Whimsical Asbyrgi: One of Iceland’s treasured wonders


The great thing about traveling is that you get to encounter many mesmerizing places that seem to be taken out of story books, places that just seem to be so unreal until you’re actually there breathing in the fresh, crisp air and watching the sun set over the horizon. That’s the beauty of traveling. It challenges your perception of the world.
One of Iceland’s most amazing natural features is Ásbyrgi. A breathtaking canyon shaped in the form of a horse- shoe. If you look at it from the air it looks like a giant horse had set its foot down the land.
While most people think of canyons, they immediately think of red rock formations over looking a barren land but in Ásbyrgi its something else entirely. It is a remarkable place teeming with wildlife and vegetation. A place that is a sanctuary to both humans and animals alike.
Ásbyrgi Canyon is managed by the national forestry service but is considered a part of the Vatnajökull National Park. The area is surrounded by myriad of trees from birch, willow and mountain ash. It is considered as the most excellent place to camp in Iceland. Where adventurers can experience the great outdoors.

History of Ásbyrgi; a combination of mythology and science.

asbyrgiIn Icelandic mythology, The Norse Gods once roamed the earth and Sleipnir which is a giant eight-legged horse owned by the Norse God Óðinn had put his foot down on the spot. Which then left a hoof-print three-by-one kilometers in size. However scientifically the Ásbyrgi was forged from two cataclysmic floods that took place thousands of years ago. The first flood that occurred in 10,000 – 8,000 years ago had caused the northern part of the Vatnajökull ice cap to shape the canyon’s surface. And 3,000 years ago a second flood had carved its way towards the canyon until it became what it is today. Tourists who visit Ásbyrgi are always fascinated of its history because it appeals to both the whimsical nature of the travelers who revel in mystery and to the scientific side of travelers who gravitates towards the amazing prowess of the earth’s transformation.
The closest caves to the capital, Reykjavík, are Maríuhellar caves in Heidmörk Nature Reserve. It is a 15 minute drive to the three caves that comprise the Maria caves. Maríuhellar is a large open lava tube and there is an opening within that allows tourists a small view of the sky.

The wonders of Ásbyrgi

820707147_f423eac3b0_zÁsbyrgi is a true testament of how nature makes it mark across the earth. The horse-shoe shaped canyon is surrounded by 100 meter high cliff faces that are over 1 kilometer wide.
According to local folklore Ásbyrgi is also believed to be the “The hidden people” in Ásbyrgi and by Botnstjörn pond, where they believe elves frolic at night.
Located at its deepest end is Botnstjörn, a small pond that is abundant with vegetation. Where visitors can have picnics and spend a last morning strolling through the fields and watching the flowers bloom.

Great for bird watching

5988538518_ebe7600635_zThere is varied birdlife in Àsbyrgi that can be seen in Botnstjörn, ptarmigans can be seen walking along the campsite and tourists can actually look at them up close. The fulmar, which is called fýll in Icelandic have settled in Àsbyrgi in the 1970’s. the fulmar emits a distinct kind of sound that echoes through the Àsbyrgi which makes the place feel alive. The pond also hosts several types of ducks most specifically the vigeon ducks. While some tourists feed the ducks with bread crumbs, its actually a practice that is frowned upon since the area is considered a natural habitat. At the heart of Ásbyrgi is the “Eyjan” or The island which is a distinctive rock formation that divides the Ásbyrgi in the middle. Visitors can follow the hiking trail to the top of the “island” where they can have a panoramic view of Ásbyrgi.
Ásbyrgi is a must stop for pleasure seekers who want to savor the Icelandic experience. It is a place that offers grand adventure and a quiet place for respite. Hikers will never ran out of places to visit and there is always new things to discover while taking a stroll around.