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Destination Egilsstaðir

Stuðlagil is a unique basalt canyon located in Efri-Jökuldalur in Fljótsdalshérað, which in recent years has established itself as one of the most exciting destinations in East Iceland. For the longest time, Stuðlagil canyon was mostly hidden by a powerful glacial river called Jökulsá á Dal (referred to as Jökla by locals). It wasn’t properly discovered until after the Káranhjúkar hydro-dam was put in use and the Hálslón reservoir started to fill, making Jökla’s water levels drop and revealing the stunning basalt columns of Stuðlagil canyon. Jökla is one of the longest glacial rivers in Iceland, spanning a total of 150 kms from Vatnajökull glacier to Héraðssandar beach. Entering Jökla, or other glacial rivers, is extremely dangerous and forbidden as they are very powerful, and their currents are not always visible on the surface. Stuðlagil canyon boasts one of the country’s largest and most beautiful basalt formations and is exceptionally graphic, especially when Jökla’s glacial water is clear. The bluish-green colour of the water, which contrasts beautifully with the colourful basalt columns, really is a sight to behold. As is with glacial rivers, its colour and water flow change depending on the season. Come spring and snow start to thaw, and the Hálslón reservoir is overflowing, the river takes on a grey-brown colour. Overflow is most common from the beginning of August until October – but can occur at other times too. You can monitor the water level of the reservoir at any time. Stuðlagil canyon is a fantastic destination no matter the season, and no one should leave Austurland without visiting, even if only for a short time! Stuðlagil canyon is located roughly 52 kilometres (about an hour’s drive) from Egilsstaðir. If you’re visiting from the North, it will take around an hour and a half to drive from lake Mývatn. When leaving Route one (the Ringroad) towards Stuðlagil canyon, you’ll be driving on a gravel road (923). Although gravel, the road is accessible to all cars and is open all year round. Keep in mind if visiting during wintertime that, weather and road conditions can change in a matter of minutes. You can access Stuðlagil canyon via two routes: Stuðlagil observation platform Driving north on Highway 1 from Egilsstaðir, leading you through Jökuldalur, take the exit down route 923, just beyond Skjöldólfsstaðir. From there, it is about a 19 km drive on a gravel road to the farm Grund which stands on the northern side of Stuðlagil canyon. There you’ll find parking, toilets and safe access to an observation platform located at the top of the canyon – only a few minutes by foot from the parking lot. If you wish to enter the canyon, this is not the route for you Note that you cannot get down into the canyon from this side.  Stuðlagil hike Driving north on Highway 1 from Egilsstaðir, leading you through Jökuldalur, take the exit down route 923, just beyond Skjöldólfsstaðir. Turn towards the Klaustursel farm after driving roughly 15 kms. By Klaustursel, you’ll find two parking lots, one by the bridge over Jökla (around 10 km hike to Stuðlagil canyon back and forth) and the other by Stuðlafoss waterfall (about 5 km hike to and from Stuðlagil canyon). Stuðlafoss is a majestic waterfall surrounded by towering basalt columns. It truly is a sight, and you won’t find many like it in the world. Standing at the bottom of Stuðlagil canyon is another unique experience to check off your bucket list. Keep in mind when entering the canyon that the rocks might be wet and very slippery.  The nature surrounding Stuðlagil canyon is stunning but delicate. Visitors are encouraged to show respect for the area, wildlife and nature and leave it as they found it. From May 1st to June 10th, numerous pink-footed geese nest in the area and, therefore, crucial that guests stay within the marked trails so as not to upset the birds. The area surrounding Stuðlagil canyon is agricultural, so it’s common to see farmers bringing their sheep down from the highlands right before winter hits, which can be an enjoyable experience. In summertime, you can continue your drive through route 923 into the East Iceland Highlands (F-roads are generally only open from around mid-June for a few months, see more here). T here you can get on to The Highland Circle travel route, which will lead you to exciting places such as Kárahnjúkar dam, Laugarfell and down into Fljótsdalur. Note that parts of the way are only accessible for well-prepared 4x4 vehicles. For further information, visit the official Stuðlagil website. 
Stapavík by Héraðsflói
Stapavík is an inlet that lies in a magnificent setting of steep cliffs and the open sea. From 1930-1945 Stapavík was a used as an unloading port for ships and is closely related to the commercial history of Borgarfjörður Eystri and Hérað. Remains of the facilities are very picturesque and the view from the inlet is beautiful on a sunny day.  A marked trail leads from the farmstead Unaós, following Selfljót river downstream to the rivermouth. Héraðssandur black sand beach opens to the North of the river with a view over Hellisheiði Eystri rhyolite mountain ridge. This is a about a two hour long (back and forth) family friendly hike. Travellers could also challenge themselves to a longer hike by crossing Gönguskarð mountain pass over to Njarðvík which adds a about two hours to the hike. Powered by Wikiloc
Hafrahvammagljúfur in Austurland is one of the largest and most magnificent gorges in Iceland. The gorge is about 200 meters from the bottom to the edge (where it is highest), and the canyon is about 8 kilometers long. There is a marked hiking trail along the gorge and down to Magnahellir. You need a four-wheel-drive car to drive to the trail's starting point, but you can see part of the gorge from Kárahjúkar dam, and you can get there by an average car. 
Eiðar (approx. 15 km drive from Egilsstaðir) is a church site with longstanding and important cultural and educational background. One of the first agricultural schools in Iceland was founded in Eiðar in 1883 which later converted into a general educational center for Austurland. Its function as a school was discontinued in 1995 and since then many ideas have been launched as to its future role. Tourism and services to travellers has grown in recent years with a guesthouse, camping site and recreational area. A great location for travellers who want to stay in a peaceful and picturesque area on the banks of beautiful Lake Lagarfljót in the center of Austurland. 
Eyvindará river
Among the precious gems of the township, Egilsstaðir is the river Eyvindará. A farm on the river banks,k with the same name, traces its roots prior to  A.D. 1000. The burial mound of saga legend Helgi Droplaugarson, and ruins - commonly believed to be the ruins of his historic abode- are still to be seen on the Eyvindará grounds.  The area is highly popular among the local youths for all kinds of outdoor activities.
Lagarfljót and Lögurinn
Lagarfljót is one of Iceland´s deepest lakes, covering about 140 km from its source in Eyjabakkafjökull glacier to Héraðsflói Bay. The innermost section forms the lake Lögurinn, with a surface of 53 square kilometers and an average depth of 51 m, reaching 112 m where it is deepest. Its deep, mysterious glacial waters are home to Iceland´s ancient and much older equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster: The terrifying sea-worm-like Wyrm or Lagarfljótsormur. The oldest recorded sighting dates back to 1345. It was considered a bad omen if the curved forms of the monster were spotted above the water´s edge. In recent years the Wyrm has mostly kept to itself but pay close attention as you never know when it may reveal itself again!
Gálgaás is an old execution place in Egilsstaðir. The cliff Gálgaás, just east of Egilsstaðir Church, may seem unimposing, yet it has been the location of many a lugubrious destiny in centuries past. The most renowned person to lose his life at Gálgaás was a farmer named Valtýr, living at Eyjólfsstaðir some 10 km southwards. He was hanged in the wake of being tried for theft and murder, accusations which he steadfastly denied. Fourteen years later, the real murderer was unmasked by mere chance - also named Valtýr und suffered the same fate as his innocent namesake. Both skeletons were left lying below the cliff, which now bears a bronze plate commemorating these events.
The pretty little turf church Geirsstaðakirkja is a reconstruction of a church from the Age of Vikings. An excavation at the estate of Litli-Bakki back in 1997 revealed ancient ruins of the small turf church, farmstead, longhouse and two smaller buildings. The reconstruction took place in 1999-2001 and the church is now open to the public.
Hallormsstaður National Forest
The birchwood remnants at Hallormsstaður farm were protected in 1905, making it Iceland’s first national forest. Today, birch forest and woodland cover about 350 hectares within the original fenced area, and a variety of tree species have been planted on another 200 hectares. Large areas to the north and south have been annexed to the forest more recently and either planted with trees or allowed to naturally regenerate with birch. A total of 85 tree species from over 600 locations worldwide can be found in the forest, covering around 740 hectares.Lands managed by the Land and Forest Service are designated as National Forests. These areas are open to everyone year-round and are located throughout Iceland. Many, like Hallormsstaður Forest, are easily accessible and offer a variety of facilities for outdoor recreation. Others require a 4WD vehicle or hiking up steep hillsides to enjoy.Hallormsstaður Forest is ideal for hiking, strolling, or biking. There are well-marked trails, in different colors, throughout much of the surrounding woodland. These trails are shown on a clear map published by the Forestry Service, which you can find in boxes at the entrance of many trails and nearby services. The maps can also be downloaded here.There are two camping sites in the forest: one in Atlavík and the other in Höfðavík. Both sites have small and large flat areas among the trees and are close to Lake Lagarfljót. Foresters will collect the payment for camping. More information can be found on our Facebook page.Rest places and picnic areas are scattered throughout the forest. For example, in Stekkjarvík, there is a barbecue area and a playground. The arboretum in Hallormsstaður is unique in the Arctic region. 
Húsey farm is renowned for its picturesque nature, abundant wildlife and hiking opportunities. A marked hiking route will take you towards river Jökulsá where seals and seal pups hang out in the river mouth and out to Héraðssandur black sand beach. Húsey is a bird watchers' paradise and with nesting grounds of red-throated divers, parasitic jaegers and great skuas, to name a few.  GPS : N65°38.775-W14°14.670   Powered by Wikiloc
The Power Plant at Kárahnjúkar is the largest construction project in Icelandic history and the most significant electricity production in the country. The Kárahnjúkar Power Plant was built to produce energy for the aluminum plant at Reyðarfjörður. A trip to Kárahnjúkar is an ideal road trip for the family. A paved road runs from Fljótsdalur to the Kárahnjúkar dam.  The Kárahnjúkar area is ideal for outdoor activities. It is fun to see the Kárahnjúkar Dam itself and the Hálslón Reservoir. When Hálslón fills up and overflows, the Hverfandi waterfall appears at the western end of the dam, where the water plunges about 100 meters into Hafrahvammahljúfur. The waterfall is mighty and can become more powerful than Dettifoss. There are also fun hiking trails in the area; for example, there is a great hiking trail along Hafrahvammagljúfur and to Magnahellir, but to get to the starting point of the marked hiking trail, you need a four-wheel-drive car. 
A large power plant has been built at Kárahnjúkar, to supply the aluminum plant in Reyðarfjörður with energy. The Kárahnjúkar power plant is the largest construction project in Icelandic history and, at the same time, the most significant electricity production in the country. A trip to Kárahnjúkar is an ideal road trip for the family. A paved road runs from Fljótsdalur to the Kárahnjúkar dam. The Kárahnjúkar area is ideal for outdoor activities. It is fun to see the Kárahnjúkar Dam itself and the Hálslón Reservoir. When Hálslón fills up and overflows, the Hverfandi waterfall appears at the western end of the dam, where the water plunges about 100 meters into Hafrahvammagljúfur. The waterfall is mighty and can become more powerful than Dettifoss waterfall. There are also fun hiking trails in the area; for example, there is a great hiking trail along Hafrahvammagljúfur and to Magnahellir, but to get to the starting point of the marked hiking trail, you need a four-wheel-drive car. 
A peaceful little haven, located at road 94 beside the Selfljót river south of Ketilsstaðir farm on the way out Héraðsflói. Here still stands a small cabin and a boathouse both of which belonged to Iceland´s master painter Jóhannes S. Kjarval (1889 -1972). When this master painter had spent two summers here a tent, just before 1950, the farmer at Ketilsstaðir presented him the piece of land in question and built the cabin which still stands.  This was the only real estate Kjarval ever owned. He often stayed here for extended periods, producing some of his most famous paintings.  The boathouse still shelters Kjarval´s little dinghy on which he descended the river out to sea, sailing as far as the village of Borgarfjörður Eystri 1957.
Laugavalladalur is a green oasis west of river Jökulsá á Dal, some 20 km. north of dam Káraghnjúkar. Close to the site of an abandoned farm, there is a geothermal stream, ideal for taking a bath and a shower in the warm waterfall where the stream runs into the valley's main river. Please be wary of the temperature as it sometimes rises well above suitable limits!
Drive north of Kárahnjúkastífla reservoir along a road (fit for SUV) on Lambafell to crossroads by Laugavellir. Drive down to a parking area by Dimmugljúfur canyons. There you will find a sign containing information and the trail running through Hafrahvammar canyon and Magnahellir cave where you will find the cylinder with the visitors’ log and stamp. The farmers in Eiríksstaðir used to keep their sheep in the slopes by Jökulsá river close to the cave called Magna cave which derives its name from the farmer named Magni who was the first one to keep his sheep there in winter. Part of Hiking Treasures in Egilsstaðir Region GPS : N64°99.252-W15°71.683   Powered by Wikiloc
Möðrudalur is the highest settled farm in Iceland, 469 meters ( 1.539 feet) above sea-level. It has been inhabited since early settlement in Iceland and Möðrudalur has served as a presbytery for centuries. The builder of the church in Möðrudalur was Jón A. Stefánsson (1880 – 1971). He was a great farmer and a multitask-artist and the altarpiece is made by himself. His son was Stefan ,,Stórval“ Jónsson ( 1908 – 1994), one of a kind character and a painter. The panorama view from the farm is interesting in many ways – judge for yourself.  Several hiking trails are available in the area, and you can get maps at the information center. There you can also see a film that shows the eruption in Holuhraun 2014. Möðrudalur is close to many incomparable natural gems such as Herðubreiðarlindir, Askja, Kverkfjöll, Hvannalindir, Jökuldalsheiði Stuðlagil and Stórurður.  Campsites open from June until mid-September.
Rjúkandi waterfall is a beautiful waterfall that gracefully descends a few cliffs, from the mountains and almost down to highway 1. Access to the waterfall is very good; it is only a short walk from the car park by the main road.
Skessugarður - the Rampart of the Giantess is a natural phenomenon in East Iceland, which has been called one of the most amazing natural formations in the country. It was formed by an ice-age glacier, Brúarjökull. It is a large arch-shaped moraine and consists of massive boulders (porphyritic basalt) making up to a ca 300 meters long and ca 7 meters high natural wall. It lies from west to east. It marks the stagnation level of Brúarjökull at the end of the last glacial period. After the stagnation of the glacier, a flood followed which washed this area clean of smaller rock leaving behind the big ones which makes this moraine unique as it lacks all smaller, finer sand particles and stones, or the glacial flour. Skessugarður is located by the lake Grjótgarðsvatn was of Sænautasel turf house, on the other side of Mt. Snæfell. Turn left onto the old ring road (number 907, a gravel road) after you leave Sænautasel and drive for a couple of km. Then turn left onto a dirt road, which turns into a track until you reach Skessugarður after 2 km.
Sandfell Skriddalur
Sandfell is an impressive looking rhyolite mountain in the shape of a ridge and reminds one of a tent because of its even slopes which are mostly free of cliffs and by it’s two darker peaks. The path starts by the main road (no 1). A little distance from the Gilsá river you will find the sign where you start. Walk the trail towards a fence then turn and walk up along it, then upwards by the trail on the northern ridge straight to the top which reaches 1157 m. Part of Hiking Treasures in Egilsstaðir Region GPS : N65°05.637-W14°30.298 Powered by Wikiloc
Selskógur the small forest on the eastern outskirts of Egilsstaðir, mainly consists of birch but also numerous rowans. Inviting woodchip trails of various lengths lure the wanderer to stroll through the peaceful surroundings.  A football field and a playground are among other recreational options in the area.
The farm of Sænautasel, situated up in the highland of Jökuldalsheiði, was inhabited from 1843-1943. In the years 1875-1880, however, it was left abandoned as a result of the lavish ashfall emanating from volcano Askja during an 1875 eruption.   Rumour has it that the farm served as a model for "Independent People", the most popular novel of Iceland's only Nobel Prize winner, Halldór Laxness. Now rebuilt, the interior and exterior of the turf buildings are open to visitors during the summer. Guided tours help reveal the conditions of earlier Icelandic generations. Refreshments in traditional style are offered in the summer time.  
Unaós ("The Estuary of Uni" is a beautiful inlet on the east coast of Héraðflói bay. It is named after the settler Uni Garðarsson but according to the Book of Settlements (12th.century), he docked in the estuary. Uni was the son of one of the three discoverers of Iceland, Gardar Svavarsson.  He was sent to Iceland by King Haraldur Fairhair of Norway in order  to convince the Icelanders to become his subjects.  His mission was however unfruitful. Uni docked his ship at a cliff in Selfljót river called Knörr.  In the estuary of the river, there´s a promontory called Krosshöfði by which was the principal harbor of the region, Óshöfn, until a passable road to the village Borgarfjörður eystri came about in the late 1940ties. The harbor was a primitive one since total calm and favorable currents were needed in order to bring the merchandise ashore. The area presents several points of interest and several walking trails are to be found there.
Vallanes is a farm and a vicarage, known for the habitation of many leading scholars and literates of centuries past. Today the farmers of Vallanes are renowned for organic farming and pioneer products, i.a. vegetables and barley. They also produce food and cosmetics under the brand name of  "Móðir Jörð" - "Mother Earth".  In the last century, the locals of the surrounding district erected their community centre, Iðavellir, on the outskirts of Vallanes, and there the East Iceland Equestrian Association has its main hub on the grounds for races and shows.