Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stórurð - North-east Iceland

Stórurð, one of Iceland's most spectacular sights.
Stórurð is one of Iceland‘s most amazing places but because it is rather hard to reach it is not visited by many. Even many Icelanders don’t know it exists. Yet it is more spectacular than Gullfoss and Geysir, the two most visited attractions in Iceland.

But what is Stórurð? Well, the word Stórurð can perhaps be translated as “Big boulders” and is essentially a large pile of huge rocks resting in a valley. But to put it that way is like saying the Grand Canyon is essentially a large gulch or the Victoria Falls is essentially a large cascade. Like the Grand Canyon and the Victoria Falls, Stórurð is something much more, something beyond words or description.

It is believed that some thousands of years ago a large landslide fell from one of the nearby mountains on top of a glacier that filled the valley where Stórurð is now. As years passed, and the climate got warmer, the glacier retreated, got thinner and thinner and finally this huge pile of gigantic rocks touched ground.

And here they are today, some of them larger than houses, others smaller. Here and there small ponds have formed between the rocks, some with clear water but others with green water. In between you can walk on perfectly level green fields of grass. In contrast with the tranquil ponds and green fields are those huge black rocks and cliffs towering over and when you walk among them you just feel so small.

Behind this big, random labyrinth of rocks, right at the bottom of the valley, you still can see remnants of the glacier that it part formed this amazing place. And you are also right at the feet of the Dyrfjöll mountains (Dyrfjöll = Door Mountains) looking like some giant took a big bite of the edge of mountain, forming a kind of a doorway over to the next valley.

How can you reach Stórurð? The best way is to go by car to Vikurskarð, a mountain passage on the road to Borgarfjörður Eystri. Just drive from Egilsstaðir village towards Borgarfjörður Eystri village. The mountain passage in question is the first one you reach. Right on the highest point of the passage you’ll find parking and a sign with the word “Stórurð”. There is also another parking before you reach the highest point, but don’t stop there, just keep on until you reach the highest part of the passage. Leave your car there and follow the sometimes not so easy to spot path up the mountain. The walk to Stórurð takes about 2 hours. Once there you can expect to spend around 1-2 hours at the site. Then the trek back takes another 2 hours.


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