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Katlatrack

Katlatrack was estabilished in the spring of 2009 with the goal of providing diverse forms of recreation in the south of Iceland.

The founder of Katlatrack is born and bred in Mýrdalur in the county of Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla. He has a great deal of knowledge of the area and its history. He also has considerable experience of mountaineering, both on foot and in all terrain vechicles both in winter and summer

The main emphasis of Katlatrack's activies revolve around the glacier Mýrdalsjökull and Katla, Icelands most powerful volcano which sleeps under its thick blanket of ice, and the majestic nature which surrounds that area. Katlatrack makes every effort to adapt their trips to your needs so that you will have the best possible experience.

Katlatrack

Austurvegur 18

GPS Points N63° 25' 3.421" W19° 0' 5.188"
Telephone

+354 894-4404

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Hotel Katla - Keahotels
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Nature
0.59 km
Katla UNESCO Global Geopark

Katla Geopark includes geological features of global significance. Over 150 volcanic eruptions have been recorded in the area since the 9th century. The eruptions created the landscape and influenced where people settled. Through the centuries, man and nature have affected the region's history. The area is constantly changing due to the volcanic activity.

A geopark is defined as a territory, which includes a particular geological heritage and a sustainable territorial development strategy to promote development. It must have clearly defined boundaries and sufficient surface area for true territorial economic development.

The Geopark covers about 9% of Iceland, 9542 km2, and follows the borders of three municipalities, Skaftárhreppur, Mýrdalshreppur and Rangárþing eystra. About 2700 people live within the Geopark.
GeologyIceland lies astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where tectonic plates move apart from each other, causing a rift zone. A mantle plume exists below the country, centred beneath Vatnajökull ice cap. In South Iceland the interaction of the rift zone and the mantle plume results in complex and diverse volcanic activity. Volcanic activity and its widespread effect on the area's nature and landscape make Katla Geopark very special.

The Geopark is in the most volcanically active area of Iceland, and the volcanic systems at Eyjafjallajökull, Katla, and Grímsvötn are particularly active. The region is characterised by central volcanoes, eruptive craters and fissures, rootless cones, lava fields, table mountains (tuyas), and hyaloclastite ridges which trend SW-NE, like the rift zone.

Ice caps are prominent in the landscape, topping the highest volcanoes. Outlet glaciers and glacial rivers flow from them and glacial landforms, e.g. moraines and ice-dammed lakes, occur in the area. Large floods, usually glacier outbursts associated with subglacial eruptions, have formed outwash plains in the lowlands. The oldest bedrock in the area is about 2.5 million years old, and can be found at the base of Lómagnúpur, an old sea-cliff (671 m). Other interesting features in the Geopark are fossil-bearing xenoliths, and tephra layers which are useful for dating (tephrochronology).

Further information about the area is on www.katlageopark.com

Nature
19.74 km
Sólheimasandur

Sólheimasandur is a sand desert formed by jökulhlaup, or glacial outburst floods, from the Katla volcano system that lies underneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

In 1973 a DC-3 US Navy plane ran out of fuel and landed on the beach of Sólheimasandur. Everyone survived the landing and the plane wreck is still there and has become a popular site to visit. Driving to the plane wreck is forbidden but by the main road #1 there is a good parking place and possible to walk from there to the site. Each way takes a little less than an hour to walk.

Note: In wintertime, there is a lack of daylight and weather can change quickly. It is easy to get lost in the area so people are advised to know the weather forecast and be sure to have enough daylight for the walk.

Nature
22.25 km
Sólheimajökull

Sólheimajökull is an outlet glacier that descends from the southwest corner of Mýrdalsjökull. It is a so-called "climate glacier" as it responds rather quickly to climate changes. Access to the glacier tongue is good because it reaches down to the lowlands and possible to go hiking on the glaciers with tour operators from the parking lot.

Large and rapid changes have taken place on the glacier in recent years, and one clear example of this is the increased distance required to approach the glacier trail.

Sólheimajökull has long been a research topic for glaciologists, but glacier research can tell us a lot about climate and climate change over the centuries, but the glacial history of Sólheimajökull is in many ways unusual when compared to other Icelandic glaciers.

Over a hundred years ago, the glacial footprints of Sólheimajökull glacier lay considerably in front of the current car park.

Nature
6.08 km
Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey is a 120-metre high promontory, not far from Vík. The place got its name from the massive arch that the sea has eroded from the headland. (The name literally means "door-hole"). When the sea is calm, big boats can sail through it. There has even been a maniacal daredevil pilot that flew through the arch with a small-craft airplane! From the top of Dyrhólaey there is a great view. The headland is thought to have been made in an underwater volcanic eruption late in the glacial period, not unlike the eruption of Surtsey. Several outcrops are in the sea, the highest one called Háidrangur ("High column") is 56 m. high. Dyrhólaey has been a natural reserve since 1978. The promontory is widely known among sailors as "Portland", and English trawler fishermen ubeach where one can climb (at your own risk). According to legend the Reynisdrangar needles were formed when two trolls were trying to drag a three-masted ship to land. When daylight broke they turned to stone. The Needles can be seen clearly from the village of Vík and are 66 meters above sea level at their highest. In one of the many caves here - there is a local legend about a monster having lived here for many centuries. The monster seems to have disappeared after a landslide over 100 years ago…sed to call it "Blow hole". There are also amazing rock formations all along the Birdlife here is abundant, with puffins and eider ducks being the most common species in the area. The lighthouse on the top of the cliff stands impressive and stoic in this often very windy area. Be careful not to go too close to the ledge of this dramatic cliff.

Nature
13.74 km
Höfðabrekkuheiði, Þakgil

A breathtaking 16 km drive from the ring road no. 1 to Þakgil campsite and hiking area. Surrounded by black sand and glacial rivers a gravel road crosses the heath of Höfðabrekka, a tuff ridge between rivers Múlakvísl and Kerlingadalsá formed during the last Ice Age, when volcanic material forced its way from beneath the glacier following a sub-glacial eruption. The road is closed during the winter. The vegetation in this area is extremely vulnerable to trampling, please keep to trails at all times.

Nature
11.28 km
Mýrdalsjökull glacier and Katla

Mýrdalsjökull Glacier and Katla Volcano

Mýrdalsjökull is a glacier located in the south of Iceland. It is situated to the north of Vík í Mýrdal and to the east of the smaller glacier Eyjafjallajökull. Its peak reaches 1493 m in height and in 1980 it covered an area of 595 km². The view on a clear day is one of the prettiest in the world.

Guided snow scooter, snowmobile, Super Jeep, dog sledding and iceclimbing tours are offered on the Myrdalsjökull glacier. Travelers on the glacier have to be extremely careful about crevasses and inexperienced travelers should not go there alone. Weather conditions shift very rapidly and high winds and snowstorms can appear in a flash all year round.

The volcano Katla, in the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, has erupted on average every 40 - 60 years. Sixteen eruptions have been recorded since the settlement of Iceland, the last in 1918, but there have probably been more. Katla is one of the most famous volcanoes in the country, and its eruptions usually have very serious consequences. It can actually be regarded as one of the most powerful volcanoes in the world and probably the largest active volcano in the northern hemisphere.

During the eruption, the glacier above the volcanic vent melts and the melted water collects under the ice-cap until it makes its way out under the edge in a violent flood. These are called "Jokulhlaup". Huge amounts of ice, rocks, silt and sand carried along by the floodwater. Most of the Mýrdalssandur sand plain has been formed by deposits in past floods.

Katla has been showing signs of unrest recently and some geologists suspect that it might erupt in the near future, since it is way overdue to erupt.

Eruptions of Katla have taken place (since known and recognized human settlement): 1918, 1860, 1823, 1755-56, 1721, 1660-61, 1625, 1612, 1580, 1416, 1357, 1311, 1262, 1245, 1177, 950.

Nature
12.54 km
Hjörleifshöfði

A 220 m tall former Surtseyan island surrounded by black sand. The island formed offshore and has since been partially buried by the advancing Mýrdalssandur sand plain. A massive jökulhlaup from Katla, buried the fjord of Kerlingarfjörður, probably in 1179 and subsequent jökulhlaups have driven the shoreline several kilometers into the sea, the last one occurring in 1918. Easy to reach during summer, you can hike to the top from west side where one of the first settlers is believed to be buried as well as the last farmers from the headland. Also look at the large sea eroded cave on the south side and enjoy the nesting fulmar in the cliffs.

Nature
2.65 km
Reynisfjara, Reynisfjall og Reynisdrangar

Reynisfjall is a 340 m high tuff mountain arising out of a volcanic eruption from under a glacier in the penultimate Ice Age, near the village of Vik. Alternating in an irregular manner are layers of tuff, pillow lava and columnar basalt veins and loops.

Reynisdrangar stacks are a collection of 66 m high rock pillars that rise out of the sea and are of the same geological formation as Reynisfjall. On Reynisfjöru beach, very beautiful basalt formations in the south part of the mountain can be seen, and there you will find an exceedingly beautiful cave called Hálsanefshellir.

The waves here are deceiving and have caused the death of a number of visitors in recent years, even in the best of weather. Please take great care and keep a good distance from the sea.

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.

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