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Paul & Tracey's Travels
28th Jan 2013 - Iceland
Volcanoes, ice, hot springs and prisons

Active volcano and another waterfall

Headed off at 10am to go and get a better view of Mt Hekla, the volcano after which our hotel is named. The sky was clear for a change, and there was a nice sunrise over the mountains. The ground was sheet ice, and surprising as it may seem, it was safer to drive than walk, as the vehicle had snow tyres, and you really need snow spikes on your boots to move around.

Hekla is an active volcano that last erupted 13 years ago in 2000. It is constantly monitored, and we know that the magma chamber is full, and the mountain itself is rising every year. From our hotel we headed NW on R30/32 into the start of the inner Highlands. The road was absolutely lethal and we were fish tailing regularly. Eventually we turned off the 'main' road, onto a gravel road and travelled a couple of miles up into the mountains to see another waterfall - Hjalparfoss

Dangerous approach to preserved farm

Back on the bus, we re-joined the Tarmac road and headed further into the mountains. As we approached a steep pass, we came across a huge tanker who had stopped in the road to put chains on before attempting the pass-ironic considering he must have been driving for miles on sheet ice to get to this point.

We turned off just before the pass to drive down to an old preserved turf covered farm building, however as we turned into the road, the driver said he could not proceed as it was too dangerous. We therefore voted that we would get off and walk, so we headed off across the snowy grassland towards the farm. It was quite amusing to see us all tip toeing across the icy road as we stepped off the bus initially.

The farm buildings were not open but it was interesting to walk round the exterior. In the distance we could now see the snow chained lorry making its way up the pass. After a group photo taken by the guide, we made our way back to the bus.

Hot spring centre

We then headed down out of the mountains towards the main N1 ring road, stopping first for a bit to eat in a little cafe in the village of Arnes, probably the easiest place to pronounce in Iceland. Once on the ring road it was full speed ahead west bound to the village of Hveragerdi, where we visited a hot spring centre where they use the water to heat the village, and grow things like bananas, grapes and lemons in their greenhouses. Whilst we were there our host put dozens of eggs in a net attached to a long pole, then lowered them into one of the hot springs, where they boiled. We then had them for afternoon tea after our tour round.

Fishing village and prison

Next it was due south to the Atlantic coast to the village of Eyrarbakki (population 550). Sail due south from here and you would not hit land until you get to Antarctica. In this small fishing village we went into some of the old houses, including the oldest habitable house in Iceland, which are now museums.

Finally, it was back to the bus to drive back to the Hotel Hekla. Just outside the village we passed the biggest prison in Iceland, which has 35 cells ! The only other cells are in a couple of police stations throughout the country. There is a very low crime rate here, but there is a waiting list of criminals waiting to serve time, once a cell becomes free.

Got back to the hotel at 5.30 ready for our last night in Iceland.

Next: Snow and the Blue Lagoon
Previous: Wind, waves, waterfalls

Diary Photos

Paul and Tracey at Preserved farm buildings, R32, S.Iceland

Mount Hekla volcano, S.Iceland

Hjalparfoss Waterfall, S.Iceland

View from Hjalparfoss Waterfall, S.Iceland

Hjalparfoss Waterfall, S.Iceland

Trucker heading up snow covered pass, R32, S.Iceland

Tracey at preserved farm buildings, R32, S.Iceland

Preserved farm buildings, R32, S.Iceland

View from Preserved farm buildings, R32, S.Iceland

Boiling eggs at hot springs in Hveragerdi, S.Iceland

Boiling eggs at hot springs in Hveragerdi, S.Iceland

Hot springs in Hveragerdi, S.Iceland

Eyrarbakki, S.Iceland

Tracey at Eyrarbakki, S.Iceland

Eyrarbakki, S.Iceland

Eyrarbakki, S.Iceland

Eyrarbakki, S.Iceland

Eyrarbakki, S.Iceland

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