Archiv für September 2010

hot spring action

After the disappointment of the Laugavegur we headed to Selfoss, a town close to Reykjavik. The next town is Hveragerdi [Kverageri] which is the starting point of one of the geothermal regions in Iceland. Once you leave the town northward and hike for about 1-2 hours you reach a creek that has a nice temperature to take a bath. One of the smoky sulfur springs flows together with an ice cold mountain spring which creates a creek with an average temperature of around 40°C near the crossing. We spent the whole afternoon relaxing after the days of hiking and enjoyed it a lot.

On the following day we walked further towards Þingvallavatn, a lake that was created by the gap between the eurasian and the north American tectonic plate. It is supposed to be one of the Top 10 scubadiving spots on earth due to the clear water leaving sight of approximately 100-130m.

volcanic ashes

One of the most interesting treks in Iceland is the „Laugavegur“, a 4-6 day hike either starting in Landmannalaugar or in Skógar, a small town on the southern coast with one of the most famous waterfalls, the Skógafoss. We decided to hike northward starting in Skogar. The first day led across a small path between Myrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull. After the eruption in March the trekking path has been changed and now leads across dark lava fields that are still hot inside.


In the higher parts of trek the landscape turns from grey rocks to black sand. After a while you realize that you are actually walking on snowfields covered by black ashes from the recent volcanoe eruption.


We weren‘t extremely lucky with the weather that day but a big part of the fog is also produced by steam from below.


Many people told us that we shouldn‘t put down our backpacks as they could catch fire very easily. I don‘t know if it’s more of a legend but the ground was hot in some parts.


A lava stream found its way down a valley.


On the first day we reached „Þórsmörk“, a mountain ridge facing Eyjafjallajökull. It’s name derives from the Norse god „Thor“.


The following days after Þórsmörk led across black sand deserts lined with green rock formations sticking out of the ground. Once again I was stunned by the landscape.


Several rivers have to be crossed on the hike which never was a problem except for the temperature.


In Alftavatn, about 1 day trip before Landmannalaugar, we had to turn around and take the bus back to the coast. On the day of our arrival severe snowstorms were raging on the last mountain pass and on the morning of our departure it still didn‘t look very promising. Another reason to turn around was our food calculation, we made a mistake and were running out of food.
The bus was fun though, an old offroad bus that is crossing rivers and rocky paths, rumbling on southwards.


It was cloudy unfortunately but you can still see the volcano smoking white steam into the sky.

Jökulsárlón

Taking a long-distance bus in Iceland is fairly expensive so at some point we decided to hitchhike to reach our next destination. One day I got a ride from the campsite with two Germans we had met on the ferry so we split up considering that just two will be picked up more easily. Well this day we were wrong. While I reached Jökulsárlón in no time, together with Anna & Simon, Stanzi and Max were stuck in Höfn a small coastal town in the far south-east.

I decided to stay over night so I could spend the whole day relaxing in the sun with the spectacular scenery of Jökulsárlón. The lake/lagoon is situated on the southern end of Vatnajökull, the biggest ice cap in Europe covering about 8% of Iceland, which constantly spits icebergs that slowly float in the crystal-clear water. You turn around and just a few meters behind you is a black sand beach that is also flooded with melting ice. In between all this you constantly spot seals diving up from the ocean into the lagoon to hunt herring.

One very happy coincidence was that I met Johanna (my flat- and „soulmate“ from China) who I knew was in Iceland but we didn‘t talk before we both left to exchange travel plans (well I didn‘t have any until I reached the island). We sat for a great while talking and watching the sun set behind the glacier leaving the lagoon in a spectacular light. Despite the trouble Stanzi and Max had it was a wonderful day for me.

Just imagine flapping your tent open in the morning to see the lake just right in front of you. It wasn‘t my last time in Iceland when I thought that this scenery is just extremely absurd.



up north

After a night of heavy drinking with two guys from Stuttgart and a Dane who was riding his Chinese motorcycle across Iceland I got up around 7 in the morning because the air in our 9-bed cabin was horrible. Traveling in the cheapest category on the ferry to Iceland means staying below the car deck in a cabin that has beds (quite a luxury I admit) but is far from being „spacious“ and comfortable. When I got on deck the sun was already up and the sky was clear blue. There was no wind and so the ocean was calm. When I looked up front I was a little worried though. In the near distance a banner of clouds was going from one end of the horizon to the other. Iceland was ahead of us and I started thinking that everything that is told about the weather on the island was true at last.

It is said that traveling by ship to Iceland is the best way to experience how this rather unusual strip of land is raising up in front of you. And indeed it was wonderful. While we were standing in the cold fog trying to recover from the evening before we could see the land slowly appearing right next to the ferry. Once we had crossed the clouds the sight was open into a vast green fjord landscape that was shaped abrasively.

Seyðisfjörður is described as the „boom town“ of the east and „town of arrival“. The sleepy village, if I may call it this, is at the end of a fjord with the same name and has been a strategically interesting place ever since it was founded. Not only is it harbour for the one ferry to the island it was also the first town to receive a telephone line and has played a major role as a Marine harbour for Allied troops during WW2.
We were all a bit disappointed because Torshavn seemed a lot nicer but the sourrounding nature made up for a lot of it. And in fact, Iceland isn‘t exactly famous for its beautiful coast towns but rather its spectacular natural highlights.


I didn‘t take a single photo of the architecture of Seyðisfjörður that is supposedly special and still mainly in its original state. Instead I found this photo of a house that was on the northern end of the town. I have no idea why the owners painted this pink monster on their wall but it was definitely special so I took a photo of it.

We decided that it was time to hike on south from Seyðisfjörður into the next two fjords instead of leaving the valley by bus or car like most travelers on the ferry. Together with two Swiss we took a path, which proved to be an unmarked path described as being „rather difficult“ which took us from Sea level to about 1000m in a fairly short distance. In the beginning it was a nice hike across green fields and numerous small streams and waterfalls. In the upper part it became a bit more rocky and extremely loose in addition to snow fields. We ended up climbing the last few meters on a rock wall that was crumbling away under our steps. The way down was similar but not impossible.


It doesn‘t look nearly as impressive on a photo, but our „campsite“ was definitely beautiful.

The guidebook describes the sight of a reindeer as a rare experience we did see them right on our first day in Iceland – browsing in the green moss fields below us and later on this skeletton that was nearly intact and was just below our „camp site“.

straight from offline

Well long time no see, I suppose (in a digital sense). There hasn‘t been much update here lately which has a reason of course, so now I‘ll start again. After my graduation in Bolzano (see last post) I had to leave the town and headed north for a few weeks. We booked a ferry a while ago to go to Iceland, and we didn‘t do it because of the volcano but simply because we all wanted to see Iceland for a long time. And I wasn‘t disappointed at all, in fact Iceland is wonderful.
But since the ferry has a stopover and we actually took the long stay we went to the Faroe Islands before heading further. Well in case you don‘t know where the Faroe Islands are, pretty much straight up North from England, see here if you still don‘t have an idea.

Politically this small group of 18 islands belongs to Denmark, but due to their geography they‘re obviously an autonomous region, maybe in a way like South Tyrol (just a little at least).

In these 3 days we stayed, we had a great time crossing the biggest islands by foot or hitchhiking and getting used to the island and nature life. So in this sense we were quite successful, the weather was perfect* and so was this start of our trip.

*The people on the Faroe Islands have a joke on their rather unstable weather: „February is the best month for rain – It can only rain 28 days.“


The capital Torshavn has about 18 000 inhabitants (from the total of around 55 000 on all islands) and is much more colourful and authentic than most cities we saw later on in Iceland. The oldtown consists of the harbour area with old wooden houses with grass roofs.


The spots for villages or towns are always quite spectacular giving sight to a beautiful fjord landscape.


The weather was slightly strange and could change within 15 minutes. Sometimes we had no wind on the ground but clouds literally racing across the sky above us.


Our first waterfall and according to our free guidebook the highest waterfall and therefore one of THE tourist attractions. Well, we‘ve seen much more impressive in Iceland, but everything has to start small, I suppose.

More to follow within the next days, so stay tune.