Danny Yee >> Bushwalking & Travel >> South Iceland

Vik i Myrdal + the Mýrdalssandur

The drive to Vik seemed to take a long time - and we hadn't booked accommodation, which was a little unsettling. It was misty when we arrived and finding the youth hostel with a spare double room was a great relief. I didn't want to use our sleeping bags again, so we paid extra for linen - that was 4800 Krona for the two of us, and we paid another 1400 for breakfast. We laid out our tent to dry - it was still damp from two nights earlier - showered, did some washing, and hung that up to dry as well. It felt much later - it had been a very long day! - but we were in bed by 10.30.

Thursday 28th August

Breakfast in the hostel was bread and jams, smoked fish, and cereal. While we ate I finished charging my last camera battery - I'd started on my fourth on the Þórsmörk hike!

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Vik youth hostel
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Vik church

We didn't get away till 9.45, filled up with petrol at the service station and bought a bird "poster" (1300 króna). We went down to the beach and the famous sea stacks off-shore - these looked just like one of the exposure histograms on my digital camera, and I wondered if it was possible to take a photo of them with a matching histogram.

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Reynisdrangur seastacks
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Vik

We clambered a little way up the cliff on a steep track, but the birds kept their distance and didn't seem much closer. Photographing them wheeling was next to impossible with my camera, but Camilla managed some reasonable photos with her SLR.

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our juvenile fulmar
We had climbed back down and were all ready to set off when we spotted a juvenile bird half-flying, half-falling down a scree slope into a tangle of bush. We tried to rescue it by taking it back up the cliff, but I dropped it and it ended up in the water heading out to sea (turns out this was probably good for it). Meanwhile Camilla had found another juvenile, picked it up, and charged up the track while carrying it in both hands - the same track she'd previously clambered up cautiously!

Having washed our shirts, we went to a wool factory, where we bought some t-shirts and an Iceland bird book we'd looked at in several places but had decided was too expensive at 4400 króna - here it was 3400. That did, however, make the bird poster we'd just bought redundant.

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the Mýrdalssandur
The it was off across the Mýrdalssandur (the sand desert produced by glacial outwash/flooding). This is renowned for wind-blown sand and grit, but the revegetation programs seem to be working, since most of the areas we saw had at least scattered grass on top.

We stopped several times, using the little parking spots along the road: for views of the sandur, the glaciers in the distance, and the island-like hill Hjörleifshöfði above the plain; at the Vellustrompur pseudocrater field near Álftaver; at Laufskálavörður, where we built ourselves a small stone mound for good luck; and in the middle of the lava field for lunch.

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a chunk of pumice
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in the air
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stone mounds at Laufskálavörður

Next: Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Previous: Þórsmörk (Thorsmork)

[Alternative spellings: Myrdalssandur, Laufskalavordur]

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