Enter the Ravine of the Sacred Tree

Confession: I haven´t really been all the way up the Ravine of Nauthúsagil but this this is a destination that I wanted to let you all hikers know about sooner than later.

Iceland Travel
We met those sheep on the way. They might have moved since then so don´t rely on them to find the ravine.
We met those sheep on the way. They might have moved since then so don´t rely on them to find the ravine.

In any case I am hoping to there soon again and go all the way to the end of this ravine. Anyway, I discovered the Nauthúsagil ravine when driving with my wife the other day in the south of Iceland. As we were staying in the best luxury hotel in Iceland, Hótel Rangá,  for her birthday we weren´t really dressed for a hike. That didn´t stop us from taking a drive and our destination was really Seljalandsfoss waterfall. When we got there, we wanted to venture a bit further. The weather was being it usual Icelandic schizophrenic self, it had been raining hard in the south of Iceland but for the time being it was dry. However, the sun was playing hide and seek and there was a refreshing breeze.  We were driving towards Þórsmörk forest which we would never reach on our Toyota Yaris (now for sale) since it is tucked away behind the ever changing river of Krossá river* We noticed a sign marked “Nauthúsagil” which intrigued us. We took a look around and saw this rather nice ravine on a hill covered in vegetation.

The sign that leads to the ravine of the sacred tree.
The sign that leads to the ravine of the sacred tree. A lot more reliable than sheep.

We parked our trusty Toyota right next to a jeep and got out. My wife was wearing heels but nothing stops her when she wants to go exploring so I did my best to follow her and lend a hand we had to cross the shallow stream that runs from the ravine. On the way we met two gentlemen that informed us in German accented English that storm was coming and we should be careful. They backed this claim up by pointing at clouds over the hill. We assured those rather nice amateur meteorologists that we would not stay long and certainly not take any unnecessary risks. So after a short walk we entered the ravine which is like a whole world on to itself. A stream suns a long the bottom of the ravine so if you want to follow you need to be prepared a wade but it seems to me that should be really easy to do. Apparently, there is some climbing involved if you want to go further but it is supposed to be really easy. I have not verified this for myself.

Inside the ravine.
Inside the ravine.

The ravine has a bit of a history to it. Nauthúsagil basically means the ravine of the bull-house and probably derives from bulls from the nearby farm of Stóra Mörk being kept close to the site. It was well known, at least locally, for having a rowan tree that was considered sacred and it was strictly forbidden to cut it down. It split and fell in 1937 but now its descendants dominate the ravine so I suppose it is all very holy even now 🙂 I am sure to revisit this gem of a destination and explore it to the fullest. I will keep you posted.

Clouds put on a show for us.
Clouds put on a show for us.

 

The hill of Stóri Dímon looks all mysterious in the distance.
The hill of Stóri Dímon looks all mysterious in the distance.

How to get there?
From Reykjavik, drive to the South on highway one until you reach the Seljalandsfoss waterfall and Gljúfrabúi. Drive past them until you see the sign to Nauthúsagil. Here are the GPS points from my short walk if that helps.

* Please don´t try to prove me wrong. It would be plain stupid to try. If you want to go into Þórsmörk take the bus or go with somebody on a big ass jeep and knows whats she is doing.

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Enter the Ravine of the Sacred Tree

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