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Krauma: New nature baths opening at Europe’s highest-flowing hot spring, Deildartunguhver.

By | Iceland in the News, Icelandic Nature, Tours | No Comments

Here is a pretty remarkable fact. If you take a shower anywhere within a 65 km (40 mi) radius of Deildartunguhver hot spring in West Iceland, you have already bathed in it’s hot water.

Later this winter you will, however, be able to dip in Deildartunguhver’s geothermal water on location with brand new baths being under construction just 70 meters (230 ft) north of the natural hot spring.

Deildartunguhver is located in Reykholtsdalur valley and is the highest-flowing hot spring in Europe, pumping up 180 liters (47.5 US gallons) per second of 97 degrees C (207 F) hot water.

For scale it would fill an Olympic size swimming pool in less than four hours. Such a pool features 10 lanes, is 50 m (164 ft) long, 25 m (137 ft) wide and 2-3 m (6.5-10 ft) deep.

Some of this enormous amount of close to boiling hot water is used for central heating in nearby towns, by being piped 34 km (21 mi) to Borgarnes (population 1.800) and 64 km (40 mi) to Akranes (population 6.700). When the water reaches its destination in Akranes it is about 78 to 80 degrees C (167-176 F) hot.

The new nature baths are called Krauma and will feature hot tubs (outdoor), saunas and a tranquility room. A heated walkway to Deildartunguhver will provide an easy access during the winter months.

You can keep track of the construction via this webcam.


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10 reasons to visit the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago

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The Herjólfur ferry has resumed sailing between Vestmannaeyjar Islands and Landeyjahöfn harbour, located a short drive from the village of Hvolsvöllur. This means much shorter and more frequent trips between Vestmannaeyjar and the mainland. The archipelago consists of fifteen islands, with Heimaey Island being the largest and the only one that is inhabited, with a population of roughly 4200. Here’s a list of reasons why you should pay the beautiful island a visit this summer.

1.     Eldfell volcano

An eruption began in Heimaey shortly after midnight on January 23, 1973, and lasted nearly six months. There was very little advance warning that such a catastrophe was about to unleash itself. The fissure which had ripped open the earth rapidly grew to 1,600 metres in length, and soon lava began to erupt from it. Gradually, during the next few weeks, the earth rose with the eruptions to produce a small volcanic mountain, Eldfell, meaning Fire Mountain, where once there was a flat meadow.

2.     Goslokahátíð – the celebration of the end of the eruption

Locals celebrate the end of the eruption each year during the first weekend in July. Among the many festivities taking place that weekend are concerts, exhibitions, and games and activities for children. The weekend’s highlight is on Saturday evening when the baiting sheds by the harbour are turned into concert venues with live music.

3.     Þjóðhátíð í Eyjum

The first weekend of August is known as “Verslunarmannahelgi,” the businessman’s holiday, in Iceland. Traditionally, businesses give their personnel the first Monday in August off, a custom that continues to this day.The three-day-long bank holiday is celebrated all over Iceland, but no one celebrates to the extent that the inhabitants of the Westman Islands do, with between 11–16,000 people (nearly 4 times the island’s population) attending the festival annually.
The history of Þjóðhátíð (the national festival) dates back to 1874, when, because of bad weather, the residents of the Westman Islands were unable to travel to the mainland to join in the celebration of the 1,000-year anniversary of the Settlement of Iceland. Instead, they held their own celebration that led to the long-lasting tradition of Þjóðhátíð.
Highlights include a massive bonfire on Friday night, a magnificent fireworks show on Saturday, and, most impressive of all, an eruption of red torches that light up the valley and represent the island’s volcanic flames.

4.     Eldheimar museum

In 2005, the Vestmannaeyjar town council agreed to take part in a project that involved excavating ten houses that had been buried under lava since 1973, and a construction of a visitors’ centre where people could view the houses and learn more about this extraordinary event. The project was named Pompei of the North and an excavated house at Gerðisbraut 10 is the centre’s main attraction. The museum has won numerous awards for its design and is definitely worth a visit.

5.     Puffins

Vestmannaeyjar is home to Iceland‘s largest puffin colony. There is a convenient bird viewing platform located on the north side of cape Stórhöfði but visitors can also purchase a boat trip which will get you closer to the burrows.

6.     The Stave Church

The gorgeous stave church in Heimaey was a presented as a gift to the Icelandic nation by Norway in 2000, to commemorate the 1000-year anniversary of Christianity in Iceland. The building’s architecture is reminiscent of that of the Viking era and inside one will find a lovely replica of a medieval altarpiece.

7.     The local food

Slippurinn restaurant, located on the harbour, offers stunning seasonal dishes that are a delicious treat for all food lovers.
Run by a family of four, chef Gísli Matthías Auðunsson, his parents, Katrín Gísladóttir and Auðunn Stefnisson, and his sister, the artist Indíana Auðunsdóttir, the dining spot embraces traditional, Icelandic cuisine and focuses on using locally sourced produce such as freshly caught fish, home-grown vegetables and wild herbs to create an unforgettable culinary experience.


8.     Surtsey island

Surtsey island was formed in a volcanic eruption which began 130 metres below sea level and reached the surface on November 14th 1963. The eruption continued until June 5th 1967 and brought four islands, Surtsey, Surtla, Syrtingur and Jólnir into existence. The three smaller islands quickly eroded away once the eruption ended, leaving only Surtsey standing. Ever since the island emerged from the sea in 1963, only a small number of scientists have been permitted to set foot on it. This has allowed the island’s natural ecological succession to proceed without outside interference. Curious guests, however, can pay the Surtsey Visitor Centre a visit and learn more about the island and its geology. The interactive centre is part of the Eldheimar museum.

9.     The Golf course

The seaside golf course in Herjólfsdalur has been named one of the world’s top 100 courses. The 18-hole course is set in Herjólfsdalur valley, surrounded by nature and the ocean. The layout is short but spectacular and measures 5,820 yards. Golfers can hire clubs at the course.


10. Heimaklettur cliff

Heimaklettur cliff is a palagonite cliff that shelters the town of Vestmannaeyjar from the strong northern winds. It stands 279 meters high and has become an emblem of sorts for the island.
One can hike up the cliff all year around, something locals do regularly. The view from the top is unprecedented, hitting you from all angles.


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Growing numbers visit beautiful Reykjanes peninsula: Record increase in number of overnight stays

By | Icelandic Nature, Local News From Iceland, Tours | No Comments

Reykjanes peninsula has seen a larger increase in the number of overnight stays than any other part of Iceland. The increase between 2010 and 2015 was a whopping 245%, compared to a national average of 161%. The growth is explained by the proximity to the Keflavík International Airport, and the rugged natural beauty, geothermal areas and lava fields of the Reykjanes Geopark.

According to the regional news site the growth in the number of overnight stays has been strongest in West Iceland and the South West, especially Reykjanes. Proximity to the Keflavík International Airport and Reykjavík and the capital region seem to be particularly important, as the smallest increase has been in East Iceland, where the number of overnight stays has grown by 138%.

At the same time as the number of foreign visitors and overnight stays has grown, the supply of hotel rooms has increased. However, the growth in the number of hotel rooms has been far slower than the growth in the number of visitors. In 2014 and 2015 the number of foreign visitors to Iceland grew by 175%, when the number of hotel rooms in the Reykjanes peninsula grew by 95%, leading to a better occupancy ratio of hotel rooms.

Unaralleled natural beauty
Reykjanes peninsula is not only home to the Keflavík Airport and one of Iceland‘s best known and most popular tourist attractions, the Blue Lagoon, but also countless other beautiful sights worth visiting.

The rugged lava fields of Reykjanes are among the most beautiful in Iceland. The last major period of volcanic activity in the region began shortly before Iceland was settled, in the 8th and 9th centuries, and came to an end in the mid-13th century. These lava fields formed in these eruptions are still relatively barren, since very little vegetation other than moss has managed to colonize the hostile lava fields.

The four major volcanic systems on the Reykjanes peninsula include hundreds of open fissures and major high temperature geothermal systems, characterized by intense surface activity that has created a diversity of colours contrasting with the black lava and the lush green moss. The best two of the best known, and most easily accessible, are on the Krýsuvík system south-west coast of Kleifarvatn and Eldvörp, west of the Blue lagoon.


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Iceland ranked as world’s most peaceful country for the 10th consecutive year

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For the 10th consecutive year Iceland tops the list as the world’s most peaceful country.

Every year tthe Institute of Economics and Peace (IPE) calculates the Global Peace Index, a measure of national peacefulness and safety. The index ranks 163 states based on 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators ranging from social stability,  participation in armed conflicts, its relations with neighbouring countries, violence, crime, and the percentage of prison population

According IEP it is the world’s leading measure of national peacefulness.

Iceland has remained in the top seat since the Global Peace Index was launched in May 2007. According to the report Iceland is followed by Denmark and Austria. The USA ranks as the 103rd out of 163.

The 2016 report found that the world had become less peaceful last year, driven by growing terrorism and political instability.

Many international organisations, governments and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) use the index, including the World Bank, the OECD, and the United Nations.


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Kerlingarfjöll mountain range: red rhyolite mountains, ice and hot springs

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The contrasts in colour and form of the Kerlingarfjöll mountain range can take your breath away. The dominant colour of the rhyolite mountains is red, but minerals that have emerged from the many hot springs in the area paint the ground in various other hues.

The neighbouring glacier not only adds white and blue to the colour palette, but its cold massive solidity also contrasts with the hot water that bubbles up through the earth’s crust.

Rising to 1,477 meters (4,846 ft), the mountain range is located close to the centre of Iceland’s highlands. To visit, we take the highland road Kjalvegur (Route 35, also known as Kjölur). The route begins in south Iceland, north of Gullfoss waterfall, and traverses the central highlands, west of Langjökull glacier, ending south of the town of Blönduós in Northern Iceland. The road lies 600 to 672 meters (1,968 to 2,205 ft) above sea level.

The average opening date for general traffic on Kjalvegur is during the first two weeks of June.



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Want to buy Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon? You could have your chance, as it’s to be put up for auction on April 14

By | Icelandic Nature, Local News From Iceland, Tours | No Comments

The District Commissioner of South Iceland has accepted a request that the farm of Fell in South East Iceland should go up for auction, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV reports. The farm, which is owned by a large number of parties, covers the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland.

The landowners and the owner of Jökulsárlón ferðaþjónusta, which runs tours on the lagoon, as well as operating facilities on its shore, have been unable to come to an agreement on the future of the lagoon, including the construction and operation of new facilities to handle the rapidly growing tourism at the lagoon. The owner of the travel company at the lagoon and some of the landowners have offered to buy out other owners, but the two groups have not been able to come to an agreement.

The local business weekly Viðskiptablaðið reported last year the group represented by the travel company had offered to pay 240 million ISK (1.9 million USD/1.7 million EUR) for the share of the land owned by the other group.

The municipal government of Hornafjörður, which is responsible for zoning and local administration at the lagoon, has demanded the landowners come to an agreement on the construction of new facilities by the lagoon. Current development plans, which have been approved, include two large structures to house restaurants, toilet facilities and a visitor centre, as well as boat hangars.

RÚV reports that one of the two groups fighting over the future of the lagoon is unhappy with the decision to put the land up for auction, saying the decision will be appealed to the courts. According to the decision by the District Commissioner the auction will take place on April 14.



Beautiful video of divers in crystal clear waters in lava fissure Silfra in Þingvellir national park

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The deep and frequently dramatic lava fissures are one of the things which give Þingvellir national park its captivating beauty. The fissures offer a striking contrast between the delicate and fragile plant life and the most dramatic forces of nature, as the fissures are formed as the European and American tectonic plates drift away from one another.

One of the best known fissures in Þingvellir is Silfra, which is filled with ice cold water which has been filtered crystal clear by the lava field. All of this makes Silfra a stunning diving spot, visited by thousands of travellers every year.


Keflavik Airport

Keflavík International Airport ranked one of world’s best airports in 2015

By | Iceland in the News, Tours | No Comments

According to the Airport Council International, a trade group representing airports, Keflavík International Airport is among the best airports in Europe. The ACI asked visitors to rate airports according to a number of criteria, including security gates, check-in, passport control, restaurants, shops and other facilities and services. Despite problems, including long lines and delays, caused by the strain caused by a record number of travellers last year, Keflavík Airport came out among the best airports in Europe.

The local news site reports that ACI has previously ranked Keflavík among the best airports of Europe. In 2009, 2011 and 2014 the Airport came out in first place. This year however, Keflavík landed in third place. This is a very good result, considering the problems the airport faced last year, Björn Óli Hauksson, the CEO of Isavia, which operates the airport, argues.

Keflavík shares the third place with four other airports, Copenhagen, Porto, London Heathrow and Vienna. Four airports share second place, Zurich, Malta, Prague and Dublin. Three Russian airports share first place, Pulkovo in St Petersburg, Sochi and Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow.

Isavia has announced plans to expand the airport six-fold by 2040 to deal with growing traffic. Work on the project, which will allow the airport to handle as many as 25 million passengers annually, will start next year.

Foreign travellers seem determined to get into danger by Gullfoss waterfall

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Many tour guides and members of the Icelandic tourism industry fear that Gullfoss waterfall could become the next scene for a serious accident to take place at popular tourist destinations in Iceland. Visitors keep ignoring warning signs posted by the waterfall, venturing down a dangerous walking path which has been closed due to ice for the winter.

Photographs and videos of foreign travellers ignoring warning signs which close a walking path leading to Gullfoss waterfall have caused quite a stir in Iceland over the weekend. Photographs of travellers crossing a chain link fence and Police tape telling people not to cross onto the path, have been shared on social media, as well as being published by all major news outlets. Many fear it is only a question of time before a serious accident takes place. A local guide warns that the tourism industry will suffer if the authorities don’t step in immediately to ensure the safety of travellers.

A video shot on Saturday March 5 shows where travellers either climb over or push under the chain link fence closing the path leading up to the cliff by Gullfoss waterfall. The travellers, some with small children in their arms, then walked right up to the edge of the canyon. As can be seen in the video the conditions by the waterfall were not ideal, with people clearly having a hard time finding their footing due to snow and ice.

A local guide, Hermann Valsson, who took the video and photographs in this story, told the local news site that the authorities must step in to ensure the safety of foreign visitors: “There has been a conversation among us in the tour guide profession about the situation which has developed, and we all agree it is necessary to increase safety and security at popular sites. We need more guards to ensure things go well.”

Ice in Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon at Record Level

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Ice in Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is at a record level, according to Owen Hunt, a tourist guide who has visited the area regularly since 1984, Vísir reports. He says he has never seen as much ice coming into the lagoon at high tide as happened yesterday.

Tour guide Owen, has previously warned about the dangers involved when tourists ignore warning signs and attempt to go out on the ice in the lagoon, as Vísir reported on in February of last year.


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