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ICELAND                               DIARY  2

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Diary  1  2  3  4  5

     From Diary 1 and the west, I now enters the northern Iceland.
3.
Yet another early start (six hours of sleep), as I have estimated I have to drive 660 kilometres, and I have a few sights along the route. I skip the inland tour on the Kj÷lur Route, hoping I reach my new hotel sometime before "dark". Through ═safj÷r­ur, where I gas the car, just to be sure.

It is a real nice, sunny day, and the temperature reach 20C, or even 23C once. I enjoy the valley once more, but the first stint is 414 km, and I have promised my self NOT to stop for photos all the time. But the fjords are mirrors! And the Mammoth doesn't help. The huge, red caucus is lying on the beach, and some might argue it is a whale.

The road follow the coastline all the time, making the 125 kilometre "as the crow flies" a 416 kilometre "as the car drive". The windshield is slowly building up with insects, but considering here are almost only grown grass, the amount of pesticides must be close to nothing. The lupines have not given up, up here in the north. I pass a few hot springs, but don't stop.

Eventually, the fjords of Westfjords come to an end, and the road leads over the almost barren highlands in 450 meters height. This is a remote and desolated area - not that the coastline had mush settlement either. On the other side of the rather flat pass, it starts to be green and the hills are smooth. More farms appears along with their sheep.

The road is sealed most of the way, but long stretches are quite smooth gravel. I might be speeding a tiny bit, but the slicks are really not for loose gravel!
There start to be a lot of drift-wood on the shore. It should originate from Russia, and have former been highly valued. I reach a waste valley, covered in fields with grass. A few look like they might have barley or alike, but in an early stage. The lupines are not the only flamboyant plant; the local Buttercup covers large meadows.

I reach my first sight; HvÝtserkur; a rock on the shore. A narrow trail leads from the parking lot down to a viewing platform, and a neck-breaking path continues down to the shore. So do I. It might not be something special, but I have driven 416 kilometres to get here, and photos, I will make!

I gas the car in Bl÷ndˇs, just because I can. It is not really that hungry; 20 km/l, but is have a small tank, and the gas stations are far apart in some areas. In this area, the harvest of hay is well underway.

Next stop is the old farmhouses at GlaumbŠr. The turf house is surprisingly large. The central hallway is 22 metres, and eleven side-buildings houses each their time and purpose. I can't help feeling like I am visiting my grandparents; the scent in the wooden house is the same, and many of the furniture and objects so familiar. I do a tour around the buildings and on the lawns outside, enjoying the sun. One of newer wooden house is the present day office, the other part cafe, part museum.

Out on the road again, heading further east, here in the northern part of the island. I pass over yet another pass in 540 metres height. There are quite some snow on the surounding peaks. Down again, I find Lystigar­ur Akureyrar, the most northern botanical garden in the world.

It is a truly nice place, with a hint of flower park. Plenty of people are enjoying the sun, the plants have names and everything is so well maintained. I even find  flower, I'm unfamiliar with. I do all the paths and tracks, and head on. Despite this is the northern part, is seems real lush, and the mountain sides are covered in conifers in many places.

I have two roads, I would like to drive, on this side of the toll-tunnel; Vadlaheidi tunnel, but it is getting late, and I have to return. Never the less, I can't help myself: I have to see, if this is the time of day to visit the 45 meter tall and 100 meter wide Go­afoss Water Fall. Well, not really, but is is truly impressive, kind of a small Victoria Falls. I'll be back in the morning, hoping for such as beautiful weather, once again. I botanizes a bit and among others, I find two species of flowering orchids.

I find the hostel in H˙savÝk, but no one are here. The door is open, and I start cooking and proceeding photos. Something fails, and I end up re-naming 300 photos by hand. Then my real nice host turns up, and I get a dorm, all to my self. Where the Westfjords usually are pretty empty, it is now here, at the usually hotspot. I don't feel that pressed with time, as the sun is still up - but I am! I have to get at least one full nights sleep by now. Photos in Day 4.

4. It is a misty morning, but I try Go­afoss anyway. It is covered in the mist, and I re-plan the day. Kind of the plan for tomorrow, but altered, as I start here. First up is the hot springs of Hverir. Before I reach them, I pass a huge area, dominated by a thermo-energy plant. Huge columns of steam leads into the sky.

Nßmafjall Hverir is found in a valley, looking so barren. It clears up a bit, and I do some loops in the area. Where the soil is yellow-orange, the bobbling ponds are almost black. Some areas are white due to crystals. Some ponds are almost water, others are real thick mud. The smell indicates quite some sulphur.

Next stop is the volcano crater of Hverfjall. It was a gravel volcano, and the shape is clear, when you finally reach the edge of the crater. It is 452m high, 1040m across and almost barren. A group of swans passes bye, else, it is a bit dead around here. I gather some samples of the lava for a wineglass-aquarium, and head on. I drive through a forest of birch and other small trees - or bushes.

There are so more action at Dimmuborgir; the Black Castle. It is another type of volcano, forming rough and black formations over a large area. It is real fertile, it seems, and the floor is overgrown with birch, orchids and way more. Asphalt paths leads around to the more distinct formations, and here are quite some people. I don't do all the loops, but get to enjoy the sun by now. I do understand the name, as it is almost black, and do resemble the ruins of an ancient castle.

A bit back, I find the cave of Grjˇtagjß. Within it, a pond of hot water is found. It used to be slightly colder and suited for bathing, but an earth-shake raised the temperature. Well, I find it just right, but I better not. It is part of a long crack, on top of an lava-river, and a wonderful place. I do a loop in the area as well, but I have more on my list for the day.

I head back pass Nßmafjall Hverir, and through the waste and almost flat plain. The temperature have gone up to 19C, the sum only slightly misty from time to time. Dettifoss is a huge fall, made up by brown water. It might be found in the heights, and the sun have disappeared. Never the less, it is impressive, and I walk closer, down in the valley. 

The thunder from the water is loud, and it causes rain in the nearby area. A bit upstream, another fall is found: Selfoss. It is not really possible to get the right angle, but impressive. I find a few interesting plants in the area, then head on.

Quite close, but off the beaten track, the third fall; Hafragilsoff is found, way out of a rough gravel road. Again, it is a bit tricky to get a good angle, and I can't talk myself into hiking to the edge of the river. On a sunny day, perhaps?
Well, I only have to drive a few kilometres to find the sun again. I pass a waste plain, overgrown with lush, green bushes.

Then Road 85 starts, way up north, and once again, the landscape changes. At first, it follows the coast, with swamps and ponds close to the sea, and table mountains inland. It seems like escaping the lupines is impossible. Here are huge meadows, and quite some farms.

I end up in Raufarhofn, a little sleepy, but new fishing village. On a mountain outside, the Arctic-Henge monument; Heimskautsger­i­ is being build. It is only the more characteristic elements of granite boulders which are in place by now, but it will be impressive. It is found in a sea of lupines. As the road does not lead any further north, I turn around.

I find Kˇpasker, a slightly larger town, but fail to find anything interesting. From here, my plan was to go to ┴sbyrgi to see the Hoof print of Sleipner, but my GPS insist: It is in Norway! And I do have the right coordinates? I'll have to do without (turned out, the "-" should be left out). I also skipped the trail at Hˇlmatungur further south, as the weather was not for it, when I passed it.

I turn homewards, and meet the fog once again. A short stop at Netto to stock some additional food and drinking, then home to cook, sort photos and write diary. Here, the sun returns.
I had quite some problems buying gas for the car at machines. Now, it turns out same problem applies paying for the room. apparently a new EC rule bout 3D security is (partly) implemented in Iceland. Now, only the criminals can us my card...  Photos Day 5.

5. It is yet another misty morning, and I skip Go­afoss for now. Instead, I loop back through the toll-tunnel and find Road 82, and eventually 76. It is through green fields, many have newly harvested hay on them in wraps. Another impressive plant is numerous here; Norwegian angelica; Angelica archangelica.

Huge areas are covered in conifers and birch, and here, they reach five metres. As I get close to the coast, the mist turns into dense fog, but this is my last chance to see the coastal road for now. The fog opens up a few times, revealing farms inland, and the sea to the other side.

Here are a few small towns, Dalvik being the first. I see no old buildings, and head straight through. The nature along the coast look great - through the fog and mist, but I fail to make any proper photos.
The next town is Ëlafsfj÷r­ur, and it is not only bigger, it does look slightly more interesting. I do a loop, but the mist does not really help on my desire to explore.

A bit further up the road, Siglufj÷r­ur/Fjallabygg­ is found, and it is bigger, kind of an industrial harbour with some tourism. I do a loop in the central part, with some old and colourful houses, but head on, due to the mist.
Another tunnel - I drive through 37 kilometres of these tubes today. On the other side, the fog is real dense.

I make a short lunch-break; chocolate bisques as usually. The view over the sea is non-existing. Then I finally reach the northern point, and the fog start to disappear. I recon, it still fills the eastern coast, and head all the way around the peninsular. The western side, between Hofsˇs and Siglufj÷r­ur should be 60 kilometres of "Scenic eye candy", but I think that is to stretch the term a bit too much. Nice, that is all: So lush and green, plenty of grass and some black table mountains inland. But at least the sun finally joins in.

I get back to the N1 Ring-road, and lean back and enjoy the views. Apparently a bit too much, as a approaching police-car start flashing his blue lights. Where I deliberately been speeding the previous days, I didn't intend to do it now. Well, he is a real friendly guy, and I get a discount from 80.000 to 37.500 ISKR (Ç533 - Ç250), and can't really complain. But speeding is no longer an option!

It might be the sun, but I find the N1 so much more attractive, than the 72. I make way too many photos of the green meadow and the snow-coned mountains - and they all look alike in the evening. If it wasn't for the speeding ticked, it would have been a great drive.

Pass the large town of Akureyri to stock food at Bonus, then through the toll-tunnel and down to Go­afoss once again. This time, the sun is way better, and I make a few photos - too many.
40 kilometres down a gravelroad, the Aldeyjarfoss waterfall is found. Along the road, a huge herd of horses are throwing up dust.

I cross several bridges with wooden surface, and get the car through a closed gate and down a rougher gravelroad. Aldeyjarfoss is a fantastic sight in the almost barren landscape. A few pioneer plants are flowering in the fine gravel, but the basalt columns and fall take the price.

When t start to drizzle a bit, I head homewards, minding the speed-limits. I gas the car for the morning, and start working. Could be an early night for once! Photos in Day 6.
                 It is time to enter the eastern Iceland and Diary 3.

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