There are few natural phenomena as awe-inspiring as the magical northern lights. When the skies open up and flares of charged particles & energy from out of space come pouring in, it creates a display of light so magnificient it takes your breath away. Massive green curtains dropping down with purple tips on their edges, shifting and changing in all directions. It is literally out of this world. The northern lights will completely overwhelm you, to an extend where you can only utter sounds of sheer admiration, with a fading voice due to being blown away. But when can you see northern lights? Read about hunting the elusive Aurora Borealis in Iceland in this story.
Mount Rjúpnafell is one of the steepest mountains in the valley of Thórsmörk. It sits on the north side of the Krossá river, and the walking track to the top is quite challenging. But you will be rewarded with sweeping views of glaciers and colourful folded mountain ranges all around. There’s also a sweet litte river valley hidden along the track below its slopes.
Stórhöfði peninsula is the southernmost point of Heimaey, and home to the biggest puffin colony in Iceland. Beneath Stórhöfði there’s also the surreal geological beach of Klauf, formed by volcanic eruptions from several directions. On the coastal track to Stórhöfði you can see incredible views, wild cliff formations and lots of puffins along the way.
Blátindur is the imposing peak rising up above Herjólfsdalur, beyond the daunting peaks of Dalfjall on the island of Heimaey. It takes a bit of effort to scramble up there, but you’ll be rewarded with some truly jaw-dropping views on the hike to the top. Including Blátindur casting its mighty shadow majestically into the bowl of Herjólfsdalur, if you go up in the afternoon.
Herjólfsdalur is intimidatingly beautiful, whichever angle you look at it. It looks like a giant natural amphitheatre, with stupendous rocks rising up on all sides as you enter the valley. The walk along the top ridge is one not to be missed. The distraction rate is very high, and there’s a great density of spectacular sights and features along the way. Herjólfsdalur is also the setting for the yearly Þjóðhátíð festival in August. On the last evening, the mountainside is set alight with a row of flames along the entire length of the valley – a magnificent sight to see!
The walk to the top of Eldfell is the one every visitor to Heimaey wants to do. It’s that famous volcano that spectacularly erupted out of nowhere in January 1973. Eldfell is very colourful, the track is easily accessible, and the views are absolutely stunning in all directions. From the top you can gawk onto the impressive lava flow that was furiously roiling & boiling only a few decades ago, and single-handedly enlarged the island by several square kilometers. It’s incredible to think it didn’t even exist just over 50 years ago.
Eyjafjallajökull, the unpronounceable one, silently looming in the background. Nobody knew its name, or could even pronounce it. Until that day in April 2010, when it literally erupted into world fame, and stopped the whole of Europe in their tracks. Eyjafjallajökull rules them all. This beautiful volcano is surrounded by hiking tracks in Thórsmörk around the back and Fimmvörðuháls over the top.
People on Vestmannaeyjar like to light candles on mountains. In the darker months of the year, you can often see candles on Heimaklettur, the iconic Home Rock of the island. The first one usually appears at the beginning of August, when the midnight sun is slowly fading. The flickering candles are clearly visible from the town and for people who come in on the evening ferry. I was fascinated by this unique tradition and became one of those candle lighters too. If you are wondering what this is all about, you can read it here.