegur Trek

A good preparation for more challenging interior trekking routes is the easy and scenic Kjolurvegur trek from Hvitarvatn to Hveravellir. The trail follows the original horseback Kjolur Route west of the present road , via the Hvitarnes, Pverbrekknamuii and Pjofadaiir mountain huts. From the Hvitarvatn turn-off it's 8km along the 4WD track to Hvitarnes hut. From there you follow the Fulakvisl river 14km to bverbrekknamuli hut. Continue between the river and Kjalhraun lava field to bjofadalir hut...

Breidavik Biidavik

East of Hellnar and Arnarstapi, Rte 574 skirts the edges of the long sandy bays at BreiSavik and BuSavik. These windswept beaches are covered in yellow-grey sand and are wonderfully peaceful places to walk. At BuSavik the abandoned fishing village of BiiSir is now home to one of Iceland's best country hotels. From the hotel a walking trail leads across the elf-infested BuSahraun lava field to the crater Budaklettur. According to local legend a lava tube beneath BuSahraun, paved with gold and...

Sights

Just above the harbour, you'll find ViSey-arstofa, an 18th-century wooden church, and a small monument to Skuli Magnusson. Excavations of the old monastery foundations turned up some 15th-century wax tablets and a runic love letter, now in the National Museum less precious finds can be seen in the basement of ViSeyarstofa. Higher above the harbour is Art Installation - -Eifcsbjarg- - - To Reykjavik Sundahofn O Harbour 500m Area closed during bird Austurey nesting season lafur Eliasson's...

Skaftafellsheidi Loop

On a fine day, the five- to six-hour walk around SkaftafellsheiSi is a hiker's dream. It begins by climbing from the camp site past Svartifoss and Sjonarsker, continuing across the moor to 610m-high Fremrihnaukur. From there it follows the edge of the plateau to the next rise, NyrSrihnaukur 706m , which affords a superb view of Morsardalur, Morsarjokull and the iceberg-choked lagoon at its base. At this point the track turns southeast to an outlook point on the cliff above Skaftafell-sjokull...

Buildings Monuments

Tjornin Pond Map p72 is the placid lake at the centre of the city. It echoes with the honks, squawks and screeches of over 40 species of visiting birds, including swans, geese and artic terns feeding the ducks is a popular pastime for the under fives. Pretty sculpture-dotted parks line the southern shores, and their lacing paths are much used by cyclists and joggers. In winter, hardy souls strap on ice skates and turn the lake into an outdoor rink. For a self-guided art tour round Tjornin, buy...

Stykkisholmur

H tel Brei afj r ur Vin B If you're feeling peckish after a walk around the area you can detour to the farm Bjarnarhofn 4381581 to see the Icelandic delicacy hdkarl putrid shark meat being produced. The farm is at the end of a dirt track, signposted off Rte 54 - call ahead to make sure someone is in.

Southwest Peninsula

The beautiful, sparsely populated trident-shaped peninsula in the southwest of the Westfjords is a spectacularly scenic place and the westernmost point in Europe. Sand beaches as fine as you'll find in Iceland, shimmering blue water, towering cliffs and stunning mountains weave along and between the fjords and provide fantastic territory for hiking, walking and leisurely driving. The region's most famous destination, however, is Latrabjarg, a 12km stretch of sea cliffs that is home to thousands...

Storagja Grjotagja

First up along this trail about 100m from the start is Storagja a rather eerie, watery fissure that was once a popular bathing spot. Cooling water temperatures currently about 28 C and the growth of potentially harmful algae mean it's no longer safe to swim in the cave, but it's an alluring spot with clear waters and a rock roof. Further on at Grjotagja there's another gaping fissure with a water-filled cave, this time at about 45 C - too hot to soak in. It's a beautiful spot, though,...

History

Geologically young, staunchly independent and frequently rocked by natural disaster, Iceland has a turbulent and absorbing history of Norse settlement, literary genius, bitter feuding and foreign oppression. Life in this harsh and unforgiving landscape was never going to be easy, but the challenges and hardships of everyday life cultivated a modern Icelandic spirit that's highly aware of its stormy past yet remarkably resilient, fiercely individualistic, quietly innovative and justifiably...

Reykholar Bjarkalundur

The little town of Reykholar sits on the tip of the kidney-shaped Reykjanes peninsula, a minor geothermal area. There's little to do here other than take a dip in the geothermal swimming pool 434 7738 lOam-IOpm Jun-Aug, reduced hr rest of year or take to the surrounding hills on foot. In summer a small tourist office is open 434 7830 lOam-noon amp 2-6pm Jun-mid-Aug , and staff can help with route planning for hikes. The hiking map Gonguleidir Reykholasveit Ikr300 is also useful. The tiny...

Getting There Around

Most of Reykjanesbaer's accommodation options offers free airport transfers for guests. A taxi will cost about Ikr2000 - call Adalbilar Nyung 421 1515 www.airporttaxi.is or Hreyfill-Baejarleidir 5885522 www.hreyfill.is . For information on the Flybus between the airport and Reykjavik, see p97. Apart from flights to Greenland and the Faeroes, all of Iceland's international flights use Keflavik International Airport. For more information, see p326. SBK 420 6000 www.sbk.is runs five daily buses...

Hellfire Brimstone

The 18th-century eruptions of the volcano Laki brought death and devastation to much of southeastern Iceland, especially nearby Kirkjubaejarklaustur. On 20 July 1783 a particularly fast-moving river of molten lava threatened to engulf the town. The pastor Jon Steingrimsson, convinced it was due to the wickedness of his flock, gathered the terrified parishioners into the church. There he delivered a passionate hellfire and brimstone sermon while the appropriate special effects steamed and smoked...

Gistihus Arsalir

Vik camp site 487 1466, 899 2406 sites per person Ikr600, cottages IkrSOOO The camp site sits under a grassy ridge at the eastern end of the village, just beyond the Edda Hotel. There's an octagonal building with cooking facilities, washing machine, toilets and free showers. Six-person farmhouse-style cottages are also available. Norflur-VikYouth Hostel 4871106 www.hostel.ls SuSurvikurvegur sb dm sb d lkr1S00 3000 S Apr-Oct Vik's friendly hostel is this old beige house on the hill behind the...

Hveravellafelag

Mountain huts along or just off the Kjolur Route are maintained by FerSafelag Islands, except for the huts at Hveravellir, which are run by Hveravellafelag 8941293 www.hveravellir .Is . All have toilets and a kitchen, and most have running water. From south to north, they are Hagavatn N 64 27.760', W 2014.700' sb Ikr1200 Small hut near the southern end of Langjokull, about 15km off the Kjolur Route by 4WD track. No running water. Hvitarnes N 64 37.007', W 19 45.394' sb Ikrl800 Has a warden in...

Mngvallaber Mngvallakirkja

The littie farmhouse in the bottom of the rift is bingvallabaer, built for the 1000th anniversary of the AlJjing in 1930 by the state architect GuSjon Samuelsson. It's now used as the park warden's office and prime minister's summer house. Behind the farmhouse is a church S 9am-7pm mld-May-Aug , Pingvallakirkja, one of Iceland's first. The original church was consecrated in the 11th century, but the current wooden building only dates from 1859. Inside are several bells from earlier churches, a...

Geothermal Pools Spas

Reykjavik's heavenly pools and beach are the heart of the city's social life children play, teenagers flirt, business deals are made, and everyone catches up on the latest gossip. Volcanic water keeps the temperature at a mellow 29 C, and most of the baths have heitir pottar hot pots , jacuzzi-like pools kept at a toasting 37 C to 42 C. Admission usually costs Ikr280 120 for adults children aged 6 to 15, and towels and swimming costumes can be rented for Ikr300 each. For further information,...

Activities

The most popular walk in the area is the two-day trek see pl37 over Fimmv rSuh ls Pass to f rsmork. However, you can also take a morning trek up to the pass and return to Sk gar the same day. The trail starts on the 4WD track to Sk garheiSi behind the village. The return trip should take about seven hours. Horse riding can be arranged through the farm Sk lakot 487 8953 www.skalacot.com sb Ikr1800 , 6km west of Sk gar. Short rides cost Ikr2500 per hour you can wander up by the glacier on...

Hiking Skiing

A pleasant but demanding day hike leads up the Gleradalur valley to the summit of Mt Sulur 1144m . The trail begins on Suluve-gur, a left turn off Kngvallastraeti just before the Glera bridge. Give yourself at least seven hours to complete the return journey. With two days, you can continue up the valley to the beautifully situated Lambi mountain hut at N 65 34.880 W 18 17.770' , which accommodates up to six people. Alternatively, from the HliSarfjall ski resort there's a challenging but...

Eating

Kaffi Langi Mangi 456 3022 ASalstraeti 22 meals lkr400-800 S llam-llpm Mon-Wed,to 1amThu,to 2am Fri, noon-2am Sat, 1 -11 pm Sun This funky little hangout with changing artists' exhibitions is a great spot for snacks and light meals. The menu in cludes everything from soups and sandwiches to pancakes and a range of coffees. Thai Koon 456 0123 Neisti Centre, Hafnarstraeti 9 mains lkr790-990 S 11.30am-9pm Mon-Sat, 5-9pm Sun After a few weeks of limited choice for meals, this small Thai canteen...

Kerlingarfjoll

Until the 1850s Icelanders believed that this mountain range 12km southeast of Rte 35 on Rte F347 harboured the vilest sort of outlaws. It was thought they lived deep in the heart of the 150-sq-km range in an isolated Shangri-la-type valley. So strong was this belief that it was only in the mid-19th century that anyone ventured into Kerlingarfjoll, and it was only in 1941 that the range was properly explored by FerSafelag Islands. It's certainly dramatic. The colourful landscape is broken up...

Freysnes Svinafell Svinafellsjokull

The farm Svinafell, 8km southeast of Skaftafell, was the home of Flosi f gt 6r3arson, the character who burned Njal and his family to death in Njdl's Saga. It was also the site where Flosi and Njal's family were finally reconciled, thus ending one of the bloodiest feuds in Icelandic history see pl36 . There's notmuch to this tiny settlement now, but you can go swimming at Flosalaug 4781765 S 5-9pm , a complex with a shallow round pool, hot pots, showers and a camp site. In the 17th century, the...

Climbing Hekla

You can climb Hekla, but remember that it's still an active volcano. There's never much warning before eruptions, which are usually indicated by multiple small earthquakes a mere hour or two before it blows Stick to days when the summit is free from heavy cloud, and carry plenty of water. There's a small car park where mountain road F225 branches off Rte 26 about 18km northeast of Leirubakki, or 45km northeast of Hella . With a 4WD you can continue along F225 to the foot of the volcano. From...

Around Seydisfjordur Skalanes

The remote farm Skalanes 690 6966 www.skalanes .com sites per tent sb lkr600 2000 SMay-Aug , about 19km east of SeySisfjorSur, has recently been dubbed a nature and heritage field centre. Its isola tion, plus stunning sea cliffs full of diverse and abundant bird life, will do wonders for your inner hermit naturalist. You can stay in very simple accommodation sleeping-bag bunks, kitchen, running water , or the centre does a neat package - Ikr7500 per day will get you a night's sleeping-bag...

Drekagil

The name of the gorge Drekagil, 35km southwest of HerSubreiS, means 'dragon ravine', after the form of a dragon in the craggy rock formations that tower over it. The canyon behind the two FerSafelag Akureyrar Dreki huts N 65 02.520', W 16 35.720' sb Ikr2200 resembles something out of Arizona or the Sinai bitter winds and freezing temperatures just don't suit this desert landscape The Dreki huts are an ideal base for a day or two of exploring the area. Not only does the dramatic Drekagil ravine...

Getting There Away

There's no public transport to the park, but you could get here on an organised bus trip. Reykjavik Excursions and other tour agents offer six-hour tours through the Reykjanes Peninsula see p80 . Otherwise, you'll need a bike or hire car. Follow unsurfaced Rte 42 from HafnarfjorSur, which continues eastwards through lava fields to forlakshofn, passing more dramatic volcanic scenery. Rte 427 from Grindavik will also get you to the reserve. Lonely Planet Publications. To make it easier for you to...

Fjallabak Route

Landmannalaugar Walking

In summer the Fjallabak Route F208 makes a spectacular alternative to the coast road between Hella, in southwest Iceland, and Kirkjubaerjarklaustur. Its name translates as 'Behind the Mountains', and that's exactiy where it goes. First, head north from Hella on Rte 26. The F208 begins near the Sigolduvirkjun power plant on the Tungnaa river and passes through the scenic Fjallabak Nature Reserve to Land-mannalaugar. From there, it continues east past the Kirkjufell marshes and enters...

Index

The letters 5, ae and o have separate places in the alphabet 5 usually comes between d and e, and the other three letters usually appear at the end of the alphabet. locations 312-14 activities 51-6,314-15, see also airlines 326, 328 to from Iceland 326-7 within Iceland 328 Akranes 153-4,154 Akureyrarkirkja 212 Akureyri 210-20,211,213 accommodation 216-17 activities 214-15 drinking 218-19 emergencies 212 entertainment 219 food 217-18 runtur 9 shopping 219 sights 212-14 tourist Information 212...

East of vik Maelifell

On the edge of the glacier, this 642m-high ridge and the countryside around it are just spectacular. The simple but idyllic camp site at l gt akgil 853 4889 www.thakgil.is sites per person Ikr600 SJun amp Jul , a green bowl among stark mountains, makes a convenient base from which to explore. You can walk up Maelifell, or even get up onto the glacier - a path leads to the nunatak hill or mountain completely surrounded by a glacier , Huldufjoll. You can drive to f gt akgil, 14km along a rough...

Tours

L6nsorsefafer8ir 864 4215 is a man with a mountain bus, who runs tours into Lonsoraefi between June and August. You can phone him directly on the mobile number, or book through Stafafell hostel 4781717 www.eldhorn . s stafafell . Visitors can join the day tour Ikr5000 per person , departing at 9am, which includes approximately three hours at Illikambur and a 45-minute walk to the Mulaskali hut. Any hikers who want to make their way to Illikambur, where several of the walks that are outlined...

Geothermal Fields

There's a small geothermal area 483 5062 Hver-arnork admission Ikr200 S 9-11am amp 5-8pm Mon-Thu, 9-11 am amp 2-4pm Fri, 2-4pm Sat amp Sun Jun-Aug in the centre of town, with baked earth, small mudpots and several hot springs and pools. They're a lit e tame, but the information sheet contains some great stories - read all about the hot-spring spider Pirata piraticus, the burping Garbage Spring, and the murderous mudpot. In summer there's a small caf where you can buy eggs Ikrl 50 to boil in the...

Boat

The car ferry Herjolfur sails between forlakshofn and Vestmannaeyjar, and the Baldur sails between Stykkisholmur, Flatey and Brjanslaekur - both run year-round. Passenger ferries include the Scevar between Arskogssandur and Hrisey, the Scefari between Dalvik and Hrisey or Grim-sey, and the Anny between NeskaupstaSur and MjoifjorSur. Small summer-only ferries run from Reykjavik's Sundahofn harbour to the island of ViSey, and from IsafjorSur and Drangsnes to...

Lower kverkfjoll ice caves

Besides being the source of the roiling J kuls Fj llum, central Iceland's greatest river, Kverkfjoll is also one of the world's largest geo-thermal areas. The lower Kverkfjoll ice caves lie 3km from the SigurSarsk li hut, a half-hour return walk from the 4WD track's end. Here the hot river flows beneath the cold glacier ice, clouds of steam swirl over the river and melt shimmering patterns on the ice walls, and there you have it - a spectacular tourist attraction. Perhaps this was the source of...