Nothing in Sight but Nature
Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Skaftárhreppur District
If you travel south on Road No. 1, take a look at the pearls of nature which are as unique as their history when you enter Skaftárhreppur.
The Skaftárhreppur district derives its name from Skaftá river, which is 115 km long, rising beneath the Skaftárjökull glacier and flowing to the sea. Skaftárhreppur covers a very large territory, fully 7% of Iceland’s total land area. It is part of the Katla Geopark Project, founded in November 2010 (see www.katlageopark.is). With a population of only 447 inhabitants, there are about 15.5 km2 per person. There is peace and quiet here, making the perfect place to relax and unwind. The cornerstone of the local economy is the agriculture and animal husbandry, while tourism is a growing sector.
On Fire in the Basement
The geology of Skaftárhreppur has been evolving over centuries, creating marvellous pearls of nature caused mainly by volcanic eruptions and the sudden floods that come from the glaciers. The last two years have been especially noteworthy. In 2010, there was an eruption in Eyjafjallajökull and in 2011 in Grímsvötn. A lot of ash fell on Skaftárhreppur but the inhabitants united to clean it up, so you may enjoy the peaceful surroundings and nature. The land is constantly changing, though, from the glaciers to the vast black sand beaches.
Hiking in History
There are numerous other natural wonders in Skaftárhreppur. Systrastapi (Sister’s Rock) is one of them, a steep-sided rocky hill west of Klaustur. Folklore says that two nuns were buried up on the rock after being burned at the stake for breaking their vows over 1000 years ago. Systrafoss (Sister Falls) are beautiful twin waterfalls, surrounded by towering 65 year-old pines and is located in Klaustur. Then there is Eldgjá (Fire Canyon), a spectacular volcanic canyon 270 m deep, 600 m wide and over 70 km long. The newest attraction will be Geo Hikes, consisting of a brand new 20 km marked hiking trail that circles Klaustur, with informative signs giving insights as how the unique geology in the area is constantly evolving. It’s opening has been delayed due to the recent eruption. However, Klaustur is the ideal spot from which to take day trips into the southern highlands.
A Touch of the Irish
Kirkjubæjarklaustur, with around 120 inhabitants is growing, and is the centre of commerce, service, tourism and industry. The town’s name, which is often shortened to Klaustur, refers to long and interesting story of Irish hermits who are believed to have lived at Kirkjubær before the Norse settlement of Iceland. Tradition says that it has always been inhabited by Christians and the pagans were not welcome.
Soothe the Stress Away
There is nothing to beat a refreshing swim and relaxing dip in a hot pot – especially after a day’s hiking, regardless of weather. The outdoor swimming pool at Klaustur has recently been rebuilt into a high-quality pool.
Klausturv. 15 • 880 Kirkjubæjarklaustri
+354 487 4840