Monday, July 07, 2008
Part IV - Seljalandsfoss, Thorsmork
The next day it was rainy and gray, but we were excited to finally start our drive around the Ring Road, which we were going to do in a counter clockwise direction. The plan for the day was to visit Thorsmork, a beautiful valley surrounded by glaciers. To get there is not easy, and we planned to take the bus instead of driving ourselves, since the river crossings seemed a bit deep.
The bus departs directly from Reykjavik but since we'd be sleeping in the South that night, we decided to catch it at Seljalandsfoss instead. We arrived there with plenty of time to spare so we explored the waterfall first.
This popular waterfall is the only one where it's possible to walk behind, and there's a clear path that takes you around. It's a good thing we had our raingear on ....
The bus trip to Thorsmork takes about 1 1/2 hours, with a short stop at the Eyjafjallajökull glacier.
The river crossings ended up being quite easy, except for the last one which I don't think we would've managed on our jeep. Taking the bus meant that we would only have about 3 hours there, which limited the hiking options we could take.
Arriving at the site we asked for directions from a guide, who advised us to take the path until the river bend, and then the hike up the mountain Valahnúkur.
The first part of the hike was easy and relaxed. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to reach the other side by the river.
After a quick rest we decided to go on, and we took the visible path that seemed to go up the mountain on our right. After a while it was clear that we were not going in the right direction, and it seemed we had taken another path also leading to the top of the mountain, but which was marked as more difficult in the map.
We decided to go on anyway, until we eventually reached a steep climb up. Remember I said the first part of the Landamannalaugar hike had been steep ? Well, this was steeper, which I didn't think it was possible. We started climbing up anyway, the path was a mixture of sand and fine gravel, quite slippery so we had to be careful. We were probably halfway to the top when we got stuck. The path was impassable, part of it had fallen down and it would be reckless to go on.
So we retraced our steps and went back, and by the time we were down again (after a very nerve wrecking climb down) we had just about 45 minutes to go back to the site or we'd miss the bus. We were planning to go back the same way we had came (the easy, relaxed path, right ?) when we saw the correct sign for Valahnúkur.
I don't know why, but we decided to take that path instead. It was a mistake, of course, because we didn't have much time and the path goes up the mountain (although not as steep as before) and down again to the site, and I'm sure it usually takes longer than the 45 minutes we had. We went as fast as we could, and made it just in time, just pausing for a a couple of minutes to enjoy the sights at the top and take these photos ...
The drive back was uneventful, and we were so exhausted most of us fell asleep. We arrived back at Seljalandsfoss to pick up our car and drove to find our accommodation for the night, the lovely Country Hotel Anna.
Kongur, the friendly hotel dog, loved to chase the horses and sheep around ...
This is a small charming hotel/guesthouse that I really recommend. The rooms are filled with lovely antiques, the owners and staff quite friendly, and dinner was delicious. And you'll get to meet Kongur, the most friendly dog ever.
Ring road to Seljalandsfoss
From Seljalandsfoss, F249 to Thorsmork and back
From ring road, road 246 to Country Hotel Anna
Country Hotel Anna