Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

I stayed at the beautiful Hotel Laki at Efri-Vík recently, when I went to explore an area of Iceland called Landbrot.  I had heard about interesting sights in this area in a TV-program back in 2013 and I so wanted to explore this part of South-Iceland. To get to this area and Hotel Laki one has to get off ring-road 1 just before entering Kirkjubæjarklaustur village, which is a popular stop in beautiful surroundings.

After driving for 5 km this big hotel appeared. This was my first time in this area and I was amazed to see such a big and modern hotel here. 

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

Hotel Laki is a family run hotel, run by Hörður Davíðsson and his wife Salome Ragnarsdóttir together with their daughter Eva Björk Harðardóttir and her husband Þorsteinn Kristinsson. They have been living on the farm at Efri-Vík since 1968. They started out as farmers, but in 1973 they started a small scale travel service.

They live next to the hotel, which they started building in 2005. Seeing that it is family owned I had not expected such a big hotel. It has got 64 rooms plus 15 cottages behind the hotel. They named the hotel after Lakagígar, which is a row of craters some 40 km away from the hotel. At Lakagígar the biggest natural disasters in the known history of Iceland took place back in 1783, called the Skaftáreldar eruption.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

Hörður was nice enough to give me a guided tour around his land.

I was so amazed at how much there is to see here, there is even an Elf City and Elf Church, which I had not known about. And those of you who read my blog know that I am always looking for new elf locations to visit, so this was a special treat for me. I fell in love with the Elf City and Elf Church and wrote a special blog about them, where you can read about this very interesting elf spot with several elf stories and loads of photos.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

Hörður is a very knowledgeable man and I have utter respect for people of his calibre.  He told us so many stories and showed us the farm ruins from Skaftáreldar in 1783, the turf house they are building, the Bunker of ash layers and the remains of the 11th century wall Bjarnagarður - and he told us about all the pseudocraters in this area, called Landbrotshólar pseudocraters.

You can get a map at the reception of Hotel Laki and take the so called educational path, which will lead you to all of the above mentioned sights in the vicinity of the hotel. I have written about all of these sights in detail in this blog as I found them all to be very interesting.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

Our room was spacious and beautiful, the bed was comfy and there was a flat-screen TV. I felt so pampered. We had a beautiful view of the meadows, mountains and cottages and I was extremely happy with my stay there.

I have stayed in all kinds of hotels, guesthouses, hostels and in tents in camping areas all around Iceland and I would say that Hotel Laki is in the top 5 places of all of the places I have visited.

Kudos to this family for a job well done!

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

There is a lovely sitting area by the restaurant where you can sit outside on a veranda with the most beautiful view. Hotel Laki is located between two glaciers, where you can see Öræfajökull glacier to the east and the dreaded volcano Katla in Mýrdalsjökull to the west. 

I didn't dine at the restaurant as I was outside exploring the area and I only have coffee for breakfast, but my husband had breakfast in the morning at the restaurant and said it was good. And he loves his food ;)

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

You can go up to the roof of Hotel Laki where there is a beautiful view and a glasshouse, from which one can watch the Northern Lights on winter nights. It must be wonderful sitting there in the heated glasshouse with a blanket and a hot drink watching the Northern Lights.

I wished I had such a glasshouse in my home in Reykjavík, as I often watch the Northern Lights while freezing on my balcony ;)

The Bunker of Ash Layers

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

Hörður, the owner of the hotel and the land, has erected a Bunker of Ash Layers (öskulagabyrgi) by the road opposite his hotel. He showed it to me and I must say that it is extremely interesting visiting it. I have never seen ash layers before apart from inside the ice cave tunnel in Langjökull glacier.

It is amazing being able to see layers of ash from different volcanic eruptions in this area - and there have been several massive eruptions here.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

I was amazed and I think a visit to the Bunker of ash layers has to be a must visit for geologists and everybody interested in geology. You can read the geological history of Iceland on the walls of the bunker in sedimentary strata, quite extraordinary!

Just imagine how many volcanic eruptions there have been here, which have coated this area with layers of ash! And here you can see like a CAT-scan of these different volcanic eruptions from way back to the Settlement of Iceland.

You will be able to see ash layers from disastrous flooding from before year 900, from the volcanic eruption in Veiðivötn in 1204, from the volcanic eruption in Katla in 1240, from the Öræfagos eruption in 1362, from Skaftáreldar eruption in 1783 and from Katla in 1918.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

Hörður is digging a deeper hole where he says there are layers of 5-6 meters below, which seem to have come from a catastrophic flood from one massive volcanic eruption. This eruption might have resulted in the formation of this area called Landbrot

I just looked down into the hole, but will come back for a visit, when Hörður will have finished this very interesting project. 

Remains of the 11th Century Bjarnargarður Wall

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

By the Bunker of ash layers and inside it as well one can find the remains of the old wall Bjarnargarður, which is one of the biggest preserved man-made structures from the olden times, it dates back to the 11th century! In the photo above I am walking inside the collapsed wall. This 11th century wall proves that there has been traditional farming in this area since the Settlement of Iceland.

The bunker has been dug through the remains of the wall Bjarnagarður, and inside the bunker one can see what this old wall was made of.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

The inside of Bjarnargarður wall can be seen in the Bunker of ash layers as you can see in my photo above. "Áfok að Bjarnargarði" to the left means subaerial deposition to Bjarnargarður wall and to the right one can see the wall itself.

Bjarnagarður was ca 8-10 km long wall which was most likely erected to keep sheep inside or outside for that matter, so it is probably sheep related ;) They were erected to legally protect the meadows and pastures. Most parts of it have collapsed through the centuries and through all these volcanic eruptions, but you can see it vividly in some places although it has collapsed.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

Hörður has erected a 50 m long replica of Bjarnagarður wall in front of the Bunker of ash layers on his land in Efri-Vík, so we can see how high and massive the wall must have been before it collapsed. Hörður has named this 50 m long wall "Mórallinn"  or the Guilty Conscience.

He has bequeathed 3 metres of the wall to the Road Administration of Iceland (Vegagerðin) and 5 metres of the wall to the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland (Minjastofnun) - as neither of these establishments have done anything to protect or inform the inhabitants in this area of Bjarnagarður wall - so they should have a guilty conscience in his opinion ;)

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

Written in Jónsbók, which is an Icelandic law book from 1281, is the following sentence: "Hver maður skal löggarð gera um töðuvöll sinn" - meaning that everybody should build a wall around their hayfield - and this could be the reason why this massive wall was built.

Landbrotshólar pseudo craters

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

Landbrotshólar pseudocraters is an interesting area to visit. It is the largest area of pseudocraters in Iceland, covering an area of ca 50 sq.km! The pseudocraters, or rootless cones, form when extremely hot lava flows into wetlands.

When such hot lava comes into contact with water the water boils and explosions from the hot steam take place. 

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

It is not known exactly when these pseudocraters formed, but most likely they were formed during the massive volcanic eruption in Eldgjá back in year 934-938. Eldgjá lies parallel with Lakagígar craters.

The pseudocraters are hollow inside and you can even find some open pseudocraters and have a peek inside, which is really interesting.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

I have read that some of the hollow craters were used as a shelter for sheep and I found one hollow pseudocrater which is obviously used as a refuse dump. We found one big pseudocrater which was hollow inside and in the photo above you can see my husband, who climbed down into the crater.

There are thousands of pseudocraters in this area, some of which look like cones and pyramids and others are round and look like bosoms.

Hólasport at Efri-Vík by Hotel Laki offers ATV/Quad biking tours at Landbrotshólar pseudoctraters and to other interesting areas in the vicinity.

The Bird-Watching Hut

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

Behind Hotel Laki there is a beautiful little lake called Lake Víkurflóð, where it is possible to catch brown trout and Arctic char. You can buy angling licences at the hotel reception.

By the lake you will notice a cute yellow hut, which is a bird-watching hut as there are myriad of birds on the lake. Binoculars are provided and on the walls are posters with both birds and fish species, and books on birds. 

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

I was told that swans moved into the hut soon after the owners built it and lived there for some years :) I would have loved to see that.

Farm Ruins from Skaftáreldar Eruption in 1783

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

On the land of Efri-Vík there are visible ruins from an old farm which was abandoned in the disastrous Skaftáreldar volcanic eruption in 1783, which happened at Lakagígar some 40 km away from Efri-Vík.

Some 29 farms in this area were abandoned during this massive volcanic eruption. The gaseous plumes killed the livestock which caused famine on top of everything. 20% of the Icelandic population (ca 10.000 people) lost their lives during these disastrous times. Skaftáreldar caused massive destruction - it is the biggest lava flow on earth from a single eruption in historic times - and the gaseous plumes caused the following winter to be cold all over Europe.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

It is difficult to take photos of such ruins even though they are clearly visible to the naked eye. You can see the ruins of a foundry, a sitting room (baðstofa), a horticultural garden, a storehouse, a barn and a stable.

The ruins of the old turf farm are located on the meadow by Hotel Laki and they are clearly marked on the map of the surrounding area, which I got at the hotel reception.

The turf house

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

In the photo below you will see the owner of the land and Hotel LakiHörður, with me by the turf house he and his family is building. They don't want this old way of building turf houses to be forgotten and went on a course in turf house making, so they could build a turf house on their own land to show this old Icelandic way of building houses to their guests.

I think this is a brilliant idea. I myself am going to attend a course in turf house building in Skagafjörður next year.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

I am a big fan of turf houses and have visited and written about almost all of the remaining turf houses and turf churches in Iceland. I will visit Hotel Laki again when the turf house will be ready to show you what it looks like.

Hotel Laki and the Elf City are located 262 km away from Reykjavík and only 5 km away from Kirkjubæjarklaustur village. Turn from ring-road 1 onto road 204.  To visit this area you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive to it and spend the night at the hotel for the night.  There are myriad of interesting sights to see on the way from Reykjavík.

I had such a lovely stay here and the next day I drove down to the end of Landbrot, as it were, to explore this area further.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

I "found" a peculiar pillar of rock (lava) on the land of Þykkvibær. It reminded me of Lóndrangar cliffs on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. I have seen no information on this lava rock, but I am positive that it is elf-related. If anybody reading my travel-blog can give me information on this rock then I would be very grateful :)

Here you can see the location of Hotel Laki and the surrounding area. It is at a distance of some 255 km from Reykjavík, Iceland's capital city. To reach this area you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive there in a couple of hours. On the way you will find many interesting sights such as the beautiful waterfalls of South-Iceland, Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Foss at Síða & Dverghamrar to name just a few of the interesting sights on the south coast of Iceland.

Hotel Laki and its Amazing Surroundings in South-Iceland

You will find many guided tours to the South coast of Iceland f.ex. South Coast Waterfalls and Glacier Hiking Tour and South Coast - Jokulsarlon in 2 days and South Coast - Glaciers, Waterfalls and Black Sand BeachesSouth-coast & Golden Circle day tour and Waterfalls, Glacier & Black Sand Beach - South Coast Day Tour and the combined tour South Coast & glacier hike on Sólheimajökull | Medium difficulty.

You will even find Tandem Flight tours in South Iceland. This is a very interesting area to visit.

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