off the beaten path

The drive isn’t long, but it will be bumpy and we will drive over some rivers on our way, following the path into the end of the valley.

Now we get off the main road nr. 1 and drive off the beaten path for about 10 km into the beautifully carved valley called Kálfafellsdalur. The colors in the mountains are gorgeous. We will see a classic example of alpine landscape: Steep mountains on each side of this narrow valley carved by a descending outlet glacier, which has since disappeared. Miðvötn-Steinavötn river runs down the narrow sandur plain, with one of among tallest mountains on each side (1000-1500 m high). Brókarjökull, a small glacier cascades off a 800 m cliff at the end of the valley. This forms a rare ice-fall. Large ice blocks occasionally fall down the steep face of the glacier followed by the rumbling sound echoing through the valley.Originally formed by an extensive lava plateau, the surrounding mountains are composed of basalt flows that later were carved out by the Ice Age glaciers.Those mountains are among the youngest lavas of the Tertiary Basalt Formations, formed by repeated effusive eruptions over 5-6 million years ago.As we come deeper in the valley, we will see many inclined dikes cutting through a series of rhyolite and basalt lavas, indicating the presence of an extinct volcano.While we are off the beaten path, enjoying the art of nature, we might also run into some reindeer grazing in the hills.

Here we will enjoy the tranquility and have some snacks. We have pure Icelandic water, dried fish and butter. We will make some stops on our way to use facilities and enjoy more natural sights, such as the glacier lagoons and in Skaftafell, but our next highlight stop is on the sandur plains of Skeiðarársandur.

#1 Fláajökull

A stop by Fláajökull where we can stand on the recently deglaciated foreland and see the details of cross-cutting and merging of crevasse squeeze ridges.

#2 Kálfafellsdalur

Next we drive into the 10 km long valley of Kálfafellsdalur, which is an example of how the landscape forms where the glaciers have disappeared.

#3 Skeiðarársandur

The largest sandur plain in Iceland with one of the most complex braided river system from the glacier rivers coming from the outlet glacier Skeiðarárjökull.

#4 Klaustur & Skaftá

Our last stop is at our end destination today. The 115 km long river Skaftá runs by, a river Icelanders have learned to respect and pay attention to.