Iceland – Meeting on Another Planet IX
We moved to the rhyolite hill on the opposite side. It is what remained of Leirhnjúkur crater. The land is really strange yet beautiful.
17. 8. 2013
Víti crater, Leirhnjúkur
For the first time in my life I felt like on the moon there. Colorful shades you can see there are really hard to describe (rhyolite is igneous rcok of light color, in some cases it could have even shades of red). When you walk around it absolutely changes. You walk by smelly lakes, smoking sulphur, until you reach Hell. The crater is called Hell yet beautiful aquamarine water really doesn’t give any resemblance of hell. You have to follow designed roads in the area, and you really shouldn’t leave them as the terrain is unbelievably hot. It could surprise you how hot it is.
In geological terms, Iceland is the youngest in Europe and it still evolves. Many tectonic forces compete in the terrain. Around 50% of the surface are sand zones, 20% greenery (meadows, forests, marshalnds), 12% glaciers, and 11% lava fields. The rest consist of sands. So there are not many places where people could live. Moreover, Iceland is one of the world’s most active volcanic areas. There are about 200 volcans in the country, about 9 of them have gone live since the 9th century (when the island was settled). More than 150 eruptions have been recorded. On average there is one eruption in five years. Life there really is not easy yet locals don’t give up and try to utilize everything the land gives them. For instance, people have been using warm water since time immemorial. At first to wash clothes or fo cooking. Later geothermal power plants were built to utilize hot steam coming up from deep drill holes. The steam is used to heat buildings. Warm water at many toilets across country might be a pleasant surprise to you.
Krafla geothermal plant is our next stop. We saw a short movie describing how hot springs are utilized to create energy. We cannot acces the plant itself. Yet there are photos and descriptions in the visitors room.
Námafjall - colorful ridge is another nice thing we have seen today. The first thing you see at the bottom of the mountain is Hverir – a huge field of bubbling mud pools. Hot smelly pools are really photogenic. The temperature there reaches even 200 °C. Even there you have to keep to designated trails and follow wooden pathways which lead you through the area safely. After lakes we see steamy apertures, piles of rocks, gravel, and ground cracked due to heat. Steam intensively streamed from the openings.
We climbed to the top of Námafjallu. It offers beautiful views of the landscape. I am saying that we climbed but for me it is one of the last peaks. I do not climb much any more. It is difficult for me to overcome 500 meters of altitude. Mirek, a great guy, is going with me. He refills me with energy and enthusiasm to go on. The effort is really worth it as we look at the whole area of Mývatn, from Hrossaborg to k Hverfjall.
I made it to the top. We are returning to the camp. We have many great impressions and even my memory card is full of great pics. What a better way to end the day, even the sun eventually defeated bad weather. A bath in thermal spas does the job. There are various options for bathing in the area. Today, we choose small spas of Jarðböðin. Many are interested in it and eventually 20 of us go. The spa consist of couple of small pools, and great wooden boxes inside of which up to 6 persons can rest. The temperature varies depending on the place. The best is just to swim and enjoy everything to the fullest. If you get enough of hot water, you can go to sauna which is common for men and women. Inside is 40 °C and we stay there for 3 hours and pay 2900 ISK. It is a group discount as usual price is 3200 ISK.
We absorbed the island’s atmosphere and assimilated to the habits of the locals. Elves and trolls have to be communicated with. So we ask them to change a rainy day to a sunny one. Thermal spa and joint bath is a great way to realize it. We join our hands and ask magical beings for help. In the morning, we find out that our plea fulfilled. We return to the camp at around 11p.m. It is really cold, about 6 °C. So I quickly go to the tent and to my sleeping bag.
Next time you learn how pseudocraters are created. Also, we will se the falls of gods, and Iceland's second largest city.
Text and photo: Magdaléna Radostová
Thanks to the feeling of omnipresent danger, the island lures travellers. It is located in the most volcanically active region in the world. It really has lots to offer: monumental glaciers, bubbling thermal springs, majestic falls, colorful lava fields covered with heath, and many other things. It is only a glimpse of what lures people here from all over the world.
We leave the camp. We have to pack the tents, sleeping bags, and foam mats to be ready to carry on.
I think that I can call this day the most beautiful on Iceland. Beautiful weather only enhanced my experience on that day. It was beautiful from the very morning until the night. Sun shone, it was warm, cloudless sky, and great visibility.
The night was freezing yet beautiful. In the morning, sun is shining and it seems it will be the last one we enjoy on the island.
After a long time we slept in we woke at 9:30. Night was peaceful only one thing was unpleasant, that is air temperature in couchettes which was more than 30 degrees Celsius. It is not optimal given the combination of air temperature on the deck – too hot in the cabins, too cold outside.
The following two days we are going to spend on a ship and have the last stope at Ejer Bavnehøj, Denmark, where is a tower open whole year.
If you intend to visi a beautiful country that is different from the Czech Republic but you don’t want to travel to another continent Iceland could be your choice. The country is near the polar circle and it is the westernmost European country. It charms everybody. It is mostly for its nature which are rare on the European continent.
We were travelling around the island to get to know it better. We set off to the east from Reykjavik. First we are headed to Þingvellir park (Thingvellir). The park is listed in UNESCO’s world heritage program.
I really recommend you to travel to the southeast if you happen to be around Hveragerði. There is the lava cave of Raufarholshellir near the road No 39 and you reach it after about fifteen minutes of drive.
In this part of our series we take a look at island’s north and east. In the east, there are fishermen’s villages along the road number 1. The atmosphere here is very peaceful. It took us a long time to bypass eastern fjords. We were disoriented because everything looks so similar here and there also was thick white fog. One shouldn’t take this lightly.
Next part of our travels starts on the north of the island. It is at Eyjafjördur fjord, the place where the second largest city on Iceland is located – Akureyri. It is a nice city, rich, and full of students. It is really worth seeing. However, our long drive to Vatnsnes peninsula was not very impressive.
People who love winter should be pleased by the following article. This time we take you to world’s largest island. And it name is bit paradoxical. However, in the native language of Greenland it is called Kalaallit Nunaat meanin the land of people.
Dyrhólaey is a peninsula on the south of the country. It is also a natural reservation. There are many rocky cliffs of various shapes. The cliffs are favored by maritime birds such as puffin, duck, or murre. Beaches of black lava sand fill the area between the rocks.
Alarm at 7 o’clock. Leaving camp an hour later. Originally, we had to stay over night on the Vestman Islands. But it would have taken us much more time. We would use it much better – at the farm of Skálakot.
The journey goes according to the plan. We go to the waterfall of Seljalandsfoss near which is the camp. There the drivers were supposed to be accommodated. Upon a short break in the camp, we go further to the harbor. It is raining cats and dogs, and wind blows strongly. Soon we learn that the trip to the island has been postponed due to large waves.
Sun greets us in the morning. Very unusual here… perhaps you have already forgotten how many sunny days there are on these island. I remember it so I appreciate the nice weather more.
I get up at 6 already. Yesterday I forget to charge my equipment so I have to do it now. More of us had the same idea. I still ponder whether to participate in hike or not. Eventually together with drivers and other great group that we will have a rest day today.
I wake up at 7.20 a.m. in a shock. I burst out of sleeping bag heading to washroom. Fortunately, I remembered the time of departure. It is an hour later so when I get it back together I start preparing for the departure. The weather is not very good today, it is a bit foggy.
Morning, sun wakes us up and the sky is clear! Great! Other travelers arrived in the night - six new participants.
Today, not really pleasant weather starts today. It is raining cats and dogs here. One cannot see in this dense rain, so our plans from the previous day are hard to realize. The departure is postponed. Yet we still are going to get on the top of the highest waterfall on Iceland.
The night was quiet. It doesn’t rain in the morning so we have a quick breakfast, pack our tents, and set off to the Kotagil gorge after 8 a.m.
"Working" with the elves worked out pretty well. We have a nice sunny day, although it is bit cold. Skútustaðir is one of the few towns at Mývatn lake. Our goal is a walk near pseudocraters. Local name for these strange hills, about twenty of them, is skútustaðagígar.
Alarm at 7,30. We have to leave cabins until 8,30. As always, I bought a good book guide and read it. In introduction, there was: “Despite you can travel by boat, we recommend it only to experienced sailors with tough stomachs. Gale is strong on the route as well as storms and waves of the Atlantic."
Our stay on the Faroe Islands is getting shorter. It is the best time to visit the capital of Tórshavn and explore it thoroughly.
We continue through Kvivik, a small village, to the northernmost city of this island, Tjornuvik.
The night was absolutely calm. Living in couchettes is not the most pleasant thing, but one can manage. We were very lucky because of the weather, the sea was absolutely calm and we could have our calm sleep…
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