Where nature feels enormous
To reach the home of Steingrimur Karlsson and his family visitors must first travel to the east of Iceland and then drive inland until they arrive at the edge of the Icelandic highlands. The location could hardly be more remote, but as a reward for making the long journey (made much shorter by flying to the town of Egilsstaðir rather than drive all the way from Reykjavik) guests get a chance to enjoy a completely uninterrupted experience of nature.
“One of the luxuries [of living here] is how peaceful this area is and how nature feels enormous. When exploring this part of Iceland you're more likely to run into wild reindeer or a fox than to see other people,” says Karlsson who turned his home into a hotel and visitor center called Óbyggðasetrið (The Wilderness Center) .
“We aren't exactly next to the Ring Road (i.e. Route 1, that encircles the island), and the people who come here haven't found the center by chance while driving around the country,” explains Karlsson. “This also means that we are getting the right type of visitor: people who are looking to experience something authentic and who are ready to take the time to explore and thoroughly enjoy their stay with us. Typically our guests stay for two nights or longer.”
Visitors to the Wilderness Center can explore the highlands of Iceland on foot, on horseback, on a mountain bike or in specially modified off-road vehicles and choose between a variety of lodging options – some of them very rustic. In addition to cosy and fairly traditional guest rooms visitors can spend the night in an old fashioned common room dorm – like the ones that could be found in Icelandic turf houses – or sleep in a bed closet (lokrekkja) similar to the closed-off beds of Viking times.
Last but not least is the exhibition at the Wilderness Center where the stories of the highlands of Iceland are brought to life in a captivating and interactive way that appeals to people of all ages. “We may not be a five star hotel, but instead we offer our visitors a five star experience,” says Karlsson.
Steingrimur Karlsson felt that it was necessary to offer travelers in Iceland a chance to learn about the Icelandic highlands.