Danny Yee >> Bushwalking & Travel >> South Iceland

Kirkjubæjarklaustur

The road to the Laki craters turns off some twenty kilometres before Kirkjubæjarklaustur. You need a four-wheel drive to go far down that, but the Fjarðrargljúfur canyon is only a short distance away and accessible with a normal vehicle. The canyon is wide and flat, and if we'd had more time and been prepared to wade, it looked like a pleasant walk up the river-bed. Instead we followed the track along the top of the canyon, which gave us a good view of the gnarled pinnacles and rock formations that flank it. It was a very peaceful place, and we had it all to ourselves - a tour group was leaving just as we arrived.

The nearby farm also had a round sheep pen.

photo
Fjarðrargljúfur canyon
photo
a round sheep pen

Laki: one of the things I regretted not being able to fit into this trip was the bus tour to the Lakigígar crater row, produced by the catastrophic eruption of Laki in 1783. Run by BSI, the Laki tour leaves Kirkjubæjarklaustur at 9am and returns at 6.30pm, so it would have taken up a whole day... It would have been nice to have had more time to look around Kirkjubæjarklaustur too, rather than rushing through.

Just outside Kirkjubæjarklaustur, the road had been washed away and was being rebuilt, with a temporary embankment carrying traffic. We stopped in the service station for a hotdog and coffee, and Camilla bought some gifts from a handicrafts store. We then went upstream a little to look at Systrastapi (the Sisters' Pillar) and the waterfall Systrafoss. A couple was herding sheep towards us, which I unfortunately startled before we turned around and got out of the way.

photo
repairing a road wash-away
photo
herding sheep

Attractions inside Kirkjubæjarklaustur include Kirkjugólf, a platform of hexagonal basalt rocks which really does look like the foundations of a building, and the Steingrímsson memorial chapel, named after the pastor whose sermon supposedly saved the town from lava in 1783.

photo
Kirkjugólf
photo
Steingrímsson memorial chapel

Heading from Kirkjubæjarklaustur towards Skaftafell, we stopped at Foss á Sidhu to look at the basalt columns of Dverghamrar, the dwarf cliffs, and then at Núpsstaður, where the farm has an old turf church. Looming over the region is the near 800m high peak Lómagnúpur.

photo
Dverghamrar basalt columns
photo
turf buildings at Núpsstaður

Then it was a long straight road across the Skedðarársandur, a real desert, with views of the Skeiðarájökull glacier on the left. Much of the road is on huge long bridges.

Next: Skaftafell - Svartifoss
Previous: Vik i Myrdal + the Mýrdalssandur

[Alternative spellings: Kirkjubaejarklaustur, Fjardrargljufur, Steingrimsson, Kirkjugolf, Nupsstadur, Lakigigar, Lomagnupur]

South Iceland << Bushwalking & Travel << Danny Yee