The Black Church – Búðakirkja

The Búðakirkja Church is a small wooden church erected on the southern shore of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula – where road 54 turns from the sea towards the mountains. It sits as a strong colour contrast against the backdrop of the Snæfellsjökull glacier, highlighted by its colour on its white vestry, and this makes it the most photographed church in Iceland.

Búðakirkja Black church during winter

The church sits on a lava field and was reconstructed in its present form in 1987 by local people and experts from the National Museum of Iceland even though it was first built in 1703. There were once quite active trading centres in the peninsula itself and Búðir was one of the well-developed fishing villages, and one of Iceland’s main ports. This trading boom ended towards the beginning of the 19th century, but today the area thrives economically thanks to tourism.

The church

All that remains of the former settlement of Bushire is the beautiful black wooden church of Búðakirkja. The place for its erection in the early 18th century was determined by the rules of traditional culture and thinking, through a magical ritual. The first construction was of a small chapel wrapped in turf, which was removed after about a century by order of King Christian VIII of Denmark because of its unstable condition.

Búðakirkja Black Church

Several residents fought for the restoration of the sacred place, and in 1849 the priestly council authorized the construction of a new house of prayer on the condition that the residents of Bushire would finance the project themselves and take care of the upkeep of the church. Some items from the original chapel have been preserved inside Búðakirkja, the lock on the gate with beautiful old inlay being one of them. It is still used today for some of the parish’s traditional church events by its 120 or so registered parishioners, for weddings, musical events and children’s storytelling gatherings.

Búðakirkja church

What you can see around Búðakirkja

Búðir boasts a vast lava field of Búðahraun, which extends east from the settlement out to sea at Faxaflói Bay, and west to Hraunlandarif Reef. The source of the lava can be traced back to the 88-metre high volcanic crater Búðaklettur, set in the middle of the lava field. The crater has an opening on its southwest side, from where the 380 m long Búðahellir cave can be entered. The lava field is home to around 130 different plant species, including some rare and protected species. The eastern part has been declared a nature reserve since the late 1980s. Another attraction is the beach with light sand and black lava rocks.

 

Want to see Búðakirkja for yourself? Why not book our 10-day Roadtrip or 14-day Roadtrip to be sure not to miss out! 

The Laugavegur Trail

The southwest of Iceland offers an interesting hiking route of 54 km, called the Laugavegur Trail, which can be completed in 4 to 8 days, depending on weather conditions and your general fitness. It starts from the geothermal springs of Landmannalaugar and extends to the Þórsmörk Nature Reserve at the foot of the active volcano Eyjafjallajökull.

Laugavegur Trail

The Laugavegur trail passes by gorges, glaciers, and cascading multi-colored rhyolite mountains, through black obsidian lava fields and bright vegetation. Its highest point is Hrafntinnusker, 1050 m. 

The Laugavegur Trail Iceland

It is along this trail that the country shows visitors why Iceland is considered one of the most wonderful parts of the world. It is the most popular hiking trail in the country and was included in National Geographic’s list of the top 20 “Dream Trails” in the world. Those wishing to see an extraordinary beauty are many, but the time to do so is very limited – only three months of the year from mid-June to mid-September. In late August-September, and with a bit of luck, the Northern Lights can be seen. The usual route is from Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk or from north to south and is traversed in most cases in 4 days. 

The first trek is from Landmannalaugar to Hrafntinnusker and is about 12 km long. Landmannalaugar immediately amazes with its colorful mountains and the clouds of vapor present all around the area. Enveloping the entire landscape occupied by the edge of the Eldhraun lava field, the hot springs beckon, hidden under a wall of lava.

The Laugavegur Trail Iceland

The next lava field along the way is Laugahraun and it stretches across multi-colored rhyolite mountains before reaching another hot spring with surprisingly bright foliage beside it. The ground is covered with black sand, which leads you to your overnight accommodation, the Höskuldsskáli hut.

 Further on you continue to Álftavatn for another 12 km. The area is geothermally active and is framed by the red and yellow ridges and canyons of the Reykjafjöll mountains. Álftavatn also has a nice hut with quite a few facilities, and a good camping area is set up next to the lake’s shore.  

Follow the trail from Álftavatn to Emstrur. The difficulty here is crossing several rivers – on bridges, but also on foot. Several huts are available along the route, and the views are again unique. The last two destinations are from Emstrur to Þórsmörk and – for those with additional walking intentions – the 16-18 km hike from Þórsmörk to Fimmvörðuháls. Rivers, forests, mountain slopes, passes and glaciers, volcano craters, and pleasant huts follow your journey every step of the way.  

 

Worlds 2021 – E-Sport Championship in Iceland

The biggest E-Sports tournament – the League of Legends ‘Worlds 2021’ Championship –  is happening now in Iceland!

Riot, the developer and publisher of League of Legends and VALORANT, was set to take two of its biggest e-game tournaments to China earlier this year. However, due to Coronavirus restrictions, the date and location were changed and pushed back up until now.

E-sport in Iceland

‘Worlds 2021’, also known as the League of Legends World Championship 2021, started October 5th and will carry on for about 4 weeks, during which E-sport stars from all over the world will go head-to-head with each other battling for prime positions.

The live broadcast from 2019 amassed a viewership of 100 million, more than Eurovision or in fact the Super Bowl, and it is believed that this year’s tournament will spark even more interest!

E-sports and its rise to popularity

E-sports, also known as electronic sports or eSports, takes the form of a video game competition. Starting their development in Asia (China and South Korea), through the improvement and expansion of social networks, they have spread around the world with the first organized competition at Stanford University in the early 1980s. A meteoric change in this was brought about by the intervention of live-streaming, after which they became an exclusive attraction. This has led to the competitions becoming a significant industry event and a factor in attracting serious funds for tournaments.

Today, some of these tournaments are extremely popular, such as the League of Legends World Championship, Dota 2’s International, the fighting game-specific Evolution Championship Series (EVO), and Intel Extreme Masters.

They feature appealing genres in disciplines such as Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), First-Person Shooter (FPS), fighting, card, battle royale, and Real-Time Strategy (RTS).

Worlds 2021, e-sports, keyboard

The inclusion of e-sports in international sporting events at the level of, for example, the Olympic Games is still questionable and under discussion, but their supporters are growing steadily. In 2010 the number of spectators reached 454 million with a revenue of over US$1 billion. Statistics show that the majority of viewers are male, about 85%, against only 15% for the female audience, and age-wise the viewers are among the younger generation, between 18-34 years.

It seems that the gaming industry is in its heyday, gaining more and more fans around the world who follow with interest the performance of their favorite players, and some even try to become as successful as them. According to analysts, prize pools are expected to get even higher in the next few years.

‘Worlds 2021’ Championship in Iceland

The finalists have successfully participated in their local leagues over the past year and have been competing at the highest level of e-sports since October 5th; the finals are scheduled for November 6th, the venue is the newly refurbished Hall A at the Laugardalshöll indoor sporting arena.

reykjavik with esjan mountain on the backdrop

This year’s Worlds 2021 are unusual because of the decision taken to have no live audience, and they are being very closely monitored and controlled by the health authorities. Riot successfully hosted the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) this past May in Hall B (as opposed to the Worlds 2021 tournament now being in the new Hall A) at Laugardalshöll without a live audience, which resulted in zero COVID-19 cases among players, staff, and partners.

The MSI 2021 was the most successful MSI to date, with the final match between DAMWON KIA and Royal Never Give Up hitting a record-breaking MSI peak viewership of 23.7 million, and an average minute audience (AMA) of 10.0 million. Across the entire tournament, the MSI 2021 had an AMA of 3.6 million. ‘Worlds 2021’ currently features 22 teams from around the world in three levels of play: Play-Ins, Groups, and Knockouts. At the former levels, games open at 11 a.m. GMT, and at the latter, starting with the quarter-finals, at 12 p.m. GMT. The world awaits to see who will take home the so-called Summoner’s Cup…

More information about the teams competing in this year’s Worlds 2021 as well as game updates, can be found here.

Inspired to visit Iceland? Please have a look at our Guided Tours and Roadtrips!

The Mesmerising Nauthúsagil Ravine

Iceland often surprises with its otherworldly landscape, one of these is undoubtedly the mystical Nauthúsagil Ravine. Found in the southern region of the country, it consists of magical waterfalls and shapes created by centuries of geological layering combined with rain, wind, and erosion.

Nauthúsagil Canyon is still referred to today as the “well-hidden gem” along the F249 Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Trail. As with most hidden spots, it’s best to visit this area during summer when the vegetation is at its height of beauty and diversity.

Nauthúsagil ravine

The place has been relatively kept a secret up until recently, due to its difficult-to-access location. It is positioned behind the local farm Stóra-Mörk. Unlike the surrounding area, the name Nauthúsagil translates rather blandly as ‘Bull Shed Ravine’. Presumably, the farm did indeed house large domestic animals in the 18th century, which fed on the neighboring pastures. A further small farm building existed there until 1777. It is associated with the mythological legend of the unfortunate family of the three Nauthús brothers and their sister. It is believed that the farm became abandoned due to the extreme misfortune and magic that was cast upon her.

The waterfalls of Nauthúsagil Ravine.

The several waterfalls complete the imprint of uniqueness. To go to the first one at the end of the small and narrow ravine, you need to cross a shallow river on stepping-stones. For this, it’s a good idea to have boots and waterproof clothing.

Not far away is the all too popular Seljalandsfoss waterfall, famous for the exceptional opportunity to walk behind it. Next to it is its next sibling, the Gljúfrabúi waterfall, which in turn is hidden behind a huge rock in a small gorge. Until a while ago, it was not well known, precisely because of its hidden location, but today it is actively visited and is not inferior in popularity to Seljalandsfoss. A walk along the western end of the canyon will allow you to enjoy a third beautiful waterfall. Waterfalls are described by tourists as extremely tranquil places, where one feels the solitude and uniqueness of the individual precisely because of its unity with nature. Above the falls looms another all-too-famous formation whose fundamental role in creating chaos in European airspace in 2010 will long be remembered – that of the fearsome volcano Eyjafjallajökull.

To get a better idea of what it is like to walk within the Nauthúsagil ravine, take a look at this short video right here.

Nauthúsagil ravine

The flora at Nauthúsagil

Unlike other attractive areas in the country, Nauthúsagil has its own vegetative characteristic: these are the massive densely spaced sycamore trees that cover the edges of the ravine. Nauthúsagil is famous for the sycamore (Sorbus aucuparia) that grows on its ridge and whose numerous trunks lean over the ravine, some almost horizontally. The view is impressive, especially when the tree is in full bloom. Interestingly enough, in some parts their crowns join and overlap, and create a semi-permeable canopy over the entire ravine that adds an extra charisma to the already beautiful landscape.

The tree is considered sacred. As there is not a great variety of tree species in the country, this grove is of special interest: the trunk of the rowan tree is supposedly the largest in Iceland, and in a 1930 measurement its diameter was found to be 1.5 m, and its height 9 m. A few years after its measurement, the tree fell, was put on a cart pulled by 8 horses, and placed in Skógasafn Museum. Along with the volcanoes, you can also enjoy the view of the surrounding farm fields along the Markarfljót River.

Fancy seeing the wonders of Nauthúsagil in your own time? If so, then why book a Roadtrip with us?

 

The Famous Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall

Kirkjufellsfoss is among Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls. It lies at the foot of an impressive cone-shaped mountain range, making it a place with stunning panoramic views.

It’s located in the country’s western Vesturland region, close to the Kirkjufell Mountain in the northern part of the Snæfellsnes peninsula and near the town of Grundarfjörður, a two-hour drive from Reykjavik. Its name means “Church Mountain Falls”. The mountain itself is about 460m high and this was enough in the past to guide sailors and passers-by.

Kirkjufellsfoss and kirkjufell mountain in snaefellsnes peninsula

Today, the whole area around Kirkjufellsfoss and the mountain is considered one of the most photographed places in the country, as a result of its exceptional location and natural beauty.

You can stop at a free parking lot located on private property. It’s a considerably short walk of about 250 m to the bridge over Kirkjufellsá, where you will catch a glimpse of a fragmented part of the second waterfall up and of the main waterfall down, from the bridge. There are, however, good footpaths on both sides of this bridge which allow you to take in the waterfalls downstream and upstream.

What is seen most often is heavy traffic across the bridge, probably heading for the best photo opportunity position on the site towards Mt Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss with its three cascades of falling water from a relatively modest height of only 16m.

Facts and features of Kirkjufellsfoss

While Kirkjufellsfoss suggests power and energy, the nearby mountain is present in the picture with the dimness of its domed top, a relationship with the sky and the blue sky rather than the land below – that of the falls and the waters crashing mightily into the pool of water below. The upper parts of the falls can also be photographed, and then you’ll catch the bridge and trail with the hurried hikers. When one is nearby, one looks for and finds these little gems where the camera can capture, and the eye can enjoy, the cascades of falling water.

Kirkjufellsfoss and kirkjufell mountain in snaefellsnes peninsula

Kirkjufellfoss and Mt. Kirkjufell

The dramatic location hasn’t escaped the attention of Hollywood filmmakers: the foot of the mountain is one of the locations where scenes from Game of Thrones season 6 and 7 were filmed, and it features there as “Arrowhead Mountain”.

Here’s a video where you can see broken-down scenes of Game of Thrones at Mt. Kirkufell.

kirkjufell and lupine flower fields in iceland

A lake can be found at the foot of the mountain that reflects the image of Kirkjufell and photographers particularly love this. But there’s another surprise – the mountain changes color according to the seasons, from deep green in summer to brown and white in winter. At the peak of the transitional periods – the days of the summer solstice, or under the Northern Lights, these colors bleed into each other and the magic of the landscapes fully comes through.

To learn more about Hollywood in Iceland, why not join our 10-day Iceland Guided Movie Tour. 

 

 

The Spectacular Dyrhólaey cliffs

The southern part of Iceland offers an almost celestial depiction of numerous otherworldly landforms, contrasting landscapes of black sand beaches, rivers, waterfalls, and volcanoes – places that are also home to intriguing animals and birds species. There, at the tip of the Icelandic mainland, as its most southerly point, are the Dyrhólaey cliffs, picturesquely drawn out into the ocean.

Interested in learning more about this beautiful natural scenery? If so then read on!

The cliffs, the beach, and its shoreline with black volcanic sand make the place one of the popular tourist attractions in the country. The promontory itself is a mass of land accumulation that is wedged into the ocean by a formation of solid rock ridge that has resisted and withstood the erosions of the elements.

Dyrhólaey arch by the sea in south iceland

History and facts of Dyrhólaey

Sailors once called the promontory Cape Portland, and its present name is a combination of characteristics: ‘neck’, ‘hill’, and ‘island’. The Cape is the result of numerous and powerful volcanic eruptions in prehistoric times, about 100,000 years ago.

It rises to a height of 120 m and the white-stone Dyrhólaey Lighthouse, facing omnisciently towards the ocean, marks its ridge. Anyone who climbs to the top gets a divine view: the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, one of the remarkable ice caps of the Icelandic South, stops the eye from the north; the columns of black lava eerily bursting out of the water at Reynisdrangar surprise from the east; and if the weather is clear, the view of Selfoss and the whole coast opens up in the distance to the west.

“The ‘gateway’ to the peninsula is actually a towering, huge black arch of lava rising out of the water, and an imposing palm-shaped mass of rock rising up over the strip of black sand. Because of its black sand, the beach was named one of the top ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world, and in 2021 it was moved up to 6th place. What inevitably pushes it forward in the rankings are its huge basalt cliffs, the roaring waves of the Atlantic around them, and the stunning panoramas.

Dyrhólaey black sand beach in south iceland

The whimsical natural forms around Dyrhólaey have made a lasting impression on Icelandic folklore and feature in stories and various sagas – including love ones between people with special qualities and trolls or other demons, as well as in tales of dramas such as shipwrecks and disasters. The television viewer sees these black shores repeatedly in the Icelandic series Katla, linked to the family drama of the main character.

Birdlife

During the summer months, colonies of Atlantic puffins and kittiwakes come to the Dyrhólaey cliffs to breed. The Icelandic puffin has a black crown and back, pale grey spots on the cheeks, and white underparts. Its broad boldly marked red and black bill and orange legs contrast with its plumage. In winter, while at sea, some of the bright and recognizable facial markings are lost, but in spring his vivid colors return. They spend the autumn and winter in the open ocean towards the northern seas and return to the coastlines in late spring at the start of the breeding season.

puffins nesting on a cliff during summer in iceland

How to get to Dyrhólaey

The place is located about 180 km from the capital Reykjavík and is a must-stop on a tour of the southern coast. The distance can be taken in about two and a half hours from the capital, meaning the trip itself can be planned for even half or full days in combination with other sightseeing. Cape Dyrhólaey is not far from the settlement of Vík, but it is a few kilometers from the main road, so it is accessible by car.

If you’d like to visit Dyrhólaey cliffs, why not join one of our many Guided Tours

 

Ytri Tunga and its Colony of Seals

One of nature’s unexpected encounters in the Snæfellsnes peninsula is the golden-white sand of the compelling Ytri Tunga beach. This spot is one of the most westerly points of the country and is easily accessible from the capital. You head north on the Ring Road straight to Snæfellsnes Peninsula; from there you take the southern road, and the sign for the beach is halfway along – it’s almost in the middle of the peninsula just a few hundred meters from Highway 54.

Although the area is privately owned, visitors are allowed to roam on its grounds: you’ll see a parking area and a narrow road to the golden sandy shore.

Ytri Tunga beach

Apart from its peculiar for Iceland colored beach, Ytri Tunga’s main attraction is the colony of harbor seals that have made this beach their home. There are not many places in Iceland where you can see these fascinating creatures apart from the lagoon by the Jökulsárlón glacier and the Vatnsnes headland.

What to expect at Ytri Tunga

What awaits you at Ytri Tunga are seals lazily lounging near the shoreline. If you’re lucky they might even come closer to you for the perfect photo opportunity! Be sure to stay further away from the animals or not to bother them with loud noises.

You can also visit this place during winter as well if the weather allows, of course. But then, instead of seals, you will enjoy what is described as a magical picture-perfect setting of windswept golden sand, partially covered with snow and swirling in every possible direction. In calm waters and during the summer months, the first thing you’ll notice at Ytri Tunga are the few dark rocks rising above the water’s surface, creating a safe abode and resting place for marine life. They are representatives of one of the two distinct species of seals that reside in Iceland, the so-called Harbour Seals, the others being Grey seals.

Seal at Ytri Tunga

Seals and people

Having formed a relatively permanent presence in Icelandic waters, seals naturally enter the daily life of the local people. Their rich and tasty meat, saturated blubber, and beneficial use of almost all body parts make them valuable and most appreciated by Icelanders. It is no wonder that they include them in their folklore and beliefs, as well as endow them with qualities: seals are featured in the traditional worldview in the form of mysterious beautiful sulkies. Unlike their counterparts in other Nordic mythologies, they are not demons but kind and humane creatures.

Seals at Ytr Tunga

In recent times there has been an unfortunate trend for seals to be hunted and killed for destroying fishing nets and eating the catch. But with a change in thinking, this practice is shifting. Icelanders love seals because they help them attract tourists, they are fun to watch, and most of the time are rather friendly.

What else is there to see near Ytri Tunga

The area has a spectacular view over Faxaflói Bay to the south, and the more distant horizon over the beautiful mountain range of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula towards Snæfellsjökull Glacier. Ytri Tunga is the perfect add-on stop to your Snæfellsnes road trip!

 

 

 

 

 

Réttir – The Annual Sheep Gathering Festival

Cultural traditions in Iceland are linked to the unique nature and its inhabitants, by this we mean inhabitants of different kinds of species who interact and create a close bond with the people of this country. One of the vivid illustrations of this fact is the Annual Sheep gathering celebration also known as the Réttir festival.

Honoured from the earliest of times, it is both an important date in the calendar cycle of livestock keepers and a celebration of family and friendship, kinship and neighbourly solidarity and unity. This is when sheep farmers across the entire country invite relatives and friends to help them round up and take sheep from their summer pastures in the plains and mountains to wintering places closer to the farms. Activities take place over one weekend during the period late September and early October.

Réttir sheep gathering festival

Icelandic sheep farming

Bred and raised for centuries, Icelandic sheep are a very specific breed. Their breed is extremely pure, mainly because they have been kept and preserved in isolation for more than 11 centuries. During this time they have survived subarctic frosts and have adapted to survive. They vary in colour – there are said to be over 30 colours in sheep, including yellow, black and brown, but white is the dominant colour. Their wool is soft and warm, breathable and airy, light and waterproof. That’s why the popular lopapeysur wool sweaters knitted from it spread the fame of Icelandic sheep all over the world.

Sheep herds are an integral part of the Icelandic symbol – numbering around 800 000, or double the population here. For centuries, they have provided people with vital products and raw materials for which they have their attention, care and love. Unlike in European countries, after the lambs are born in May, the sheep are let loose for the summer on high mountain grazing. This continues until September when the réttir occurs.

Réttir festival Iceland

Sheep gathering – Réttir

On the day of the gathering, sheep owners, relatives and friends accompanied by their faithful sheepdogs and horses, and set about grouping and guiding the sheep to the specified location. Oftentimes,  physical effort is required for days to successfully round all the sheep therefore the surrounding and more distant communities pitch in to help.

The march of cascades of white-horned sheep with heavy wool, surrounded by riders, high-wheeled machines, walkers and dogs is truly a sight to remember. A peculiar and interesting moment is the sorting of the sheep at the réttir, which is also an ancient tradition: circular pens with diverse sections are set up so that individual farmers can separate their own sheep.

They are identified mainly by earmarks, and then each person decides which sheep go to shearing and which to slaughter. The effort is followed by a great celebration, with music, picnics, dancing and singing, each farmer helping the other to lead his flock. These moments are shared by the many tourists present, with some coming especially for the celebration. Local and foreign good horse riders are specially invited both to help and join in the fun on the night of the feast and to sing and dance at the local round-up shindig or Réttaball. After the hard work, dishes of sheep meat – svið (sheep’s head) and lamb chops – are put on the table.

Places where Réttir takes place

The event is anticipated and its programme is usually widely publicised through the local press: here and now, if you open Icelandic websites and media, you will see detailed invitations to attend Réttir on certain dates, with a detailed hour-by-hour programme of activities and entertainment in many parts of Iceland, more than 150.

Although Réttir happens all over the country, some areas that have preserved this tradition for decades are settlements and places in the north of Iceland, e.g. the Skagafjörður settlement, places around Akureyri, the Svartárdalur valley and the historic Eyjafjörður fjord, the Bjarteyjarsandur farm close to the capital.

 

The next possible encounter of Réttir is in the markets of the towns and villages. Restaurants also serve dishes made from organically reared lambs based on old recipes such as the black pudding blóðmör and the sheep liver sausage lifrapylsa.

The Splendid Háifoss Waterfall

Háifoss, or ‘high waterfall’, nestled in Fossárdalur valley in the south of Iceland is the third tallest waterfall in the country after Morsárfoss and Glymur.

Fed by the river Fossa, Háifoss presents an array of contrasting colors from the two million-year-old cliffs nearby to the vivid green colored grass all across the valley. With a whopping 122 meters drop over geologically rich cliffs, this stunning natural backdrop is worth a visit.

Háifoss waterfall in Iceland

History and folklore

Upon discovery in the late 20th century by the Icelandic geologist Dr. Helgi Pjeturson, it was deemed that this was the highest waterfall not only in Iceland but in the whole of Europe. This statement was later adjusted, once higher waterfalls were discovered all over the European continent.

It comes to no surprise that this picture-perfect area comes with a trail of mythological creatures and folklore: Visitors are told stories of ogre monsters, one of which lived near the waterfall, and came out at night to feed on fish, threatening anyone who dared to come near. One day a young boy threw a stone into the river. The monster entered his tent and attacked him and his friends. The boy was saved from death by the intervention of his companions, but suffered severe injuries. Similar tales have been reported for many areas throughout the “Land of Ice and Fire”, with the most popular characters in them being the trolls found in lore throughout the vast Norse world. In Icelandic mythology, the relationship of troll and ogre gives birth to demonological creatures that demand awe and respect from locals and tourists alike.

Háifoss and the nearby region

Apart from Háifoss, there is one other waterfall in close proximity each feeding from the same river, Fossa. The river splits into two separate parts a kilometer or so from Háifoss waterfall, each creating a beautiful cascade of their own. Granni waterfall (the Icelandic word for ‘neighbor’, ‘neighboring’) can be found at about 250 m from its larger sibling Háifoss. Its height is more modest – just over 101 m, and its power is also inferior in strength.

The two waterfalls, as well as the small nearby settlement, the historic agrarian farm Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng, are in close proximity to the notorious volcano – Hekla. During one of its violent eruptions in the Middle Age, the farm was destroyed and then rebuilt in the 1980s.

Getting to the waterfalls

The waterfalls are found in close proximity to the Golden Circle, therefore it is best to add this spot as a stop on your tour. From Fluðir, the drive takes roughly an hour to complete on road 332 and follows the river through the mesmerizing Þjórsárdalur Valley. Turn left on route 32 and follow the gravel road for about 7 kilometers until you reach Háifoss.

Some amenities are present for hikers and visitors alike: A parking lot on top of the waterfalls, a viewing platform on the south side of Háifoss and Hekla dominating the overall landscape in the distance.

Book your Road Trip now and get to experience the magic of Háifoss Waterfall!

 

Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck

The Ring Road leads tourists to the incredible Icelandic South Coast and its black shorelines, but also throws a few surprises along the way – the crashed and abandoned American DC plane on Sólheimasandur being one of them.

Since its discovery and in response to the increased curiosity of locals and visitors alike, its location has become one of the most visited non-natural attractions in this part of the country.

Sólheimasandur plane wreck

History

The U.S. military Douglas Dakota aircraft (referred to as Super DC-3, officially designated as Douglas C-117), a veteran of the Korean War, was flying from the northeastern town of Höfn to deliver equipment for the U.S. radar station located there. Headed for the capital, it encountered a combination of adverse conditions. A storm with low temperatures and ice forming on its wings, minimal visibility as well as human carelessness.

The plane crashed in the sands of the Icelandic coastline in 1973, as one of its engines was left without fuel. The pilots managed to crash land on Sólheimasandur, a short distance away from the raging waters of the Atlantic Ocean. It turned out that the pilot had switched on the plane’s power to the empty engine, which resulted in the machine crashing. Fortunately, there were no casualties among the 5-men crew. The proximity of the remains of the eroding aircraft’s skeleton right next to the ocean paired with the extraordinary landscape of black sand and mighty crashing waves nearby, make the site very surreal and highly attractive.

Sólheimasandur plane wreck

Sólheimasandur has nowadays become a great attraction for those who visit the island. The plane can also be viewed from the inside. It is also a favorite photography spot for many keen photographers who explore the country year in year out.

How to get there

It is wise to visit this place during summer or at least in good weather – the snow is heavy, the wind is strong and snowstorms are a frequent occurrence in this region. The location is easy to find: between Skógafoss waterfall and Vík. After crossing the Jökulsá river, you pass a left turn on road 221. You continue for about 2 km until the entrance to a parking lot appears on your right and then follow the orange signs. Access to the plane crash site by car is forbidden unless given explicit permission by the landowners. Therefore be prepared for about 2 hours or more of walking from the main road to get to Sólheimasandur.

Sólheimasandur plane wreck

The scenery around Sólheimasandur

The scenery is completed by views of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which, after erupting flooded the terrain with masses of water rushing towards the ocean. The release of these ever so powerful flooding waters is considered one of the most dangerous consequences of the Icelandic volcano eruptions. They have also claimed more victims than the lava, and are difficult to predict and prepare for. This is the reason for the absence of settlements in the area from Vík í Mýrdal to Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

The surrounding area of Sólheimasandur consists of moon-like formations. Below Mýrdalsjökull is Iceland’s most active volcano, Katla.

This part of Iceland is becoming increasingly commercialized: film directors from Bollywood, music and commercial advertising agencies, video and music video makers of famous musicians (e.g. Justin Bieber) film their productions there.

Why not book one of our many Road Trips on offer and see Sólheimasandur for yourself!