GO EAST VIA BIFROST TO HUSAFELL
I recommend heading north towards Bifrost and starting your journey at the Grábrók Crater. East of Borgarnes is yet another wild west landscape and the source of our hot water and energy. It is home to the highest flow hot spring in Europe the Deildartunguhver. Continue east and you will find the Hraunfoss waterfall and the state-of-the-art geothermal Spa Krauma. Browse the epic archives of Icelandic legends at Snorrastofa in Reykholt and or begin your adventure at the entrance to Into the Glacier and the Víðgelmir Cave. This route is a day full day journey.
by Rob Law, Glaciology PhD student
University of Cambridge
LAY OF LAND
Drive in any direction and you will encounter spectacular monumental nature.
Head towards the west to the marvels of Snæfellsnes National Park, where Jules Verne found inspiration for his novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. The north of the peninsula is noted for exceptional whale watching tours. The legendary mountain famous for its appearance in the Game of Thrones is Kirkjufell and the town of Stykkishólmur debuted as Greenland in the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Continue your journey along the north shore through the Breidafjordur nature reserve, which is one of the few UNESCO sites in Iceland.
BORGARNES HANG OUT IN TOWN RELAX AND GET CULTURED
Geologically speaking, Iceland is a youngster to our terrestrial lands, with no surface rocks older than 16 million years. As Iceland grows, so it tears itself apart down its central rift zone in a profusion of volcanic activity creating a broadly followed trend of older rocks towards the eastern and western coasts. Borgarnes itself lies far away from this axis upon basalts of 11 million years or older. Look out for the typical hexagonal jointing of this basalt around town!
From the window and across the bay you can see Hafnarfjall, the ruins of a long extinct volcano that began its life some 6 million years ago and remained active for over 1 million years. If you look closely, you can make out banding across the mountains, mostly tilted to the west. These layers were shifted from horizontal when the volcano's ultimate collapse formed a caldera structure at the end of its life, roughly 4.6 million years ago. The resultant basin was then filled in with agglomerates - rounded chunks of lava you will pass near the top of the easternmost peak - and more basalt flows. Finally, the entire region was repeatedly covered by ice in glacial inter-glacial cycles calving deep channels into the rock, giving us the dramatic landscape we see today. If you look to the far east on a clear you can still see the dwindling remains of this ice in the distance on Eiríksjökull.
photo by Dario Mentesana
Copyright © 2019 The Crib Rocks, Iceland - Art House Michelle Bird
South of Borgarnes lies the Glymur falls, Iceland's second highest waterfall at 198 m. If weather permits take the back roads to the Golden Circle. Drive through Skorradalshreppur on the gravel road 520 to direction Glymur falls. Continue through the fjord and turn off at the gravel Road 48 direction Þingvellir.
Begin the day at the pool and see how the locals start their daily regime of vital geothermal relaxing while chewing the fat in the jacuzzi and exchanging opinions about politics. Fill up on fresh vegetarian salads, soup and bread at the diverse and large lunch buffet at the Settlement Center which starts at 11:30 and continues till 15:00. Then visit the museum exhibition Children Throughout A Century which is open from 13:00 to 18:00 hrs. Take a short break and head the Kaffi Kyrd, snack on home made waffles with rubbarb and chocolate in a cozy living room. Head back to the Settlement Center 6 pm the daily performance of Black Magic. Then walk along the seaside to the Englendingavík restaurant a the historical location and enjoy their fish buffet.
The route around Snæfellsnes (peninsula) and Snæfellsjökull (glacier) is studded with a myriad of stunning vistas and short hikes. This full day journey is best when driving clockwise from Borgarnes via the south end for optimal lighting. Hiking the glacier is a separate journey in itself and requires a guide.
This trip takes about 6-7 hours with short stops. The shorter version takes 3.4 hrs returning to Borgarnes via hwy 56 or hwy 55.