Category Archives: Landscape

Volcanic erruption in Reykjanes

August 31 2021. Lava flow in Geldingadalir.

The eruption in Geldingadalir, Reykjanes Peninsula, is an extraordinary event, and the longest lived eruption in the 21 century, lasting 181 days. Although the area has been considered active, the last eruption in Reykjanes Peninsula was around 800 years ago. Geologists say that we are now entering an era of volcanic activity in this area which has several active volcanoes.

April 21 2021. Fagradalsfjall, Geldingadalir and Merardalir.

The eruption seems to be over but there are still earth quakes in the area and some smoke coming from the crater and the lava. In the middle of November the Icelandic Met Office confirmed that uplift has started again south of Fagradalsfjall and north of Keilir.

April 26 2021. The main crater starting to build up.

The eruption in Geldingadalir started on March 19 2021 after a period of earthquakes.

May 4 2021. The main crater.

At first there were several rather small fissures that spewed lava and then closed, and a new one or two opened.

June 6 2021. High activity in the crater and lava flowing to Merardalir and down to Nátthagi.

In April one crater became dominant and for six months it went from being very active to less active, with a few short dormant periods in between.

June 8 2021. Lava  field in Nátthagi.

At times the lava flowed extensively and there was concern that it would reach the road and the town of Grindavík. But these were never in any actual danger. The lava flow was never constant resulting in accumulation of layers of lava in the same areas.

July 3 2021. View from Langihryggur, lava flowing down to Nátthagi.

There was a lot of interest in this eruption and Icelanders as well as tourists came from all over the World to experience the sensation of seeing a volcanic eruption and feeling the heat from the flowing lava. Most days thousands of people hiked to the site and although it is not far from the urban area it is considered remote wilderness. Rescue teams had a busy time assisting and finding people who had lost their way or were injured e.g. broken bones. Although the eruption has ceased, the site is still a popular scenic attraction.

August 14 2021. In Geldingadalir.

Ornosk went several trips to the volcanic site and took some interesting pictures. These are a few of them from different times.

July 3 2021. In the middle of the night, view from Langihryggur.

Better times ahead

View to Ölfusá River from our window

It is November already and Christmas around the corner. How time flies. Our web ORNOSK.COM has not been up to par the last year or so. However, better times are ahead. We have moved the hosting to Iceland and problems with SSL certificate and Facebook sharing have been resolved. The last two years have been very special for us, to say the least. Not only COVID restrictions but also some health issues. Yes, we have been seriously reminded that we are not growing any younger. – Our resolve is to continue blogging and emphasise the essential role birds have in our ecosystems.

Northern Light activity

There has been a peak in solar activity in the last few days but cloudy skies here in the South have often prevented us from seeing them clearly and photographing them.  The North of the country, however, has enjoyed clearer skies and some magnificent shows of Aurora Borealis.

These photos were taken by Lake Þingvallavatn a few days ago when the the clouds gave way to the Northern Lights. Its colours were reflected in the frozen lake and the moon lit up the scenery.

A few nights ago we had some strong Northern Lights in green and beautiful red to pink colours. They could be seen dancing across the sky over Selfoss despite the lights from town.

Rowan tree at Sandfell

Reynir – Rowan – Sorbus aucuparia

Again we post a picture of the beautiful Rowan tree at Sandfell in Öræfasveit planted in 1923 beside the family farmhouse. In 1947, however, this old church site and parsonage was abandoned. In South Iceland Rown trees rarely reach such a high age as this one, almost 100 years old.

This tree is by many considered the most beautiful Rowan in Iceland. In 2015 it received the title “Tree of the year”by the Icelandic Forestry Association. It is 11 metres high with seven stems. In autumn each stems displays varied colours. This difference is due to the amount of water in each stem, resulting in these magnificent autumn colours of leaves in different stages of wilting. See also Tree of the year 2015.

Wild flowers in the Highlands

Blágresi – Geranium sylvaticum – Wood cranesbill

A lot of flowers are in full bloom now in the interior. Vegetation, however, is more often very scarce at this altitude for several reasons. The weather is not favourable, the soil is sandy and is on the move in stormy weather. Therefore the interior is heavily affected by grazing sheep. Letting these domestic animals lose in the interior for the summer has been a custom in Iceland since the Middle Ages.  In the moonlike environment, the black sands made of volcanic minerals and lava, are often dominant and it is no wonder that flowering plants are on the top of the menu for the wandering sheep.

Steindepla – – Veronica fructans- Rock speedwell
Hvítmaðra – Galium normanii – Slender Bedstraw

Coming across fields of wild mountain flowers in the highlands is very often a great surprise and nothing less than heavenly. Hiking this week we were so happy to come across such a delight.

Barnarót-  Coeloglossum viride – Long-bracted green orchid

The mountainside was covered with different kinds of wild flowers in bloom. These include velvet bells, snow gentian, moonwort, rock speedwell and many more.  The blue colours of snow gentians and rock speedwells caught the eye and  a great surprise was to see a field of wood cranesbill and meadow buttercups high up in the mountainside.

Dýragras  – Gentiana nivalis – Snow gentian

Blágresi – Geranium sylvaticum – Wood cranesbill
Brennisóley – Ranunculus acris –  Meadow Buttercup


Reykjanes Peninsula is always a great area to visit with lots of interesting attractions. Gunnuhver is one of them. It is a hot spring in a bigger geothermal area, near the Lighthouse Reykjanesviti. It is the biggest mud pool in Iceland, 20 meters wide, with temperatures over 300°C. The area is on the Mid Atlantic rift and there are hot springs, mud pools, fumaroles and solfatara. – If you visit the area note especially that it is important to keep to the tracks as the area is highly active.

The hot spring gets its name from a female ghost the ended her days there some 400 years ago, or so they say. She had been a great nuisance until a priest set a trap for her and she fell into the hot spring. Her name was Gunna, thus Gunnuhver.


Hveradalir in Kerlingarfjöll

Kerlingarfjöll are a cluster of mountains in the central interior near Hofsjökull Glacier and one of the biggest geothermal areas in Iceland.  The area is especially known for its magnificent scenery and beautiful colours. Formerly this was a popular skiing area in the summer time but the snow has been melting gradually from the mountains and now tourist only come to view and hike in the area. For more info see:

Kerlingarfjöll stand out from their surroundings with picturesque rhyolite mountains and spectacular colours. The snow covered mountaintops and geothermal steam create a landscape of colourful mystery.

Keringarfjöll are a nature reserve and travellers need to show special care and respect to preserve this unique and fragile environment.

Driving to Kerlingarfjöll takes about two hours from Gullfoss along a rough dirt road. Driving from Reykjavík takes about 3,5 to 4 hours.


Hengifoss in Fljótsdalur


Hengifoss is situated in Fljótsdalur near Hallormsstaðaskógur. It is 128 metre high, making it the third highest waterfall in Iceland. The waterfall is in a beautiful canyon, where you can see different bedrocks and old coastal rocks.


There is another waterfall in the canyon, not less spectacular, known as Litlanesfoss. It is surrounded by columnar igneous rock .


The hike up river is well worth the time and takes about one hour.

What do you do if you are lost…

Stafafura – Lodgepole pine – Pinus contorta

“What do you do if you are lost in an Icelandic forest?” used to be a popular joke, the answer being “you stand up!” Today this joke is obsolete. Spruce and pine forests are growing very fast all over the country and the trees at Snæfoksstaðir probably at least 12-15 metres high or more.

A Sunday stroll in the forest makes the weekend perfect. Nothing beats being outside in the fresh air, surrounded by  trees and bird song.