Day 37: Egilsstaðir – Kárahnjúkastífla – Lagarfljót – Egilsstaðir

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Day 37: Tuesday 08 August 2017

 

Weather at start of day, and for rest of day, was sunny, overcast at times, cool, but no rain until evening.

 

Late start to day, with full English breakfast (brunch) – Bacon, Eggs, Baked Beans & Toast.

 

 

Drove Road 1 south, Road 931 (Upphéraðsvegur) and Road 910 (Austurleið) up to lake (reservoir) Hálslón, the source of Jökulsá á Dal river, and the Kárahnjúkastífla Dam and Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant.

 

 

Drove on along the southern shore of Lake Lagarfljót, on Road 931 (Upphéraðsvegur).

Passed Mount Snæfell (1833m – Iceland tallest mountain (excepting glaciers)) along the way – always in the background.

 

 

The Kárahnjúkastífla Dam is 193m tall, 730m long and straddles the Jökulsá á Dal river.
It is made of 8.5 million cubic meters of material, making it the largest dam of its type in Europe.
Construction on the dam began in April 2003 and was completed in November 2006.

The Kárahnjúkastífla Dam does not create the reservoir alone, as the dam is higher in elevation than the two valleys that flank the river valley.
To create the desired level, auxiliary or saddle dams were built.

The 60m tall and 1,000m long Desjarárstífla Dam is adjacent and to the east of the Kárahnjúkastífla Dam.

The Sauðárdalsstífla Dam is 4 km to the southwest, 25m tall and 1,100m long.

Both auxiliary dams were built between April 2004 and October 2006.
The reservoir began to fill in September 2006.
Water used for hydroelectricity production in the reservoir is discharged in the Jökulsá í Fljótsdal river to the northeast.

 

 

Very impressive views of the canyon below the dam wall, which we drove accross.

 

 

Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant (Icelandic Kárahnjúkavirkjun) is a hydroelectric power plant in Fljótsdalshérað municipality in eastern Iceland, designed to produce 4,600 gigawatt-hours (17,000 TJ) annually for Alcoa‘s Fjardaál aluminum smelter, 75 kilometres (47 mile) to the east in Reyðarfjörður. With the installed capacity of 690 megawatts (930,000 hp), the plant is the largest hydroelectric power plant in Iceland. The project, named after nearby Mount Kárahnjúkur, involves damming the Jökulsá á Dal river and the Jökulsá í Fljótsdal river with five dams, creating three reservoirs. Water from the reservoirs is then diverted through 73 kilometres (45 miles) of underground water tunnels and down a 420-metre (1,380 ft) vertical penstock towards a single underground power station. The Alcona smelter became fully operational in 2008 and the hydro-power project was completed in 2009.

 

 

We then retraced our route back along Road 910, taking a detour at Laugarfell, to view their Nature Hot Pools, which old folk tales say that the water is known for its healing powers.

We didn’t have the possibility to try them out this time, but now we know where they are, and what they are like.

 

 

Visited Snæfellsstofa Visitor Centre, which opened June 2010, and is the first BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) certified building in Iceland.
The Visitors Centre also has an interesting exhibition and information about the area, the wildlife and the nature.

 

 

Visited Skriðuklaustur which is an ancient manor estate in Fljótsdalur. From 1493 – 1552 a monastery operated there. In the years 2002 – 2012 an extensive archaeological excavation took place on the cloister ruins which are now open to visitors. The writer Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889 – 1975) bought Skriðuklaustur in 1939 and built a large house there designed by the German architect Fritz Höger. The writer moved to Reykjavík in 1948 and donated Skriðuklaustur to the Icelandic nation. In 2000 the institute of Gunnar Gunnarsson resumed operation in Skriðuklaustur as a centre of culture and history. In the summertime Skriðuklaustur comes alive with various exhibitions, cultural happenings and guided tours for visitors around the writer’s house and the archaeological site. It is now one of the Visiting Centers for the Vatnajökull National Park.

 

 

Along the tree-lined driveway, there was a lot of white plant seeds, giving the impression of snow along the pathway.

 

 

Tuva and Neil tried out the rope walkways, stepping stones and maize challenge – despite the cold winds – good fun.

 

 

At Lake Lagarfljót, we drove on along the northern shore on Road 931 (Upphéraðsvegur) northeast, passing Hengifoss.

 

Lagarfljót (also called Lögurinn) is a lake situated in the east of Iceland near Egilsstaðir.
Its surface measures 53 square kilometres (20 sq miles) and it is 25 kilometres (16 miles) long; its greatest width is 2.5 km (1.6 miles) and its greatest depth 112 m (367 ft).
The River Lagarfljót flows through this lake.

The biggest forest in Iceland, Hallormsstaðaskógur is found near the lake.

As with the Scottish lake Loch Ness, a cryptid serpent, called Lagarfljótsormurinn by locals, is believed by some to live in the depths of Lagarfljót.
Unfortunately, we did not sight it during our travels around both sides of the lake…

 

 

 

Once back at the campsite, we dismantled the roof rack system and removed the spare wheel from Expedition Vehicle 2.

This was a good decision, as a short time later, it began to rain heavily.

 

Stayed overnight again at Egilsstaðir Camping site.

Heavy rain all evening and night………..not what we wanted on our last camping night in Iceland !!!

Anja arrived home in Norway safely today – ending her Iceland experience for this trip.
Both dogs and cat were happy to receive her home again…

 

Tracking Data for today:

 

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