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Travel ideas

Here you can find travel ideas for South Iceland. Those are just to give ideas and it is also possible to use just one day out of the itinerary.

Educational Tour Katla Geopark

Educational tour –Katla Geopark

Katla Geopark is Iceland´s first geopark and it opens up a natural wonderland to the visitor. A top priority of the park is to protect the natural environment, promote local sustainable development, introduce local culture and place a strong emphasis on nature tourism.

Katla geopark is located in the southern part of the country and covers 9542 km2 or around 9,3 % of the total area of Iceland with population around 2700. The Geopark got its name from one of its most known volcanoes, Katla which is under the glacier Mýrdalsjökull.

Katla Geopark is in every sense the land of ice and fire, with its towering glaciers and active volcanoes. These forces have been shaping the land for thousands of years and the nearest examples of that are the powerful eruptions in Eyjafjallajökull 2010 and Grímsvötn 2011. But there is also more amazing landscapes in the area, mountains, lakes, black sandy beaches, green pastures and meadows, powerful glacial rivers, beautiful waterfalls and vast lava fields.

Katla Geopark´s Educational tours are tailor-made for school groups at highschool and university levels of education. Our Educational tours include all you need for an enjoyable schooltrip; a guide, a bus, warm and welcoming places to sleep and our best quality local food.

 

DAY 1

Thorsmörk Nature Reserve – The Land of the Thundergod Thor

Topic: Icelandic Sagas, settlement, protected sites, team building, experience the wilderness, improving confidence

Once you have landed in Keflavik Airport a bus and a local guide from Katla Geopark will be waiting for you to welcome your to Iceland. The bus will take you directly to Katla Geopark, along the south coast, which is only one and a half hour drive away. This day offers you a broad panorama of the history, culture and nature and how it all connects in a constantly changing earth. The afternoon we spend in the land of the thundergod Thor, Thorsmörk nature reserve, where we do team building activities, hot sauna and northern lights hunt, far away from civilization.

1. The Icelandic Saga Centre – 1 hour

The Saga Centre is located in Hvolsvöllur and gives you a chance to explore the fascinating world of one of Icelands best known Sagas- Njal´s Saga which takes place in the area. Njal's saga tapestry is a new way to display Njal's saga and an opportunity to introduce the saga to visitors. The tapestry is sewed with refilsaum (bayeux stitch), a special type of stitch that was used in the Viking age. Visitors have a opportunity to sew a part of the tapestry with help and advice from the guards. The Njal's saga tapestry will be around 90 m long and the yarn that is used is an Icelandic wool yarn, dyed with herbs. The plan is that the tapestry will take 6 - 10 years in making.

2. Efra-Hvolshellar – 1 hour

Efra-Hvolshellar are three man-made caves dug into rather rough sediment breccia, which is likely tillite in origin. Below it, there is the “fine” rock, made out of stratified, cross-bedding sandstone. One of the caves is 42 meters in length and is considered to be the second longest man-made cave in Iceland. It is believed that cave digging has been done in Iceland ever since the settlement period until the mid 20th century. Efra-Hvolshellar, sometimes called Írahellar, are even believed to have been constructed before settlement. Man-made caves are unique relics and some of them can even be counted among the oldest remaining houses in Iceland.

3. Nauthúsagil – 1 hour

Nauthúsagil is known for the rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) that grows on its ridge and whose multiple trunks lean over the ravine, some almost horizontally. Although the ravine is deep and narrow, you can walk along the river while keeping your feet relatively dry until you come to a waterfall which is a sight to behold. Nauthúsagil has a combination of geological layers, carved into tuff at the bottom, with hackly jointed lava further up and interglacial lava at the top of the ridge. Rain and wind has caused much erosion in the area so ravines and gullies frequently cut across the tuff. Hackly jointed lava and pillow lava are more resistant to erosion and many peculiar formations can be seen in the areas where these are dominant.

4. Þórsmörk Nature Reserve – overnight

Þórsmörk (Thórsmörk, land of the thundergood Thor) is a natural gem that sits between Mýrdalsjökull to the east, the river Krossá in the south, with Markárfljót and Þröngá Rivers to the north. Its diverse landscape is characterized by impressive gorges, ravines and scruby slopes and a wide variety of vegetation that is unique to the area.

From Þórsmörk is a beautiful view over the mighty Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. The place is isolated and quiet and has good facilities for team building games. During the night it is a good place for northern lights hunt.

 

DAY 2

Eyjafjallajökull - Nature and power

Topic: The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, volcanic risk management, consequenses of volcanic eruptions, sustainable farming

In 2010 two eruptions took place in this area, Fimmvörðuháls and Eyjafjallajökull. The eruptions attracted worldwide attention as it affected tens of thousands of people all around the world by stopping flight transportation. The eruption was accompanied by a glacial outburst flood and substantial ash fall so that many inhabitants had to evacuate and relocate. This day is all about the volcanic activity and a good reminder of the dynamic earth we live in. We visit farmers living at the foot of the giant volcano Eyjafjallajökull and find out how it is to live next to a volcano.

1. Magni and Móði, Eyjafjallajökull hike – 4 to 5 hours

The craters Magni and Móði were formed in the Fimmvörðuháls eruption that began on 20 March 2010. The eruption produced a 300 m volcanic fissure with a number of craters and a lava flow. Here is a unique opportunity to see a newly formed lava which is still hot beneath the surface. The names Magni, Móði and the lava Goðahraun come from Nordic mythology, Magni and Móði being the sons of Þór, who had already been referenced in the nearby area of Þórsmörk, and Goðahraun named after Goðaland, to where the lava flow was heading.

2. Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi falls – 1 hour

Seljalandsfoss is a 65m high waterfall which cascades over ancient sea cliffs into a pool below. It is possible to walk around behind the falls and come out the other side – the only one of its kind in Iceland. At night and in winter, the falls are illuminated. Just a few hundred meters north of Seljalandsfoss is another waterfall called Glúfrabúi which is partially obscured behind giant tuff rock formations. It is also possible to climb up the rocks called the ´French Nose´ for an impressive view over the falls at close range. Both Seljalandsfoss and Glúfrabúi are protected national sites.

3. Eyjafjallajökull, Living next to a volcano – 1.5-2 hours

Þorvaldseyri farm has been in the same family for over a century and is situated at the foot of Eyjafjallajökull volcano. At Þorvaldseyri Visitor Centre we feel at first-hand what it is like to have a huge volcano looming over their shoulders. A short film portrays the incredible power and scope of the eruption as well as how they met the challenges of clean-up and recovery. In addition of being a traditional sheep and milk producers, the farm is working towards self-sufficiency, with their own hydro-electirc generator, on-site hot and cold water sources and growing barley, wheat and rapeseed (canola).

4. Skógafoss – overnight

Skógafoss is widely considered to be one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. It is situated on the river of Skógá, which originates from both Eyjafjallajökull glacier and the westernmost part of Mýrdalsjökull glacier. As Skógá approaches the edge of the moor, the river runs over a layer of hard rock until rushing down in a beautifully shaped, 15-metre-wide and 62-metre-high waterfall. The cliffs are ancient coastal cliffs, which were formed by marine erosion at the end of the last ice age when the sea level was much higher than it is now. According to legend, a settler named Þrasi hid his chest of gold behind Skógafoss.


DAY 3

Mýrdalsjökull glacier– Disappearing giant?

Topic: Erosion, glacier and glacier formation, rivers, sandur plains, table mountains, basalt columns, global warming

Glaciers and glacier rivers were thought to pose a significant problems for transportations here in previous years. While there were no bridges over the rivers, one had to trust the horses competence to cross the rivers or even the glaciers. In recent years we are experiencing drastic change in global temperature causing severe retreat of glaciers. Today we will take a walk on an outlet glaciers and learn all about those disappearing giants, their past, present and the future. How many years until glaciers are all gone and what are the consequences?

1. Skógar Folk Museum - 1 hour

The museum was founded in 1949 on the initiative of Þórður Tómasson. The museum is divided into three parts: the folk museum which offers a huge variety of tools and implements used for fishing and farming, as well as artifacts dating back to the Viking age. In the rebuilt turf houses in the open-air museum you can catch the atmosphere of times long gone and experience how Icelanders lived through the centuries. The museum of transport tells the story of technology and transportation and its development in Iceland in the 19th and 20th century.

2. Glacier walk - 3 to 4 hours

Glacier walk is a great way to understand the power and behaviour of glaciers and an adventure where you can try for yourself how it feels to walk on ice. After a lesson in ice walking we will head onto the glacier to experience this unique environment with some amazing terrain with crevasse, sink holes, ice ridges and dirt cones. In front of the glacier we can see many glacier formation as moraines and drumlins. The glacier walk does not require any special skills and the tour can be enjoyed by people of all levels in good health.

3. Reynisfjara - 1 hour

Reynisfjara is a black beach and features an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns. To the east are Dyrhólaey a table mountain formed in a submarine eruption when the low-lying coastal plains were fully submerged. In the sea are the spectacular shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar. The area has also a rich birdlife, including puffins, fulmars and guillemots.

4. Vík í Mýrdal - 1 hour

In Vík we take an hour long guided hike around Vík and we hear its story. In former times, transportation were extremely difficult in South Iceland. There were hardly any ports of the coast, and wide rivers made transportation on land difficult. Prior to 1900, the residents of Vík and surroundings bought their supplies and sold their wares in Eyrarbakki. The first indicator that a town would form in Vík was when a fishing company started operations there in 1876. The fishing operations died out mostly with their originators. Vík became a certified market town in 1887.

 

DAY 4

Katla and Grímsvötn – natural disasters

Topic: Outburst flood, lava flood, rootless cones, pahoehoe-lava, tephra layers, primary succession, natural treasure

Katla and Grímsvötn are the most active volcanoes in Iceland. Katla is the most dangerous volcano, famous for its large eruptions happening on average every 50-100 years. The subglacial caldera of Katla produces mainly basaltic explosive eruptions that have heen among the largest tephra-producers in Iceland and causes devastating glacial floods (jökullhlaups). Grímsvötn erupts frequently most often followed with glacial floods and ashfall. However, Laki eruption in 1783-1784, originating from Grímsvötn, left one of the largest basalt lava floods in the world, accompanied with fatal haze. Today we learn about the geological existence of the powerful volcanoes surrounding the area as well as we try to understand how people lived and adjusted to those natural disasters. What happens if this kind of a natural event would happen today?

1. Katla outbursts - 1 hour

Höfðabrekkujökull (jökull=glacier) is not a glacier as such but a gravel dome believed to have formed in the Katla outburst in 1721. After the outburst, icebergs lay on top of the dome for decades, and as a result, it was given the name Höfðabrekkujökull. Múlakvísl has eroded it considerably on the east side where we can have wonder about its original, understand the power of Katla outbursts, the damage that such outbursts cause and impact on the environment. Höfðabrekkujökull is a natural protective barrier and probably the only protective barrier that is likely to be of significant use as protection for Vík in connection with the predicted Katla outburst 

2. Hjörleifshöfði -2 hour

Hjörleifshöfði is a 221 meter high tuff promontory it was actually once an island, but during the period of settlement it became attached to the mainland while a fjord, called Kerlingarfjörður, ran along it. Today it is surrounded by sand and stands approximately two kilometres away from the sea. Glacial outburst floods from Katla caused these alterations to the landscape. Although the Hjörleifshöfði area was thought to be difficult for farming, it was rich in

other resources such as flotsam and jetsam, birds and eggs. For a long time there was a farmstead to the west below the promontory. However, the eruption of Katla in 1721 was followed by the largest flood in Katla's history, wiping away the farm along with it. Then the farmstead was moved up to the south side of the promontory and was there until the last inhabitant left in 1936, after which it was deserted.

3. Laki lava field and Fjaðrárgljúfur – 3 to 4 hours

We start by watching the film Eldmessan (15 min) at Kirkjubæjarklaustur information center. Then we head to the massive canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur and Laki lava field where we take a walkand wonder about the eruption, affection on people, animal and plants. How would it affect our life today? We also explore the vegetation and compare the vegetation on Laki lava field, witch is now covered with a thick moss), to the succession of plants on the rootless cones originating from the Eldgjá eruption.

4. Tepra layer - 1 hour

Icelandic soils differ from most other soils of Europe and the world because of a unique soil environment. Icelandic soils form in parent materials that are of recent volcanic origin, usually consisting of basaltic tephra. Soils that form in volcanic materials develop distinctive characteristics that separate them from other types of soils as Andosols. At the farm Efri-Vík a holes have been dug into the soil where we can take a look at the tephra and see how the tephra can be used to date archaeological remains.

5. Natural Treasure

The turf house by the lake is filled with natural treasures from Kirkjubæjarklaustur and its surroundings. The treasures are sustainable and have been collected with approval. In the end of the day you will receive a special glass bottle as a gift from the Geopark and fill it with a treasure from the turf house of your choosing. This unique-to-Iceland tourism concept has been created by the Icelandic design team at HAF Studio in collaboration with Visitklaustur.is.

Brochure in pdf 

Educational Packages in Katla Geopark

Katla Geopark provides an exciting five days educational tour in the Geopark. The tour offers you a broad panorama of the history, culture and nature and how it all connects in a constantly changing earth. Therefore it is ideal for students in geology, anthropology and environmental sciences.

Our Educational tours include all you need for an enjoyable schooltrip; a guide, transportation, warm and welcoming places to sleep, various activities and our best quality local food.

Prices are variable and depend on the length of stay, group sizes, class of accommodation etc.

Katla Geopark´s also povides tailor-made educational tours for school groups at any levels of education. 

For further information, special requests and prices please contact us at: info@katlageopark.is

South Iceland A Bit of This and That

South Iceland - A Bit of This and That

This tour is tailored for groups on a coach with a guide. You will travel around the up-country of South Iceland. This is an educational and historical tour with amazing waterfall sights.

Day 1 - Rivers and waterfalls

After breakfast you drive to Þjórsá visitor centre. There you can view an exhibition about Þjórsá river and get information about the land and its nature, the people and the history of the Þjórsá region, and the services available there, with the principal focus on the great Þjórsá river itself. After Þjórsá visitor centre you will drive to Búrfell power plant and there you will see an interactive energy exhibition about renewable energy and the history of its usage. Near Búrfell power plant we have Þjóðveldisbær (a reconstructed farm based on the excavated farmhouse Stöng from the commonwealth era in Iceland). It provides visitors with an opportunity to study the buildings of our ancestors and learn about their background and daily life. Later you will have the chance to see the farmhouse Stöng. After experiencing a bit of history you will see a couple of waterfalls on your way back to the hotel. They are Háifoss and Hjálparfoss.

10:00 – Þjórsárstofa

Þjórsárstofa  – the Þjórsá visitor centre at Árnes – is a collaborative project of the Skeið and Gnúpverjahreppur local authority and Landsvirkjun.

The objective of the Þjórsá visitor centre is to provide information on the land and nature, the people and history of the Þjórsá region, and the services available there, with the principal focus on the great Þjórsá river itself.

Website: www.thjorsarstofa.is

11:30 - Gaukshöfði / Búrfell

All around the world there is increasing demand for renewable energy. At Búrfell power plant there is an interactive energy exhibition showing renewable energy opportunities linked to that and the history of the use of energy in Iceland.

12:30 - Þjóðveldisbærinn – Packed lunch

This reconstructed farm is based on the excavated farmhouse of Stöng from the commonwealth era in Iceland. It provides visitors with an opportunity to study the building sof our ancestors and learn about their background and daily life.

14:00 - Stöng – Gjáin

In 1104, Mt. Hekla erupted for the first time in the recorded history of Iceland. The eruption destroyed, for instance, an entire district of at least 20 farms in the valley Þjórsárdalur in Árnessýsla.

Over eight centuries later, in 1939, a team of Nordic archaeologists excavated several of these farms. In one location the exceptionally well-preserved remains of an early medieval farmhouse, unparallelled elsewhere in the Nordic cultural area, were discovered under a thick layer of pumice. It was formerly known as Stöng.

15:30 - Háifoss waterfall

The waterfall Háifoss is situated near the volcano Hekla in the south of Iceland. The river Fossá, a tributary of Þjórsá, drops here from a height of 122 m. This is the second highest waterfall of the island.

From the historical farm Stöng, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption of Hekla in the Middle Ages and reconstructed, it is possible to hike to the waterfall along the Fossá (5 to 6 hours both directions). Above the waterfall, there is also a parking lot, so the hiking can also be made in the other direction.

16:30 – Hjálparfoss waterfall

Hjalparfoss is a beautiful, two stepped waterfall near the confluence of Rivers Thjorsa and Fossa in the Thjorsa Valley. The surrounding area is called Hjalp (Help), because the travellers across the Sprengisandur Route found great help in reaching a vegetated area to graze their horses after a long journey in the barren interior.

As elsewhere in the valley, the signs of the eruptions of Mt. Hekla are very prominent by the waterfall, ashes everywhere.

20:00 – Check-in at your accommodation in or near Flúðir

Near Flúðir you can choose between different range of accommodation and prices.

Accommodation near Selfoss and Hveragerði

Hotels:

Icelandair Hótel Flúðir – http://www.icelandairhotels.com/is/hotelin/fludir

Hótel Hekla – www.hotelhekla.is

Guesthouses and other accommodation:

Syðra-Langholt – www.sydralangholt.is

Day 2 – Icelandic production and history

After breakfast you will drive to Friðheimar. They residents of Friðheimar are proud to invite their guests to a treat, both for body and mind, presenting to them how it is possible to grow tomatoes all the year round. You will visit their greenhouse, see the horse show they offer and have lunch. After Friðheimar you will visit Skálholt. Skálholt is one of the most important cultural and historic places in Iceland.

8:00 - Breakfast

10:00 – Friðheimar – visit the greenhouse, horse show and lunch

A visit to the greenhouse in Friðheimar offers an educational and pleasant experience and an insight into a vivid place of work in the Icelandic countryside. They are proud to invite their guests to a treat, both for body and mind, presenting to them how it is possible to grow tomatoes all year round in our dark and cold country.

   We invite our guests to a short presentation of our way to grow tomatoes and, through a standing exhibition, we provide an insight into the history of Icelandic horticulture. In a restaurant area next to the plants we serve a delicious warm tomato soup with home-baked bread, a selection of our tomatoes and, on good occasions, tomato-shots!

Website: www.fridheimar.is

13:00 - Skálholt

Skálholtsskóli – the centre for education, culture and dialogue of church and society – welcomes individuals and families as well as larger groups of different kinds for a longer or a shorter stay all year round, offering housing accomodation and restaurant services.

In the summer Skálholt is a much visited place by tourists of many nationalities, some only looking around for a while or staying for a good meal or a cup of coffee in the restaurant. But Skálholtsskóli is also an ideal place for meetings, conferences and similar events during the winter.

At Skálholt you can find religious services, rooms and cottages, a restaurant, a tour of the site the and 12th century dinner, conference facilities, tranquility days during winter months, workshops and retreats, exhibition facilities, Skálholt cathedral museum, hiking trails, a historical exhibit, a souvenir shop and a botanical garden

Website: www.skalholt.is

18:30 - Medieval dinner at Skálholt

Day 3 - The Golden Circle

After breakfast you drive to Gullfoss waterfall. Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. After spending a good bit of time at Gullfoss waterfall you drive to the Geysir hot spring area. The Great Geysir was among the most notable geysers in the world and has been inactive for decades, but there are many other hot springs around it. From Geysir your direction is to the farm at Efsti Dalur where you will have your lunch. At Efsti Dalur there is a restaurant and a café. At the restaurant and café you can see into cowhouse. After lunch you will be driven to Þingvellir. Þingvellir is a natural wonder on an international scale, with the geologic history and the biosystem of Lake Þingvallavatn forming a unique entity, a magnificent sight. When you have seen the sights at Þingvellir you will drive towards Keflavík international airport. Along the way you will see a little bit of Reykjavík before travelling back home.

8:00 – Breakfast

10:00 - Gullfoss

Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. It is in the wide Hvítá river which rushes southwards. Gullfoss is actually two separate waterfalls, the upper one has a drop of 11 metres and the lower one 21 metres. The rock of the river bed was formed during an interglacial period.

11:00 - Geysir

One of the greatest natural attractions in Iceland and part of the famous Great Geysir, or Stóri-Geysir, which has been dormant since 1916 when it suddenly ceased to spout. The Great Geysir was among the most notable geysers in the world, such as those in Yellowstone Park, New Zealand and North Iceland.

12:30 - Lunch at Efsti Dalur

At Efsti Dalur there is a restaurant and a café. At the restaurant and café you can see into cowhouse. The restaurant and the café are very homey and cozy. They offer local food, for instance vegetables, milk, icecream, etc.

Website: www.efstidalur.is

14:30 - Þingvellir

No single place epitomizes the history of Iceland and the Icelandic nation better than Þingvellir by the river Öxará.

At Þingvellir – literally "Parliament Plains" –  the Alþingi general assembly was established around 930 and continued to convene there until 1798. Major events in the history of Iceland have taken place at Þingvellir and therefore the place is held in high esteem by all Icelanders. Today Þingvellir is a protected national shrine. According to the law, passed in 1928, the protected area shall always be the property of the Icelandic nation, under the preservation of the Alþingi.

In the last few decades research has made it clear that Þingvellir is a natural wonder on an international scale, with the geologic history and the biosystem of Lake Þingvallavatn forming a unique entity, a magnificent sight.

Website: www.thingvellir.is

 

 

 

South Iceland

Towns & Villages

The south of Iceland has several towns and villages, each with its own style, charm and points of interest. Selfoss is the largest town and has a variety of shops, services, many restaurants and fast food places. Most towns are close to the main route, making them accessible and enjoyable.

Explore map by categories

Map Höfn Kirkjubæjarklaustur Vík Vestmannaeyjar Hvolsvöllur Flúðir Laugarvatn Reykholt Laugarás Borg Brautarholt Hveragerði Árnes Selfoss Hella Stokkseyri Eyrarbakki Þykkvibær Þórlákshöfn