– Skógar, 17th of August –
Welcome to the enchanted valley of Iceland
Today we woke up in the Skógar hostel. It is the worst one where we have slept, but when we look through the window, we can’t complain about anything.
We are on the southern Iceland, near the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. If It doesn’t ring a bell, just think about the air traffic mess that an icelandic volcanic eruption caused in 2010: this glacier covers that volcano.
The villlage of Skógar has just 25 inhabitants. The name means “forest”, despite there are almost no trees left. Actually Iceland used to have a huge amount of woodlands, before the Viking’s deforestation. The trees haven’t been replanted, and within one century, the forests disappeared.
Nowadays It is a barren valley. It looks like an amazing setting from a Tolkien novel, where trolls, elfs or fairies could show up at any time.
Trekkings, Waterfalls and Rainbows: this is Skógar
Skógafoss is the main attraction of this place: It is a stunning waterfalls 62 meters high. Due to the amount of spray the waterfall consistently produces, a single or double rainbow normally visible on sunny days. If you are as lucky as we were, you will bump into the brightest rainbow you have ever seen.
We start venturing into pretty tree-lined valleys with fascinating cascades, step by step we get closer to Myrdalsjökull e Eyjafjallajökull glacier, the trees turn into bushes and everything begins to get barren. Despite we are plenty of energy and fully motivated to complete the path, we go back in a while. The time is running out, and we want to see hobbit houses as well!
Turf Houses and Folk Museum of Skógar
Those traditional turf houses make up the Folk Museum of Skógar. Once they were dwellings, schools and stalls, nowadays they show us how icelandic people used to live and work. This place is said to be one of the few icelandic museums that deserves a visit. We are more into architecture in itself than into exposition, so we just take a look around peeking out now and then. It is really evocative!
Those traditional and sustainable houses, are designed for the Iceland extreme climate. They have stone basament, wood framework, heat (light) absorbing black façade, and high insulation turf roofs.
The unique Icelandic Sheeps
It is already lunchtime, and today we make an exception: we are going out for lunch instead of cooking in shared kitchens as usual. We experience Skógafoss hotel bistrot-bar, in order to taste the renowned icelandic lamb. After more than one hour delay, they even forget an order: today 3 tables out of 5 are taken, too much crowd for them! In spite of their slowness, we made an exactly right choice: great cooking, great view, and great price as well!
Icelandics say that their lamb is the “the best lamb in the world”: I think that they are not overstating. Their sheeps live in an untouched nature and in the absolute freedoom. You will bump into them in the most unexpected place: we spotted some sheeps even on an ocean stack! 😀
We have been told – by the native guide who has leaded us on the glacier – that on the island there are 600.000 sheeps, exactly the twofold amount of the humans living there! Every sheep has a belonging tag behind their ear: once-twice a year, in fact, they collect these animals in order to give them back to their respective owners. From the animals, they will extract the renowned icelandic wool and the lamb. Furthermore, those funny sheeps, seems to be really strong. Some years ago, after a violent snow storm, about 2000 sheeps were missing at the head count: that sounded as a real tragedy for the local economy. Luckily, after 2 months, they have been founded underneath the snow, completely alive 😀
I almost never wish to visit twice place where I am already been, but I would make an exception for this enchanted valley. I wish I came back two times more: one in summertime, in order to complete the trekking, and another one in wintertime, in order to see the stunning waterfall frozen…