Information about Myrdalssandur

Mýrdalssandur is an outwash plain located between the rivers of Kúðafljót, in the east, and Múlakvísl, in the west, both of which carry water down from the glacier, Mýrdalsjökull. Mýrdalssandur has a 35km (22mi) long coastline which includes Kötlutangi, the southernmost point of the Iceland's mainland. 

Culture

Around the year 1000, many farmers set up shop on Mýrdalssandur. By the 15th century, however, most of these farmsteads were abandoned due to violent eruptions originating from Katla volcano. Today, the area is a 700 square kilometre desert of black sand, made up of the deposits from Mýrdalsjökull ice cap and the sudden glacial floods (or jökulhaup) that run from the glacier down to the sea. Evidence of these prior floods can be seen throughout Mýrdalssandur, be it the washed out bridges or the peculiar rock erosions. Even today, farmers close to Mýrdalssandur worry that receding glaciers will cause rivers to change direction and overflow. It’s no wonder Icelanders left this region a long time ago.

The barren landscape of Mýrdalssandur has done much for folklore and superstition, with many still claiming (albeit, with a twinkle in their eye) that the black sand desert is haunted by ghosts and witches. Birdlife and arctic foxes are a relatively common sight in the region.

Attractions 

There are a number of attractions to preoccupy oneself with in Mýrdalssandur. At the beginning of the western edge, visitors can head to Sólheimasandur beach to see the famous Navy DC plane wreck. The plane crashed in 1973 after the pilot, incorrectly, assumed the plane had run out of fuel. Still, he managed to land the plane on the black sands with no casualties. The plane wreck still exists today and makes for a great stop for photographers. 

Roughly 15km east of Vik, visitors will arrive at the inselberg mountain, Hjörleifshöfði. Rising 221m (725ft) above sea level, Hjörleifshöfði was once an island though by the time of the settlement of Iceland, it was already connected to the mainland. Today, it offers a well-paced trail hike with sweeping views across the Mýrdalssandur region.

The mountain is named in a number of sagas, particularly that of Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson, of whom the mountain is named after. The brother of Ingólfur Arnarson, it was told that Hjörleifur settled at the base of the mountain in the 9th Century, but was eventually murdered by his Irish slaves. Vengeance was swift as Ingólfur pursued the assailants to Vestmannaeyjar, where they were eventually killed. Hjörleifur is said to be buried at the summit of Hjörleifshöfði. 

Driving across Mýrdalssandur will take approximately an hour, with stunning views of Vatnajökull glacier and regular picnic stops. Recently, Mýrdalssandur was used as a filming location for the opening scenes of Star Wars: Rogue One, depicted as the planet Lah’mu. 

Services near Myrdalssandur

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Attractions nearby Myrdalssandur

Hjörleifshöfði

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by, Axel Krisinsson.  Hjörleifshöfði is a 221 m (725 ft) high mountain in South Iceland...

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Þakgil

Photo from: Þakgil and Remundargil Canyons - Beautiful Hidden Gems in South-Iceland. Þakgil ('Roof Canyon') is a hidden cany...

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South Coast

The South Coast of Iceland is the country's most visited sightseeing route, along with the Golden Circle.  The famed South Coast shoreline...

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Vík í Mýrdal

Vik in Myrdalur valley is the southernmost village on the Icelandic mainland, located 186 km from the capital Reykjavik. Vik is important as a ...

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Reynisfjall

Reynisfjall is a tuff mountain on the South Coast of Iceland, which is 5 kilometres long, 800 metres (2625 ft) wide and 340 metres (1115 ft) tall at i...

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Reynisdrangar

Reynisdrangar are rock formations situated near the shore of Reynisfjara beach by the coastal village Vík í Mýrdalur on the Sou...

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Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Reynisfjara is a world-famous black-sand beach found on the South Coast of Iceland, just beside the small fishing village of Vík í M&y...

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Iceland's coasts

Almost everywhere where there is old lava by the Icelandic shores, there are also spectacular waves, particularly in the southwest parts of the countr...

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Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey Peninsula is a 120-metre promenade famed for its staggering views of Iceland’s South Coast, as well as its historic lighthous...

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Katla Geopark

Katla Global Geopark is a project of UNESCO and the European Geoparks Network, with the aims of promoting sustainable development and protecting the...

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Katla

Katla is an active volcano situated under the glacier Myrdalsjokull in South Iceland. It is one of Iceland's most well known volcanoes. Katla...

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Katla volcano

Katla (meaning “Kettle”) is one of Iceland's largest and most active volcanos. Situated in south Iceland, Katla is partially buried un...

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Mýrdalsjökull

Mýrdalsjökull is a glacier in the south of the Icelandic highlands. It is the country's fourth largest ice cap, covering nearly 600 ...

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DC3 Plane Wreck

The DC Plane Wreck is a famous site located within the black sand desert of Solheimasandur, South Iceland. The wreckage is a particularly beloved sp...

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Sólheimasandur

Solheimasandur is a vast area of sand and gravel along the south coast of Iceland, between the cliffs of the interior and the modern shoreline. It was...

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Eldhraun

The vast Eldhraun lava field (“Fire Lava“), in the south of the Icelandic highlands was created in one of the greatest eruptions in reco...

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Sólheimajökull

Solheimajokull is a beautiful outlet glacier of the Myrdalsjokull icecap. Solheimajokull is a rugged glacial tounge riddled with crevasses and specta...

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South Iceland

South Iceland is the most popular part of the country and contains some of the most beautiful natural attractions in Iceland, among them the Golden Ci...

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South Shore

From Reykjanesta and the next 100 km onwards, the south shore is characterized by lava formations constantly battered by the wild ocean waves (‘...

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Kvernufoss

Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir. Kvernufoss is a waterfall with a drop of 30 metres (98 feet) in South Iceland. Considered a h...

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