Faxafloi is a large bay in the southwest of Iceland, located between the peninsulas Snaefellsnes (to the north) peninsula and Reykjanes (to the south).
The main fjords of the bay are Borgarfjordur, Hvalfjordur, Kollafjordur and Hafnarfjordur. Some of Iceland's largest towns are located by the bay and Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, lies on its southeastern shore.
Faxafloi bay is popular for whale- and birdwatching, sea angling and has great fishing grounds. In Kollafjordur is Videy Island, featuring the Lennon/One Peacetower, Richard Scerra's 'Milestones' and other attractions, along with great birdlife. The mountain ring seen from the bay, among which Snaefellsjokull glacier may be spotted on clear days, is particularly beautiful.
The Reykjanes peninsula in Southwest Iceland is an area of much lava, volcanoes and strong geothermal activity. This is were the continents meet and here you may enjoy rich birdlife along with some of the most powerful breaker waves you are likely to encounter.
Reykjanes is a peninsula in Southwest Iceland. The whole peminsula is covered with lavas and active volcanoes and is strong in geothermal activity. Earthquakes are very common. The peninsula is the continuation of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Indeed, at the southern tip of Reykjanes, at Sandvik, there is a bridge where one can literally walk between the continents.
Volcanic activity stretches out to the ocean. A new island was formed in 1783 but was broken by waves. In the middle ages there were many eruptions in the area, but no eruptions have been recorded on the mainland for the last 500 years.
Closely related to the volcanic activity is geothermal activity. The main geothermal areas of Reykjanes are Krysuvik, Gunnuhver and Svartsengi.
Svartsengi has a power station with an energy of 76.5 MW with about 475 litres per second of water, at a heat level of 90 degrees Celsius. Its mineral-rich surplus water fills up the Blue Lagoon spa.
Various mud pools and fumaroles can be seen at Gunnuhver and it is also said to be haunted.
At Krysuvik you may further see all kinds of solfatarae, fumaroes, hot springs and mud pots, with the soil giving off mulitcoloured hues. The green crater lake Graenavatn is also an impressive sight.
Reykjanes has rich birdlife in all cliffs and its best known birdcliff is also located in Krysuvik, Krysuvikurbjarg, a nesting place of around 77 thousand seabirds. Slightly further north is Kleifarvatn, the largest lake on the peninsula and one of the deepest lakes in the country.
Reykjanes further has some of the most breathtaking breaker waves in the country, indeed in the world. We recommend visiting Selvogur a short drive from Krysuvik. The charming little church there, Strandakirkja, has been central in Icelandic seamen’s prayers for centuries and the area of Selvogur offers some of greatest waves. The southwest tip of the peninsula, Reykjanesta, is another prime example. The waves may reach as high as 20-30 meters.
There is much fishing fishing around the peninsula, the fishing villages being mainly located on the north side, i.e. Keflavik, Sandgerdi, Gardur and Vogar. Grindavik, however, is located in the far south of the peninsula.
Near Keflavik, slightly east, is the Midnesheidi heath, where the international airport, Leifsstod (often colloquially none as Keflavikurflugvollur or ‘Keflavik Airport’). The US army formerly has a base there, as established by a highly controversial treaty with the Icelandic government in 1951, and the base came to be a kind of village in its own right. The army left in 2006 and abandoned the base.
Towards the south of the peninsula, the geothermal spa Blaa Lonid is operated. Its recreational waters are world renowned and said to help people with skin diseases. An ideal place for a relaxing bath.
The mountain Esja, often called Esjan (translates to “the Esja”), is situated in Kjalarnes in the south-west corner of Iceland.
Located only 10 km outside of the city of Reykjavík, the mountain towers over the city skyline. In reality, it is not a single mountain but a volcanic mountain range, with its highest peak reaching 914 m (2.999 ft).
The mountain's formation dates back to the beginning of the earth's last Ice Age, where the interplay between warm and cold periods formed large lava fields which the Ice Age glacier then ground down, leaving its highest summits.
Since Iceland is situated (and created) on the boundary between the two tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America, the continuous tension pushes the sedimentary soil to the west, making the western part of the range its oldest (at about 3.2 million years) and the eastern part its youngest (at about 1.8 million years). Its rock types are basalt and tuff.
Because of the mountain's close proximity to the city capital (less than an hour by car), Esjan is an extremely popular destination for locals and visitors alike. The path up the mountain is divided into different sections, with signs indicating the difficulty of each path ahead. The most well known paths lead to the separate summits of Þverfellshorn (780 m / 2.560 ft) and Kerhólakambur (851 m / 2.790 ft).
The mountain's highest point is called Hábunga and requires an additional three-kilometer trek northeast from Þverfellshorn. Approximately 200 m from the top, hikers find themselves at a big rock named Steinn where they are faced with three options: continuing on the marked trail, climbing directly to the peak, or heading back down and calling it a day.
When hiking Esjan it is extremely important to do so with weather reports in mind, proper hiking gear and all signalled instructions. Avalanches and accidents can claim lives, and according to The Iceland Touring Association, Esjan holds the most accidents in Icelandic nature.
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