Local Guide

Local Guide

Egilsstadir is a small village on the banks of the river Lagarfljot. The population is around 2300. It was established in 1947 as a service centre for the farms in the district. The location was chosen because of the road connections with the eastern fjords and other highways in the area. The village is now the largest in the east and a main administrative and transportation centre. The airport at Egilsstadir is an alternate for Keflavik International Airport and can handle large jets. There are three daily flights from Egilsstadir to Reykjavik. Charters from Europe arrive here during the summer. The weather is more continental as the district is far from the ocean and th cold ocean breezes do not cool the air. The wooded areas, waterfalls, and the river make the district an attraction for tourists. When driving from Eidar or Egilsstadir, cross Lagarfljot at Fellabaer and take road # 933 on the west side of the river going south. The distance to Skriduklaustur is about 35km (22miles) from Egilsstadir. Vegardur and Valthjofsstadur are close by. Returning, drive across the river again to the east side, and drive on road # 933 to Atlavik and Hallormsstadur and then onwards on # 931 to Egilsstadir and Eidar again. There is a picnic area just past Hallormsstadur between Hafursa and Freysholar.

Major Points of Interest

Lagarfljot

The Lagarfljot river is 145km (90 miles) long and it begins where two rivers Jokulsa and Keldua meet close to the church stead Valthjofsstadur The deepest part of the river is 112 meters and the average depth is 55m. The river has been used as a landing spot for seaplanes in the past. According to legend a serpent lives in the river. It was first mentioned in the14th century. The serpent has been seen off and on and a picture of the serpent is on the co-operative store at Egilsstadir. (See Folk Tales below).

Lagarfljot

Skriduklaustur

Skriduklaustur is an old manor farm with a long history. The original name was Skrida until a monastery (klaustur) of the Augustinian order was established there in 1493. The history of the monastery was short because of the Reformation and it was abolished in 1552. The author Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889-1975) built a grand house at Skriduklaustur and settled here in 1939. He lived here for a few years until he moved to Reykjavik in 1948. Gunnarsson donated the farm to the Icelandic government when he moved away. The interior looks almost like it was when the Gunnarson´s family moved out. It is now a literary institute and a residence for artists, writers, and scholars. Gunnarsson was considered for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1918, 1921 and 1922 but was thought too young to receive the prize then. He was again considered in 1955 but another Icelandic author Halldor Laxness (1902-1998) received it. They both believed that the other one was the second best author in Scandinavia. Gunnarsson wrote 37 volumes. Nine have been translated into English. The Advent (1939) and The Black Cliffs (1967) are probably the best known. It has been said that after Hemingway read The Advent he sat down and wrote The Old Man and the Sea.

Skriduklaustur

Vegardur

The Vegardur Visitor Centre is open from May until mid-September. Visitors to the Karahnjukar Dam should begin their visit here. The history of the project is presented in words, pictures, computer-generated images, multimedia and video, all backed up by a large-scale model of the region. Vegardur which is run by the National Power Company is only 1 km (half a mile) from Skriduklaustur. Here you can witness the large scale of the Karahnjukar project. Should you want to drive to the Karahnjukar dam it is advisable to get information about road conditions and weather forecasts from the staff at Vegardur.

Vegardur

Karahnjukar and Valthjofsstadur

The Karahnjukar project is the largest such project undertaken in Iceland so far. The electricity generated is used by the Alcoa aluminum smelter at Reydarfjödur. The installed power is 690MW produced by six generating units. Three major dams were constructed to harness the water. The largest one at Hafrahvammar-canyon is about 730m long and 193m high (633 feet). The structure is of the concrete-faced rock fill dam (CFRD) type and is the highest dam of this kind in Europe. The tunnels from the reservoirs are about 73 km (45 miles) and two steel-lined vertical pressure shafts lead the water from the intake to the underground powerhouse. The powerhouse is deep in the mountain Teigsbjarg (1km) just east of Valthjofsstadur. (For more details visit the Vegardur information centre). Valthjofsstadur is a church-stead and an old manor farm that dates back to the 14th century. The present church has many interesting artifacts including a chalice and paten from early 18th century. One of the most valuable pieces is in the National Gallery but a replica is in the church. This is the so called Valthjofsstadarhurd (door). The door´s decoration tells a story about a lion and a knight. The door is from a large wooden church of past centuries and it is believed that the door was taller because. the third picture is missing. The original door is considered the finest romantic wood carving in Scandinavia. The author Gunnar Gunnarsson was born at this farm in 1889.

Karahnjukar and Valthjofsstadur

Hallormsstadarskogur

Hallormsstadarskogur (740 sq.km) is the largest wooded area in Iceland. It is located 25 km from Egilsstadir on the east side of the river. Almost all the area has been protected from grazing animals since 1905. The Forestry Section took it over in 1907. Make a stop at Guttormslundur and take a walk though the area. The oldest trees in the grove are from 1938. You will find signs along the walking path that give details about the various species of trees . There are about fifty foreign tree species in the woods and many walking trails. You can obtain a map with the marked trail at the reception in your hotel.

Hallormsstadarskogur Hallormsstadarskogur

Other Activities

Midhus, Fardagafoss, Husey and Golf

Midhus is a farm close to the river Eyvindara near Egilsstadir. A large quantity of antique silver artifact was excavated here in 1980. The silver is now at the National Museum. The art gallery Eik is located at Midhus where Icelandic handicrafts are made with material from nature. Fardagafoss waterfall is located about 5km from Egilsstadir on road #93. The walk from the car-park is about 30 minutes. The gorge is interesting and the view over Herad is fascinating. Below the fall is a cave and you are encouraged to go in there and write your name in the guestbook. Husey is an island between the rivers Jokulsa and Lagarfljot out by the coast at Heradsfloi. There you can observe rich bird life. A horse rental is available the farm and with the farmers permission you can observe the seals on the beach. Golf Golfklubbur Fljotsdalsherads has 9 holes – par 66 (33/33) www.golf.is

Midhus, Fardagafoss, Husey and Golf

Nielsenshus

Nielsenshus The house of Nielsen is the oldest house at Egilsstadir. It was constructed in 1944 by a Dane, Oswald Nielsen. It is a coffee house now and a restaurant. The outside patio is a great place to sit on a nice warm evening during the summer. Walk to the Church The view from the church over the area is well worth the walk.

Nielsenshus

Diversions off the Beaten Track

Hengifoss

Hengifoss is among the highest waterfvalls in Iceland (129m-423 feet). You reach it shortly after you pass the farm Brekka about 4km before Skriduklaustur. The gorge is very picturesque with fossils and lignite (brown coal with a visibly woody structure).The red layers between the basalt layers are soil and sandstones. Fossils of trees in the layers show that the temperature was much warmer here during the latter part of the Tertiary period. Lower in the gorge you can see some amazing columnar basalt around a smaller fall with the name Litlanesfoss. There is a cave behind this fall and you can reach it if there is little water in the river. The walk up to Hengifoss is not difficult and it is well worth the effort. Don´t forget your camera.

Hengifoss

Atlavik

Atlavik is a popular camping area on the banks of the Lagarfljot´s river. The riverboat Lagarfljotsormurinn makes a stop here. From Atlavik and in Hallormsstadarskogur ther are many walking trails. They are marked, yellow, red, green, and blue. You can obtain a map from your hotel before the journey. The wooded areas are ideal for picnics.

Atlavik

Seydisfjordur

Seydisfjordur is an interesting place to visit. Take a short drive on road 93 to Seydisfjordur (26km-16 miles) through the mountain pass Fjardarheidi. The road is steep on the east side. Make a stop at the car-park on the way down and view the pretty waterfalls in the river Fjardara. The power station in this river is from 1913. The village has many Norwegian wooden houses from the late 19th century upto 1907. This very picturesque village (pop.470) was the largest trading town in the east during the latter part of the 19th century. The fjord is deep but the lowland area is limited. The head quarters for the Allied Forces was here during WWII. The tanker El Grillo is in the water on the north side. It was sunk in a German air raid. There is an El Grillo exhibition in the oldest machine works in Iceland which is located at Seydisfjordur. The Atlantic telephone cable came ashore here in 1907. Take a walk through the village--for example at Sudurgata--and look at the charming old houses, like the school building from 1907 at Sudurgata 4. Walk over to the blue church; the view from there is beautiful. Visit also the Skaftafell cultural centre. The ferry to and from Europe lands at Seydisfjordur.

Seydisfjordur