Our day tour to Þórsmörk started bright and early in Reykjavík. The pickup time was 8 AM, but we arrived at the BSI bus terminal several minutes early, not quite sure where we would find our bus. Finally, it appeared with the sign we were waiting for: Þórsmörk, Natural Reserve.
As soon as we got onto the bus, my eyelids grew heavy and the landscapes around us became, little by little, a part of my dreams. About an hour and a half later we arrived to Hvolsvöllur, a small town where we changed buses and had the chance for a quick coffee break before continuing our route. For those who didn’t pack lunch, it was a good opportunity to purchase food and provisions as well.
As we continued further east on the Ring Road, we saw the silhouette of Vestmannaeyjar to our right, and an omnipresent voice recording told us about the small cluster of islands and the eruption of Eldfell (‘fire mountain’) in 1973, which forced residents to leave the main island, Heimaey. The pre-recorded voice also spoke of Surtsey, which emerged from the seabed in 1963 due to a violent underwater volcanic eruption, which is also how Iceland emerged 20 million years ago.
THE REAL ADVENTURE BEGINS
Crossing over the vast lands where some of the Icelandic sagas took place, we came to the waterfall Seljalandsfoss where we could feel the roar of water falling from 60 metres high. At this point, a mighty 8×8 vehicle was waiting for us. After we got into our new vehicle, a new voice on a CD told us about the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010. I was taken with fear and fascination, knowing that we would be close to the volcano that wreaked havoc last year. After that story, the voice shut up and music started to sound from the speakers. The musical medley lasted the daylong and spanned the gamut from ‘Jailhouse Rock’ to ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.’ They would be the songs that would accompany us on our journey over and over.
As we got closer, the road turned to gravel and our eyes filled with dust (despite being inside the vehicle) until we finally arrived the Þórsmörk nature reserve and, damn, it is amazing! It was postcard picture perfect with the glacial water streaming down from the mountains, and creating waterfalls.
We stopped at Gígjökull, an outlet glacier from Eyjafjallajökull. There used to be a spectacular glacial lagoon there, but it was swept away by the 2010 eruption. Standing in front of such a formidable work of nature, I felt as small as an ant. You really feel as though you have been transported into a different world.
From there, we went to Húsadalur, in the western part of Þórsmörk valley. We crossed a few rivers to reach a camping area, where we stopped for lunch. I could have been there for hours, surrounded by nature and breathing the fresh air coming into my lungs. But time is short and we had to get back in the 8×8 vehicle to continue on the route.
TRAVELLING THROUGH NOWHERE
We drove on through Goðaland, crossing numerous glacial rivers. Sometimes it even seemed that we were sailing through their waters. Suddenly, we stopped in nowhere land. The driver invited us to get out and spend as long as we wanted there. The feeling of peace was stunning. Only the sound of water running and camera shutters could be heard.
After our stop, we hopped back in the car and drove for another 45 minutes. As we trudged on at 10 km/hour, the landscapes looked like photographs in motion. Finally, we reached Stakkholtsgjá canyon, where we did a short one-hour hike. There, we found melting water from Eyjafjallajökull glacier falling down in a cave. That was the end of our road. After spending some time between the canyon walls, we returned to our 8×8 vehicle and one bumpy ride out of Þórsmörk later, we returned to our everyday lives.
The ‘Þórsmörk Nature Reserve’ tour by Reykjavík Excursions can be booked at www.re.is or by calling +354 580 5400. The tour costs 19800 ISK and is available every day. The total time spent is 10 hours. Pick up at hotels and guesthouses 30 minutes prior to departure.